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The Elfenworks Foundation
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Sustainable Greening


A farm is rising from the desert sands in Jordan. The Elfenworks Foundation's newest partnership, with the Blessed Ones Society (a charity that provides care and enrichment of Jordan's orphaned children), began taking shape when Elfenworks CEO Dr. Lauren Speeth visited Jordan as a guest speaker at the World Affairs Council and the University of Jordan. While there, she learned that the Blessed Ones Society had been gifted a large plot of land and had a dream for a sustainable farm.
 
With the framework slated for completion in the Jordanian Badia this year, that dream will soon become a reality. One of the world's 10 driest countries will be home to a sustainable hydroponic barley farm. The hydroponic system will use 97% less water than is traditionally required for barley production, and the barley will be used as fodder for sheep—a staple in Jordanian diets. The farm will also be home to a flock of sheep, which they will grow to maturation. Some of the barley grown on the farm will feed their own sheep, protecting the crop, in part, from the vagaries of barley pricing at the markets. Historically, Jordanians have had to import the barley to feed their sheep, thanks to their non-arable land. By eliminating the importation of barley fodder, the project will help lower the region's carbon footprint. And by adding to the supply of feed for the nation's sheep supply, the project is increasing the country's capacity to sustain livestock as Jordan struggles with growing water scarcity.
By Kchittock0511 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33378271
Proceeds from the sale of the grown sheep will help create an ongoing revenue stream to reinvest in the Seven Pillars Ranch (so named to honor the Elfenworks Seven Pillar Methodology). Plans call for additional adjacent acreage to be converted to hydroponic systems for further farming and adding a process called silage, in which the barley is allowed to ferment for a period to produce a high-quality feed for sheep, cows, and other ruminants.

Empowerment and education will be essential elements of the Jordanian farm site, which will offer students from the University of Jordan and local high schools experiential learning opportunities. The farm will be staffed, in part, by local women farmers, empowering them with income-generating work. It will additionally provide hope and jobs to a small number of the more-than 1,000,000 Syrian refugees currently in Jordan (many of the men and women living in limbo in refugee camps near the farm were forced to flee their farms in Syria). 

“Recognizing that Jordan is a water-poor country, the project seeks to shift awareness and promote an eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and water-saving project. The project moves toward the restoration of natural resources, integrating biological considerations into the soil/ plant/atmosphere continuum while responding to the challenges of climate change.” –The Blessed Ones Society

Doing Well by Doing Good

Responsible business is key to turning the tide on the climate crisis

"Our house is burning—let’s not worry why. Let’s focus instead on what responsible business can do in response, why it makes sense for the business's bottom line, and why it can be a joy to jump in—doing well while doing good and feeling good. It’s a no-brainer for savvy and responsive businesses, you might say—even their duty as citizens of the earth—to outcompete the old, established businesses, the ones with the heavy carbon footprints that are heavily vested in the status quo, and put them out of business before they put us all out of business."

– Dr. Lauren Speeth, founding CEO of the Elfenworks Foundation, speaking at St. Mary's College, Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business conference "From Frameworks to Profits: Examining the Interdependence of Business and Human Rights" in early March (the panel session is available to view here). 

Blessed Be the Peacemakers

Long-time peace activist, author, and passionate changemaker Father John Dear brought his message of nonviolence to the Bay Area on March 8th as he discussed his latest book, They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change. In his ardent speech, laced with humor, Dear reflected on the growing climate crisis and its relationship with our culture of violence (view his talk here). He invited the audience to consider not only following a path of nonviolence, but to be at the movement's vanguard. He urged all present to be peacemakers in the mold of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.:

We have to learn from Martin Luther King and Gandhi that the way social change happens is through bottom-up, grassroots movements. Everyone has got to be involved; everyone is needed; everyone can be Rosa Parks—that tipping-point person. It becomes organic and contagious, and the only way forward to deal with catastrophic climate change is the movement.​
Members of the Elfenworks team with Father John Dear
Dear has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the first time by Bishop Desmond Tutu. In his more than three decades of actively resisting violence as a way of life, Dear has been arrested at least 80 times. A priest who spent years in the Jesuit order, he is also a convicted felon, thanks to his acts of civil disobedience and persistent refusal to accept the status quo as acceptable.
 
