EO7 Volunteer Jesse Young Working with Earthbags in Nepal! [Photos]

In December, Edge of Seven volunteer Jesse Young, a landscape architect from Denver, spent three weeks in Mankhu, Nepal working with our partner The Mountain Fund on earthbag construction techniques. In order to help train the local community on the building method, Jesse helped break ground on a women’s housing structure being built by The Mountain Fund at a local farm.

In addition to his contribution to this housing, Jesse’s work was also being done in preparation for our upcoming “Earthbags for Women Build” this May, where we will be partnering with The Mountain Fund to build a four room earthbag Community and Education Center for marginalized women who live and work at the farm. The Community and Education Center will include a health post, classrooms for vocational trainings, and community space for the women to meet socially.

We are currently recruiting volunteers to help with this project! If you are interested in signing up or getting more information, visit or website or email us at sarah@edgeofseven.org.

We are so thankful to Jesse for all of his hard work and will be writing more soon about Jesse’s experiences in Nepal and this exciting project! (And a huge thanks to Manisha Sharma of the Mountain Fund for sharing her photos with us!)

Supplies are ready for the foundation!

Supplies are ready for the foundation!

On site with the community in Mankhu to lay the foundation.

On site with the community in Mankhu to lay the foundation.

Jesse tamping down the bags on the first course.

Jesse tamping down the bags on the first course.

Manisha from the Mountain Fund walks children from Mankhu around the building perimeter.

Manisha from the Mountain Fund walks children from Mankhu around the building perimeter.

Goodness.

Goodness.

Making some gravel for the foundation.

Making some gravel for the foundation.

Site work.

Site work.

Jesse takes a break to help with plowing the fields.

Jesse takes a break to help with plowing the fields.

EO7 volunteer Jesse and EO7 staff member Tamara take time for dal bhat in Mankhu!

EO7 volunteer Jesse and EO7 staff member Tamara take time for dal bhat in Mankhu!

Site work.

Site work.

 

 

 

 

Introducing Erika: Edge of Seven’s New Grants and Development Intern

   Welcome to the Edge of Seven team!

  Name: Erika Schlichter

  Hometown: Norfolk, VA

  Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven?  In short: the mission   statement.  Throughout my academic career, I’ve become increasingly drawn to both local and global issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.  My ongoing graduate study in international human rights has increased my awareness of how development initiatives directly influence the human rights environments in particular communities and regions, especially with regard to gendered power relations.  From interning at a community radio station for women in Dakar, Senegal to working as a counselor and assistant director at an all-girls camp in Virginia, my experiences working to develop the full potential of girls and women have been my most fulfilling ones.  I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be part of such a dedicated and driven team!

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? As Grants and Development Intern, I am exploring innovative ways to generate support for Edge of Seven’s mission and projects, within the framework of our annual fundraising strategy.  I am also helping to explore and build new partnerships with like-minded organizations, on a scale ranging from the local to the global.

To contribute to Edge of Seven’s ongoing effort to empower women and girls worldwide, please visit our website!

Voice as a Medium for Social Change

By Carly Wyman

Hello beautiful people! This is Carly Wyman here, Fundraising and Development Intern with Edge of Seven. Just wanted to update you on one of our most unique and inspiring summer happenings.

On July 18th, Edge of Seven, in partnership with Global Greengrants Fund, held an interdisciplinary event titled Expression as a Form of Empowerment. The event took place at RedLine Gallery in Denver as part of the international exhibition, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art. This event was the first of its kind for Edge of Seven and, I know that for me, the discussions that began that evening will continue to pervade my consciousness for a long time to come.

Expression as a Form of Empowerment was a hybrid performance/panel/discussion/interactive theatrical event that featured three women panelists. Presenters included Seth Donovan of Theatre of the Oppressed, slam poet Dominique Ashaheed, and Bhutanese refugee Pingala Kamala. The purpose of the evening was to initiate a conversation about women and social change and to bring together and give back to our wonderful Denver community!

