A Retirement Party with Impact

By: Alli Tolbert, Marketing & Communications Intern

Last fall, Robert “Sparky” Millikin participated in Edge of Seven’s Trek with a Purpose into the remote rural villages of the Solokhumbu region of Nepal last fall. Since then, Edge of Seven and Sparky have become fast friends. He has become a passionate voice in raising awareness about the importance of girls’ education and sustainable infrastructure throughout his own community in Burlington, VT and beyond.


An accomplished professional in design and construction, Sparky is now retiring as Managing Principal of TruexCullins, an architecture and interior design firm located in Burlington. In recent months, Sparky and TruexCullins have offered Edge of Seven pro bono design support around earthbag construction, as well as provided advocacy and fundraising support through local marketing and events.

A celebration of Sparky’s career was held last Thursday, May 9, in Burlington, VT. The celebration was a dual retirement party and fundraising event to support Edge of Seven work empowering women and girls through infrastructure projects in Nepal. Edge of Seven is overwhelmed by Sparky’s generosity and thankful for the great work and support of those at TruexCullins! Read more about Sparky’s career here: http://www.truexcullins.com/sparky/.

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The party was a great success, raising $20,000 through a combination of individual donations the night of the event and a campaign leading up to the party. To top it off, the Heritage Automotive Group (Ford, Toyota, Scion on Shelbourne Road, S. Burlington) made a final donation, bringing us to a total of $20,000. An enormous thank you to TruexCullins, the event attendees, the Heritage Automotive Group and all other supporters for making this ambitious goal!! Funding will be used to support Edge of Seven’s Community Development Program, empowering women and girls in rural Nepal through infrastructure projects.

If you were inspired by Sparky’s experience, please visit his Crowdrise page and consider making a donation today!

If you are interested in having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Nepal and to combine adventure, travel and service in one trip, look no further. Edge of Seven is embarking on two exciting trips this fall!

Everest Base Camp Trek: http://edgeofseven.org/Adventure.html

Basa Project: http://edgeofseven.org/VolunteerOpportunity.html

Inscribed with Love

By Alli Tolbert, Marketing & Communications Intern

In April, University of Denver’s Rotaract Club partnered with Edge of Seven for an event that featured Eo7’s documentary screening, free food, a speech from an Eo7’s Director, and a discussion on international women’s rights and education.


Event participants had the opportunity to write well wishes on materials that will be used to construct new buildings in Basa, Nepal. Colorful drawings, phrases, and words of support decorate the exterior of the earthbags, creating a collection of encouragement and positive energy. Although these earthbags will be hidden upon completion of the buildings, the well wishes will be read before and during the building process and embedded in the walls forever.

The power of words inscribed onto earthbags from unknown allies miles away is an encouraging reminder to the women and girls of Basa that they have a strong support system.

For readers who are newer to Edge of Seven’s sustainable building practices, earthbags are an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective, and earthquake-resistant method of construction. In essence, earthbag construction uses a rice bag filled with dirt as the building’s primary building block. The bags are stacked in courses, much like bricks, and held together with a thin layer of barbed wire rather than cement. Once the walls are up, a roof is attached as in traditional construction and plaster is applied to the exterior. Since the walls are made of bags filled with loose dirt, they are able to absorb seismic shock better than traditional stone and mud construction, which is particularly relevant for Nepal’s rugged, mountainous geography.

Interested in trying out earthbag construction first-hand? Join Edge of Seven for the project in Basa, Nepal this fall. We’ll be building an extension on the Basa Higher Secondary School from Nov. 16th – Nov. 30th.

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From Denver to Nepal, inscribed with love!

For more information on Edge of Seven’s upcoming project to Basa, please visit here !

The New Face of Girls’ Education: Malala Yousufzai


By: Alli Tolbert, Communications & Marketing Intern

The well-publicized story of the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was targeted and shot by Taliban members on a bus ride to school in the fall of 2012 continues to stand as a powerful reminder of the obstacles facing girls education and its advocates. Malala was an open advocate for girls’ rights to education in her home country of Pakistan.

An excerpt from Shehrbano Taseer’s article in the Daily Beast describes Malala’s prior involvement in the pro-girl’s education cause:

“Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC…Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls…

…In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.”