In They Will Inherit the Earth, Dear takes an in-depth look at our current epidemic of global warfare and violence and connects it convincingly with escalating climate woes. He asks his readers to envision a new way of living in nonviolence that is in solidarity with creation.

Peace First Challenge


The Peace First Challenge is a global call to action for young people to speak up for their values and make change. Tell them about an issue in your community and your idea to solve it. Peace First will help you make it happen by issuing $250 mini-grants, digital tools, mentors and a caring community of peacemakers.
Peace First helps young people around the world to become powerful peacemakers by:
  • Investing in their ideas
  • Providing them with tools and skills
  • Connecting them with other engaged young people around the world
  • Sharing their stories with the world
Our pervasive culture of violence impacts our youth every day. A year-long analysis by The Washington Post recently concluded that more than 187,000 of our nation's young people have been exposed to gun violence in the past 20 years. They have also been the victims of bullying, intolerance, and a general inability to connect on a human level in this era dominated by devices. 

There is hope on the horizon. Just look to the students at Parkland and across the country, who are standing up to lawmakers to fight for what they think is right. Peace First has more than 20 years of experience working to build peacemaking skills among young people and they firmly believe that they are powerful problem-solvers.

Peace First offers tools to help adults teach young people the skills of courage, compassion, and collaborative leadership. It's called their Peacemaker manual. You can download it here.

Food Waste Weekend


AmpleHarvest.org, which connects 42 million home and community gardeners to local food pantries, has announced the second annual Food Waste Weekend will be September 21-23, 2018.

Food Waste Weekend was launched in 2016 to help the faith community shift its focus from feeding the hungry to ending hunger. “For the past 10 years, an increasing number of food industry leaders, non-profits, government officials, and others have been tackling the issue of food waste in America. One critical group—the faith community—has been largely absent from the conversation, until now,” said AmpleHarvest.org’s founder and executive director Gary Oppenheimer. “Since 70% of America’s food pantries are located in a house of worship, faith leaders are critical partners in helping get that excess food to hungry families."

Food Waste Weekend strives to educate the clergy about the scope of food waste in America. The organizers will give faith leaders the tools they need to share the issue with their congregation. Information about food waste is available to clergy who sign up at FoodWasteWeekend.org. They can also select calls to action on the website, based on the type of engagement that will most appeal to their congregants.  

Nationwide, the primary beneficiaries of Food Waste Weekend will be local food pantries working with AmpleHarvest.org. They will receive locally grown food that otherwise would have been lost to waste.

Ripples and Waves

News from Our In Harmony with Hope Community & Partners

  • Andrew Yang's (IHH 2013) latest book, The War on Normal People, was published on April 3. It looks at automation and its effect on American jobs. And, yes, Andrew has declared his #humanityfirst candidacy for the US presidency. 
  • Brenda Krause Eheart (IHH 2011) was invited to speak about her unique model of intergenerational living at the Obama Foundation's first annual summit. Watch a recap here.
  • Mauricio L. Miller's (IHH 2012) book The Alternative: Most of What You Believe about Poverty Is Wrong outlines his alternative solution to poverty: invest in people’s demonstrated strengths, rather than their weaknesses.
  • Father Greg Boyle (IHH 2009) follows his best-sellingTattoos on the Heart with another well-received book called Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.
  • Doniece Sandoval (IHH 2016) was named one of the most powerful women at TEDx Berkeley. Watch her talk, "Choosing to See the Invisible," here.
  • Gary Slutkin's (IHH 2013) Cure Violence was recently ranked 10th in NGO Advisor’s 2018 report of the Top 500 NGOs in the world. The Cure Violence approach is currently being implemented in 10 countries across more than 25 cities and 60 communities.
In Harmony with Hope: Elfenworks works to foster intelligent compassion in action and to cultivate hope through creative and technological solutions that advance change. Use the butterfly app—and other tools—to help make a positive difference. And, never underestimate your ripple. For more information, see  www.elfenworks.org/ripple.
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