Deeper growth and successes of 2019
YAHOOOOO for our lesser known 2019 successes!
If you’ve been reading our news-letters then you’ll have been caught up to speed with so much that has been going on, but the reality is that SO MUCH has been happening that has stretched us to the max on every level as we strive to do our work for women and trees…
- So we have quietly slid passed 7 million trees without announcing it yet, and you will have seen that a third new project coming on as we speak in West Papua. This is our Christmas gift to Gaia, and it’s a biggy for us, because for the first time we can provide enough funding to be the first funders of this project.
- So three new projects this year, two of them mangroves in Mozambique and West Papua with Eden projects and the third, thrillingly being Food Forests in the Amazon with and through AquaVerde and the Ashaninka tribe. The increase of diversity within our portfolio feels strengthening, and we are looking at more projects currently including Columbia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (one of the most violent nations for women) and Uganda. Let’s see what comes topside through the due diligence process next year.
- The fires in Bolivia sparked our Bolivian Grove to organize a 1100km bike ride in September this year to spread the word about local reforestation action, and to spread the invitation of TreeSisters Groves to women on their route as a support system for local action. I cried when I heard about them. So flipping gutsy…
- The team and Board have spent an entire year working on our Corporate Policy. This has been an epic journey of exploration through the world of black and white thinking, and out into the many shades of grey caused by our collective multifaceted complicity in ecological destruction.
Drawing lines about who we will and will not plant for in a world literally starving for trees has been both painful and illuminating. Finding our position, or at least where we can stand in integrity with ourselves, our values and the realities facing nature has been a challenge more complex than we could have imagined, but are grateful for. We have learnt soooo much, and you can step in an explore it here.
The bottom line is that TreeSisters is not a vetting organisation or a GreenPeace - we are an invitation to move into reciprocity with nature, to embed giving back into every life and thus every business model, so that mindless consumption is replaced with the beginnings of normalized restoration. The intention being to normalize embedded restoration through trees per product or service so that you cannot take without giving back. Our focus is on engaging customer bases as networks of effect, rather than money off the top, so our focus is inspiring businesses to recognize their power to effect social change that drives ecological impact. The ball is starting to roll, and the policy will finally be completed hopefully in Jan 2020.
Our trees are now going to be embedded in major natural cosmetics brands, hemp, tea and herbs, hotels, therapy rooms, festivals, music tracks, books, conferences and even the UK Women's Music Awards. The Visionaries Summit funded over 25,000 trees from one conference and Boomtown festival funded 71,000 trees in one weekend and we're about to spread that invitation out far and festival wide. We’re going to invite a new circle of companies to aim for 1M trees or more…
- One of the largest learning curves we've been in the second half of this year has been alliance forming as we wrap flesh around the concept of Year of the Tree. Initially intended to be in 2020, we had to push it back a year once the realities of large scale collaboration sunk in. The concept is brave and edgy - planting trees in the hearts and minds of humanity, bringing the global tree team into public visibility and awareness to 'be the invitation'. We’re exploring major mapping and co-creating significant public facing forest protection and restoration goals and intentions between (thus far) 30 or more organisations all looking to work together around our core mission of mobilizing the grass roots and social change.
What initially felt super easy (as visions always do) wasn't. However, amazing relationships are growing, collaboration is happening between orgs that we brought together and it is super fertile. It may well be that a separate org comes into being to manage the collaboration and players are showing up. We shall see how this dance plays out, but Year of the Tree will happen in 2021 and we are in discussion around how it can help launch the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. This has grown us up significantly (to put it mildly!)
- Also huge for us is the birth of our US and Australian branches of TreeSisters, both now registered and having their own Boards and CEO's as we move towards three organisations to support fundraising in each country. It's so easy to write that small sentence but the work required to do all of that was frankly epic. This marks a majorly healthy shift into distributed leadership for the organisation and also towards three unique flavours of how TreeSisters will define herself in the three countries and communities. The legal work is slow, but it is all on its way now…
- Another collaboration that is germinating is between ExR, Stop Ecocide and TS, which brings rebellion, regeneration and higher law together. All three orgs birthed in Stroud UK and are being drawn together in various ways so it feels like it's trying to happen. We met for a deep dive three day constellation workshop in the summer that gave us all astonishing insight and a foundation for further exploration, which could mean embedding elements of our culture into the regenerative side of ExR and growing forests for both orgs, but it's still very much in development so we shall see. Fascinating though.
- Another major piece to share is that our gaze is now falling on forest protection. As almost every tropical forest burns, and even the arctic forests go up in smoke, our sole focus on restoration is no longer feeling enough when the bleeding is sooo bad. We HAVE to protect what remains (another reason for the Stop Ecocide partnership and changing the laws.
Given that women make over 85% of consumer choices, and that many of those choices drive deforestation, there is work to be done to raise awareness and drive consumer choices away from forest degradation. Interestingly, Amazon Watch have come to us to explore as they are also being asked to add forest restoration to their protection work so we both find ourselves at yet another interesting junction with the big question being how do you protect burned land and let Forest regenerate, when cleared areas are simply seen as territory for farmers focused on their bottom line? Endless learning curves abound.
- Lastly - if you didn’t know that our beautiful old web site died a slow agonizing death over a year of spitting us out, throwing up errors, short circuiting systems and generally wreaking more havoc than I could have imagined even if I’d tried really hard to dream up a nightmare, IT’S OVER NOW!
To say that the team worked magic despite a sinking ship with more leaks than we knew what to do with, while simultaneously trying to build another ship whilst the old one still carried us all, would be to unsuccessfully describe what they all went through. What a year. (Especially Sara who came on board as COO only to find herself carrying dying tech that threatened to drown us all).
So the new site is a long way from polished and complete, it is being made and tested out whilst already online, but the DONATION SYSTEM WORKS (you’ve no idea….!) and is a thing of beauty that now tells you how many trees you are growing month by month.
- If you have got this far, you both deserve a medal and hopefully a cup of tea as you realise just how much we’ve been doing. I’ll end by saying that the Full Moon calls are changing because we are now big enough to effect significant change in the ethers with positive intention, and the forests need us. So every full moon we will now be joining to offer healing to the global forests in every way that we can find to do so, whilst centering ourselves as fully as we can as the unravelling of the old world continues. That will start in February.
There’s actually much more, but you deserve a lie down and some chocolate.
Really, I just need to bow to our team (working virtually, globally is anything but easy) our Board who have given above and beyond this year, our extraordinary volunteers and our planting partners who do soooo much for our world and for us. THANK YOU ALL SOOOOO MUCH!
And to you, for who you are and all you do, thank you.
May you find a way to illuminate the new year as it arises, with the light and beauty of your heart fully expressed with gratitude for all that is given to us.