Tag Archive: Non-profit Organizations

See how your neighbors & friends are making ripples in their community, and share what you’re doing!

Ripples’ sustainability column in The Free Weekly, “Making Ripples”, has just added a new feature today: “People Making Ripples”.  We’ll be interviewing and featuring local residents doing something large or small to make their lives more sustainable.  This will accompany the usual Making Ripples column as a photo series, replacing some of the stock photos that would have otherwise been used in that space.  People Making Ripples isn’t a series of blog posts, but will appear exclusively in The Free Weekly, so go get yourself a copy and meet people making ripples in our community today!

My apologies that the column’s references to people being featured in People Making Ripples is off by a week in each case; it was intended to begin last week, but space limitations made it impossible to fit into last week’s issue, I was told.  So instead we’re beginning this week with Alena DeGrado, and next week we’ll be featuring the work of Brad Volz.  If you know of someone doing something sustainable, or would like to share what you’re doing, submit your photos and a brief description to: MakeSomeRipples@Gmail.com

Now go make some ripples! Smile

Check out this week’s issue of The Free Weekly for a concept design of one acre for Making Ripples!

Ryan & I have been thinking hard since August 2011 about how to make the most ripples on a small piece of land.  There are so many wonders to be created on just one acre for Ripples, if it’s healthy, protected and sustainable: native pollinators, trees, and wildlife; rainwater harvesting systems; technology that makes a difference globally; alternative power sources like solar panels; fresh organic vegetables and herbs; healing pathways through the forest, and much more!  These are just ideas, but some of them are already alive and well: technology help for non-profits, our blog and column, a rain barrel, bicycles, and more.  But we can’t make a more tangible difference in Northwest Arkansas without the land.  Have you seen this acre?  If so, let us know by emailing MakeSomeRipples@Gmail.com

Thanks! :)

Making Ripples in the World

I find it really hard to write about Ripples as an entity, with measurable effects on the world.  Of course, things are measurable: number of NGO’s helped, number of blog posts receiving readers, number of comments, number of columns written about sustainability…but are they visual?  Not nearly enough.  This video, shared with me by my friend Teresa, illustrates the way I see Ripples.  I guess technically Ripples is just Ryan & I, and you could argue Ripples includes projects with our partner organizations, and the growing list of volunteers wanting to build with earthbags.  But when I picture what Ripples actually does, well it looks more like this video.

So I invite you to watch this video and enjoy these scenes, then watch it again and replace them with scenes from the past year at Ripples.  Notice in the video that the love flows both ways :) Same with Ripples.  Here are our real life “scenes” painted with words so you can see them better as you watch the video (I’ve tried to keep identities anonymous just like the video).  Ripples’ scenes are about gardening, websites, compost toilets, sharing information, and little acts of kindness.  Someday I would love to actually put together a video with photos and live scenes from Ripples!  For now just try to imagine it:

  1. A toilet built with locally harvested bamboo in Kathmandu, Nepal, inspires a girl in the United States to use local bamboo to build a solar shower with a 5-gallon bag.
  2. Better publicity makes sponsorships grow for a trail maintenance organization, encouraging more people to enjoy and protect our parks after the re-development of their website allows the web developer to learn more about web development for helping non-profits in the future.
  3. 235 youth in Cameroon are trained in fundraising after a local leader learns about capacity building via the internet, sparking more support for free access to the internet.
  4. Writing about raising baby chicks inspires people in other locations to consider urban farming.
  5. A child with food allergies is able to enjoy eating a totally safe cookie, so his mother helps pay for a solar platform for Ripples’ blog.
  6. An Armenian organization supporting people with disabilities creates a Facebook page after receiving training in the importance of online communication.
  7. A woman with experience in gardening helps a youth learn to grow herbs, and the resulting cilantro and basil are given as gifts to neighbors.
  8. One girl receives training in non-profit management and contacts an international organization to provide curriculum materials for an online class taken by students in 34 countries who then pass the materials to their organizations, improving them with their own ideas.
  9. After learning in workshops about native species and their needs, native habitat is created and publicized on Ripples’ blog, helping a city become the first in its state to receive certification due to the whole community working together.
  10. A trip to a sustainably built retreat center inspires us to use cob for sculpting shelves in the walls at Ripples’ future homestead, and our post on sustainable building inspires a family to get in touch with us to learn more about how they can do it, too.
  11. [insert your Ripples moment here]


The light bulb came on above my head while watching this film.

Solar Mamas was presented to a small Fayetteville Public Library audience at 2:00 this afternoon. It showed how the Barefoot College in India is training women to become solar engineers.  I watched it like I have viewed many documentaries, but in this unusual case I realized just how much Ripples has changed the way I engage with new information. I didn’t want to donate money to the impoverished people on the screen; rather, I wanted to pay them to teach me their skills. View full article »

As part of our conservation work, Ripples is sending postcards!

What? Postcards? How could that possibly help save wildlife??

