Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 40: New Fundraising Event!!

Thanks to the help of a couple of my friends out in Davis, California, we have a new fundraising event to look forward to!  Check it out:


Woodstock's Pizza Davis Fundraiser:  Tuesday, April 24, 6-9 p.m.  219 G St.  Davis, CA 95616.  Print out this flyer and bring it with you when you order from the bar or the front counter and 20-25% of the purchases will go toward the fundraising for the community center in Ecuador!  How cool is that!!  Check out the history of Woodstock's Pizza, which is pretty amazing story.  Not only do they have gluten free crusts, they also pride themselves on being green and recycling whenever possible.  So, check them out, and help support a local restaurant, as well as the mission of the Camarones Community down in Ecuador!!


As always, please see how you can help and please feel free to email me or post below if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions (or want to help organize a fundraiser for your neck of the woods)!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 37: We now have official tax-exempt status!!

Today has been a great day already!  I was able to talk on the phone to Paco, the President of Camarones, and I am gearing up to head back down to Ecuador for some on-the-ground planning with the community.  I am also still working on organizing a few more fundraising events with the help of friends here in the US, and I am continuing to raise money for construction of the community center, as well as future programming and initiatives in the community.


AND, I received our official determination letter from the IRS in the mail, and the Camarones Community Coalition is now listed as a public charity with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, effective September 26, 2011.  So, all of your donations are considered tax deductible!  


So, now is a great time to see how you can help!


Thanks again for your encouragement, energy, and enthusiasm in this initiative.  As always, please feel free to email me or post below if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions!





Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 34: Invitation to Ecuador and message from the President of Camarones

Today I received an email from Jorge Luis Vaca, President of Camarones, Ecuador (goes by Paco as his nickname), that was intended as a thank you and invitation for all of you that have taken an interest in this fundraising effort, and the larger movement of construction of the community center and sustainable development in his town (see how you can help too!).


Here is the message he sent:


Una vez mas gracias a todos los donates y por esa gran generosidad, ahora esto ya es una realidad por fin vamos tener nuestro centro comunitario y estan invitados a que vengan a mi comunidad a que conoscan y tambien seran muy bien recibidos.


And here is my English translation:


One more time, thanks to all of the donors and for the great generosity, now this is a reality, that finally we are going to have our community center, and you are all invited to come to my community and to know the community, and you will be well received.


It has been wonderful to update him and the rest of the community on the progress of the fundraising (especially the description of the Zumbathon), and to hear the excitement on their end, and I think it is wonderful that he sent this message to share with all of you.  Thanks again for your continued support!!



As always, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a future fundraising event.  


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 33: Discussions of Neighborhood Centers

The session on neighborhood centers was lightly attended, but had an interesting mix of individuals providing input.  I encourage you to attend one of the remaining sessions on the  role of neighborhood centers and community needs here in Madison if you haven't already.  This meeting allowed us to share our opinions on three questions:  


1.  List 3 things that you want or need from a neighborhood center
2.  What difference does a community center make in a neighborhood?
3.  Does it matter where the center is located?


For all of these questions we worked as a group to provide our input on giant post-it-note paper sheets that were then posted around the room.  We were given three colored circle stickers that we were instructed to place on these "idea sheets" next to our top three choices for the wants/needs. These lists, collected from all of the sessions, are then going to be used to help with difficult funding decisions in the future.  So, again, I encourage you to go to one of these listening sessions if you are interested in having a voice in some funding decisions affecting neighborhood centers, and, ultimately, your community.


This session, for me, was really energizing.  I love hearing input on how people view the role of neighborhood centers, and, more generally, the overall idea of "community".  This concept is something that I have been intrigued by for as long as I can remember, but, more "scientifically" when I started studying zoology and psychology here at University of Wisconsin-Madison for my undergraduate degree.  I think the overlaps between non-human animals, and humans in their respective "communities" is important, interesting, and, to me, fascinating.  So much so, that I will definitely write more on this at a later point, but for now I am tired, with ideas all over the board, and should be a little more focused before writing more on that topic.


As always, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a future fundraising event.  

