Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2009 Day of Prayer for God's Creation

Plant With Purpose is excited to announce that October 21st is Renewal’s second annual Day of Prayer for God’s Creation.

We have the opportunity to join Christian students around North America in standing together to pray for the renewal of God’s creation. The event will draw participants from Christian colleges, churches, and communities across North America.

Renewal believes that prayer is an important practice for all of us as we seek to reclaim and renew our Biblical calling to care for God’s creation. Once a year, in the fall, Renewal calls on Christians to participate in a day of prayer to seek forgiveness, wisdom, and leadership in caring for the whole of God’s creation. Renewal issues this call every year as an open invitation to all Christians.

This year, Renewal is calling on Christians to pray for energy stewardship and climate change. Renewal believes this expression of unity in prayer is vital during an age wherein our careless and irresponsible stewardship of energy resources has led to severe harm such as: air and water pollution, climate change, mountaintop removal, environmental injustice, and violence and economic instability.

By coming together in prayer, we stand in solidarity with the people and places that are being harmed by poor stewardship of energy resources. On October 21st 2009, we will collectively express our concern as Christians, acknowledge our participation in this broken and destructive system, and ask for grace, forgiveness, and guidance as we seek God’s help to address this crisis.

As Christians, we’re called to be “the light of the world,” and to demonstrate Christ’s vision of hope. In this time of darkness, we are called to pray for guidance, present solutions, and reach out to our neighbors who have been harmed by poor energy stewardship and climate change.

Overconsumption of our energy resources has led to great harm, but with God’s help we can make needed changes and offer practical solutions that offer hope to the people and places affected. The 2009 Day of Prayer for God’s Creation is an opportunity to shine a new kind of light, and demonstrate Christ’s hope for the world in this important area.

On October 21st, join Christian students around North America as we gather to fast and pray for God’s creation.

The students of Renewal are inviting all Christians to join us in fasting from one source of energy use for the day. Examples include: not driving for the day, shutting off lights, fasting from cell phones, television, computers, or other sources of electricity, eating vegetarian for the day, etc.

In the evening, Christian students on campuses across North America will demonstrate their unity and solidarity by turning off the lights for one hour, and hosting prayer vigils for a time of prayer for the people, places, and wildlife that are harmed through poor stewardship of energy resources. These prayer vigils should reflect your community and could include: a candle-lit service, a prayer meeting under the stars, a chapel or church service, a prayer walk, etc. Use your God-given creativity!

Renewal is inviting all Christians to participate in this day of prayer and fasting. We encourage you to join in the personal fast and organize a prayer event in your community!

For additional resources, click on the below links:

Suggestions for Day of Prayer Events

Day of Prayer Fasting Ideas

Sample Prayers on Energy Stewardship

A "How To" guide and sample timeline for organizing your Day of Prayer event!

For more information or to register your event, please email: ajjoyner@renewingcreation.org

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plant With Purpose Celebrates 10 Years in Mexico

by Aly Lewis

It seems like we’ve been celebrating a lot of spectacular milestones lately: Plant With Purpose now has 25 candles on its b-day cake, our Programs Director is ringing in his 11th year tomorrow (woohoo Armando!) and I am coming up on my 1 year and 10 month anniversary as Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. Alright, alright, that last milestone is not significant, but what is exciting is that we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of working in Oaxaca, Mexico!

And what a great ten years they’ve been! Starting small and building off of our successes, our Oaxaca program has really grown from the early days of working in two villages in one municipality to a thriving, multi-faceted program in 47 villages in six municipalities. In collaboration with our local partners, Misión Integral, we are currently working directly with over 1,500 individuals.

Some of you like numbers; surprise, surprise, creative writing major that I was, I prefer the stories, the anecdotes, the little sketches of changed lives. I could tell you that we’ve planted over 386,561 trees across 35 acres of land and worked with farmers to establish 454 family gardens that provide families with improved nutrition and an additional source of income. I could tell you that 566 micro loans, in the total amount of $70,813, have been granted to program participants to invest in their land and start small businesses. Or that 238 fuel-efficient stoves have been built to improve air quality, lower the risk of respiratory illness, and significantly decrease the amount of wood needed for cooking and heating.

