Forests Forever

The newsletter of Trees, Water & People

Photo By Sebastian Africano

Garden Club of America Honors Stuart Conway

What’s Inside
From the Board President Page 2-3 Side By Side Page 3 Seeking a New Way Page 4 The Gift of Heat Page 5 Looking for a Ray of Hope Page 5 & 8 Meet Don Jorge Orchoa Page 6 A Humbling Journey Page 7

Spring 2011

By Megan Maiolo, Marketing & Communications Coordinator On April 30th Stuart Conway, International Director and cofounder of Trees, Water & People proudly accepted the Francis K. Hutchinson Medal from the Garden Club of America (GCA). Since 1940, the GCA has awarded this medal to figures of national importance for their distinguished service to conservation. Stuart shares this medal with some of the most prominent environmental leaders of our time, including Rachel Carson, Walt Disney, Stewart Udall, Edward O. Wilson, Lady Bird Johnson, and The Rockefeller Family. With this medal, the Garden Club of America brings awareness to the importance of environmental leadership in America and throughout the world. Stuart Conway accepted this award and had these words to say: This award offers me a moment to look back on my path to becoming a conservationist, especially the last 13 years of my life that I have devoted to Trees, Water & People. I learned to appreciate
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Garden Club of America Continued...
our environment by hiking the forest around my grandfather’s farm in the Cuyahoga River Valley near Cleveland. From there it was a natural progression for me to study forestry in college and join the Peace Corps to help conserve the forests in Guatemala. When I started Trees, Water & People along with Richard Fox and my wife, Jenny Bramhall, we wanted to expand our vision of protecting the natural world. I believe that we have worked hard to do that and so much more. Together, with staff, community members, partners, donors, and our dedicated friends and family, we have helped to not only improve the environment, but also the lives of community members both here and abroad. At Trees, Water & People, we believe that local people should be intimately involved in the protection of their forests and watersheds. We have worked to establish community-led, sustainable development projects that encourage citizens in each community to take the lead in conserving natural resources and the environment.

We all want to be part of the solution and to go beyond symbolism to real action with tangible results. That’s what we’re doing every day at Trees, Water & People. We value your support, and hold sacred the trust you put in us. I always welcome you to contact me directly (, cell 303-579-8040, or mail) with your questions and ideas.

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Side by Side in Guatemala
By Dale Dow and Vern Delk, Trees, Water & People Donors We first met Stuart Conway, Trees, Water & People cofounder and his wife, Jenny, in Miami in 1984, as we were preparing for our Peace Corps service in Guatemala. Naturally, we were in contact with them over the next two years. This was especially true with Vern and Jenny, as they were in the same program as 4-H Promoters. Stuart was in the forestry program and got a first-hand view of the deforestation and general lack of reforestation in Central America, especially Guatemala. Dale was with public health, working as a nurse in a dispensary in our village. One of the primary programs in Guatemala was providing more efficient stoves, both for better cooking conditions and to prevent continued overuse of firewood leading to more deforestation. We returned to the states in 1986, resuming a life quite altered by the experience. Guatemala will always be our second country. We have stayed in contact with Stuart and Jenny ever since, as much as the distance allows. One of these days, we hope to go on an EcoTour as a good excuse to revisit Guatemala. When Stuart and Jenny started Trees, Water & People (TWP) in 1998 based on their work in Central America, emphasizing reforestation and fuel-efficient stoves, we jumped on board with financial support. Over the years, our contributions have fluctuated somewhat ranging from $200 to $1,000. This year, we have started a monthly pledge of $50 so that TWP will receive a steady amount (also it makes it easier for us). This of course doesn’t preclude special emergency appeals such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998 or the more recent earthquake in Haiti. “The many awards that TWP Our Peace Corps experience has received reinforce our belief showed us the need for reforestation and that the credibility and efficiency fuel-efficient stoves in Central America. of the program is topnotch.” Working side by side with Stuart and Jenny in Guatemala insured us of the integrity and ability of the founders. The many awards that Trees, Water & People has received reinforce our belief that the credibility and efficiency of the program is topnotch.