One thing this session really hit home is that it would be ideal if I could raise even more funds before returning to Ecuador, so that the center has more flexibility in the initial design and programming opportunities, however, the other thing this session helped me to see is that part of what makes an effective neighborhood center is the ability to grow and evolve as the community sees fit, but that the community being served by the center has input on the planning.  So, again, please consider making a donation online or seeing how else you can help.  Or, if you have already donated, consider passing on the word to those you think may share an interest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 32: Signs of spring!

Spring may be my favorite season.  New beginnings, signs of life everywhere, and renewed energy that comes with longer days and warmer temperatures.  Having spent time living in Hawaii and Ecuador, where seasonality is largely different, I feel very lucky to experience winter, fall, spring, and summer.  The seasons, as I experienced them, in Hawaii and Ecuador were both the rainy or dry seasons.  Both countries are rather interesting in the variety of biomes present, which means that snow can still be seen on the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, but it's different than experiencing a winter in Wisconsin (however, winter this year in Wisconsin was uncharacteristic).


The official first day of spring was yesterday (March 20th), and with that comes more ideas for ways to continue raising money for sustainable development work in Ecuador, as well as renewed optimism for all of the exciting possibilities for future projects both down in Ecuador, and here in Madison at the Meadowood Neighborhood Center.


 Purple Hyacinth surrounded by leaves left over from the fall

Lilac bush with new buds


Tomorrow I am hoping to go to a listening session about the role of neighborhood centers and community needs here in Madison.  Input for residents living on the West side of Madison can be made at one of the five "Community Conversations" the city is holding.  Thursday, March 22, 2012 from 6 to 7:00 p.m. at the Alicia Ashman Library.  Maybe I'll see you there?

As always, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a future fundraising event.  And, please consider making a donation online or seeing how else you can help.  Or, if you have already donated, consider passing on the word to those you think may share an interest.

Monday, March 19, 2012

End of Day 30: $4,650 (not including Applebee's amount or a few other things I know are coming)

This last month has truly flown by!  I feel so honored and extremely grateful to know so many caring and wonderful individuals!  With all of your help, in 30 days, we were able to raise a respectable sum of money, but so much more than that has happened in the last month.  I cannot adequately put to words the feelings of sincere gratitude I have for people to be so giving and generous of their time, their energies, and their ideas (as well as money).  I have learned a lot about fundraising and networking and other important skills that I am hopeful I'll be able to continue to put these tips to good use in the years that come for assisting in sustainable development projects in Camarones and elsewhere, as this truly is a lifetime commitment on my part.

While the dollar amount doesn't match the original $30,000 that I stated I had set out to raise, I am extremely happy!!  I plan to continue fundraising and seeking donors before heading down to Ecuador to help with on-the-ground strategic planning and budgeting for where we are at.  I also plan to organize a baile and maybe a small raffle when I am back in Ecuador to raise a small amount more, but also continue to foster ownership and enthusiasm.  With some creativity, and careful planning, we can start with the money already raised and build a center that has the possibility to be expanded as more money is raised in the future.  And, hopefully we will be able to use strategies and ideas from these last 30 days to help with other projects, including completion of the potable drinking water system in this community.  Time, energy, and ideas abound for future projects.

So, what is next?  I will continue to post on here as I have updates to the dollar amount raised, or to announce upcoming fundraising events (look for a couple more on the east and west coasts, thanks to friends that are helping me coordinate!!), or updates on other ways you can help.  I will also continue to post information on the importance of neighborhood centers, or the sister neighborhood center connections, or fun projects down in Ecuador, or random photos as the mood strikes (or someone requests/suggest).  And, as it gets closer to me heading back to Ecuador, I will post updates, and will then try to continue posting after I am back in Ecuador and working on the next phases of the community center construction.

As always, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a future fundraising event.  And, please consider making a donation online or seeing how else you can help.  Or, if you have already donated, consider passing on the word to those you think may share an interest.

Thanks again for making the month leading to my 30th birthday something truly beautiful and wonderful!  This fundraising drive started as a crazy idea that popped into my head just 34 days ago and I had no idea where it would go.  I honestly would not have been able to predict all of the wonderful things that have transpired in the past month, but I am so thankful to have experienced them all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

End of Day 29: $4381.00

Help make Day 30 a great day!  Tomorrow (Monday) is the Dining to Donate Fundraiser, and Day #30 for this fundraising effort.  Come on out tomorrow, Monday, March 19th anytime between 11 a.m. to midnight to the Applebee's on 660 S. Whitney Way, Madison, WI.  15% of all food sales will go to the fundraiser (you can even order carryout to go)!  Applebee's put together the flyers, which can be printed from here and need to be brought with you when you go to eat out.