I could tell you all of these snazzy numbers, but they wouldn’t tell the whole story. At Plant With Purpose, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. (Insert corny joke about holistic ministry here) In just ten years, we’ve seen the economic stability of the region improve as communities work together to improve their land and diversify their income. We’ve seen families grow nutritious food in their gardens and even have extra left over to sell. We’ve seen parents able to send their children to school and we’ve seen entire communities transformed.

We are encouraged by testimonies such as Señor Raúl López’s of El Oro. Raúl told us about his community’s growing enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s programs: “When Plant With Purpose began these activities, some people said that even their great-grandchildren would not see these pine trees, but now they are seeing the results of their work and acknowledging that this work of producing and planting should be a permanent program. Just as we cut down wood and use it to heat our tortillas, we should therefore produce and plant trees.”

As our work continues to take root, we look forward to the next ten years of partnering with rural Oaxacans to transform their lives and land. Stay tuned for more highlights from our Oaxaca program—like our exciting new Church, Community, and Change project that equips local churches to meet the needs of the community—as part of our 25th Anniversary blogging series.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Plant With Purpose and Misión Integral!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let the season begin!

by Corbyn Small
This weekend marked a significant date for myself as Plant With Purpose's Outreach Coordinator and our development team as a whole. We are moving into the holiday season soon and yesterday was the beginning of a flurry of Fairs and Alternative Gift Markets that will take place between now and the new year. Alternative Gift Markets are generally held at churches and homes with the purpose of providing either tangible fair trade products (scarves, baskets, coffee) or intangibles (planting a tree in someone's name) that raise money for a good cause. People can buy these items for presents instead of the traditional gift certificate or sweater.
I am sure I will post this video again later in the year when it is closer to Christmas, but I thought why not start thinking about it a few months out? The advent conspiracy is a movement that has expanded beyond what anyone would have imagined and this video provides inspiration and an invitation to look at holidays with a different mindset this year. Plant With Purpose is excited to participate in over 40 alternative gift markets and fairs through this season and invites you to actively be involved by contacting me at corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org with fairs and AGM's that you would like to represent Plant With Purpose at this year. So check out this video and think about how you can help to bring Plant With Purpose into the lives of those in your church, small group, school, or work.
You can start now just by sharing our video with your social networks.. help people to see the connection between the environment and poverty! just post this link http://bit.ly/hTqjF Thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Santa Ana Wind Season

by Mackenzie Miller

I’m an L.A. girl, born and raised. So naturally, when the annual September heat wave settles in, I don’t rejoice in the last of summer’s warmth. I worry. Because in Southern California, hot winds mean one thing and one thing only: that the Santa Ana’s have arrived.

For those of you non-Cali readers, the Santa Ana’s are hot, dry winds that blow from eastern deserts to coastal mountains and foothills, often sparking fires that burn out of control throughout wildlife and residential areas.

This was officially the first week of fall, and like clockwork, also kicked off the Santa Ana wind season. Tuesday’s “Guiberson Fire” is said to have spontaneously ignited in a pile of manure, and is still rapidly growing.

For the past few days, I have been addicted to the news. How many acres have been burned now? How many homes have been destroyed? Have any other fires ignited? It kills me to think that families’ lives are being uprooted because of something beyond control – wind! Since Tuesday, the Guiberson Fire has destroyed well over 10,000 acres of dry grasslands and brush, advancing on the edges of Moorpark, a community slightly north of LA and threatening over 1,000 homes, and a zoo!

Luckily, we have the tools, manpower and resources to at least TRY and combat Mother Nature, and protect our wildlife and communities. Thousands and thousands of people in villages throughout the world don’t have such luxuries. On the contrary, they are forced to destroy their own habitats just to try and make a living! Not out of ignorance, but desperation. Desperation to provide a homestead. The same desperation we feel to protect ours.

To all the brave firefighters and residents of Moorpark, you are in our thoughts and prayers here at Plant With Purpose. You keep doing what you’re doing to save the trees here, and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing to save the trees in rural villages throughout the world.

