Stories from the Grassroots: The Greengrants Blog

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    The Mekong River Is NOT For Sale!

    May 19, 2016 | No Comments

    chak blog

    Photos and words by Gary Wockner

    “Preserving ‘local knowledge’ is different than westernized ‘nature protection.’ We are protecting people’s habitats, their homes, lives, food, and voices.” – Mr. Chak Kineesee, Program and Outreach Director at the Mekong School for Local Knowledge

    In April of 2016, I traveled to northern Thailand to meet with a Global Greengrants Fund grantee, the Mekong School for Local Knowledge. The School studies and promotes the indigenous knowledge of local Hill Tribes people which also involves protecting the Mekong River and fighting proposed dams on the River. Mr. Chak Kineessee, above, gave us a tour of a local forestry program and a longboat tour of the Mekong River near Chiang Khong, Thailand.


    We started our day by meeting at the Mekong School for Local Knowledge which sits along the banks of the Mekong River in the small town of Chiang Khong just downstream from the Golden Triangle where Burma, Thailand, and Laos meet on the river. The School partners with GGF and International Rivers in its efforts to protect the Mekong River. China has built large dams upstream on the river that impact the lives of downstream residents here in Chiang Khong. Many more dams are proposed on the Mekong River in China, down through Thailand, and downstream through Vietnam and Cambodia. The river – and the local indigenous people and their livelihood – is severely threatened by dams that change the flow in the river, drown fish and bird habitat, drown villages and displace people, and submerge and erase local centuries-old knowledge of how to live sustainably on the landscape.

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    “We are the children of the Mekong River,” says Mr. Niwat Roykaew who is the Director of the Mekong School for Local Knowledge.

    After our trip up the river, we visited with Mr. Niwat who is locally famous for boarding a Chinese ship that was attempting to blast the rocks out of the river a few years ago. Mr. Niwat kept the blasting at bay for several days until the Chinese government agreed to stop the work. Mr. Niwat speaks about the river in spiritual terms and sees the relationship between the river and the people as holistic. “When the river has problems, the people have problems,” he says. “When the people re-learn their local knowledge and their relationship with the river, they can rebuild themselves as well as fight to protect the river.”

    I had a wonderful visit with the school, its staff, and its local environment. I wrote a longer photo essay about the trip which is posted New Internationalist website.

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      Global Greengrants Fund Welcomes New Advisors

      May 17, 2016 | No Comments

      Here at Global Greengrants Fund we’re thrilled to welcome three new advisors to the Next Generation Climate Board and to the Greengrants family! The Next Generation Climate Board makes grants to youth-led initiatives on the front lines of climate change.… Read more

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        Brazil Stalls Mega-Dam Out of Concern for Indigenous Communities

        May 12, 2016 | No Comments

        Indigenous allies in the Amazon celebrated an incremental victory last month as Brazil suspended plans to build the country’s second largest mega dam (after Belo Monte). This is a big win for our grantees, Movimiento Ipereg Ayu, a grassroots organization… Read more

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          Saving Manila’s Last Mangrove Forest

          May 10, 2016 | No Comments

          Photos and words by Ramey Newell, donor and former staff member A year ago, I didn’t know much about the Philippines. I didn’t know that it is among the 10 most biologically diverse countries on the planet, or that metropolitan… Read more

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            How to Challenge Large-Scale Mining in Latin America

            Apr 28, 2016 | No Comments

            In true David vs. Goliath style, Máxima Acuña, a 47 year-old Peruvian subsistence farmer and mother of four, stood up to Newmont Mining Corporation, owner of some of the world’s largest and most lucrative gold mines.  Máxima refused to sell… Read more

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              Announcing the Grassroots Climate Solutions Fund

              Apr 21, 2016 | No Comments

              Today we are delighted to announce our ground-breaking partnership with International Development Exchange (IDEX), Grassroots International, and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights to amplify and strengthen grassroots solutions to our global climate crisis. “Together, our four organizations have… Read more

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                Celebrating the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizewinners

                Apr 18, 2016 | No Comments

                Congratulations to the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizewinners for their truly visionary grassroots environmental leadership! We are especially thrilled to acknowledge Edward Loure and Máxima Acuna, members of grassroots groups Global Greengrants has supported in the past. We honor them and… Read more

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                  Clean Water, Thanks to Aveda

                  Apr 7, 2016 | No Comments

                  Did you know that 1 in 3 people around the world lack enough water to meet their daily needs? More than 800 million people rely on an unclean drinking-water source, risking disease with every sip. But grassroots groups are protecting… Read more

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                    What Funders Can Do In the Wake of Berta Caceres’ Murder

                    Apr 5, 2016 | No Comments

                    By Eva Rehse, Director for UK/Europe, Global Greengrants Fund UK Berta Caceres was assassinated on March 3, 2016. Since then, the environmental funding community has asked, what can funders do to support environmental campaigners under threat? Across the world we… Read more

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                      #WomenAndClimate Wins the 2016 Wilmer Shields Award for Excellence in Communications

                      Mar 31, 2016 | No Comments

                      Exciting news! Our #WomenAndClimate Communications Program has been awarded the Council on Foundations’ 2016 Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications! The program crystallizes the inextricable link between women and climate change, amplifies voices of grassroots change makers, and… Read more