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CEN eNewsletter - April 2013                                                                            Contact Us

In this issue...

Letter from the Director
CEN “Beta” Group Returns from the Eixo Forte: Shared Stories of Impact
Helping Seeds to Blossom:  How CEN’s Work Continues to Transform the Lives of cCLEAR Program Participants
Update on our Micro-Hydrokinetic Electricity Project
Volunteer Spotlight: Elise Koncsek Uses Photography to Share Culture
Annual Spring Rare Plant Benefit Sale May 4-5, 2013 - Ferndale, WA
How You Can Help
Donate to CENCEN's Empowerblog Follow CEN on facebookFoward this NL to a friend

Letter from the Director


BobSince last writing you in January I returned from a very successful month long trip to the Amazon. During this visit, my first in two years, we:

  • Evaluated the feasibility of using a Micro-hydrokinetic turbine to provide electricity for the community Suruacá. 

  • Checked in with the participants of our cClear Pilot project

  • Accompanied a small group of visitors to the Eixo Forte to “beta test” their tourism program

Although we concluded that the water current along the Tapajos River is not strong enough for a Micro-hydrokinetic turbine to operate efficiently, the exercise did build upon our ongoing leadership development efforts in the community by closely involving community leaders in the discovery and evaluation process for accessing the electricity they need. This way they became active participants in the process rather than just bystanders, like they have been in the past. Read about it.

Quote_from_Dona_LeiteWhile in Suruacá, I also met with several of the participants in our cClear Pilot project and was very pleased to see how much progress they’ve made with their personal projects, as well as how well they’ve retained and even built upon the basic skills and “can-do” mindset they picked up during the pilot. I am really very proud how much more self-reliant they’ve become! Read about it.

Finally, I accompanied a small group of visitors on nine busy days to the Tapajos National Forest, the beautiful beach town of Alter do Chão and the communities of the Eixo Forte, where  we’ve been operating our community-based Tourism Project. The trip was an important milestone and provided the communities with a real sense of accomplishment after over 18 months of planning and development.  Read about it.

In January we secured a $3000 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to support the strengthening of the leadership capacity of the communities of the Eixo Forte. This project will harness the momentum created by our visit, move their ambitious regional development plan forward, and ensure that more segments of society are represented and engaged in the development process. Our top priority now is to secure the additional grants we need to complete this critical phase of our work.

In the next editions of this newsletter I’ll outline a couple of new initiatives we’re planning on launching soon, which will complement our current work, and help address key structural obstacles faced by the communities of the Eixo Forte and Suruacá. I will also fill you in with details about a couple of exciting and new travel opportunities we’re working on.

Without your support, all of our accomplishments here at CEN could not have been possible. We know that 2013 is going to a promising and exciting year!
 

Bob Bortner

CEN Founder and Director

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CEN “Beta” Group Returns from the Eixo Forte: Shared Stories of Impact

by Nadia Raizer



Group in front of tree

In February CEN led our first “Unveiling the Amazon” trip to the Tapajos National Forest, the beautiful beach town of Alter do Chão and the communities of the Eixo Forte, where  we’ve been operating our community-based Tourism Project.

During the nine day visit the small group of four ventured into the exotic and remote areas of the Amazon where the CEN program is based, and provided critical experience the community organizers need in order to establish a thriving local economy based on community-based tourism.

Chuck Hollenbeck, a trip participant, mentioned that “The older members of the community were very well-informed, very thoughtful, [and] very articulate. They are thinking about how to preserve their communities and develop resources to do that.” This presents a unique situation where two views of the future can meet in the rainforest and help solve the economic challenge of self-sustainability.  By enticing the younger generation with the prospect of opportunities within the community, there can be a harmonious balance between established tradition and future socio-economic growth.  The development of community eco-tourism can help accomplish this. Read more>>