Or, consider making a donation online or seeing how else you can help.  Or, if you have already donated, consider doubling your donation today!

Thanks again for helping with this fundraising effort.  As usual, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a future fundraising event.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

End of Day 28: $4381.00

WOW!  Thanks to all of the amazing people that came out today to Zumba for charity, and to the amazing instructors for their energy, all the businesses and individuals that donated to the raffle, and volunteers that helped with the setup and take down of the event, we raised $1015.00!  AWESOME!!  An additional $30 donation bumped us up $1045.00 today!  Thank you to everyone who helped make this Zumbathon a success!!

Here are just a few fun pictures, and a video, from the event!



video

Now that you sweated for 2 hours of some amazing Zumba, come on out to eat on Monday, March 19th, to help continue fundraising efforts with the Dine to Donate Fundraiser:  Monday, March 19th. 11 a.m. to midnight.  Applebee's, 660 S. Whitney Way, Madison, WI.  15% of all food sales will go to the fundraiser (you can even order carryout to go)!  Applebee's put together the flyers, which can be printed from here and need to be brought with you when you go to eat out. 

Thanks again for continued support.  As usual, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a fundraising event (stay tuned for another event coming to Davis, California)!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

End of Day 27: $3336.00

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 17th is the Zumbathon and it is going to be an amazing dance party!!  We have 7 Zumba instructors volunteering to bring you 2 hours of fun time (and we have a stage so you will be able to see them- cool!!).  We also have some amazing raffle prizes; cool Camarones Community Coalition t-shirts for sale; and yummy bagels, water, and other snacks donated!!  This is surely going to be a fun, fun time!!  You won't want to miss it!  Come early to register, or save time by printing the form and bringing it with you!  And don't forget to check out the Facebook Event page!

Thanks again for continued support.  As usual, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a fundraising event!!

And, stay tuned for fun pictures from the Zumba event!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

End of Day 26: $3336.00

Same as yesterday, no official dollar change today, so now is really the time to find out how you can help! I hope to know how much was raised from the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser out in UT tomorrow.

AND, I hope you are getting excited for the Zumbathon this Saturday, March 17th, as it is going to be an amazing dance party!!  We have 7 Zumba instructors volunteering to bring you 2 hours of fun time (and we have a stage so you will be able to see them- cool!!).  We also have some amazing raffle prizes (two more businesses donated today!); cool Camarones Community Coalition t-shirts for sale that were donated (my parents rock!!), so 100% of the money for the sale of the shirts goes directly to the fundraiser!!; and yummy bagels, water, and other snacks donated!!  This is surely going to be a fun, fun time!!  You won't want to miss it!  Come early to register, or save time by printing the form and bringing it with you!  And don't forget to check out the Facebook Event page!

ALSO, stay tuned for a couple more fundraising events I am working on organizing with friends out on the west and east coasts of the US.

Thanks again for continued support.  As usual, feel free to email me or post below for questions, comments, or to help host a fundraising event!!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

End of Day 25: $3336.00

So, no official dollar change today.  I say "no official change" for two reasons:  1.  I am still waiting to find out how much was raised from the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser out in UT; and 2.  I received a donation for raffle tickets today from someone who can't come to the Zumbathon this Saturday, but wants to try winning a prize and helping with fundraising, which is awesome!  But, I decided to keep a running total for the  Zumbathon event so I can give a total amount raised from that event on Saturday, rather than piecemeal.

So... now is the time to find out how you can help!  And check out the two fundraising events coming up if you want to Zumba or eat out to help with fundraising- check it out!

I always enjoyed learning new words in Spanish (or re-learning ones I had forgotten...) when I was down in Camarones.  I also love food, and learning to cook new things.  Combine them, and you have the day I learned to make tortillas de maiz, and learned the word for a woman who isn't very good at cooking or domestic things..... which is and was funny because I love cooking and baking, as those of you that know me know, and my friends in Ecuador knew too as I baked a number of cakes when I was down there, so it became a pretty funny fiasco.

