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Using the Forest to Save the Forest

Posted by T. Resnikoff // April 6th 2012 // Social Justice, Stories and Voices, young adults // no comments

Spirituality and Service: New Forest Earth

A little over a year ago while traveling through Mexico, Andon Zebal noticed that people who were using their forest’s resources to create sustainable wealth, but were having trouble finding a market for their products.  Upon his return to the US he set out to create a non profit that would solve a marketing problem in order to solve a poverty problem, and would ultimately solve a deforestation problem.  The goal of New Forest Earth is to help community owned cooperatives flourish, then use their own resources to restore their ecosystems and reinvigorate their culture.  Our organization is built of volunteers and students that have a strong passion for what we do, and believe that saving the planet is achievable through a balance of environmental, social, and economic actions.  A sustainable global society is founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.  New Forest Earth recognizes this and strives to show the world we can leave this place better for future generations.
Currently we are partnered with three cooperatives throughout Central and South America.  The first is Taller Leñateros, a consensus-based publishing collective operated by contemporary Mayan artists in Chiapas, Mexico. The Leñateros rescue old and endangered techniques such as the extraction of dyes from wild plants, contribute to the conservation of Native American languages, and recycle agricultural and commercial waste, transforming it into art and beautiful books. Proceeds from the sale of Taller Leñateros products will be returned to the collective for a publishing project that will continue the promotion of their heritage and way of life.  Another cooperative partner of New Forest Earth is the Waorani women of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Waorani women make jewelry from products found on the forest floor. We are also using the sale of jewelry, woven by the Waorani from the chambira palm, to fund the planting of chambira palm nurseries in Waorani communities. In this way we can provide women with a source of income that will remain sustainable for a long time to come.  The third cooperative that New Forest Earth is currently partnering with is the Kallari Association.  Kallari is a self-governed coalition of over 850 families of Amazon artists and organic cocoa producers. Kallari has created sustainable income selling gourmet, organic, fairly-traded dark chocolate bars so Kichwa people can fulfill their basic family needs without logging the rainforests or selling their land.
These three cooperatives are only the beginning of a long list of partnerships that New Forest Earth hopes to form.  We wish to continue to grow and help native people all over the world  find sustainable ways to prosper and keep their culture alive.  If you would like to get involved contact me at Amanda@newforestearth.org.
~Peace and Love~

Amanda Allen is the Regional Field Organizer for New Forest New England.

About the Author

Ted Resnikoff is the Digital Communications Editor at the Unitarian Universalist Association.
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