As a young, promising pioneer in peace and education in her home region of Swat, Taliban members perceived Malala as a threat and a symbol of Western thinking. Her story is an inspiring one and many say it is a miracle that she has survived the gunshot wound to her head. The attack reflects the daunting task ahead for advocates and organizations determined to educate girls worldwide. Since gender equality and girls’ access to education is a paramount issue around the globe, Malala’s strength and courage is an encouraging message to those of us who support girls gaining access to education.

In this video, Malala speaks publicly for the first time since being targeted and shot in October 2012. Her composed, confident demeanor and thoughtful words are truly encouraging:

“I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” -Malala

Projects Making a Splash: World Water Day

By: Alli Tolbert, Communications & Marketing Intern

Happy World Water Day from Edge of Seven!


Water is an essential factor in life and human and economic development. In rural Nepal, many villages are challenged by mountainous terrain and lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. As such, many women and girls are often tasked with the responsibility of collecting water for their families to be used in cooking, cleaning, and consumption.

In the summer of 2011, Edge of Seven collaborated with The Small World in a project to bring a sustainable water supply to the village of Purdu. This included 2 water tanks, filters, 3km of piping and 8 community taps. Access to community taps will allow women and girls to have more time spent on productive activities such as pursuing education, tending to crops or generating new sources of income.


Below are some interesting water facts! (data taken from Envirocivil.org):

-884 million people lack access to clean water. That is almost 3x the population of the US

-Women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water

-An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day

-More people in the world have cell phones than access to a toilet

-The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns

-People living in the slums often pay 5-10x more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city

-As little as one dollar can provide clean water for a child in the developing world for an entire year


How much water are you consuming on a daily basis? Check your own water footprint here

Interested in being a part of water projects in Nepal? Be sure to check out our upcoming trips!

Celebrate International Women’s Day this Friday, March 8th!

Basa Woman2

By Alli Tolbert, Communications and Marketing Intern

At Edge of Seven, we are getting excited for International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated across the globe this Friday, March 8th. If you are in Denver and are looking for ways to commemorate the day, we’ve compiled a list of events and activities being held in celebration of women and those seeking to inspire and create change in the world we share. We hope to see you out and about! And, if you’re not in Denver, we urge you to check out this site to find an IWD event near you.

March 3-10, 2013: Women + Film VOICES Film Festival 2013

Times and locations vary

The Denver Film Society will be hosting its third annual Women + Film VOICES Film Festival during the week and weekend of International Women’s Day. The week-long festival showcases a variety of short films, documentaries, and feature presentations as well as guest speakers to discuss inspirational stories of women around the world.

For the entire list of short films, documentaries, and other wonderful events, please follow the Denver Film’s Society link here

March 7, 2013: Arise the Movie

Mayan Theater on S. Broadway, 7pm-9pm

Arise is an award winning documentary that captures the portraits and stories of extraordinary women around the world who are coming together to heal the injustices against the earth. Weaving together poetry, music, art and stunning scenery to create a hopeful and collective story that inspires us to work for the earth.

March 9, 2013:  “Girl Rising” Film

SIE Film Center, 2510 E Colfax Ave, 9am

The Zonta Club of Denver will be hosting its Day of Film 2013 featuring “Girl Rising,” a new feature film about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. The film highlights nine girls around the world who struggle to follow their dreams despite difficult circumstances. For more information on tickets and pricing, please visit the Zonta Club of Denver’s homepageNOTE: Edge of Seven will also be partnering with several local nonprofit organizations on a screening of Girl Rising on April 4th. To register for that screening, visit this page.

Can’t make it to these events this week? Embedded below is a short Ted Talk titled “Radical women, embracing tradition” by Kavita Ramdas from the Global Fund for Women. Enjoy!

Guest Blog: Partnerships & Understanding

By: Tamara Arredondo, Volunteer Coordinator

International development can be tricky. Citizens of developed nations often like to think that they know what’s best for communities in other countries without having a complete understanding of the environment. Many projects in the developing world are initiated by needs-assessments developed with foreign priorities. But Westerners should be careful not to impose our priorities and our culture on these nations, and rather aid development in a way that enhances the existing cultures.