This was actually the second time I had made tortilla de maiz.  The first time being after a baile I helped Doña Berna make some for breakfast, and that time they all turned out beautifully.  The second time, well, not quite as good.

Tortilla de maiz are really pretty easy to make, and I've made them since with slight modifications (as I didn't have extremely fresh cheese, straight from the cow, etc), but have found they work fine with corn flour, egg, milk, and sometimes butter (one recipe here that has more things in it than I usually use).  The difficulty came in waiting for the tortillas to cook...

 Mixing the dough for the tortillas

From husked corn

 To de-husked corn

 To de-kernaled corn

 To corn flour after grating the kernals

 Nicely cooked tortilla de maiz

 Burnt, poorly cooked tortilla de maiz.... 

Trying to repair the damage by scraping off the burnt parts

So, what are the keys to success?  Being sure to use corn flour, not corn meal or course corn flour (as I learned when I tried making these for friends with the latter...a little crunchy).  Kneading the dough well.  Then forming a nice ball in your hand, making a pocket, stuffing it with cheese (or all sorts of creative things I've tried), and then not rushing the cooking (either over an open fire, in the oven, or stove top... these are very versatile!).  Best of all, these are fun to make with family or friends (I've made them with my aunt and mom and middle school kids  at the Meadowood Neighborhood Center after-school program).   Have fun!  Here's another recipe idea:

Tortilla de Maiz 
Tortilla ingredients:
2-3 cups corn flour
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk to start
water

1.  Mix the flour, egg, milk, and water in a bowl.  Add water or milk until texture of the flour is moist and packable.
2.  Can also add salt if desired.
3.  Knead the mixture well and allow to sit for 5 or 10 minutes before filling

Filling ideas:
One package Queso Fresco, crumbled
Chopped garlic
Chopped shallots
Tomatoes
Steak and cheese
Meat and cheese
Peanut butter and chocolate

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

End of Day 24: $3336.00

No dollar amount change today (though I'm still waiting to find out how much was raised from the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser out in UT)- now is the time to find out how you can help!  Remember there are also a couple more fundraising events if you want to Zumba or eat out to help with fundraising- check it out!

Some exciting news for today:  we have t-shirts to help with fundraising!  We will be using some for part of the raffle prizes, and then will be selling others at the Zumbathon this Saturday, March 17th!  The shirt is a shade of green, so it will be perfect for St. Patrick's Day on Saturday (and year-round, of course too!).

Front of shirt

 Back of shirt

Have a question or comment?  Please feel free to post below, or send me an email!

Monday, March 12, 2012

End of Day 23: $3336.00

Thanks for another wonderful and generous donation today!  I really appreciate the continued support and enthusiasm!!  Wanting to find out how you can help?  Remember there are also a couple more fundraising events if you want to Zumba or eat out to help with fundraising- check it out!

Have a question or comment?  Please feel free to post below, or send me an email!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

End of Day 22: $3236.00

No change in the dollar amount today, but I hope to have posted the amount raised from the PizzaPieCafé fundraiser from last week, soon.  Wanting to find out how you can help?  Remember there are also a couple more fundraising events if you want to Zumba or eat out to help with fundraising- check it out! 

Yesterday afternoon I made the mistake of having a tiny amount of Hazelnut coffee mixed with decaf coffee at a meeting, which resulted in two things:  1.  Me still being energized and unable to sleep at a reasonable hour (I'm normally high-energy enough without any caffeine), and 2. Reminded me of helping to process coffee in Ecuador.  From picking, to milling, to roasting, to grinding again, it is a very labor intensive process.

First, the ripe fruit, or cherry (so called because of the bright red color), are removed from the coffee plants by hand.

 Me picking coffee at Don Ernesto's farm

The coffee is then allowed to dry by being spread out on level surfaces and moved around periodically (in Hawaii I saw this part done in a very large area with retractable roofs for covering in case of bad weather).  Then, after the cherries are dry, the outside of the fruit needs to be separated from the green coffee beans.  This is done here by hand with a mill.  A very good arm workout can be had by processing the coffee this way.