Seth Donovan of Theatre of the Oppressed opened the evening by getting the entire audience out of our seats to connect with one another. We were told to walk around and place ourselves in such a manner that we were evenly spaced, never stopping and never running into one another (tricky to picture, I know). Then she had us stop and physically connect with the people around us. The physical connection prompted participant awareness of the human body and of the bodies around us, which was quite exhilarating. Seth brought up the issue of disconnect in everyday life. For example, how many people do we pass on the street on any given day, pretending that we don’t even notice they are there? Seth helped to bring our audience together in a way that few audiences ever are.

Next, Dominique Ashaheed continued the conversation by performing some of her original poetry. The audience was in tears as the words of Dominique conveyed truths about rising above victimhood and allowing oneself to be whole. Her performance was truly inspiring and emotional and brought a discourse to the evening regarding personal struggle in the face of the injustices of our world.

Switching gears, Pingala Kamala gave a moving account of her transition from Bhutan to a refugee camp in Nepal, to eventually arriving in United States with her husband and children. Pingala’s story raised the issues of war and violence on a national scale, as well as the trials associated with coming to a new land. To hear a refugee’s story first hand was truly eye-opening. Her story illustrated some of the challenges relocated individuals and families must face. Pingala’s story is one of courage and hope in the face of national violence and cultural and physical displacement.

The event inspired conversations, among many others, on the subjects of disconnect from community, personal struggle against injustice, and violence on a national scale. I would urge all who were present for this enlightening panel to think critically about the implications of such subjects in their own lives. How are you disconnected from your own community? How can you change that? What is the relationship between personal struggle and political violence? How are women and other marginalized populations oppressed within our own society? What does it mean to rise above victimhood?

At Edge of Seven, we hope to continue the conversation that was started that evening. Thanks to all who were able to attend and I hope you continue the dialogue begun during Expression as a Form of Empowerment in your own lives!

And a special thank you to Anne Bannister for filming the evening (footage coming soon)!

The evening – in action!

 

Reaching for the sky!

By Emily Stanley

July marks the one year anniversary of the Salleri Girls Hostel! The hostel allows girls from Nepal’s Solukhumbu region the opportunity to attend higher secondary school, learn about leadership, bond with other girls their age, participate in extracurriculars and learn more about educational and professional opportunities beyond high school. We’ve been truly awed by the girls, their resilience and their desire to change the world. This summer, a group of girls from the hostel will use part of their break to travel to other villages, sharing what they’ve learned with other girls interested in education and social impact.

Every day. We are humbled by the tenacity of these students and the sheer determination it takes to move beyond what you’ve always known..to overcome barriers, to achieve more and to strive for your dreams.

The Salleri Girls Hostel was constructed by Edge of Seven and The Small World. We are currently looking for English language instructors to volunteer at the hostel for a minimum of a 3 month period during the fall of 2012 and all of 2013. 

A Night to “Toast to the Girls”

By Josi Toothman, Edge of Seven Guest Blogger

Welcome- photo credit Anne Bannister

Over 100 people came out Thursday June 28th to Battery 621 in Denver for the “Toast to the Girls” event, raising $3,000 for Edge of Seven’s Community Development Program. After an initial welcome from Edge of Seven Director Emily Stanley and board member Julia Alvarez, those who attended mingled, shared stories of social impact, and ate delicious food. Sherpa House in Golden, Nepal India Oven and Lalas provided appetizers, while Great Divide, Funkwerks, and Infinite Monkey Theorem, Classic Wines, sponsored beverages.  The energy in the room was filled with both excitement and curiosity as attendants who had previously been involved with Edge of Seven discussed their experiences with those still learning about the organization. Phrases like, “Lifechanging”, “Absolutely Incredible”, and “So Beautiful,” could be heard as those who had previously volunteered with Edge of Seven described their experience in Nepal.

