When I was 18, my heart caught on fire for environmental causes.
That was the year when I worked at an environmental resort in the Caribbean. And while, yes, I was absolutely there for the pina coladas (I could drink them at 18 on that island), the beaches, and the summer escape between High School and College, I ended up with so much more.
I ended up finding My Spark.
Because every day I was surrounded by this amazing, beautiful world that I could literally dive into. And every day I discovered something new about how huge and interrelated our environmental systems are.
But every day I also saw the destruction that we humans were wreaking.
I saw every day the trash that was piling up on the beach, the grey water that was collecting on the beaches, and the coral reefs that were being destroyed by tourists.
Note: I travel, and I am a tourist.
I do NOT call these people evil, because I am one of them. I do NOT point fingers and wag them, because I too have been on a cruise – and have used sunscreen in the ocean. Because I know that I am not perfect, I do not judge others that are not perfect either.
But I do stand with them, shoulder-to-shoulder.
You see, I have learned as well (later on, waaay after the island life) that we must stand together or we all fall apart. I learned this on any one of my husband’s four deployments, when I was alone in a new place, by myself, and was saved only by the kindness of strangers. I learned this as a mom of wild small people, when I desperately needed sanity and my friends kept me company and shouldered the burden with me. And I learned this moving all over the world, learning new languages and customs and food and feeling SO LOST.
I learned that every voice counted.
And that brings us to today’s project. Not only is individual action to embrace the environmental life important, but we’re starting to realize that collective, community action is the best change the status quo. So, my friend, let’s collect together and change the future.
This project is SO RAD. I can say that, because I clearly AM NOT. It’s the perfect project for those of you with tweens, teens, or are still cool enough to go out and stand up on stages. Why is that? Because today’s project is to throw a Poetry Slam to support the environmental movement – which means you can win mom points, have a fantastic time, and change tomorrow.
We call that living The Spark Life.
And now you get to be a part of it.
One of our core principles here at Aina is that we don’t just talk about issues, we give you meaningful, hands-on action you can take to change the world, today. We’re giving you this fantastic project to help environmental conservation with one of Aina’s Accredited Nonprofits. And if saving the environment isn’t your Spark (have you heard of the Spark Life?), or if this project doesn’t ring quite true to you, be sure to Contact Us! Because empowering women to change the world is what we do here at Aina, and we’re here to help you.
Before we get to today’s project, let’s talk a few fast facts on the Environmental Movement so you can wow your friends at the next (Poetry Slam) dinner party – and understand why this project is so important.
YOUR ISSUE: ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION
Ok, the Environmental Movement has been around for roughly a century. That means LOTS of facts swirl around it. To help you get started, here’s an easy infographic:
Ohhh, there are so many fun facts. Yep, renewable resources create FIVE TIMES more jobs than fossil fuels. So, us capitalists can still rejoice ;). Did you know that renewable energy now supplies a third of the UK’s energy? And I LOVE the fact that 1 wind turbine can create enough energy to power 1,400 homes – not to mention that one hour of sunlight could meet the world’s energy demands for a whole year. Of course, we are not there yet, people – we have a LONG way to go to make all of these renewable sources a reality. But if each of us took practical action at home to harness this? We’d be a lot farther down that path.
YOUR ORGANIZATION: Practical Action
Ok ladies, the fantastic news is that you can do something about it, right now, from home. Yep, you – because we are SO not fans of doom and gloom here at Aina.
We are women of action. And we’re out to save this world.
Enter this project – and the fantastic organization Practical Action.
Founded in 1966, Practical Action “is a global innovator, inspiring people to discover and adopt ingenious, practical ways to free themselves from poverty and disadvantage.” So. Amazing. And while their focus is on poverty, guess what? Access to energy is a huge equalizer in the economic game. And access to energy that’s cheap, sustainable – and doesn’t require huge investments in the fossil fuel industry? That’s what we call a game-changer. For this reason, one of Practical Action’s main areas of focus is on Energy Access.
