Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meet our Fall Interns!

As we all shut down our computers and close our office doors to get ready for the holiday weekend, we at WEA are once again reminded of how so much of our work would not be possible without the support of our rockstar team of interns.  So to kick off our gratitude-sharing festivities, we're sending warm hugs and tons of thanks to these ladies!

Thank you both for all the energy you're bringing to your time with us!

And we hope everyone has some time this weekend to take a moment, give thanks for one another and the planet we live on, and do a little something to show that appreciation to the world. 

REBECCA OLSON – General Office and Research Intern

1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  I grew near the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia and moved to Northern California a few years ago, where I managed an inn for several years and took community college classes. Now I am finishing my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley with a self-designed research focus on feminist perspectives in international relations, considering how traits traditionally associated with femininity and marginalized in the political sphere could contribute to policies that support a more sustainable and equitable international system. In my research, I focus on the experience of women and marginalized groups. I've always worked while in college, but starting this summer I took a leap of faith and decided to prioritize valuable learning experience over income-earning, mainly because I wanted to start learning firsthand about the issues that are close to my heart. I spent the summer volunteering for an international organization based in Rome that supports sustainable forestry and agriculture. Then I found Women's Earth Alliance through an Internet search and joined the WEA team this fall.

2. What do you do at WEA?
  I help with general office tasks and donor support. I am also researching the effects of energy development projects on Native U.S. and Canadian women's reproductive health, as well as its connections to violence against Native women, and I'm excited to contribute a few blog posts in the coming weeks as I learn more about these issues.

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know!
  I used to volunteer at a monkey sanctuary in Maryland, and I just started learning Argentine Tango.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  One major challenge is grappling with our economic mindset that prioritizes short-term income or profits over long-term prosperity. Also, I think that our conventional understanding of economics needs to expand to include those things that truly contribute to human well-being, such as healthy relationships with each other and with the planet. Treating the earth like a commodity is obviously not sustainable. Additionally, I think that development projects will tend to replicate or even exacerbate existing inequalities in society unless they are rigorously examined and take into account the concerns of all those who will be effected.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Vandana Shiva, for her activism to preserve biodiversity and to support the work of women farmers. Many times I struggle with how to effect positive change in the world. I see Shiva's work as focusing on the regeneration of life, building life from the roots (in communities and working with small farmers), rather than coming down from the top with some big revolutionary idea.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.   On my first day, I was told that I could take the initiative in projects that I'm working on. I said, "Oh, you mean if I want to do something differently I should check with you first?" She clarified that I can just go ahead. I'm still getting used to this approach, and find that it makes me feel energized and excited about the projects I'm working on.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to learn about specific effects of environmental damage on the bodies and lives of Indigenous women and communities, and to learn about what these women are doing to stand up for themselves and protect their bodies, families, and communities. I am already learning so much, and wondering why I haven't seen more stories about these issues in the mainstream media. I hope to be able to share what I learn with family, friends, and others who I know.

KATALINA TORRES-GARCIA – General Office and Research Intern

1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  I grew up near Los Angeles and moved up to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley where I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. When I saw there was an opening at WEA I jumped at it. WEA’s work focuses on the subjects I am most passionate about.

2. What do you do at WEA?  I’m the general office and research intern. I update and input donations and information into WEA’s databases, transcribe testimonies, help cultivate donor support and correspondence and assist with anything else the team needs help with!

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know!  I’m really fond of dogs, so much so that my attention span is temporarily suspended if I see one and I’ll only really be thinking, "Must pet dog..." When I’m not thinking about dogs I’m probably thinking about food, or traveling to different countries to eat food.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  I see the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment as changing the embedded patriarchy within our systems. This challenge is exacerbated when corporations have their hands in environmental issues fueling injustices and are neglecting human rights. To create an environmentally sustainable future it’s necessary for women have agency over the environment that shapes their lives.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Many women inspire me, but my mom is always who comes to mind first. She set the standards of equality for my life, and I'm thankful because now I won't settle for anything less. She encouraged me to learn and to question and to not hold back my voice or opinions.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA. 
One thing that surprised me at WEA is the volume of new information I am exposed to. Before I began I felt relatively informed, but after just my first couple of days I learned about issues that I knew little about and will never forget.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? Throughout my time here at WEA, I hope to get practice and knowledge about how a non-profit operates to move forward and continue to work to improve the environment and lives of women, including my own. I look forward to learning and seeing how when we women connect to share knowledge and resources, change can occur on small scale to become widespread.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Join us in the People's Climate March Thunderclap!

WEA is so proud to be supporting the critical and historic People's Climate March. Stand with us! March if you're in NYC! If you can't get to New York, follow the link below and be part of the PCM takes 30 seconds and will be one more voice joining in to protect our communities and futures!

Share widely!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WEA Grassroots Partner Celebrated as "Woman Warrior"

Check out this great article on grassroots women warriors--including a WEA partner!--who are protecting their lands and communities against #environmental destruction.

Suryamani Bhagat is a brave forest activist and #Indigenous leader of the Jharkhand Save the Forest Movement in #India, and has mobilized a forest watch committee to stop illegal forest destruction in her state.

WEA partnered with Jharkhand Save the Forest Movement, part of the Bindrai Institute of Research Study and Action, over the last year to support their efforts to enhance decision-making power of adivasi women, who are crucial custodians of forests and #biodiversity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WEA's New Partnership to Address Environmental Violence

We are so proud to be in partnership with The Native Youth Sexual Health Network on a community-based research and advocacy initiative to address the environmental violence Indigenous women and  youth face as a result of extreme extraction.