Delicious- photo credit Anne Bannister

In between the socializing and educating Edge of Seven drew tickets for winners of various raffle prizes. The raffle was a great success with individual prizes including one month free yoga from Core Power, gift certificates from Linger, skirts for outdoor girls from Jen-ai Skirts, and ski poles from Icelantic, to name a few.  The grand prize of the evening was a one night stay and dinner at the Oxford.

The premiere of “The Mountain Between Us” photo credit Anne Bannister

Midway through the evening Edge of Seven debuted their recently produced short film, The Mountain Between Us, a documentary which gives a glimpse into the lives and struggles of women in rural Nepal and the opportunities created for them by projects completed by organizations like Edge of Seven. Everyone watched in silence as Junu and Purnima, two young women featured in the film, talked about their desire to continue their education and their dreams to help their villages.

At the end of the evening Katie Donahue, who has been involved with Edge of Seven for the past year, and who recently volunteered on Edge of Seven’s Basa project in Nepal, came to the stage to deliver the toast that had brought everyone together. Katie spoke of her experience working with children with big dreams who but faced many obstacles. Katie told how, like most people at the event, she was told she could be whatever she wanted to be when she grew up and was encouraged to pursue her dreams. It was a reminder to everyone that many children in the developing world, especially girls, grow up knowing that their dreams of becoming a ballerina, firefighter, or pilot may always be just that, dreams. It is by the efforts of organizations like Edge of Seven along with individual volunteers to educate and empower girls that they may be able to see their dreams become reality. With that, everyone raised their glass and gave a united, “Toast to the Girls.”

A Toast to the Girls – photo credit Anne Bannister

A Catalyst for Collaboration – Meet Kassia

As part of a new series of blog posts, we are highlighting the work of Edge of Seven’s tireless, brilliant, and passionate volunteers, advisors, and board members. The work that we do empowering girls and building infrastructure abroad would not be possible without the network of support we have here domestically. Thank you Kassia for all that you’ve done for Edge of Seven this spring! Read Kassia’s inspiring story below on nonprofit collaboration, international travel,  healthy babies, and good communication …

Kassia in Nepal

Name: Kassia Binkowski

Hometown: Originally from Madison WI. Spent time in Africa, Latin America, the East Coast, and the Pacific Northwest, before “settling” back in Boulder. Next stop on my list: Cape Town, South Africa or Granada, Spain (it’s a toss up!).

Education: Master of Public Health from University of Washington, BA in International Development & Health from CU Boulder

MY STORY IN A NUT SHELL:  Motivated by the time I spent living and working at children’s homes in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, I am committed to  keeping mothers alive to care for their families. Plain and simple: with mom’s around fewer babies will die. That’s what I want.

While pursuing my MPH, however, I realized that determinants of health far exceed access to medicines and vaccines. More powerful than any prescription are the social determinants over which we have very little control: education, socioeconomic status, environment, etc. As it so happens, education and sanitation are more powerful predictors of nutrition than food distribution. For me, this realization was a game changer. Suddenly the success of my career could be measured not only by the clinics built or babies vaccinated, but also by scholarships distributed and hands washed, if you will. They playing field had been blown wide open!

So upon finishing my degree and moving back to Boulder I began pursuing a career to influence the social determinants of health in our world’s most marginalized communities. Some days that means I organize benefits for midwifery training programs, other days I design marketing materials for socially responsible tourism, and still other days are spent building constituencies for conservation projects. In the past five years I have contributed to programming, communications, and fundraising efforts of international development programs around the world; I have designed projects in Malawi, lived with orphans in Tanzania, studied with traditional healers in Ecuador, led fundraising efforts for Ugandan health workers, coordinated urban clinics in the United States, and researched maternal behavior in Guatemala.  Each of these experiences has only enriched my understanding of the complex choices facing mothers in resource constrained settings, and led me to work more creatively towards promoting health in these communities.