July 2010 Tanzania Trip

Interested in getting a closer look at our programs? Next July, you can by participating in Floresta’s community development efforts in several villages on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Plus, you can climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and visit Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park on a 3-day safari. Not too shabby. Here are the details:

Trip Summary Participants will fly from the United States to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro airport. We will start the trip in the village of Masia-Mamba located on Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of 5,500 feet. It is a village hungry for hope as they fight against poverty, disease, and malnutrition.

Plant With Purpose brings hope to this region by offering new agricultural techniques, reforestation plans, capital for small business ventures and spiritual training. The group will assist Plant With Purpose’s work by participating in the following activities:

- replanting in spring areas to increase water flow for irrigation

- building livestock shelters and fuel efficient cooking stoves

- planting trees in the village common areas

- building relationships with individual families

- participating in “Kid’s Games-Tanzania” with local children

After the village visits, participants will have the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro on the 7-day Machame route. Guides, porters and a dining tent with table and chairs are included. The summit day will include a visit to the summit crater for a close-up view of Kili’s glaciers.

The safari will begin in the Lake Manyara National Park and continue in the Ngorongoro Crater. Lodging will be two nights at the beautiful Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge on the crater rim.

Dates July 3-18, 2010

Daily Schedule

Day 1-2 Travel to Tanzania

Day 3-5 Safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara

Day 6-8 Work in Floresta villages

Day 9-15 Kilimanjaro Climb

Day 16 Travel home

Cost Kilimanjaro climb $1,300, village visits $200, safari $1,000 – TOTAL $2,500 plus airfare. Total based on double occupancy and includes all expenses in Tanzania except beverages, tips, and personal items. Airfare is approximately $2,200 and reservations should be made early to guarantee seat availability at the lowest prices.

Reservations For questions and reservations, contact Cindy Outlaw at (858) 775-7230 or cindyoutlaw@aol.com. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is due with registration – balance due March 1, 2010. Individual itineraries can be modified for shorter or longer trips.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

International Day of Peace

by Corbyn Small

In case you missed it, the 21st of September was not just the last day of summer… it was also International Day of Peace as well!

In 2002 the UN declared this date the permanent Day of Peace. It has been suggested that "Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."

Yesterday Plant With Purpose joined hundreds of students, faculty, and non-profit organizations at the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego as the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice hosted a celebration of peace. The event included a peace march, dove release, moment of silence, and inspirational speakers from around the world encouraging anyone and everyone to celebrate peace.

If you are ever interested in hosting a Plant With Purpose table at an event or even just joining staff and volunteer to help out, please contact corbyn@PlantWithPurpose.org Also keep your eye on the calendar of events on facebook or our webpage.

http://internationaldayofpeace.org/about/background.html

http://www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/news/events_calendar/international_day_of_peace/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strengths Finding and Maximizing

by Aly Lewis

I love personality tests. I mean, I really love personality tests. In the last year, the only times my roommates and I have stayed up gabbing past midnight have been to indulge in Myers-Briggs banter and psycho-analysis. No boy talk for us—unless, of course, we’re scrutinizing to death the men in our lives based on personality tests. My obsession was solidified when I realized I type the term INTP into my phone more often than the word goes while texting (and that’s not even my personality type!).

Another test I’m particularly fond of (although not quite as obsessed with) is StrengthsFinder. This test pinpoints a person’s top five strengths—the rationale being that it is easier to focus on and cultivate your strengths than to eliminate your weaknesses. In honor of StrengthsFinder and personality-test-lovers everywhere, I would like to highlight what I think to be one of Plant With Purpose’s greatest strengths: maximizing.

Simply put, a Maximizer is someone who can readily identify others’ strengths and helps them build on and improve these strengths. Some key characteristics of a maximizer include seeing talents and strengths in others, sometimes before they do, and helping others become excited by the potential of their natural talents. I know, I know, Plant With Purpose is not a single person but an organization, but if it were one single person, I’m pretty sure he/she would test Maximizer—every time.

One of Plant With Purpose’s main goals is to work with communities to discover and maximize their God-given talents. Our goal isn’t to take the limelight or prescribe a specific program, but to equip and encourage rural farmers to utilize and maximize the skills, talents, and resources they already possess. (I feel like I can’t stop writing about this transformational and radical process of empowerment, but, like the cat who just keeps coming back, I can’t seem to stray too far from my community development awe).

