Say hello to our summer interns: Hey, Madison!


To say we are incredibly fortunate and honored to be able to work with young women leaders like Madison is an understatement. Madison is a passionate and multi-gifted force who has jumped right in to support our growth with her dedication, professionalism, and skill in this exciting time for WEA. We are so lucky to have her on our Programs +  Operations team this summer and we cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in deepening her impact for communities and the earth. Read on to get to know her more!

Name: Madison Barbee

Role at WEA: Programs and Operations Intern

Hometown: Puyallup, WA

Fun Fact: I’ve studied and performed classical ballet for 15 years! And I still perform with USF’s dance ensemble every semester!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I have always believed in the power of grassroots community to create change, and I am extremely passionate about the type of intersectionality between social and environmental justice advocacy that WEA supports and empowers across the globe. I also strongly believe that the empowerment of women in communities around the world is the key to combating the environmental crisis, and am truly honored to play a role in what WEA is doing to make that empowerment a reality.

What’s your go-to strategy for lessening your environmental/climate footprint? Repurposing and upcycling are some of my favorite ways to keep my environmental footprint to a minimum. I find myself being very aware of the consumer culture we all live in, and with that, I’m always trying to find ways to use old things instead of buying something new. There are so many things that can be used for so many other things in this world, and it can be so fun to be creative with repurposing old things into something new and unique. Thrifting is also a fave of mine, and thrift finds are always so special and one-of-a-kind!

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has been a huge inspiration in my day-to-day life recently. I think she has such a strong presence and call for action on so many levels, and she is a great reminder for me to keep persevering in my efforts to help change the world. She gives me a lot of hope as well, even though bringing up the need for climate action seems like a daunting task in this current moment, she is bringing these issues to light, and advancing them in a very public arena, which is absolutely great.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I will go to almost any concert, anytime, anywhere. Live music is a big passion of mine, and there are so many unique venues and shows happening all the time in all corners of the Bay.

Any community events coming up you’re excited about (bonus points if it’s women-led/organized!)? The Conservatory of Flowers is putting on Botanicals and Brews in August! It’ll be a great time for the community to come together to experience amazing local music (my fave) and drinks, and the beauty of Golden Gate Park! 

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I’m currently watching Big Little Lies, the drama and acting are truly unparalleled! I’m reading Dark Emu, By Bruce Pascoe which takes an in-depth look at Australian Aboriginal contributions to major modern technologies. And I’m currently listening to Goldlink’s new album, Diaspora, soooo good!

Say hello to our summer interns: Hi, Carmen!

We love summer for so many reasons. It’s that perfect in-between time of year when seeds planted in the spring blossom, bloom and grow strong, and we still have the warm gatherings of fall to look forward to. One of the most exciting things about this summer as been the launch of the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, and the opportunity to welcome Carmen Lopez to our Programs + Operations team!

While home for the summer from UC San Diego where she studies Environmental Policy, Carmen has been busy helping with Indonesia Accelerator preparations and the launch of our Collaboratory. She’s passionate about the intersectionality between feminist leadership and the environment, making her the perfect addition to our team this summer!

Name: Carmen Lopez

Role at WEA: Program + Operations Intern

Hometown: Castro Valley, CA

Fun Fact: I have been to six continents. My mom likes to travel and I’m lucky enough to be able to tag along.

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I wanted to intern at WEA because I’m passionate about the bridge between women and environment. I believe that caring for the environment begins with supporting women. When I first heard about WEA I was so excited to learn about an organization with values that aligned so closely with mine. I also potentially want to work for a nonprofit in the future so I thought that there was no better way to do that than to work for WEA and learn firsthand. 

What’s your go-to strategy for lessening your environmental/climate footprint? My go to strategy is eating less meat and also educating myself about social issues in order to make better informed decisions, whether it is about government or the food I eat. I’ve managed to cut red meat almost entirely out of my diet and I’m working on becoming completely vegetarian. I think it’s important to educate oneself about social issues because many of these issues are connected to environmentalism in some way and I believe that trying to understand those connections better makes it easier to understand how to help the environment. 