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From the TWP Board President
By Jon Becker, Trees, Water & People Board President Our times continue to be interesting. No shortage of disasters – from the earthquake in Haiti, which remains an emergency over a year later, the BP blowout in the Gulf, to the three headed monster of quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan. Let’s not overlook some remarkably positive events such as wind and solar emerging as the fastest growing source of new energy in the world, and the formation of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), which elevates the international efforts to design, manufacture, and disseminate improved cookstoves. We ask ourselves, “How can we be of greater service?” - realizing that if we’re not part of the solution, well, you know the rest. At Trees, Water & People, we’re busy implementing, partnering, and evolving our programs to improve lives. The GACC lights our fire to expand our work with new collaborations and heightened goals in Haiti and Central America. Our “We ask ourselves, how can team is contributing to GACC committees on technology and outreach that will we be of greater service?” extend our impact worldwide, including our preliminary field work and assessment of a potential stove project in Uganda. The work of the Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program continues to draw attention throughout Indian Country and beyond, including a feature story in the March Issue of Solar Today, the prestigious journal of the American Solar Energy Society.

When you donate to Trees, Water & People you can be confident that your hard earned money is used responsibly to bring about real, sustainable change.

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of people on Pine Ridge live below the federal poverty line. *


Seeking a New Way to Live in Harmony
By Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director This March, we hosted the first Alternative Spring Break for Colorado State University (CSU) students on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Fortuitously arriving after a major spring flood swept through the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and the homes of Henry Red Cloud and his extended family, thirteen students donated a week of their time to help rebuild. In the process, they renewed hope for Henry, who is so used to bringing hope to others. At the same time, the students learned about Lakota culture, life and politics on Pine Ridge, renewable energy, and how Henry and Trees, Water & People work together within this reality. Liz Harrison, a CSU student and an Alternative Break participant shares her experience: I was already a believer in the power of renewable energy on Native American reservations before even stepping foot on Pine Ridge. However, in my time there I learned first-hand why renewable energy is culturally, socially and emotionally beneficial. The people I met on Pine Ridge told me their expert insights on the power of this new technology and the lessons I learned there could fill an entire novel. The Lakota people I met often mentioned Chief Red Cloud’s “seventh generation” prophecy. In the late 1800s, in the midst of intense conflict between Native Americans and the United States government, Chief Red Cloud made a prophecy that in seven generations Lakota life would finally be returned to balance. I met Henry’s grandchildren and others born into this prophesied generation. Only time will tell how they may accomplish “Many people believe that the this monumental feat, but many spread of renewable energy people believe that the spread technology could aid in the of renewable energy technology restoration of harmonious living could aid in this restoration of with nature.” harmonious living with nature. Renewable energy honors traditional Lakota values and spreads hope. In addition, the job creation, financial independence, and poverty alleviation that can be achieved with renewable energy brings great hope to the reservation. According to Richard Fox “Hope is our currency,” and that is the most valuable asset of all. Sincere thanks to everyone at Lakota Solar Enterprises, Colorado State University Alternative Breaks and Trees, Water & People for their support and insight.

The Gift of Heat, The Preservation of Culture
By Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director “The heater works great,” says Leonard Littlefinger of the solar heater that Trees, Water & People supporters donated to his Lakota language school in 2010. Our partner, Henry Red Cloud, installed the heater in the school’s meeting room, which Leonard said came in handy this winter as he consulted with tribal elders who are helping him establish his curriculum’s vocabulary and grammar. In Leonard’s words, the heater “did the trick.” “It just quietly did its job,” he added, “you know, when you get to be our age, you need a good heater.” Leonard is the founder of the Sacred Hoop (Cangle’ska Waka’n: “chan-GLAY-shka wah-KAHN”) School, which is a part of the efforts on the Pine Ridge Reservation to preserve traditional Lakota culture. Part of learning a language, says Leonard, is understanding the way a society’s culture is integrated into its words. For instance, the Lakota word for hoop carries with it undertones of “the circle of life”. It is for this reason that Leonard chose the word hoop instead of circle for his school’s name. The Sacred Hoop School’s first group of students is scheduled to arrive this June. Currently, Leonard is finalizing his curriculum with, as he puts it, “the combined knowledge of over 500 years of Lakota language and culture” between himself and the other elders. At this inaugural two-week immersion program, Lakota students, parents and siblings will be invited to bring traditional language back into their home. Leonard is truly a leader in his community and has been selected for an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the College of Mount Saint Joseph in Ohio, where he is delivering this May’s commencement address. We hope all Trees, Water & People supporters take the same pride that we do in playing a small role in the amazing endeavor of preserving the Lakota language.