Kassia in Tanzania

WHAT DREW ME TO EDGE OF SEVEN: I am an international health professional, with a huge itch to travel and a need for constant adventure. With experience across Latin America and Africa, it should come as no surprise that I was drawn to Edge of Seven’s work in Asia combining experiential education, developing world adventure, and community development. Contributing to Edge of Seven presented the perfect opportunity to build out my existing skill sets in community development and creative communications in a brand new environment, Asia. What isn’t to love? Besides, I believe the organization is on the cusp of a very exciting growth spurt, and I’m excited to contribute to the identity development and constituency building that are requisite for success.

HOW DO I PLAN TO MAKE AN IMPACT: More than anything else I’ve seen, I’ve been infuriated and motivated by the isolation of individual organizations in the international development industry. Day in and day out we compete for grants only to accomplish the same goal: end poverty. If we all want the same thing, I believe there has to be a more efficient way to operate collectively, mobilizing individual strengths and leveraging our great networks to create more monumental and sustainable change in marginalized communities. I don’t know what the answer is, yet, but I think it’s 40% innovation, 40% collaboration, and 20% rigor. We need to think creatively but act effectively, and we can only do that if we put our minds – and moneys – together. Recently, I took a tiny step in that direction. I founded The Righters (www.the-righters.com) as an online forum for the voices of workers at the front lines of social movements. At just the beginning of a very big thing, right now The Righters is a place to swap stories and inspiration, and hopefully soon it will be a place to connect and learn as well. That’s what I hope to be remembered by – as a catalyst for collaboration in this industry so that we can finally keep all the mothers alive to care for all the babies!

In Morocco

It’s Fundraising Friday – Pass it on!

By Emily Stanley

It’s Fundraising Friday and today you have the opportunity to make change happen at the price tag of just $10. 

Heather Mansfield, the blogger/entrepreneur behind Nonprofit Tech 2.0, has challenged her followers to donate $10 every Friday to a nonprofit of their choice. I’ve been following her blog for quite some time and can credit her for a number of different things from Edge of Seven joining Pinterest to beginning to understand how to navigate nonprofit social media.

Today, I donated to Women LEAD and Edge of Seven (how could I not?). My donations were in celebration of girls and innovative, startup nonprofits with lean operating budgets and immense power to impart social change.

Check out Heather’s blog and share where you plan to donate: http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/fundraisingfriday-please-donate-10-to-your-favorite-nonprofit/.

If (on each of the next 2 Fridays) 40 people donated $10 to Edge of Seven’s current campaign, we’d be able to offer 2 students a higher secondary education in the Basa School in rural Nepal! To contribute to girls, education and sustainable building, check out FLOE – For the Love of Earthbags!

Girls and Potential

Guest Post from an Edge of Seven Alumna, Vicki Lawn

Vicki was a volunteer with Edge of Seven in 2011. She returned home impressed by the strength of women worldwide and determined to make a difference. Vicki is now raising funding to support Edge of Seven and girls education in rural Nepal. Here’s a brief excerpt from her blog!

I believe that an educated girl starts a ripple effect of change around her….

What does the world have to lose by giving the girls a shot?  As John Abdulla, from Help Women Heal articulated at a speaking event last year, “For thousands of years, men have ruled this planet and just dominated it. We have consistently, continually, and quite competently messed up this planet…when you talk about war, violence, bombs, guns, rape and global warming; these aren’t the inventions of women.”  Therefore, what if women had a shot?  What might we create? What would the world look like?

Want to know more about gender equality, the fight against poverty and tactics for community development and how YOU, yes YOU, can get involved?

Step 1: Read, and be smart about it.  Let your hard mind work for your soft heart. I recommend starting with Nicholas Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s  Half the Sky.

Step 2: Talk about it. Strike up a conversation about it.  Write about it.  Figure out where you stand on the issue.

Step 3: Do something about it, or better yet, take a leap.  Volunteer with Edge of Seven, or at a local organization that helps to empower girls.

Learn what empowerment means to you and then practice it.  Often, it is merely a term thrown out there by those working in community development or even doctors.  How many times have doctors said, “We must EMPOWER the patient!”  But rather than throwing the word around, really explore what that word means to you.  Are you empowered? Do you know how powerful you are and how great you could be? Have you shown someone else how powerful he or she could be? You won’t be the most powerful person in the world unless you know how much you’re worth.  And I don’t mean net worth in dollars; I mean net worth in potential impact.  How much of a difference can you make?  And can you allow someone else to see how much of an impact he or she can make?

