By James Calabaza,
National Program Coordinator
Trees, Water & People
Photos by José Chalit
In 2017, Trees, Water & People (TWP) had the privilege of partnering with We Share Solar to design and implement hands-on workshops that enlighten the spirit of Native American cultures. Autumn on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota can bring harsh cold temperatures yet beautiful scenery and landscapes. Pine Ridge is also the site where we implemented the first of many Solar Suitcase workshops with We Share Solar’s support. This magical place is where our cherished partnership began.
TWP is a Colorado-based non-profit organization and we believe in the idea of creating long- term relationships and partnerships with organizations and individuals to create new economic opportunities and support local conservation projects. Our approach centers environmental conservation around community participation and local “buy-in,” and partners like We Share Solar are key in accomplishing this.
Our collaboration over the years has been built on friendship and trust, whether through facilitating workshops together, traveling to We Share Solar to receive first-hand training, or simply taking time out of our professional schedules to get to know each other better as people. Hoopa Valley Solar Suitcase Workshop (2018)
The opportunity to work with We Share Solar has provided TWP essential tools and networks to expand our work and co-facilitate workshops together, like at the 2019 National American Indian Sciences and Engineering Society (AISES) in Milwaukee, WI. This was a unique privilege to facilitate a full day hands-on workshop for Native American high school students from across the country.
One of our partnership’s proudest moments was in the summer of 2018, when TWP, We Share Solar, California State University-East Bay, and the National Indian Youth Leadership Project collaborated to facilitate a five-day Solar Warriors Camp with the Hoopa Valley Tribe. This week-long camp brought together expertise from various entities to implement a dynamic workshop that taught Native American teachers, students, and community leaders the basics of the Solar Suitcase and the important role of solar energy in healing our collective relationships with nature reconnecting with culture.
TWP recognizes and is grateful for the importance of having strong, community-based partners like We Share Solar. Their commitment to hands-on education in the places we work gives us hope that community-led conservation projects are effective and necessary. We’re proud to partner with We Share Solar, and we look forward to continuing the impact we will make together in this world!
We Share Solar, the Education Program at We Care Solar, is proud to partner with Trees Water & People (TWP). TWP works alongside rural communities across the Americas to provide tools and training that improve natural resource management and promote sustainable livelihoods. We encourage you to learn more about TWP by visiting their website or watching their introductory video.