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CEN eNewsletter - September 2012                                                                        Contact Us

In this issue...

Letter from the Director
Why Our Help with Community-based Tourism is Needed
From the EmpowerBlog: Driving their Own Fate
Update on our Efforts with Couro Ecológico
Volunteer Spotlight: Kelley James, Summer Marketing Intern
Ways You Can Help
Donate to CEN Follow CEN on facebookFoward this NL to a friend

Letter from the Director

BobSummer has sped by since the last newsletter, but we’ve kept busy with the wonderful help of our summer interns, Aileen Andres, Kelley James, Madalyn Vonhoff and Megan Walker. They’ve been a great help, and I’ll miss you all. (Please be sure to read a profile about Kelley in this edition of the newsletter).

In the past few editions I have shared with our readers how CEN is working with the Juá communities of the Brazilian Amazon through the Juá Community-Based Tourism project. This project empowers residents and their communities by giving them an opportunity to define and manage their own vision for tourism in the region.  By giving residents power over the region’s economic development, this ensures that most of the tourism dollars (or reais in this case) are spent on goods and services produced in the region, maximizing benefits to the local economy and to local residents.

In this edition, I’d like to explore the reasons why this program is so desperately needed by the residents of the region (see article below) and point out to you how the tourism industry does not necessarily benefit local communities (see article below). When local residents are in control over the direction of tourism in their region, they can create sustainable livelihoods and learn to stand on their own, while preserving their cultural identity.

We’ve had an increasing number of requests from people interested in visiting the communities where we work,  so we’re planning a tour in the Amazon this spring where visitors can relax and take in the spectacular natural beauty but also connect with members of the Juá community and provide feedback on their work. We’re also negotiating with a partner organization in Kenya to do a tour there. If you’re interested in knowing more about either trip, drop me a line.

Additionally, during the past couple of months we’ve made some great progress building markets for Couro Ecológico purses. Learn more about our progress by reading the article.

Over the next few months we will continue to focus on lining up grants to expand our programs, but this is a lengthy process - which means your support now is critical. Individual donors not only provide immediate funds, but also help convince grant foundations to invest in us. Our annual Empowerment Fundraising campaign is coming up in October, but support us now (by clicking here) so when you read those messages, you will have that satisfied feeling that you’ve already done your part!

Finally, please don’t forget to use this link to Amazon.com when doing your back-to-school shopping, or whenever shopping on Amazon.com. CEN earns a portion of every purchase you make at no additional cost to you!

Thanks for your support. Please drop me a line anytime if you have any questions.

Bob Bortner

CEN Founder and Director

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Harvesting Opportunities: Why Our Help with Community-based Tourism is Needed

by Matt Rosier

JoaoChildren in the Juá region, unlike their American counterparts, have very little choice of what they will be doing for the rest of their lives.  Take a glimpse into the life of João, an average 8-year-old boy in the Juá, and discover what is needed to make his life, and the life of his family and community, a little better.  Learn more>>

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RSS Feed iconFrom the EmpowerBlog: Driving their Own Fate

by Aileen Andres

Maasai womenTourism is a great way to bring money into an impoverished region, but too often the industry fails to benefit locals. In the control of outsiders, unchecked tourism can even begin to undermine their way of life.  Find out why it’s important for Juá locals to control how tourism spreads in their area and what CEN is doing to help. Learn more>>

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Update on our Couro Ecológico Efforts

by Madalyn Vonhoff

Couro Ecologico purseThis summer, we have made some great progress with our efforts to help Couro Ecológico build new markets. For those of you who don’t know, Couro Ecológico, or “ecological leather”, was founded in 1997 by residents of the tiny community of Maguary, located in the Tapajós National Forest in the Brazilian Amazon.

Over 15 men and women work to create handmade purses and bags made out of Brazilian rubber. The latex is harvested sustainably, and all proceeds directly benefit the community. In an effort to support this association's efforts to build new markets for their products, CEN has been helping to find shops in the US to purchase their purses and bags, as well as selling the purses directly through our online shop and special events.

This summer, CEN set up a table to sell the merchandise outside the Bellingham (WA) Farmers 'market, as well as the NW KidsFest in Hovander Park in Ferndale, WA. The purses are currently available for sale at the Lucky Monkey in Bellingham, and we’ve identified a local women’s wear shop that has expressed interest in placing an order later this month.

Do you know any good shops to sell the purses?

We are still looking for additional shops to sell Couro Ecológico. We are currently targeting shops that sell natural and handmade women’s wear products with a strong social identity, especially fair-trade products produced by cooperative groups from around the world. We are also targeting shops that sell other handmade items from around the world. If you know of any shops that you feel might be a good fit, please e-mail us.

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Volunteer Spotlight IconVolunteer Spotlight: Kelley James Goes Above and Beyond her Duties as Summer Marketing Intern

by Kristine Fontanilla

Kelley James in KenyaVolunteer Kelley James, a recent graduate of Western Washington University, is a great representative of CEN’s goals and values.  She adds a spark of excitement to every task she touches and is always eager to develop her already-impressive skills.  Job well done, Kelley!  Learn more>>

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How you can help imageWays You Can Help

Support CEN with your Amazon.com Back to School and Textbook Purchases

CEN's Amazon.com link

A new and exciting school year is on the horizon and we're just as excited at CEN to be a part of it! We would like to share with you an exciting opportunity: Our partnership with Amazon.com means that your back to school purchases can also support CEN's efforts to empower rural communities. 

While you're shopping for books, new clothes, or decorations for the new dorm room or apartment at Amazon.com, a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated from Amazon.com to CEN at no additional cost to you. 

Taking advantage of this opportunity to help is simple; all you have to do is access Amazon.com through the following link: CEN's Amazon.com link.

Please bookmark this link to use for all your Amazon.com purchases year around. Foward to all your friends for them to use too!

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Become a CEN Board member, a job worth more than money

board of Directors

CEN is looking to expand its Board. We're seeking people willing to give their time and expertise, especially in organization development, tourism, finance, law, business, or fund development. We're looking for exceptional individuals to guide strategy, build the organization, and actively secure resources needed to execute the organization’s mission . Both experienced and first-time board members are welcome. Candidates must reside in (or travel regularly to) the Pacific Northwest of the US.

Please  visit the Join our Board page on our website or contact Bob Bortner if you or someone you know wants to learn more about this opportunity to make a lasting difference in the world by being a part of the leadership of this incredible organization.  We also are known to have a bit of fun while working hard!

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CEN's Annual Pledge Drive is Right Around the Corner!

Smiling little boy

Here at CEN, we are making great progress on several critical projects at the moment – from the Juá Community-based Tourism project to Couro Ecológico and beyond.  But to keep empowering these communities, we need your help and support!

CEN relies entirely on supporters like you to help those in poor, underserved communities stand on their own feet and rise out of poverty. Our annual Empowerment Pledge Drive will begin October 1 and run during the month of October. Please watch your inbox for details beginning October 1. Also, if you plan to give during your employer’s workplace iving campaign this year, please include CEN in your giving plans.

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Kelly MacAvaney

Contributing Writers

Aileen Andres
Bob Bortner
Kristine Fontanilla
Kelley James
Matt Rosier
Madalyn Vonhoff

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