I want to thank all of Plant With Purpose’s international staff for their commitment to individuals and communities around the world, their compassion for struggling and impoverished farmers, and their dedicated efforts to help often overlooked and forgotten people to reach their full potential and transform their lives. Thanks for all the strengths finding and maximizing!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Real Seeds of Hope

Executive Director of Plant With Purpose, Scott Sabin, shares how PWP's work in impoverished regions around the world is transforming communities. Check it out!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fast Food vs. Planting Trees

By Mackenzie Miller

I feel like lately all I see are fast food ads. Seriously. At first, I thought I was crazy. Then, I thought I was hungry. But after my roommates reassured me that yes, billboards, radio stations and commercials are all blasting the same message – EAT! – I came to a new conclusion. Maybe it’s this “economic downturn” that has McDonald’s and Taco Bell so proud of their dollar menus.

I mean, its genius, really. People are stressing out about money right now. They’re mood is down because they can no longer afford the finer things in life. They’re staying in more, and likely watching T.V. for entertainment to save money. And then, a vision in grease appears: a juicy hamburger! Right on the screen – for only 99 cents!

Greasy, cheesy fried food makes people feel good, as does actually being able to afford the products from advertisements. What a nice remedy for the economy-blues! Cheap, and comforting – sounds like a win/win situation, right? Wrong!

Downing that super-sized meal may be the perfect pick-me-up, but the happiness it leaves fades after digestion. And then what do you have? (Besides a stomach ache and onion breath, that is.) Nothing. Not even your dollar.

I wish I could make a value menu for PWP. A tree, for a dollar? Sounds like a steal to me. Think about it: instead of an incompetent teenager asking you “if you want fries with that,” heartburn, and post-meal, caloric guilt, you could help save a village. Save an economy. Save the environment. Save lives!

As far as I’m concerned, that’s about the only thing a dollar can buy that will make ME feel better than devouring a plate of nachos ever could.

Plant With Purpose Tees!

They're here! Jedidiah has created brand new Plant With Purpose t-shirt designs! Available in a variety of bright colors and in girl's and guy's sizes, these shirts are not only stylish but an excellent way to show off your Plant With Purpose pride. Some of our staff had a fun time modeling the shirts. Enjoy the photos, and visit our website to order your tee!
(A big thanks to Rachel and studiocastillero for the photos!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recycled Houses

Check out these awesome homes made out of recycled materials! One man's trash is another man's flooring?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Want to be part of Plant With Purpose but not sure what you can do?

by Corbyn Small
Given the fact that Plant With Purpose is working internationally, hiring local indigenous people, training them in sustainable agriculture/savings and credit banking/discipleship, and then proliferating Plant With Purpose programs through those individuals, where do you fit in? If one of our main goals is to seek local ownership of the Plant With Purpose programs, what can you do to make a difference?
The answer is advocacy and there are a few ways that you can become a Plant With Purpose advocate. By becoming an advocate of PWP's programs and the positive work being done with rural subsistence level farmers and their families, you will be a voice for the voiceless.
We have vision trips a few times a year to visit Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, and Oaxaca, Mexico. These vision trips are designed to be the ultimate look into the work that is being done on ground level. The knowledge and experience gained in the field will give you the capacity to share Plant With Purpose's life changing work like a pro!
Currently we are looking for 1-2 more people to join Doug Satre, myself, and 6 others as we head down to Oaxaca, Mexico. Starting the trip in Oaxaca city, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the new world, we will move on to visit a number of the 45 communities Plant With Purpose is working in. You have read about our programs here on the blog, on the webpage, and elsewhere, now join us in a life changing trip to spend time with the rural poor and be encouraged by the progress being made in one of the most deforested regions of Mexico. (Please contact Doug at Doug@PlantWithPurpose.org or 858 274-3718 asap for more info).
Dates: October 21-26, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Plant With Purpose's 25th Anniversary

