From the Ground: We are Guests in the Home of Fire and Water
Thus, Red Feather’s collaborative effort to provide firewood to Native families in need is part of a holistic solution to reduce wildfire risks and restore some level of socio-ecological balance. As a housing organization, we could not stand idly by as families faced freezing to death, due to inadequate heating fuel."
Recognizing that firewood alone is an imperfect solution to keeping families warm and healthy, we have continued to expand related aspects of our work, such as our retrofits and repairs of roofs, windows, and doors. We have also greatly expanded our heating system improvement program, which has included replacing older, inefficient potbelly-style stoves with modern EPA-certified, clean-burning devices. Additionally, we have installed more than 50 mini-split heat pumps, which produce zero emissions and have the added benefit of providing air conditioning--a growing necessity that few Native families have historically been able to enjoy. We are also installing solar heating furnaces as a supplemental heat source that improves air quality and reduces heating expenses.
Our flexible, adaptive programming has allowed us to be quick and nimble during these unprecedented times. When the pandemic swept across Navajo and Hopi lands, we promptly responded by providing hand-washing stations to families without running water in hopes that improving access to hand hygiene would slow the spread of the virus. We have also been able to re-envision our educational classes by developing an on-line suite of videos and instruction materials. Now students can stream or watch DVDs that provide practical strategies for creating healthier living environments. To further advance this work, we are distributing customized, healthy home kits. These do-it-yourself kits can include items such as carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, chimney cleaning brushes, and aging-in-place items.
The one constant in all these efforts is the generous trust that all of you place in us. Your continued support of our work allows Red Feather to keep evolving and supporting those in need. For that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
The Evolution and Growth of a Dynamic Organization
Story by Joseph Seidenberg, Executive Director
Of course, it is not just our programs that evolve, but our staff as well, as you will read in the stories that follow. In July of this year, I took the reins as Executive Director, after spending eight years in program development positions within the organization. My own path to Red Feather involved a deep interest in humanity, and a belief that no matter our geography, religion, political views or economic status, we are all connected and should strive to support each other as we endeavor to survive in this chaotic world.
Having worked in the remote corners of West Africa (hand-in-hand with Muslim and Christian communities) and the bustling city of Nairobi, Kenya, I purposefully found my way to the southwestern United States. It was here that I connected with our native communities, who have so many beautiful attributes and whose teachings are of great benefit to our global community. Sadly, they have also endured many injustices and traumatic hardships. Despite this, they keep on thriving and evolving as people. They are not the only native communities to have encountered such a reality.
On a recent, much-needed vacation to Australia, I had the chance to learn more about the aboriginal communities there. Facing much of a similar plight to Native Americans, such as genocide, forced assimilation and theft of their homelands, they remain resilient. I was amazed to see outside the Sydney airport, next to the Australian National Flag, an equivalently sized Aboriginal Peoples Flag. Let’s not pretend to think that having such a flag indicates all is well for Aboriginal Australians or that they live in a world free of prejudice or economic, social, and environmental injustice. However, let their flag be a beacon, reminding us that all people are equally entitled to a healthy and harmonious life.
As the year comes to a close and we soon begin yet another, let it be filled with visions of hope and excitement for stories untold. Endeavor to continue spreading goodwill to all. We recognize that many of our supporters have already donated all they can during the year, but for those who are able we ask that you consider Red Feather in your year-end giving.
If you would rather contribute in other ways, one of the simplest things you can do is share our work more broadly with your family, friends and colleagues- for as our family grows, so does our impact. And, while our volunteer programs are not as robust as in years past, you can still let us know of your interests by giving us a call or visiting our volunteer page here.
Wishing all of you a peaceful and prosperous holiday season.
Aging In Place Program
Arizona Gives Day
Do It Yourself
Four Corners Stove Exchange Program
Native Home Resource Network
Red Feather News