of people on Pine Ridge are unemployed.*


A TWP solar heater can reduce a family’s monthly heat bill by

Looking for a Ray of Hope
By Lucy Stroock, Trees, Water & People Donor As a new high school graduate in 1959, I drove across America with my family taking the northern-most route. After we crossed the headwaters of the Mississippi, the landscape became bleaker and bleaker. We learned we were now in Indian Country - miles and miles of windswept land with no signs of productivity of any kind. This was what had been given to the Native people to call “home”. I was shocked and dismayed by the visible cruelty and injustice which those lands revealed. It had been easier to think of the native peoples as dead and gone, than to recognize that their
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tribal members trained in renewable energy by TWP.
*From U.S. Census Bureau


*From U.S. Census Bureau


Meet Don Jorge Ochoa
By Claudia Menendez, International Program Coordinator I have seen a number of nurseries in my travels to El Salvador, but on this hot and muggy April afternoon, the seedlings at our partner Árboles y Agua para el Pueblo’s (AAP) nursery seem especially content. When I asked the Executive Director, Armando Hernandez, what his secret might be, he looked up and answered simply, “Don Jorge Ochoa.” Mr. Jorge Alberto Dorado Ochoa began working in 2007, when Trees, Water & People (TWP) and AAP set up their operations in El Porvenir, El Salvador. He immediately set to work establishing the planting rows, preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and caring for those 30,000 newly established plants. Although Jorge was never formally trained as a forester, he learned empirically what each species preferred by spending countless hours among them, watering, weeding, and preventing the scourge of all nurseries - pests and fungi. On this day, the corn on the west side of the nursery softly filters the afternoon sun and protects the tiny trees from wilting. On the other side is an abundant vegetable garden complete with cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cilantro, basil, pineapples, papayas, and greens, effectively deterring pests from snacking on the seedlings. It was through his years of work on coffee plantations that Jorge grew to understand plant interactions and started practicing these creative and invaluable management tools. Late last year, Jorge was diagnosed with prostate cancer and we were uncertain if he would continue working with Trees, Water & People. As he stepped away from his position to care for his health, his absence in the nursery was felt by all. Throughout his illness, he “I feel strongly that my would walk from dedication to the nursery and his house to the the work of TWP gave me nursery just to spend time with purpose and helped me recover my strength and health.” the plants he had worked so hard to nurture. With an amazing recovery, Jorge soon returned with renewed vigor and ambition. “I feel strongly that my dedication to the nursery and the work of TWP gave me purpose and helped me recover my strength and health,” said Jorge about the TWP community. After spending many an afternoon in this little nursery, I know that Jorge gives thanks each day for his job, his health, and every dollar that Trees, Water & People has contributed. Our supporters truly understand the value of his work and the jobs that our partners are bringing to these rural communities.

