Stories from the Grassroots: The Greengrants Blog

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    The Summit on Women and Climate—a year later

    Jul 28, 2015 | No Comments


    By Katy Neusteter, Director of Communications

    A year ago today, I was boarding a flight to Bali for the 2014 Summit on Women and Climate. I’ve been thinking a lot about that moment in my life. I had an 11-month-old son, my husband was one week into a demanding new job, and my mom was entering hospice care.

    I was badly in need of a break from my day-to-day. But I was excited and nervous about the Summit on Women and Climate, too.

    As a white woman from the United States with a good education and a stable home life, I knew that my privilege offers me a buffer from the realities marginalized peoples—not to mention other women—face all around the world.

    What common ground would 96 environmental and women’s rights activists and advocates from 37 countries find? What decisions would we arrive at? What would we change?

    I’ve written about many things in the past year, but never my experience in Bali. As I reflect back, I want to share with you two ways the Summit changed me, and where we are a year later. (For a great recap of the Summit, check out “3 awakenings from the Summit on Women and Climate” by board member Maxine Burkett.)

    Women find common ground

    Me and Ursula Rakova.

    Ursula Rakova and me.

    Over four days at the Summit on Women and Climate, I had the extraordinary opportunity to talk with many courageous women.

    Many were mothers like me. Some had been imprisoned for their activism or commonly received death threats. A few had been instrumental in moving forward truly groundbreaking change.

    I interviewed Ursula Rakova, who designed a plan to relocate climate refugees from their flooded Papua New Guinea island home. I also talked to Berta Cáceres, who organizes opposition to mega dams that threaten indigenous communities in Honduras. (Berta won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her amazing work.) Read more stories about grassroots women leaders at

    No matter how different our lives and experiences were, we found solidarity in our shared purpose: Solutions to climate change and other environmental injustices have to include voices of women and men.

    Inspiration is a privilege

    My daily life is inconvenienced—but not shattered—by the impacts of climate change. Even so, I get overwhelmed by world news, scientific reports, and the enormous challenge of issues like climate chaos and gender inequality. So, I am always fascinated to know what motivates activists to keep going in the face of such extreme hardship.

    But asking, “What inspires you to keep going?” implies that this is a choice.

    As Mama Aleta Baun—who saved her West Timor community from the ravages of mining—put it so eloquently:

    “My people regard the Earth as the human body. Stone is our bone. Water is our blood. Land is our flesh. And Forest is our hair. If one of them is taken away, we are paralyzed.”

    For activists like Mama Aleta, there is no alternative but to stand for their values and the protection of their people and planet.

    I am continually grateful that I get to choose to work with people and in a movement that represents and upholds my values.

    Women’s rights and climate justice have joint momentum


    Women climate leaders talk about the challenges their communities face.

    Since the Summit on Women and Climate, I have seen clearly that there are ways forward on climate change and gender inequity. The solutions lie in the people coming up with ideas and ways to challenge the status quo.

    Quite fortuitously, I found out today that 45 percent of the nearly 800 community projects Global Greengrants’ supported in our last fiscal year were led by, participating in, or focused on women. That’s up 5 percent in just one year. Our goal this year is to reach a full 50 percent.

    Imagine how many Ursula Rakovas, Mama Aleta Bauns, and Suryamani Baghats will receive the funds they need to take their activism to the next level.

    I feel grateful to be part of this movement for change. This is what keeps me going.

    Benchmarks: since the Summit
    • Global Greengrants, INWF, and the Alliance of Funds published “Climate Justice & Women’s Rights” in March 2015. It offers practical tips for supporting community-based climate projects led by women. To date, more than 600 funders, activists, and academics from 70 countries have downloaded the guide from
    • We launched the guide with a panel discussion at the Ford Foundation that featured Suryamani Bhagat. Terry talked with Suryamani about indigenous adavasi rights to India’s forests. Watch the video of their conversation.
    • Global Greengrants, INWF, and the Alliance of Funds are collaborating across regions to raise funds and support community projects that address both environmental and women’s rights equally. Check out this map of our global reach.
    • Berta Cáceres was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her work to defend indigenous territory in Honduras despite great personal risk. Hear how Berta describes what it’s like to work under threat.

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      Global Greengrants welcomes new staff

      Jul 28, 2015 | No Comments

      Every year, more than 700 grants are processed in our Boulder, Colorado, office and sent or wired to grant recipients around the globe. We are happy to welcome these new members to the Global Greengrants team! Jenna Daucunas, Development Administrative… Read more

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        The power of unity: lessons from the Biennial of the Americas

        Jul 27, 2015 | No Comments

        By Nicole Schmitt, Grants Administrator Imagine if cities around the world united to address systemic social justice and environmental problems. On July 17, I attended a panel discussion at the Biennial of the Americas—a festival to celebrate ideas, culture, art,… Read more

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          Communities rise against toxic polluters in South Africa’s Vaal Triangle

          Jul 27, 2015 | No Comments

          Black communities affected by environmental toxins fight back against the corporations damaging their children's health. Read more

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            Lessons from LGBTQ marriage equality

            Jun 30, 2015 | No Comments

            Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. Those first moments after I heard the news felt golden, giddy, like everything was coming together. It was an oasis; a mini-vacation from worrying about the state of Things. Read more

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              VOA profiles Winnie Asiti

              Jun 30, 2015 | No Comments

              Photo by Juan Soriano Winnie Asiti, our Next Generation Climate Board advisor in Kenya, is profiled in VOA (Voice of America): “A young Kenyan activist is part of a fast-moving low cost-movement that is tackling the impact of global warming… Read more

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                First Solar partners with Global Greengrants for clean water and energy

                Apr 30, 2015 | 3 Comments

                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 Announcing a unique clean energy and water partnership Global Greengrants and First Solar give grants to community-led environmental projects (BOULDER, Colo) – April 22, 2015 – In honor of Earth Day, Global Greengrants Fund announces its partnership… Read more

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                  7 groups in Nepal to support with earthquake relief donations

                  Apr 29, 2015 | No Comments

                  It is with profound sadness that the Global Greengrants Fund family has watched the destruction in Nepal following the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in 80 years. Our hearts go out to our grantees, friends, colleagues, and allies… Read more

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                    Berta Cáceres wins the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize

                    Apr 22, 2015 | No Comments

                    We are thrilled to congratulate Global Greengrants grantee Berta Cáceres on winning the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize. She and the five other grassroots environmental leaders accepted the prize this week for their brave dedication to protecting vulnerable people and ecosystems.… Read more

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                      Living Aveda: an Indian excursion for clean water

                      Apr 14, 2015 | No Comments

                      Two girls fetch water for their families on the hilly road outside of Rishikesh.Photo: Kim Roberson Last year, Kim Jessen Roberson, Global Greengrants’ Director of Philanthropy traveled with 13 Aveda stylists, salon owners, and spa therapists to the foothills of… Read more