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. A woman that inspires is my grandmother. She was raised in Oklahoma and didn’t have access to running water or electricity because her family lived in poverty as well as much of the surrounding community. She got a full ride scholarship to Stanford Law School and was one of three woman in her graduating class along with Sandra Day O’Connor. She inspires me because even though she came from difficult circumstances, but was able to overcome to barriers she faced and received an education from a renowned school. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? My favorite thing to do is go for walks at Lake Chabot or hike among the redwoods on Skyline. Lake Chabot has been a long time favorite of mine, but I learned about the redwoods up on Skyline only a few years ago. I like to go up there to escape the urban jungle and be surrounded by the beautiful trees. 

Any community events coming up you’re excited about (bonus points if it’s women-led/organized)? I’m not sure if this counts as a community event, but I’m really excited for Flower Piano. It’s an event where live music is played in the botanical gardens in the night time.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I watched the entire third season of Stranger Things in about two days and almost cried in the airport from the ending. I’m currently reading Can We All Be Feminists? Which consists of several essays written about the concept of feminism and how it should be applied in modern times. I find it interesting because it begins a discussion about the lack of intersectionality there has been and is in feminist ideology. I’m also listening to a singer named Lianne La Havas. I don’t typically like love songs, but one of my favorite of hers is “What you Don’t Do.”

Say hello to our summer interns: Hey, Sara!

WEA envisions a world where grassroots women leaders and our communities have everything they need to thrive, and our team of summer interns play a key role in making this vision come to life. Sara Anderson, a Programs + Operations intern with us this summer, is no exception. She’s intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated to community organizing and female leadership. (She also has an awesome dry sense of humor!)

While Sara’s involved all aspects of WEA this summer, lots of her time recently has been spent coordinating our support for this year’s Run4Salmon. We can’t wait to see what her energy and creativity will bring to our work!

Name: Sara Anderson

Role at WEA: Programs and Operations Intern

Hometown: West Marin/Sausalito, CA

Fun Fact: My twin sister interned here in 2016 while she was attending Cal (we are not identical)

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I have a BA in International Relations and I’ve been interested in nonprofit management, especially with organizations that focus on supporting women leadership and community building. WEA offers a fundamental perspective on the value of women empowerment’s positive effects on environmental sustainability abroad. I did some organizing in Tacoma, WA with the Queer Trans War ban and I want to continue affirming intersectional projects and radicalism in the nonprofit work I go on to do after WEA.

What’s your go-to strategy for lessening your environmental/climate footprint? I buy second-hand where I can, repurposing, and recycling. But even the little actions like picking up trash along a hiking trail or from the dunes at the beach still have positive impacts if it’s all you can manage. 

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. I think Marsha P Johnson and more currently RuPaul inspire me to challenge the standards and envision and strive for something better. Be the best you, you can be!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I have always enjoyed exploring the old barracks out in the Marin Headlands and hike around the trails in West Marin. More recently, I’ve spent some time in the San Francisco National Cemetery and hope to visit some more around the Bay this summer.

Any community events coming up you’re excited about (bonus points if it’s women-led/organized!)? Right now, I am very excited to be assisting WEA with donation requests for the 3rd annual Run4Salmon in September, not only because it is led by indigenous women spiritual leaders from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, but this 300 mile journey localizes the environmental degradation in our California waterways, but aims to restore our salmon runs and revitalizing indigenous lifeways.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently reading Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times by Nick Montgomery and Carla Bergman, and I’m watching The Casketeers on Netflix.

Growing Concern Over Indonesian President’s Investment Remarks

Project: Building Climate Resiliency in Indonesia

Topics: , , , ,

Image result for deforestation in indonesia
Palm oil deforestation in Indonesia

As the 2019 Indonesia Accelerator in Bali moves into its third day of local women environmental leaders collaborating to find solutions to the ecological crises facing their communities, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo pursues an aggressive, exploitative resource policy approach which threatens indigenous communities, environmental activists, and Indonesia’s famed tropical rainforests. 

