This is my second entry in this series (I pushed the first entry a few times and it is still on going).
My first action alert was a loan, which means you will get your money back or re-loan it depending on your preference. This loan is a donation.
If you want to make a loan rather than a donation while helping develop green solutions and reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses, please click here for my last Global Green action alert which focused on energy efficiency in Mongolia, which is surprisingly becoming one of the most polluted nations on earth due to inefficient practices. We can reverse that trend, but the effort has yet to get as much attention as it deserves. Make a green loan in Mongolia and help reduce pollution and global warming. There are currently around 40 green loans still needing lenders through Kiva.org!
One reason I hesitated to push my next particular effort is that it was somewhat in competition with another dKos effort: the Propane Project to provide heating oil to Native Americans who face high heating costs and so go through very cold winters without adequate heat. When I first read about the Propane Project I wanted to call it a band aid on the problem, but I realized right away that was not the right wording. "Band aid" has become a term of disrespect. So I revised how I wanted to refer to the Propane Project more as a tourniquet applied to a critically bleeding wound: absolutely necessary to save lives but not a long term solution.
I want to publicize a project I have mentioned before on dKos with some positive feedback which is something of a longer-term way of addressing the heating needs of Native Americans in cold winter areas: a solar heating project through the amazing organization Trees, Water, People. See below for some critical donations you can make to help people survive not just this winter, but many winters to come.
Trees, Water, People is one of the most amazing organizations I know of. I make monthly donations to them...small I have to admit, but every single month. They help build energy efficient stoves in Central America that save not just trees but also the lungs of the women who have to cook over the stoves. They plant trees in the horribly deforested areas of Haiti. And they are looking into expanding their efforts into Africa.
But for the purposes of this diary I want to focus on one particular project funded by Trees, Water, People: providing solar heating for poor families in Indian Country right here in America.
Native Americans are one of the most ignored communities in the US. And, as well covered in the wonderful Propane Project diaries, one of the many things Indian Country has to endure is not being able to afford heating during cold winters. Let's be clear on this. People, particularly children and elderly, die because of inadequate heating right her in the United States.
Trees, Water, People is taking a more expensive but longer term solution to this problem than the Propane Project. TWP is purchasing solar heating for homes in Indian Country, primarily in South Dakota, to provide (once installed) very cheap, long-term heating. This does not replace the need for the Propane Project in the short term, but it can reduce the need for propane solutions in the future. Not eliminate, but reduce. That is good economically in the long run and is good environmentally, in addition to helping people stay warm.
The sun — its heat and fire — plays a central role in Lakota spirituality. Trees, Water & People's Tribal Renewable Energy Program uses the power of the sun to heat homes of Native American families struggling to stay warm.Help keep families warm in Indian Country while reducing greenhouse emissions and saving those families money by helping Trees, Water, People install solar heating for these families. Click here and designate your donation for the Tribal Renewable Energy Program in the drop down menu under "Program Area." You can also, if you prefer, give to the same project through Alternative Gifts International, who encourage you to give such gives for the holidays. They also fund LOTS of other great projects if you want to find some cool alternative gifts this year.
The bitter winters take a terrible toll on many reservation families living in inadequate housing. Where over 60% live below the federal poverty line, electric heat and propane may be financially out of reach. Families can spend up to 70% of their total income to heat their homes. Temperatures can plunge to 40 below zero and ice can form on the inside of walls.
Trees, Water & People's supplemental solar air heating units are an inexpensive, simple to use, and environmentally sound way to bring comfort to reservation families suffering in the winter cold. The units are built on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation by Native-owned and operated Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), providing a source of employment and pride.
The heaters themselves are technologically straightforward. The main component of each unit is a four-by-eight-foot solar collector panel. The panel contains baffles to direct air flow and is backed by a specialized, heat-absorbing metal film. The baffles and absorber plate are covered by a sheet of special solar glass and surrounded by a metal frame. This solar panel is mounted and installed next to the south side of the house, where it absorbs heat from the sun. The system is connected to the house by two air ducts: supply and return. Whenever the air inside the collector panel is warmer than the temperature set on the heating system’s thermostat, a blower inside the system turns on and warm air is pushed into the house. The blower fan is the system’s only moving part.
Since the program began in 2003, more than 760 supplemental solar heating systems have been built at Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and other reservation communities. In 2009, LSE began selling solar heating units to other tribes. Members of these tribes visit the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, where they learn about the theory and practice of solar heating. These newly-certified Solar Technicians then return to assemble and install the heating systems for families in their own communities.
It will never replace the Propane Project, unfortunately. But it will reduce the need for it in the future. They have helped 760 families so far. Help them help more. It is a smart, green, and long-term solution. Ideally a donation to Trees, Water, People for Solar Heating and a donation to the Propane Project will maximize your impact on the lives of Native Americans facing a cold winter.