A Humbling Journey to Haiti
By Richard Fox, National Director While in Port-au-Prince this April I witnessed a city that is still experiencing overwhelming need. Today much of the rubble from thousands of destroyed structures remains where it fell and many people still live in tent communities. Life, though, has been slowly improving and Trees, Water & People (TWP), in partnership with International Lifeline Fund (ILF), is continuing to build low cost, fuel efficient cookstoves that not only lessen the exorbitant price families pay for charcoal, but also help relieve pressure on the disappearing Haitian forest. After collecting valuable feedback from our stove beneficiaries, TWP and ILF worked together to design the Zanmi Pye Bwa (“Friend of the Forest”) fuel-efficient cookstove. A group of tinsmiths was then brought together to cut and assemble 1,000 Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstoves over a six week period. Centralizing production without a factory site is challenging, but


cubic meters of wood was burned for fuel in Central America in 2009.*

of forests in Haiti have been removed, primarily for charcoal.*


trees planted by TWP to date.

“These workers have embarked on what we hope will be an uplifting rise out of poverty.”
allows us to improve standardization of our product while offering these skilled metal workers a positive change of environment – getting them away from rough neighborhoods characterized by burning trash, dilapidated buildings, crowds, and traffic. All in all, these workers have embarked on what we hope will be an uplifting rise out of poverty, gaining access to steady and dignified employment in what TWP & ILF intend to develop into a significant local charcoal stove manufacturing operation over the next year. I was greatly humbled by my journey and it reminded me once again to be thankful for all I have. It was heartening to see how effective TWP and ILF are at utilizing our donors’ contributions and to witness the positive and lasting impact our work is having for thousand of Haitian families.

Families spend less on daily charcoal expenses with the Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstove.


*From the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

*From the Library of Congress

Looking for a Ray of Hope Continued...
life continued under these harsh conditions. As an adult, I gained an understanding from the Native art and writing of the survivors and their struggle to maintain their cultures. Voices are being raised, and sometimes heard, proclaiming that the “dead Indian” isn’t dead after all. But other news also tells me that the reality of those bleak lands has not changed. Poverty, depression, alcoholism, and suicide too often overwhelm the lives of those living on and off the reservations. Looking for a ray of hope in this dismal story, I was glad to learn of the work which Trees, Water & People (TWP) is supporting on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. As a donor to TWP for its work in Central America, I trust and admire their methods. They bring resources and empower people to find the solutions which work best in their lives. Training and local jobs assure that the solutions grow roots. This same community-based approach is guiding TWP’s work with Henry Red Cloud. In five years, a small pilot has grown into a manufacturing center and training site which provides solar heaters that warm homes and save dollars. It is teaching skills for a green industry and spreading the word and training beyond Pine Ridge. The simple solution of planting trees as wind breaks against the winter blasts is expanding and the advanced technology of wind power is being introduced alongside solar. All this gives me hope.

633 Remington Street ● Fort Collins, CO 80524 ● 877-606-4TWP ● Board of Directors
Jon Becker, President Jim Volpa, Vice President Kevin Shaw, Treasurer Adele Dinsmore, Secretary Jenny Bramhall, Gerry Conway Jr., Patrick Flynn, Jeremy Foster, Kathy Cosgrove Green, Mona Newton, Garth Rogers Stuart Conway, International Director Sebastian Africano, Deputy International Director Claudia Menendez, International Program Coordinator Richard Fox, National Director Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director Craig Coleman, Tribal Development Assistant Diane Vella, Finance Director Pete Iengo, Office & Facilities Manager Heather Herrell, Development Director Carol Johnson, Major Donor Manager Amanda Haggerty, Data & Mailings Manager Megan Maiolo, Marketing & Communications Coordinator Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), Haiti International Lifeline Fund, Haiti Leonel Jarquín, Guatemala PROLEÑA, Nicaragua Árboles Y Agua Para El Pueblo (AAP), El Salvador Honduran Association for Development (AHDESA), Honduras Lakota Solar Enterprises, South Dakota Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Colorado

Trees, Water & People

Program Partners


Consultants and Interns

Aprovecho Research Center Shannon Conk, International Development Intern Catherine Franzese, Tribal Development Intern Christina Koutsogiannis, Tribal Development Intern Kari Lamphier, Development Intern Joe Maria, Development Intern Deborah Mayer, International Development Intern Christy Proulx, Marketing Intern Jamie Suess, International Development Intern David Taft, International Development Intern

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