Poverty will not be alleviated by a couple people with high degrees or some powerful presidents.  Social justice will only be reached if each one of us makes it a priority to obtain.  If, in our daily interactions, we make it a priority to shift the attitudes of women, and if we help reveal a girl’s self-worth to her and her community one by one, we might be able to create the world envisioned by the Millennial Generation.  But, we if let talented young girls fly under the radar without ever revealing to them how much they’re worth, we will be stuck in the status quo, which is just not good enough.

Lastly, if you’re a girl who has not yet been told how great your potential is, let me be the one to tell you with unwavering conviction how powerful you are.  As a matter of fact, you might be the untapped most powerful person in the world.  All you have to do is roar and believe it.

For The Girls. Every One.

GUEST BLOGGER:Tamara Arredondo

Taking on large social issues can be daunting. Whether it is an individual, an organization, or an entire community, changing the focus or mentality of a population to address or alleviate a noted problem is no small task. It takes courage to stand up and say things need to change. It takes optimism to believe that the change can come to fruition. And it takes relentless determination to see that change through.

Think about these challenges:  Break down gender stereotypes. Eliminate domestic expectations. Afford increased educational opportunities. Better the available education. Inspire dreams and aspirations. Encourage the pursuit of higher goals.

This seems like a tall order.

What about doing all these things for the world’s girls?

These problems still exist for many women around the world. Many cultures do not afford girls the same opportunities as their boy counterparts. Domestic responsibilities are higher. Educational opportunities are often scarce. Career options are limited. Choices are not always their own. Dreams are not encouraged. Overall, females face many more obstacles when seeking individual fulfillment.

Where does that leave you and me? What can we do to promote girls worldwide?

In the United States, women have come a long way. While some may argue that we still have a long way to go, we have seen increased opportunity over the past century. The challenges that American women have faced and overcome have given others a better future, given us a better future. We owe it to those pioneers to take advantage of the opportunities we are given (voting, education, job options, etc.) and to help other women and girls realize the their full potentials.

Locally, be a mentor. This can take a variety of forms: parent, teacher, friend, tutor, coach, adviser. But whichever role you assume, take genuine interest. What are her strengths? What are her weaknesses? Where would she succeed? What are her goals? Personal investment from an adult sends a powerful message of belief and self-worth. And it goes such a long way with motivation.

International encouragement can seem a little more difficult as the personal connection is a harder to come by. However, there are so many people and organizations, such as Edge of Seven, that bridge this gap and make it possible for those living in the developing world to reach out to groups of marginalized or struggling women and support girls around the globe. Being able to visit and work directly with these groups, whether building a school, teaching usable skills, delivering clothing and tools, or whatever, is an credible experience on both sides of the equation, but it is not necessary in order to show your support. Time to travel or volunteer can be difficult to come by. You can, however, support these causes locally and use your greater network to spread the word.

Here and there—every person is able to help with the promotion of girls, their rights and their dreams. No action is too small. Piece by piece we can all solve this puzzle together.

Image

Here’s to Women!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Classes 7 and 8 Move into Phuleli School

Post by Emily Stanley

This week classes 7 and 8 moved into the newly completed Phuleli Secondary School. The school is the FIRST earthbag facility in the entire Everest Region of Nepal.

An enormous thank you to all of those who contributed to the school building campaign, the volunteers who helped to construct the school, Architecture for Humanity Boston (who helped to design the school), Edge of Seven’s board chair and architect (Sarah Andrews and Travis Hughbanks), The Small World (our Nepali project partner) and Phuleli’s local community. Our team will return to the project site this month to put on a few final touches and take some more photographs! See below for the first installment:

Phuleli School Complete

Students In New Classroom

First earthbag school in the Everest Region

Looking new and shiny with a blue roof!