by Aly Lewis
This year marks Plant With Purpose's 25th Anniversary! That's right, Plant With Purpose was working at the intersection of poverty and deforestation way before fear of global warming spurred us to live more sustainably or Kiva made 'micro-loan' a household word. Before creation care and things like the Red Campaign were even cool.
In honor of our very exciting Silver Anniversary, we will be blogging about the greatest and most gasp-inducing moments in Plant With Purpose history. Leading up to our official celebration at our Planting Hope Gala on October 10th, we will highlight some of our biggest milestones (like planting over 4 million trees!) and bring you old-school stories from our
Executive Director, Scott Sabin (like the time he came back from a business trip to discover he was the only employee left on staff). We'll take you on a journey from our humble beginnings in the deforested hillsides of the Dominican Republic to the hope and transformation we've seen in our newest program in Burundi.
Join us as we celebrate 25 years of empowering rural farmers around the world!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Honor them with Peace

by Mackenzie Miller (Plant With Purpose's newest intern)

It’s easy to feel helpless on a day like today. A day when we all are reminded of the tragedy and terror, the heartlessness and hatred of that now infamous date; September 11th.

Everyone has a “what I was doing when the towers fell” story, and mine is not unusual. I was simply eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and watching television, when I was captivated and horrified by the images paraded across the screen. I remember thinking to myself that my life would never be the same; that the world would never be the same. I was only 13 years old.

Growing into adulthood during such a turning point has had a great impact on me, and my whole generation. It’s as though the world – especially the media – was asleep before 9-11, and was abruptly awakened to realize the inequalities that surround us all.

Eight years later, the memories are just as tragic. Today, our daily routines may seem robotic. But as the protective scabs we have formed are ripped away to expose that familiar raw fear, I urge you to surround yourself with hope. Because if anything, the past eight years have proved we are definitely not helpless in the fight against hatred.

With the growth of organizations like Invisible Children, CASA and Plant With Purpose, more young people than ever are getting involved with spreading peace. My new internship at PWP has already shown me that the littlest things – like, planting a tree – can make the biggest impact.

PWP is dedicated to empowering hundreds of thousands of the rural poor to take charge of their lives through economic empowerment, environmental restoration, and spiritual inspiration.

I was right, you know. When I thought the world would never be the same, eight years ago. Because it has changed, and is still changing – for the better. And it’s filled with people (and companies, like Plant With Purpose) that are dedicated to changing it for the better.

So please, don’t retreat to solitude or helplessness on this day of mourning. Reach out, and touch a life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love 146

by Kate McElhinney

I first heard about the organization Love 146 through my church, Coast Vineyard. About a year ago, the assistant pastor made an announcement that a few people who wanted to start a coalition for this nonprofit here in San Diego would be meeting after the service. Anyone who was interested could join them for a brief meeting out on the designated benches. I considered attending this meeting, but decided that I was too busy that day.

Over the next few months, I was surprised to see how the ministry had grown. It kept popping up in conversations, or meetings would be announced in the church bulletin. A couple from my home group, Rob and Kelly Lower, became actively involved. They would eagerly tell us each week about upcoming events. Last spring, they helped organize a rummage sale and a dance to raise money to help support prevention programs and relief work for children who have been victims of sex trafficking.

Now, just yesterday, Rob and Kelly told me that they will be stepping into more of a leadership position by becoming the point of contact for the San Diego region. They are busy planning various fundraising events, such as a gala, for the upcoming year. The coalition has surprisingly boomed over the last year as word has spread about Love 146 and their important message.

Love 146 works to abolish child sex slavery and exploitation. Every year at least 1 million children are estimated to be trafficked around the world, mainly in the Asian region, Europe, Africa, and yes, sadly the United States. They are forced to work in dangerous conditions with little or no pay, and are often subjected to beatings or rape, and suffer from serious physical and psychological damage.

By training aftercare workers, multiplying safe homes, and providing therapy, Love 146 works to provide tools and support for victims so they can transition back into their communities. The organization also protects children by developing and sustaining targeted prevention projects in high risk communities while defending the rights of the vulnerable through advocacy.

I am surprised with how quickly word has spread about Love 146 over the past year. Even though it might not be direct, I like to think that my work with Plant With Purpose helps this organization. As a result of deforestation, poor families are forced to migrate into slums, making them and their children more susceptible to traffickers. By providing environmental solutions to humanitarian problems, Plant With Purpose focuses on the root issues of poverty, thus helping the organizations who work to defend people on the other end.