In the Energy Access area Practical Action works with communities to develop renewable energy solutions. While all options are on the table, they focus mainly on water, wind, sun, and waste. In fact, in 2017 alone they helped 1.2 million people get access to sustainable, modern energy sources. Moreover, they have 104 projects around the world focusing on energy, sustainable agriculture, urban water, sanitation and waster services, and disaster risk reduction.
Not only that, but they are scrappy and get the work done with the fewest resources (one of our big requirements for our partner organizations). Even more – they use only 1% of their funds on governance. Talk about scrappy and hard-working. They are so very awesome – and you can be awesome with them too. Keep reading for one way to get involved, and find more ways to support Practical Action here.
→Creativity and Courage (yep, that spells a teenager)
(Note: These might include affiliate links)
Step 1: Host A Poetry Slam
So raise your hand if you’ve heard of a poetry slam. And…I had no idea before we started developing this project. Sigh. I am officially OLD. But the good news is that Poetry Slams are now the coolest, hottest things to do with teens and tweens. This means that while I may extremely NEVER be cool again as a teenager (not that I was really ever quite there), I will absolutely be the cool mom that can throw down on hosting parties.
A Poetry Slam is a competition where poets perform spoken word poetry. Think that sounds dorky? Then you’ve never heard of rap. Because rap is just spoken word poetry put to an awesome beat. Still not convinced? Check out this video – it will blow your mind.
Here is a fantastic article about all of the things you need for a great poetry slam. But the best part of all? This poetry slam is a fundraiser for Practical Action – so getting a venue and prizes will be no sweat. Not only that, but Practical Action has put together a fantastic, easy-to-use Fundraising Guide. In fact, this fantastic resource gives you everything you need to incorporate this worthy cause into your Poetry Slam night. If you need some inspiration for poem writing, check out these great environmental quotes – or read some of the beautiful, already-written environmental poetry with your own style and flair.
Step 2: Get Connected
Whenever a woman asks us how they can start helping the world in their specific issue of interest, we always tell them to start with a known organization. Practical Action is a great, Aina-Accredited organization to start with if you are interested in conservation. Read up on what they do and see if they fit you. Find out who is on Their Board of Directors, and check them out on Linkedin. Do you have any kind of connection to them? If so, reach out. If not, reach out! Open that dialogue, you’d be surprised to see where it takes you. If Practical Action isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t know where to start, contact us!! We are here to help, and we know how to get you where you want to go.
Step 3: Get Involved
Practical Action not only helps save our environment, but they also care SO MUCH about the community that supports them. Because we know that the world only changes in community, this ability to get involved is one of our must-haves for accredited partner organizations. This is just one of the reasons we love them.
You can see some of our other projects with them – like Solar Flair! – or you can check out the whole gamut of Aina’s involvement projects here. No matter what, you should contact Practical Action and let them know that you want to be more involved with what they’re doing – they are worth your world-changing time!
Step 4: Step Up Your Game
Is all of this slightly intimidating? If so, contact us at Aina and we’ll help you down this path! As we’ve worked in this field for over 15 years, we know how daunting it can be. Believe us, we have few tricks up our sleeves to get you, as we like to call it, Living the Spark Life. We don’t want you to have to reinvent the wheel, because we’ve made all of the mistakes out there. We’d love to chat and shine light onto Your Spark.
Do you love this environmental project and want to take more action to save the environment? We have more fantastic environmental projects for you!
→Conservation Composter is the perfect project for all of your veggie scraps!
→Breathing Forests is a fantastic project for to help stop global warming. This is perfect for those with younger children and green thumbs.
→Powerful Pedals is a fantastic global climate change project for teenagers and workout fanatics.
GET CONNECTED TO AINA
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a female-led company that transforms women into world changers. Join the movement of DIY World Change and get our accredited projects, leadership coaching, and nonprofit consulting – Contact Us and tell us how you want to change the world. We’ll help you get there.