In a July 14th speech, Widodo outlined his goals towards investment in Indonesia:

“This is how we create as many jobs as possible. Therefore, anything that obstructs investment must be trimmed….Be careful, going forward I guarantee that I will chase, I will control, I will check and I will beat [them] up if necessary! There should no longer be any obstructions to investment because this is the key to creating more jobs.”

Playing to a false narrative that economic development requires lenient or absent policies and regulations that protect some of our most precious resources, Widodo’s attempts to prioritize investment in Indonesia at the expense of the environment contribute to resource exploitation that has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Already, Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, the most commonly produced vegetable oil, but huge tracts of rainforest and indigenous land are razed daily for the palm oil industry, releasing massive quantities of carbon. In 2015, Indonesia passed the US in greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia also is the second largest plastic polluter in the world with a total of 3.2 million metric tons of plastic waste. Despite these devastating numbers, Widodo has urged high-level officials to turn a blind eye to regulations for the sake of increased GDP, which he promised to raise by 7% during his campaign.

As this article via Mongabay shares, The language used [in Widodo’s speech] has raised concerns among environmental and indigenous rights activists, who say there are plenty of justifiable reasons to oppose or at least slow down development projects that involve the clearing of forests and customary lands.”

A recent government-sanctioned report shows that if Indonesia continues to exploit its natural resources by cutting down trees and digging up coal to power its cities and villages, its environment will reach a tipping point beyond which the economy will suffer, with an attendant increase in poverty and mortality rates and a decline in human development.

Furthermore, this policy shift effectively reverses Widodo’s social forestry program, which sought to resolve land disputes Indonesia through distribution of titles. This program, initially well-received by the indigenous communities, resulted in bureaucratic roadblocks which obstructed indigenous Indonesian’s access to reclaiming their land rights. 

WEA recognizes the dangers of unrestricted access to commercial land rights in Indonesia, as the palm oil and mining industries have already ravaged the nation with deforestation, among other environmental crises. These are some of the reasons we launched the 2019 Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator in partnership with Indonesia organizations For Good, Mother Jungle and Ranu Welum; women in Indonesia experience the brunt of these climate disruptions, and therefore step forward as key leaders in designing solutions to these critical issues. We hope that in connecting these grassroots women environmental activists and equipping them with the tools to protect their communities and the environment, an “unclobberable” force will be created. 

Read the entire article from Mongabay here.

Say hello to our summer interns: Hi, Lia!


One of the things we witness time and time again is that women hold the seeds for transforming the world. We see it in our work with grassroots partners, as well as in the inspiring, dedicated interns who support our work throughout the year. We’re thrilled to introduce you to Lia Knight-Williams — a passionate young leader committed to change and equity, and an invaluable addition to WEA’s internship team this summer!

Lia is a second year student at Stanford University with a deep passion for education, and is excited to dive into work that uplifts both women and the environment. She’ll be bringing her incredible skill set and warm spirit to our team for the rest of summer, and we’re so honored! Help us welcome Lia and read more about her below!

Name: Lia Knight-Williams

Role at WEA: Programs and Director Relations Intern

Hometown: Sacramento

Fun Fact: My favorite genre of music is 30s’ jazz!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I am passionate about fighting for women’s rights on the national and global scale. When I found out about WEA’s mission, I knew it was a perfect fit to learn more about the intersection and connectedness of women and the environment. I am very excited to grow in an empowering environment of women leaders!

What’s your go-to strategy for lessening your environmental/climate footprint? We live in a day and age of intense materialism, so I strive to stay constantly mindful of my actual needs vs wants, and think of ways I can make environmentally friendly substitutions and changes in my life. I am a big fan of finding creative ways to reuse and repurpose items!

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. Michelle Obama has been an incredible role model for me. Representation is invaluable, and as a young girl I I was greatly inspired by Michell Obama, especially because of her dedication to education. One of my favorite quotes from her is:“Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I love hiking under the redwoods. Muir Woods is a childhood favorite of mine!

Any community events coming up you’re excited about (bonus points if it’s women-led/organized!)? I’m looking forward to Sacramento’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event put on by WEAVE in August.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? One of my favorite books right now is Colormute by Mica Pollock, and I’m always listening to Al Bowlly, Billie Holiday, and now Lizzo!