Because being a tiger ranger in the field is a thankless job.  Sometimes all it takes is acknowledgement and appreciation to renew the spirit of someone risking their life for wildlife.  For the cost of one postcard stamp, or the totally FREE action of sending an online e-card, you can say thank-you to the people who help save my favorite animal, the tiger.  Ripples will be sending one postcard to each country to say thanks, and we invite you to join us by sending a card yourself. Meanwhile, Ripples is working here in Arkansas trying to protect our own native species.  Once we buy the land and build the homestead (including free community workshops on building with earth bags) we will also have free wildlife habitat tours and workshops where the community can learn more about creating vital habitat for native species.

In the meantime, it’s all about learning as much as we can! With the dry, excessive heat, I recycled an old skillet and put it at ground level, filled it with water, and placed several branches around the outside to encourage songbirds and other animals to perch and take a drink.  This was a makeshift birdbath idea suggested by our friend Louise, who noticed that wildlife seemed to want a ground-level bath and using an upturned trash can lid and branches was effective. Good tip!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/46472580 w=400&h=300]

Honoring the homesteading spirit of Spencer West.

This morning as I sip my peppermint tea and eat a gluten-casein-soy-egg-free blueberry muffin from New Day Bakery, it doesn’t matter that the doctors told me what I’m doing is impossible.  After watching this video, I’m giving myself new options that the doctors said I didn’t have.  Who cares that I’ve spent the last 3 days curled up around a toilet or on someone’s couch, when today I (once again) regained the ability to walk without pain? These little gains are important, because that’s what is going to help build our earth bag homestead and enable me to continue giving my best efforts to Ripples and our incredible international network of change makers. Never give up. View full article »

Now you can order allergen-free cookies to support Ripples!

Coming soon, Ripples Cookies is offering 100% allergen-free cookies.  This means everything we bake will be 100% gluten-free and vegan, with options for you to order sugar-free, nut-free, and chocolate-free cookies too!  The chocolate chips we’re now using are Kosher and free of the top 8 allergens: milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. We are also 100% soy-free, all organic, and fair trade.  That means that if we use vanilla extract in a recipe, it’s from a Fair Trade source. View full article »

Tomorrow is the first day of the Farmer’s Market!

Admittedly, I’m writing this post a month in advance because I’m that excited about the Farmer’s Market.  It’s my favorite place in all of Fayetteville, and my favorite activity besides going to the zoo.  You never know what you’ll see there this year: monkeys, magicians, cute puppies, belly dancers, beautiful crafts and flower bouquets, and of course the main event: delicious produce, eggs, jams and more from hard-working farmers who literally feed the community and keep it alive.

To celebrate the day, here’s a special treat to honor a hard-working organization called Grand Aspirations.  Their program, Summer of Solutions, has focused on many different topics including local food.  The Fayetteville SoS 2010 team of youth in high school made my favorite stop motion video of all time!  Move over Burl Ives and Rudolph!  It’s about food, using food to tell the story of eating healthy and locally by purchasing from a farmer, cooking, and sharing.

Check out Grand Aspirations & enjoy this video from Summer of Solutions!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlLb8PpnCMU]

Celebrating a successful capacity building course!

A Wiki I made for helping students access resources on capacity building

Many of you already know that Ryan & I have been active assisting non-profit organizations to build their capacity in one way or another, whether its acquiring a youth program or a website, or teaching a class on effective organizations.  Ripples is not just about helping ourselves live a sustainable lifestyle; we’re also dedicated to inviting others to join us on the journey in their own ways, which is often the work of non-profit organizations assisting with food justice, energy efficiency, and other causes.   View full article »

I’m super excited to begin teaching and learning from my students!

The reason(s) why I have not posted to Ripples this past Monday/Tuesday is partly because, hey, it was Valentine’s Day and Ryan & I were both trying to enjoy a nice day off work despite both of us being sick.  But the biggest reason I haven’t taken much time for Ripples is because tomorrow is the first day of my course, Capacity Building, with Youth Action for Change!

If you’ve never heard of YAC, please do check them out because they offer online courses on a wide variety of youth empowerment topics.  I’ve already taken an online course through the Earth Charter called eGLO #3 “Global Learning Opportunity,” but this will be my first time teaching an online course.  I’m a bit nervous and distracted, even thinking about it in my sleep to make sure the best possible curriculum is created for students’ benefit.

Here is the advertisement for the course created by YAC:


“This course is designed for young people aged 18-30 who are actively involved in making a difference in their communities, particularly those already running smallnon-profit organizations or community projects or intending to start one. The course will help students understand and analyze the capabilities andcapacities of their non-profit organizations or projects and identify gapsrelative to the capabilities needed to achieve their targeted goals. Studentswill then be guided to develop an action plan to improve theirorganization/project’s capabilities.

The course will be led by Amanda Bancroft an experienced youth volunteer who has served as a former Americorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America)volunteer, and built organizational capacity through grant writing, youth program development, website design, volunteer management, fundraising, and green job creation.

The course will be restricted to 40 participants chosen by application – preference isgiven to participants who are active in their communities and who intend to usethe course material to help them make a difference in their communities.Participants must be able to attend all sessions of the course and complete homework tasks inorder to obtain a certificate of completion. Participants must also haveregular internet access (at least 5 hours per week) to join course sessions. Students who may be disadvantaged are also encouraged to apply.”