Milling the coffee that was already dried (you can see some in the background) to remove the bean from the fruit

Running the cherries through the mill helps to remove the outer coating, but it then needs to be separated from the beans before roasting.  Here, this was accomplished with a fan, positioned over a bowl, where the beans were lifted by hand and the outer, dry shell, was blown off (the big pile of dry coating can be seen in the foreground).

Wuilter and Paco using a fan to remove the dry skin from the bean before roasting

With the bean finally separated from the rest, careful roasting over an open fire is the next step in the processing.  This part is really an art form, as you don't want to burn the beans.

 Betsy roasting coffee that has already been dried


  Coffee in the beginning stage of being roasted over the fire

After roasting, the coffee can again be ground by hand for roasting, or kept as whole-bean for sale to individuals.

Have a question or comment?  Please feel free to post below, or send me an email!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

End of Day 21: $3236.00

Thanks for another wonderful and generous donation today!  I really appreciate the continued support and enthusiasm!!  Wanting to find out how you can help?  Remember there are also a couple more fundraising events if you want to Zumba or eat out to help with fundraising- check it out!  Today, I also picked up a couple more wonderful raffle prizes for the Zumbathon. 

Have a question or comment?  Please feel free to post below, or send me an email!

Friday, March 9, 2012

End of Day 20: $3136.00

Thanks to another generous donation received in the mail, the amount raised from the bowling fundraiser, and an extremely generous donation from a friend who, in lieu of party favors at her wedding, has pledged to donate a small amount for each of her guests to help with the construction of the community center, the total is now over $3000.00!  Thanks again for the continued support!  I am still amazed, and honored that my friend chose to donate to this cause as a part of her wedding!  She is a special person, so doing something wonderful like this on her wedding day does not surprise me, I just feel like I cannot thank her enough.  Find out how you can help too!

One of my favorite days when I was down in the community was when we organized the kids on a community clean up.  I had told the kids we were going to be doing a "fun activity", but didn't tell them what it was going to be.  So... when they found out it was picking up trash, I decided to frame the activity as a competition, and there would be a prize for the group of kids with the most garbage collected.

 A few of the kids with a sack of garbage

 Looking for trash

 Trash in hand on the way to the bag for this team's effort

 Garbage, garbage everywhere...

Posing with one of the many bags of garbage collected

In the end, the kids filled all of the bags we had for them, and all anxiously awaited for me to announce the winning team.  But, there was a catch.  I told them they were all winners, and asked if someone knew why.  One of the kids spoke up and said that they were all winners because now the community was cleaner.  I was so happy.  We went on to talk about how the garbage affects their health and the environment.  We talked about water quality issues and pollution, and we ended the activity with popcorn for everyone.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

End of Day 19: $2625.00

Thanks to a generous $40.00 donation received in the mail, the total is over $2600, not including the amounts raised from the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser or the bowling fundraiser- that is awesome!!  Thanks!  I also got a few more fun raffle prizes for the Zumbathon Event happening in Madison, WI on Saturday, March 17th and am working on t-shirts!!   I will post raffle prize donors on the list of donors/sponsors in the next couple of days.  Thanks to all the great companies and restaurants that have already donated!!

If you are in Logan, UT and still hungry for pizza, you have about 2 hours left of the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser.  As a final, last minute reminder, Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza on the last day of this fundraising event! 

Stay tuned for details on t-shirts!  As usual, feel free to post comments, or email me

Look for some longer/more interesting posts over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

End of Day 18: $2585.00

No donations came in today online or in the mail (see how to help), but I did get a few more fun raffle prizes for the Zumbathon Event happening in Madison, WI on Saturday, March 17th.  I will post raffle prize donors on the list of donors/sponsors in the next couple of days.  Thanks to all the great companies and restaurants that have already donated!!


Tomorrow (Thursday, March 8th) is the last day of the Pizza Pie Café fundraiser out in Logan Utah.  If you haven't already heard, Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza on the last day of this fundraising event!  Check out the Facebook Event Page!


Thanks for the continued support and enthusiasm for upcoming fundraising events and for this fundraising drive in general.  Feel free to post comments on here, or continue emailing me- I love hearing from you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

End of Day 17: $2585.00

Thanks to a very generous donation, the total is now $100.00 higher, and over $2500.00.  Awesome!  Thanks for the continued support!


