What is Ripples in 2014?

A brief history of where we’ve been, and where we are now.

Summary:

  1. We wanted to  make a difference with our lifestyle choices.
  2. By sharing resources, we could help more people make a difference.
  3. Then we wanted to inspire others as well as sharing their inspiration with the world.
  4. Helping non-profit organizations expands our positive impact.
  5. We want to use our private house for multiple public purposes (an office & educational center).
  6. Becoming a global network helps everyone learn from each other.
  7. Our goals are sustainability education and non-profit capacity building in every field.

Making a Difference with Our Personal Lifestyle

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2011 Ripples Launch

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. (We are still searching for a location.) We wanted to share any information we found along the way 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 wanted to do to make a difference in the world. Our network expanded from local friends to international followers in over 94 countries. However, we continue to blog on a volunteer basis only, and do not receive advertising revenue (in the future, we’re considering advertising green businesses).

Sharing Resources

In 2012, several wikis were added to the blog’s website to better facilitate the sharing of Ripples’ educational tools. These wikis include:

  1. Craft My Holidays for resources on alternative and sustainable celebration ideas
  2. Ripples Resources, which is still in development, for information on Ripples itself and sustainable lifestyle tips on wildlife habitat, eco villages, land conservation, water, alternative transportation & energy, and much more
  3. Non-Profit Resources is the curriculum for our online capacity building course designed to empower organizations to save more lives and make more ripples in the world via better publicity, volunteer management, fundraising, and more

Inspiring Others

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

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Collecting earthbags in 2013

During this time, we bought earthbag house plans, sold our car in 2011 to live car-free, switched to organic food and a mostly vegan 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 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. These services include:

  • 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 collaboration with United Nations Earth Charter Youth.

A Multi-Purpose Earthbag Building

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A home with multiple functions

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:

  1. An office (located in a half-loft above the main floor) that would function as:
    • A space to create online educational materials such as podcasts, videos, and books on sustainability topics
    • An online training center for individuals and organizations wanting to maximize their positive impact
    • A think tank for our online network to discover ways to effectively solve global problems like poverty and environmental issues through capacity building
  2. 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, and rainwater harvesting, to name a few

Becoming a Global Network

Our expanding network!

Our expanding network!

Since 2011, Ripples blog has attracted over 6,000 unique readers from over 94 countries, including 63 subscribers who care about making a difference in the world.  Our Facebook fans number over 250.  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 about 70 Making Ripples columns published to date, and we’ve featured 15 local heroes in our new photograph series People Making Ripples.  Thank you for your inspiration!

We are now a global network empowering individuals and organizations working on a variety of interdependent non-profit causes to make as many ripples as possible, at the local, national and international level.  We’ve got a lot to learn about how to be the most effective at achieving our goals of sustainability education and non-profit capacity building, and we need your help! Stay tuned for ways you can “officially” join us (FREE) and become a Ripples member and/or volunteer in 2014!



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