Everything that impacts the land in turn impacts our bodies.

Visit the link below to learn more about this initiative, how it aims to address the impacts of extractive industries on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Indigenous communities, how you can get involved or share your knowledge, or other ways you can support.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Women's Equality Day!

Happy Women's Equality Day here in the U.S.! While this day commemorates the passage of women's right to vote, here at WEA, women's equality also means honoring the knowledge, expertise and leadership of grassroots women around the world who are standing strong for our communities, environment and futures.

What does Women's Equality Day mean to you?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Benefit Concert to Support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their Efforts

Where will you be tomorrow night?

Please join us at the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, CA for Wintu Ch'aawa, a benefit concert to honor and support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe as they continue their efforts to protect their culture, lifeways, and sacred lands from the Shasta Dam raise. The evening will feature Redstar, Michael Preston, Almas Fronterizas, an art auction and surprise guests!

WEA, along with Idle No More HawaiĘ»i and Warriors Rising, is proud to be among the organizations and individuals co-sponsoring this event.

Please share far and wide, and we hope to see you there!

Ticket are $15 sliding scale. Space is limited, so buy your tickets soon, and thank you in advance for your support!

For more information:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

WEA Partnership with GREEN Foundation Supports Women Farmers in Karnataka

In India, climate change, the steady degradation of natural resources, as well as political and social unrest and inequity, has severely affected the lives of millions of rural poor—a majority of which are women—who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. These barriers help to make women and girls more vulnerable to societal and health dangers, and reinforces patriarchal practices that deny them access to arenas where decisions affecting them are made.

That's why WEA was thrilled to partner with GREEN Foundation last year to recognize the knowledge and expertise of women farmers to promote food security and build community resiliency. Through this partnership and GREEN Foundations amazing efforts on the ground, women farmers in Karnataka were mentored, trained and supported as they shared and built their skills in sustainable agriculture, seed saving, income generation, community organizing, and leadership around climate adaptation.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet Our Summer Intern!

We don't know what we'd do without all the wonderful interns who have given of themselves to support our work over the past few years.

That's why we're so excited to introduce you to the amazing intern working with us here in Berkeley this summer!  She's a rockstar, and we feel so lucky to have her on board!  If you're in the Bay Area, come by and say hi to Kelsey and the rest of the team!

KELSEY RILEY – General Intern

1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  Born and raised in the Bay Area, I have always appreciated the incredible amount of cultural and environmental diversity Northern California has to offer. Even as a child, I knew that I was incredibly lucky to live in such an amazing area with countless opportunities. I grew up volunteering at school events and summer camps, and it has always been my passion to give back to my community. Here in Berkeley I volunteer through a mental health awareness org, as well as a homeless shelter for youth ages 18-25.

I just finished my second year at UC Berkeley and I am majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies. A good friend of mine interned with WEA previously and after I heard about her experiences, I knew I had to get involved!

2. What do you do at WEA?  Generally I help with daily operations, whether it be logging donations or writing thank-you cards to our generous donors. In addition I have been working on some graphics to add to WEA’s social media pages, as well as doing research on the Alberta tar sands and their impact on indigenous women and their communities.

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know! I enjoy the movie Napoleon Dynamite a little too much! I won a pig-calling contest when I was seven… I am strangely proud of this accomplishment.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  I think that at times it can be difficult to examine the intersectionality between these categories because they each have issues within themselves. We must be able to look at these intersections critically and search for ways in which they bring different identities together in order to make sense of these complex challenges and find ways to actively work on them.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Emma Thompson. Other than being an Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter, she supports anti-poverty agency ActionAid, is the chair of human rights organization The Helen Bamber Foundation, and works to raise awareness of human trafficking. I deeply admire both her work in film and her philanthropy.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.  How such a small group of individuals can make such an impact in so many ways. WEA is a living, breathing example of women supporting women in a way that brings individuals of all experiences together to empower one another. WEA encourages women to continue being successful leaders within their communities.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to learn more about the intersections between women and environmental issues, and how women can work together to make differences both in their communities and on a more global scale. I also hope to contribute to hands-on, creative projects that assist the social media presence of WEA as an organization.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WEA and Fondo Semillas Support Indigenous Women Leaders

In Mexico, the legal system fails to include any specific legislation protecting women's land and property rights. Therefore, Indigenous women's actual control over property has been very limited. Despite the urgency and importance of the situation, there are very few organizations working to improve women’s access to land.

That is why WEA has partnered with Fondo Semillas—the only women’s fund in Mexico—to support Indigenous women leaders who have come together to represent "an unprecedented effort to spark a movement for indigenous women’s land rights in Mexico.”

Meet Silvia (Zapoteca-Chinanteca), one of the courageous grassroots women supported by our partnership, who is working for Indigenous women's land rights in Oaxaca.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Environmental Injustice: Communities on the Frontlines

One of the key concerns in much of WEA's work is around the continued presence of environmental racism and environmental violence in Indigenous communities around the world, and how that presence impacts women in particular.  We see this appear in many ways: the siting of hazardous waste facilities, American corporations' sale and exportation of poisonous pesticides otherwise banned in the U.S., mining and exploitation on Indigenous lands, and much more.

To illustrate this point, here's an infographic specifically highlighting the impact of hazardous and toxic waste facilities, and abandoned or working mines in racially, ethnically and socially underrepresented communities in the United States.