If you would like to get involved with Love 146 or if you are interested in finding out more about coalitions in your area, visit www.love146.org. Or, feel free to contact me if you’re in San Diego and I can pass your message on to Rob and Kelly.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Naked Truth about Marketing

by Aly Lewis

Early this morning I was cruising the blogosphere, minding my own business, when I came across a shocking post by William Easterly on his blog, Aid Watch. It stated: Supermodel vows to stay naked till USAID funds reach starving children.

After literally laughing out loud at my desk, my first thought was, pure genius. What better way to raise publicity and awareness for an issue few people think about without high doses of media sass-and-splash to probe their consciences? Only after my first cup of coffee did I start to think that a marketing campaign more closely resembling a celebrity sex scandal may not be the best type of publicity for starving East African children. Or is it?

My mind has been buzzing with hoards of crazy, creative, and even downright ludicrous marketing ideas and campaigns that bombard my otherwise quiet life. Every time another crazy idea crops into my media outlets, I can’t help but become slightly green with envy—both for the publicity fellow organizations and individuals are garnering in the name of their cause and for the sheer genius of their marketing ploys.

In the last couple weeks alone, I’ve ran across a friend vowing to eat only one bowl of rice a day until he raises a million dollars for hunger organizations (Simple Size Me), a former bartender raising money for clean water projects from wine tasting events (Wine to Water), and, of course, the shocking vow of nudity from selfless supermodels.

Sounds like Plant With Purpose needs to jump on the marketing stunt bandwagon. Don’t think we haven’t thought about it. At PWP we’ve toyed with the idea of putting our interns in trees (non-paid and captive, sheesh, the lengths those crazy kids will go to bolster their resumes…) and have tried (unsuccessfully) to launch a Trash for Trees project for over twenty years (catchy title, but apparently not quite sexy enough). Unfortunately we’re not on a first name basis with any scandalous celebrities and our office full of local-organic-vegetable-eating-and-yoga-practicing-twenty-somethings cannot afford to lose any more body fat, even in the name of awareness-raising.

So until the perfect scheme strikes the PWP marketing team like a lightening bolt, we’ll have to stick to raising awareness one blog, tweet, and donor at a time. So, loyal PWP followers, we thank you for your support despite our felt lack of scandal and media intrigue. Not that we don’t have excitement. We have plenty of creative initiatives in the works that we’re stoked on and can’t wait to unveil. For now, you’ll just have to stay tuned.

Oh, btw, turns out the vow of nudity from selfless supermodels to support starving children was a farce by William Easterly testing his marketing theories for causes. Well, the stunt definitely caught my attention—and resentment.

Anyway, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the media, humanitarian marketing, and even your ideas on how PWP can soar to new levels of publicity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We've Got Fans, another way you can be a part of Plant With Purpose

by Corbyn Small
In a week and a half Plant With Purpose's fanpage on facebook has gone from under 150 members to almost 400! The Facebook fanpage is a quick and easy way to for us here at Plant With Purpose to share regular photos of the day, happenings in the field and office, upcoming events, and videos with our followers. 
We have talked a lot about the multiplier effect in recent blogs and seeing an increase in over 200 members in just a few days time shows that you can make a difference. It was only a  group of about 10-12 people who participated last week and invited their friends to check out the Plant With Purpose fan page and look at the results! Now 200 more people will have easy access to ways to be involved in the good that is being done in 225 communities around the world. 
In part with launching Plant With Purpose we have been working hard to make a grouping of social networks including another facebook cause page and we even have a twitter account with over 350 followers. It's quick, it's easy, and you can do it too! We'd love to keep you updated and informed and it is as easy as clicking 'become a fan' to the right of this blog post. If you want to take part in the multiplier effect then all you have to do is click here then 'suggest to friends', and your friends will get to join in as well. Thanks for being a part of spreading Plant With Purpose's message and truly being a part of an organization that is transforming lives.
Recent shots posted as photo of the day on the fanpage

Friday, September 4, 2009

Compassion is a "Full Time" Job

by Aly Lewis

Today’s blog post is going to be short and sweet. Time is money, right? Actually, in light of upcoming Labor Day (or more appropriately, A-Break-From-Labor Day), I want to share some thoughts with you from Henri Nouwen (okay, okay, I know I’m obsessed) on the importance of patience and slowing down.