Thanks also to those of you out in Logan, UT who are helping to get the word out about the fundraiser (and are participating too!) that is going on Monday through Thursday this week (March 5 through 8th).  Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza one, or several nights/days that week!  Check out the Facebook Event Page!


Here in Madison there are discussions going on about neighborhood centers.  The city is doing a study on the role of neighborhood centers and community needs and is hosting five meetings in March to receive public input.  The Meadowood Neighborhood Association will be discussing Madison's Community Development Division's study on neighborhood centers tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7 p.m. as a part of their normal monthly board meeting.  Meadowood neighbors are encouraged to attend.  Input for residents living on the West side of Madison can be made at one of the five "Community Conversations" the city is holding.  Thursday, March 22, 2012 from 6 to 7:00 p.m. at the Alicia Ashman Library.  


So, what are the benefits of neighborhood centers?  Depending on what types of "benefits" a person is interested in examining, it may be difficult to quantify.  Granting agencies and donors usually want to see things like attendance numbers, or crime reduction, or some other quantifiable indicator of benefit.  However, many larger benefits of neighborhood centers or community meeting spaces, may include things like strengthening social capital, which has been linked to overall health benefits and crime reduction (Alaimo et al. 2010), but "social capital" may be more difficult to quantify, than, say, number of people using a neighborhood center or exactly how much crime has been reduced as a result of the center being in an area.  


Social cohesion that may result from having a neighborhood center or similar facility, has been shown in larger cities to be linked to overall quality of life (Friedman et al 2012).  Further, the more a community's residents feel some sense of solidarity, the more a community is able to take on challenges (such as violence, and crime), and neighborhood centers can provide programming and space for residents to re-form these connections (Yan & Sin 2011).


Additionally, benefits may be more intrinsic, and include things like an increased self-esteem or self-worth.  Or, benefits of neighborhood centers may have a number of indirect effects based on the types of services being offered.  These indirect benefits may include increasing economic stability, or enhancing neighborhood quality (by reduction of crime rates), which can even provide benefit to non-participants of the center or of the specific programming being offered (Eamon et al. 2012).


Those are just a few, very general, potential benefits of neighborhood centers.  There is a lot of literature out there on all of the direct, indirect, intrinsic, and extrinsic benefits.  But, really, many of the benefits come out only from listening to the stories that participants or employees share about experiences.  I will be curious to learn a little more about these neighborhood center "community conversation" meetings, and I hope to attend the meeting tomorrow.



Monday, March 5, 2012

End of Day 16: $2485.00

Thanks to three wonderful donors, the total is another $160.00 higher today- you guys are amazing!  Thank you for your continued support and wonderful notes!


Thanks also to those of you out in Logan, UT who are helping to get the word out about the fundraiser (and are participating too!) that is going on Monday through Thursday this week (March 5 through 8th).  Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza one, or several nights/days that week!  Check out the Facebook Event Page!


Here in Madison and want to eat out to help this fundraiser?  Check out the new Facebook Event page for the Applebee's Dining to Donate event on March 19.  And, please pass it on!  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

End of Day 15: $2325.00

Thanks to a very generous $100.00 donation, the total is over $2300.00- yay!  I also received several nice messages, and there is a pizza fundraiser this week, so it should be an exciting week!


Are you hungry for some pizza this week?  If so, and if you are out in the Logan, UT area, check out the  PizzaPieCafé Fundraiser.  Monday, March 5th through Thursday, March 8th, Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza one, or several nights/days that week!  Check out the Facebook Event Page!


Interested in hosting a fundraising event near you?  Email me and let me know your ideas and how I can help!


Thanks again for continuing to send wonderful messages and notes. Remember to look into employee matching to make your donation go even further, and pass along information on  how to donate or on fundraising events your friends or family- Thanks!!


As I have written a fair amount about Camarones, I figured it would be good to share some information about the Meadowood Neighborhood Center (MNC), and why that connection is important.  I grew up in the Madison area, just down the road from where the MNC is now located.  The MNC is a pilot neighborhood center that was opened 3 years ago as a collaboration with the City of Madison, and is managed by the Madison School and Community Recreation. The center itself is located on Madison's southwest side, right next to the Meadowridge Public Library.



