Ripples is based on the “ripple effect” idea that small actions can ripple outward and create a better world. We are an emerging online educational center with our future headquarters in a sustainable earthbag cabin located at the historic Johnson Pear Farm in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, USA. Ripples is a personal project started in 2011 by Ryan & Amanda Bancroft. We’re looking at every lifestyle decision we make (what careers we choose, food we eat, house we live in, transportation, etc) and asking “How can we make a difference with this choice?” Please visit our FAQ for answers to your questions, or:
The Story Behind Ripples
Ripples began as a blog that was created in September 2011 as a way of chronicling our (Ryan & Amanda Bancroft) story of converting our lifestyle to a sustainable one. After completing two years in AmeriCorps service, we decided to build a small off-grid earthbag home in the Ozarks of Arkansas, USA, and protect native habitat and wildlife. During this time, we bought earthbag house plans, sold our car to live car-free, switched to a more ecological plant-based diet, and devoted our financial resources and mental energy towards figuring out how we could maximize our ripples in the world in the most effective way. We chose to share any information we found on our journey in order to help other families who were considering similar transitions to sustainable sources of food, housing, water, transportation, energy and/or products. We wanted to help individuals from all walks of life apply our resources to anything they desired to do to make a difference in the world. Our network expanded from local friends to international followers in over 94 countries.
In 2012, several wikis were added to the blog’s website to better facilitate the sharing of Ripples’ educational tools. Because these are no longer free to use, we’re developing a new model to share resources like books, video, websites, podcasts, radio shows and written articles with our readers.
A newspaper column in the Free Weekly paper called Making Ripples started in August of 2012 with the goal of sharing sustainability tips as well as information on how to make a difference (“make ripples”) in the world. We were also featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. People Making Ripples is a photo feature added to the column in 2013 to publicize what local heroes are doing to make a difference or live sustainably, inspiring others to follow their example and try something new.
Helping Organizations Make Bigger Ripples
We recognized that while we could make ripples (make a difference) with our personal lifestyle and careers, we could make a bigger difference by helping non-profit organizations and individuals maximize their impact across a variety of causes, such as global poverty, the environment, health and the arts to name a few. Ripples became a website that housed the blog, wikis, column archives and new services for non-profits looking to become more efficient and effective.
These services included:
- Social Media Strategies
- Online Classes in Capacity Building
- Website Development & Administration
- Writing Grants, Articles, Website Content, Blogs, etc.
- Connecting Local, National & International Networks
- Publicity & Advertising for Good Causes & Ethical Businesses
Our first online course was offered in spring 2012, on “Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Capacity Building,” in collaboration with Youth Action for Change. This course was designed for youth leaders aged 18-30 who were actively involved in making a difference in their communities, particularly those already running small non-profit organizations. The course helped students in 34 countries understand and analyze the capabilities and capacities of their non-profit organizations or projects, and identify resources needed to achieve their targeted goals. Students were guided to develop an action plan to improve their organization/project’s capabilities. We hope to offer this course again in order to continue training capacity builders worldwide to assist Ripples in serving non-profit organizations in the above ways, and expand our services. Currently we are not focused on providing these free services to non-profits, and are instead working to build our earthbag cabin and improve our solar-powered website.
A Multi-Purpose Home and Educational Center
By the end of 2013, Ripples transformed into almost an entity of its own, growing beyond just a personal website. Our network was big enough to begin brainstorming exciting new ideas. We decided to use the soon-to-be-built house for multiple purposes, instead of only a private residence. These two additional purposes include:
- An office (located in a half-loft above the main floor) that would function as:
- A space to create online educational materials
- An online training center for individuals and organizations wanting to maximize their positive impact
- An educational center (located in and around the house itself) used by the local community and non-profit organizations for giving tours and workshops on sustainability topics including wildlife habitat, alternative energy, vegan cooking, and rainwater harvesting, to name a few.
Becoming a Global Network
Since 2011, Ripples has become far bigger than we intended or thought it could be. Our blog has attracted over 6,000 unique readers from over 94 countries, including 83 subscribers who care about making a difference in the world. These are humble numbers among internet giants, and we have a lot to learn, but it’s an exciting foundation for future work. Every person, like a droplet, has the potential to make ripples! Our Facebook fans number over 300. We have worked with dozens of awesome non-profit organizations, helping them with their website or expanding their capacity in other ways. There have been over 100 Making Ripples columns published to date, and we’ve featured 20 local heroes in our new photograph series People Making Ripples. Thank you for your inspiration!
Ripples work is guided by the Solutionary Method pioneered by Grand Aspirations, and the concepts of capacity building (helping organizations increase the good they do), effective altruism (finding the most effective ways to improve the world), and global interdependence in non-profit work (acknowledging synergy between good causes and discovering solutions that address multiple causes simultaneously). Our goal is to maximize ripples in the world.
I’m a writer, artist and master naturalist passionate about conservation and global collaboration. Everything I do is “life crafting,” creating a world I want to see exist through personal lifestyle changes. It’s fun, fulfilling, and one of the best ways I’ve found to follow Gandhi’s wisdom and “be the change.”
I enjoy reading, drawing, piano, tai chi, snuggling with my cat, and having picnics with my husband Ryan! My favorite hobby is watching wildlife, and I’m frequently out in the woods connecting with nature.
I enjoy video games, learning about all aspects of web, network, and server technology, creating and thrilling in music, and long walks exploring distant mountain ranges.
I split my time between working on non-profit websites; pondering the power, and ways to improve the process, of cooperation while being the Network Administrator at Ozark Natural Foods; chatting, walking, or snuggling with my lovely partner; and challenging myself to embrace the beauty and serenity in every moment, especially the challenging ones.
You will rarely catch me alongside busy streets. Look for me on wooded side streets, walking or biking to my next destination, pulling the sights and scents of budding trees and flowers deep inside.