An Edge of Seven volunteer works with The Mountain Fund staff member. (Photo: Tamara Arredondo)

An Edge of Seven volunteer works with The Mountain Fund staff member. (Photo: Tamara Arredondo)

International development could benefit from a more thoughtful approach. Before determining needs and solutions, we should be asking: What is the culture here? What is most important to the people? What systems do they have in place already? What are the obstacles (politics, resources, etc.) that exist? What do the locals see as their greatest needs? What technologies exist already in this area? How will this affect the various members of the community?

One way to ensure that the correct approach is taken is to pursue partnerships with organizations that are already doing important work in the particular community. I was lucky to observe Edge of Seven’s partnerships first-hand last fall. Having been involved with the organization for over a year, I’m familiar with all of the efforts that go on in the U.S. to make our projects a success and to educate others on the issues affecting girls and women in the developing world. But the partnerships that we form with local NGOs and organizations in the communities where we work are essential to making sure our projects are appropriately responding to needs—this is what drew me to Edge of Seven originally.

Collaborating with local Nepalese organizations allows Edge of Seven to maintain a community-focused approach – to know where the necessary resources are, how to communicate effectively with the people of the community, and to maintain the project site – all while being able to focus on providing the financial and volunteer support needed to complete each project. Because of this collaborative model, Edge of Seven is able to operate more efficiently and provide effective assistance to communities in need.

A Manly Fundraiser to Help Girls

We just wanted to send out a big thanks to our good friend Brian Rettelle for recently launching his “Helping a Flower to Blossom” fundraiser for Edge of Seven on Crowdrise!

Brian’s goal is to raise $2,500 for Edge of Seven’s Community Development program this spring, and last week he made the stakes a little more personal. See, Brian has been growing out his beard for the past four months. He’s decided to shave at the beginning of March and he’s letting the public weigh in on how it all goes down.

Donors to Brian’s fundraiser can choose whether he shaves his beard to look like Abraham Lincoln, Mr. T, or they can submit their own suggestions for a different style. Votes are submitted via Crowdrise and by next week the suggestion that gathers the most donations wins!


Edge of Seven will be on hand to capture the shaving process, so get your votes in today by visiting Brian’s Crowdrise page at: http://www.crowdrise.com/bmrettelle!

The Right to Romance

By Alli Tolbert, Communications and Marketing Intern

Photo by Rachael Weaver of Rachael Grace Photography.

Photo by Rachael Weaver of Rachael Grace Photography.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and with it comes plentiful amounts of jewelry commercials, flower advertisements and chocolate sales. Yet, beneath all of this, many of us in the U.S. miss what should be the real joy of Valentine’s Day – the recognition that we are free to celebrate love and the right to choose who we love.

In many developing countries, such as Nepal, the prospect of a romantic relationship of one’s choosing is hardly the norm. Child marriage is a stark and prevalent reality for many girls. With a third of girls aged 15-19 already married, Nepal stands second among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of child marriage prevalence. Families arrange child marriages for many reasons, whether it be cultural tradition or poverty and an inability to support their daughters.

But studies show that if a girl has better access to an education, this cultural norm has the potential to shift. If more girls in the developing world become educated and empowered to contribute to their communities, families may begin to see that educating their daughters is an equally valuable investment to educating their sons.

Whether you have a sweetheart this Valentine’s Day or not, the ability to share love with friends and family is something to be grateful for.

Show our girls in Nepal some love this Valentine’s Day with a donation to support our work to provide more girls with better access to education!

Donate herePink-Heart

Meet Lauren: Our Community Outreach Intern

blog pictureName: Lauren Wright

Hometown: Chesterton, IN

Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven?

I was drawn to Edge of Seven because the organization combines my two passions: helping others and
traveling. Ever since I was very young, I have been extremely interested in global issues. After spending
time in Tanzania in 2011, I realized that my passion for international development had grown. Edge of
Seven’s foundation, which focuses on bettering the lives of women overseas, represents all of my core
values and encompasses what I look for in an international nonprofit.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven?

I am the Community Outreach Intern and a member of the Events Advisory Committee. As the Community Outreach Intern, I focus on spreading the word about our programs, projects, and international volunteer opportunities in Nepal and Tanzania. Also, one of my main objectives as the Community Outreach Intern is to foster student relationships on college and university campuses and identify potential collaborations. As a member of the Events Advisory Committee, I am helping to coordinate Edge of Seven’s annual fundraising event in October and other community events in Denver and beyond.