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The goal of the MNC is to "is to provide a safe, supervised space for youth during the after school and evening hours.  It also serves as a place for neighbors to socialize and a place for adult programming.  The space is a focal point in the neighborhood to share resources for a better and stronger community." 


The MNC has a variety of different services and programs for adults and children in the community.  Most of the programs are free or very low-cost (and the programs that have a fee often have waivers or reductions to try and not exclude interested individuals).  One of the more popular programs is an employment connections group and it occurs every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  This is a collaborative program between a variety of great services in Madison (including Joining Forces for Families, Urban League, Employment and Training, and the Meadowridge Library).  These agencies and various volunteers come and assist with job searches, resume writing, computer work, job leads, and other useful services to individuals trying to secure employment.


Another popular service at the MNC for adults is the open computer lab.  Every day adults can come in and use computers in the center for free.  Volunteers also offer different computer classes depending upon the day, as well as assistance in job searches and resume writing.


For youth, the MNC offers both middle and high-school drop-in after-school programming, and elementary school programming.  This fall, while finishing up my PhD, I was working part-time at the MNC.  I was hired as an after-school program leader, but was there all day on (mostly) Mondays and Wednesdays assisting with clerical work as well as adult programming during the day, and then helping to lead youth programming in the afternoons.  Most of the youth attending the MNC are Toki Middle School students (where I also attended middle school and is not far from the MNC).  MNC serves over 100 middle and high school youth on any given semester, with the bulk of these youth coming from under served or disadvantaged families. 

For the most part, news surrounding the Meadowood Neighborhood area has largely been due to negative activities.  Drugs, violence, and theft reports have been increasing in recent years.  The MNC has definitely been an important resource at allowing more positive activities (and news) to reach the area.  Additionally, the efforts from the Meadowood Neighborhood Association (which holds its meetings at the MNC), are definitely a strong component to improving neighborhood dynamics.

The goals of the MNC and the population it serves are both similar and different to the proposed center in Ecuador.  There are many parallels between the two communities (of Camarones and southwest Madison-Meadowood area), which make them perfect for a "sister" pairing (more on this in later posts).  Of course, any number of areas would probably work just as well, but these two areas are areas that I know well, have lived in, and have had the opportunity to work with on various projects.  Future goals for cross-cultural programming in these centers includes the ability to replicate the programing and activities in other interested after-school programs or neighborhood centers in other parts of Wisconsin and Ecuador, as well as other areas in the US or world.


Questions, thoughts, comments?  Please comment below or email me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

End of Day 14: $2225.00

In the mail today came another $35.00 in donations from a couple of generous donors- thanks!!  I also appreciate receiving the notes that often come with the donations!  I'm still waiting to hear the total from the bowling event, but my friend did mention to me that apparently there was some friendly betting going on that resulted in one individual agreeing to matching the amount raised that night- awesome!  Which, brings up the subject of matching.  For those of you that have already donated, you may want to check with your employers to see if they do any kind of matching for donations to charity.  Or for those of you that are still planning to donate or are planning to attend fundraising event you may want to consider looking into employee matching to make your donation go even further!


Several of my friends and family members have heard me talk at length about why community driven development projects are so important (and I also wrote a little bit about it in an earlier post).  Unfortunately, there are a lot of development projects that do not have the support or backing of a community both here in the US and across the globe.  Take, for example, disagreements over proposed development in Madison, Wisconsin's downtown State Street area.  A proposal to tear down several buildings along the 100 block of State Street was met with opposition voiced by local individuals and business owners over preservation of historic buildings on this block, and then led to some compromises being sought for preserving these landmarks (2-1-12 Channel 3000Moisman, 10-2-2011).  Or, check out one of the top stories from the local paper in Madison today, which talks about plans for redeveloping apartments near campus, and three different interest groups have plans that do not align.  In communities the size of Madison (according to 2010 U.S. census data, Madison's population was 233,209), any development project will meet some opposition (though even small communities are not immune to these kinds of disputes, of course).  But, it's the resulting discussions, and compromises, and communication between the "two sides" that can determine the "success" of the development.  Pick any city or community and you'll find many similar examples.