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Helping Seeds to Blossom:  How CEN’s Work Continues to Transform the Lives of cCLEAR Program Participants

by Carly Schmidt

Luceinte showing the clothes she made

Like many people in the communities of the Brazilian Amazon, Magarete, Luciene, and Maria Eugete lacked basic skills and mindsets which prevented them from building successful, sustainable livelihoods. Situations like this became the reason why CEN ran its cCLEAR Pilot Project in Suruacá from May 2008 to October 2009. This project created a culture of learning via CEN’s provision of information and resources, which were necessary to helping individuals, such as these women, become truly empowered with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they need to be successful in their endeavors. During the organization’s most recent trip to Suruacá in February, CEN was pleased to discover that many of the program participants, including Magarete, Luciene, and Maria Eugete, had all made considerable progress in their business endeavors as a result of CEN’s work.   Read more>> 

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Update on our Micro-Hydrokinetic Electricity Project: Bringing Affordable, Reliable and Environmentally Friendly Energy to Communities in the Brazilian Amazon

by Amanda Maier

Micro Hydro turbine

The lack of access to affordable, reliable electricity impedes the health, ability to make a living, and undermines general quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents in the Brazilian Amazon.

In February CEN Director Bob Bortner and volunteer, Elise  Koncsek had the opportunity to visit the region and conduct tests on the feasibility of utilizing a Micro-Hydrokinetic Electric turbine along the Tapajos River in the Amazon to affordable and environmentally sustainable electricity for the community of Suruacá.

After taking multiple water current measurements, we concluded that the area is unsuitable for the technology; however the exercise did prove to be a valuable to the community in other ways. By closely involving community leaders in the discovery and evaluation process for energy options, they became active participants in the process rather than just bystanders, like they have been in the past. Together we also reviewed other alternatives for meeting the community’s energy needs, such as connecting the community to another project over 100 km away. Read more>>

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Volunteer Spotlight IconVolunteer Spotlight: Elise Koncsek Uses Photography to Share Culture

by Kristine Fontanilla

Elise Koncsek

Elise Koncsek has a keen eye for beauty towards awareness and change. During her recent trip to Brazil with CEN, she helped research and document the needs and opinions of people the organization worked with, consulted on some of the trip planning, and took over 2000 photos. “I’ll soon be posting more photos online so [everyone] can get a better understand of where we worked and why helping these remote communities is important,” she says. When she’s not taking photographs, you can also find her volunteering with Sustainable Northeast Seattle or restoring park lands. We are so proud to have Elise and her talent on board with us at CEN! Read more>> 

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Upcoming events imageUpcoming Events



Annual Spring Rare Plant Benefit Sale - Ferndale, WA

Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5, 2013
Bob Bortner and Larry Straka's Home
1685 Grandview Place
Ferndale, WA 98248

This benefit sale has become an eagerly anticipated event by plant enthusiasts throughout Whatcom County. We'll have a wide variety of rare, reasonably-priced, ridiculously cool garden perennials, agavetrees and shrubs from Bob and Larry's own collection and other growers. We've lined up some great new items that you just have to see (and buy!). Come tour our private garden and see the plants growing on site. - be sure not to miss it!. More Info »

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How you can help imageHow You Can Help



Support CEN with All of Your Amazon.com Purchases

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Use this link when you shop on Amazon.com

Please don’t forget to use our special link for purchasing from Amazon.com. By using this link or clicking on the Amazon.com image to the left, a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated from Amazon.com to CEN at no additional cost to you! Use and bookmark this link

Please book this link to use for all your Amazon.com purchases year round. Forward to all your friends for them to use too!

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Sign Up for CEN’s Capital One® Visa Card

Your Money Works for You While Helping Us!

CEN's Capitol One Connect card can save you hundreds of dollars on foreign transaction fees from your international travel

Link to CEN's Capitol One Connect Program

CEN has teamed up with Capital One® Card Lab Connect to bring you specially designed CEN credit cards. With every purchase, you can help build and expand our programs in the rural communities!

With low fees and no foreign transaction fees, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. This makes an especially great credit card for anyone who travels outside the US.

Read more>>

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Acknowledgments

Editor

Kristine Fontanilla

Contributing Writers

Kristine Fontanilla
Bob Bortner
Amanda Maier
Nadia Raizer
Carly Schmidt

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