According to Nouwen, patience is the keystone of a compassionate life. Practicing patience requires living in “full time” instead of the world’s busy, self-focused, time-is-money mentality. To live in this “full time” is “to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us.”

As we enter into a three-day weekend, I hope that we can view our downtime as a chance to embrace the grace and salvation offered to us in every moment. That in the midst of our busy lives we could open space for others and experience seemingly unproductive moments as full, meaningful opportunities to allow others to be realized, accepted, cared for, and loved.

Happy Break-From-Labor-Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Man Who Planted Trees

Every Tuesday we have staff trainings here at Plant With Purpose. The topics vary; sometimes we hear trip reports from staff who have returned from visiting our programs, and other times we have guest speakers guide us in discussions on community development. The point is to keep us educated and enthusiastic about our work!

The Man Who Planted Trees is a wonderful video we viewed this last Tuesday, and it is a reminder of all the benefits of trees and an inspiration to us as we seek to be stewards of God's creation.

The below article, written by our Executive Director Scott Sabin, was posted today on Sustainlane.com.

The Man Who Planted Trees

by Scott Sabin

Earlier this week I was given a copy of the 1987 animated video, The Man Who Planted Trees. This wonderful little video, available online in several places, is a reminder that the link between trees and prosperity may seem obscure, but there is a remarkable connection. The converse is true as well, as we are reminded in our work everyday.

Though largely hidden from our sight and consciousness, farmers working at or near the subsistence level make up a huge proportion of the world’s population. Working with crude hand tools, they eke their living from rocky hillsides, while walking for hours to get water and firewood.

Their soil and their water are essentially their only assets, the only things they have on which to build a life. These are dependent upon the health of their watershed – upon the forests upstream and the trees in their communities. Trees are vital for preventing soil erosion, and can even help to restore the soil by fixing nitrogen, bringing buried nutrients to the surface and contributing leaf litter and other organic matter to the soil. Where the trees have been stripped from the hillsides, massive soil erosion follows, robbing the poor farmer of one of her most valuable possessions.

Water availability and quality are also dependent on the health of the forest. Absence of trees results in a decrease in the local rainfall. This is magnified by the fact that when the rain does fall, there is little to stop it from immediately running off before it is able to soak into the ground. Where the soil is protected by a canopy of trees to break the fall of precipitation, leaf litter to slow runoff, and roots to increase soil permeability, water is able to infiltrate and replenish local aquifers. On the other hand, on uncovered soil, water can simply be the engine for erosion and downstream flashfloods. If the water does not soak in, the water table drops, wells dry up and the local environment will become drier. The farmers of many countries can point to rivers that were once reliable sources of water but which today flow only during heavy rains -- and at those times, flood higher than ever in the past.

Public awareness of water issues is growing, but often stops short of caring for the health of the watershed. Where the land has been stripped of trees a desert is soon created. But it is a reversible process as we have also seen. Just as depicted in the film, when trees are planted rivers, streams and springs return.

Trees are also a natural filter. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the absence of forest cover and the presence of E. coli and other contaminants in the water. This especially impacts the rural poor who cannot afford to have water piped into the home or to buy bottled water to drink. Instead family members, especially women, often walk hours to fetch water and additional hours to collect the firewood necessary to purify water by boiling it.

Ultimately, deforestation is one of the root causes of rural emigration, as people leave the unproductive countryside in hope of a job in the overcrowded cities, or perhaps in the United States. One of the reasons that we began planting trees and working with poor farmers in the state of Oaxaca ten years ago was the realization that much of our immigration problem in Southern California is rooted in declining opportunities in the mountains of Oaxaca – a state that has been referred to as the most eroded spot on earth.

But as we have happily found, this situation can be reversed. Land can become productive again. Families, split by lack of opportunity and illegal immigration, are thrilled by the opportunity to stay together. God’s plan of redemption and restoration can be graphically demonstrated as we work together with the poor to reclaim degraded lands.

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