The more disparate the perspectives of the groups involved in the development discussions, the more difficult it may be to reach a consensus. Or, if one group is largely at a political or economic advantage over the other group, this may result in a lack of participation in discussions, and these groups choosing, instead, to use political or economic will to determine what "should" happen.  In these instances, resentment, or worse, "bad development" could result.  So, how does "good development" occur?  Or what constitutes "good development"?  Very generally, "good development" results when interested parties work together and when communication and understanding are paramount.  The outcome may include increased resilience and a resulting reduction in vulnerability and increased amount of security and adaptability.  A synergy can result where there is the potential for individuals involved to see things from a different perspective.  Information sharing and joint decision-making may also be key (DePaoli 2011).  


As I've mentioned before, bottom-up development movements (i.e. community driven and directed), are likely to be much more successful than those being imposed by individuals with little direct experience in the community (Altieri & Masera, 1993).  These types of bottom-up, or participatory development approaches, can include communities and/or individuals joining up with individuals that may be considered "outside" of the community and still be successful.  The difference is, however, that these "outsiders" aren't really true "outsiders", as they act as facilitators of the process and active participants in a cooperative process of development.  Examples of less successful top-down approaches to development projects are easier to find when individuals outside of the community are directing and implementing the project without consideration for, or with, the local community.

I feel very strongly that these types of bottom-up, participatory development models can be applied to an endless number of communities, though the recipe for success will vary.  Of course, each community will have its own unique needs, interests, opinions, and expertise to go on, which needs to be incorporated.


Please feel free to post a comment or email me thoughts on this or any other topic you would like discussed or have questions about.

Friday, March 2, 2012

End of Day 13: $2190.00

Thanks to a couple of generous donors, the total is now up another $175.00- thanks!!  There will also be a modest amount added from the bowling night soon (they have to add up food and beverages too), so stay tuned.  The group was a little smaller than my friend was hoping, but she had been quite ill and I am really happy people went and had a good time!!

I am hoping someone will be able to help bump the total to over $2200 tomorrow- now is the time to donate if you haven't already!  Thanks for the continued support.  Please continue to help however you can!  Think $5 is too little?  Think again!  Every little bit helps get closer to the goal!  Check out how you can donate too!  Or, check out these upcoming fundraising events if you would like to help out by going to one (or more) of them.  As always, please feel free to email me if you would like to help organize a fundraising event, have an idea, or just a question for me.


Thanks again for your support!  Look for some more interesting posts over the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

End of Day 12: $2015.00 + ?

Why the question mark?  Well, as I type this there is a bowling fundraiser going on out in Hillsboro, Oregon and I am not sure how many people actually made it there.  My friend who was helping to coordinate the event has been fairly sick this week, but she's a trooper and is still going to support the fundraising drive.  Thanks to her for helping to organize, and thanks to those of you that took the time to go bowl for charity!!

I have posted the Zumbathon registration form online.  Go here for a poster about the event and a link to the registration form, or go here to get the form directly.  Also, be sure to check out the Facebook Event Page.  I have been working on getting fun raffle prizes for the Zumbathon, in addition to the Zumba gear some of the instructors are donating, and think it is shaping up to be an exciting party!

So, who are some of the people that have been helping out with this fundraising drive?  It is really hard to categorize as it is such a wonderfully diverse group of individuals from all over and from all walks of life. Of course, my close friends and family make up a large portion of the support thus far, but many individuals that have helped are strangers, who believe in, and support, the ideas of community-driven sustainable development .  Thank you for your support, and your enthusiasm, and your positive thoughts!

I am still curious.  What topics do you want to hear more about?  For any of you that have not yet donated, is there something you want to learn more about (before you choose to donate or attend a fundraising event?).   For those of you that have donated, what would you like to know?  Feel free to comment on here, or send me an email.

Here is a list of a few topics I'm thinking of writing about over the next 18 days:  sister neighborhood center connection, recipe sharing, river clean-up, oven construction, women's activities, teaching escapades, coffee processing, message from the President (I'm hoping the President will be able to write something that I can post and then translate soon), making chocolate, more on sustainable development, plants/animals in the area, more about Meadowood Neighorhood Center in Madison, more about living in Camarones.  Others??