Catalog Choice Acquired by Story of Stuff

We’re excited to announce that Catalog Choice, an organization developed and co-founded by Senior Environment Program Director Daniel Katz, is returning to its nonprofit roots. Catalog Choice’s free online service has helped millions of users reduce paper waste by helping them connect to direct-mail companies and opt out of receiving unwanted mail. After two years of operating under Equifax, Catalog Choice has been acquired by Overbrook grantee Story of Stuff, a nonprofit working to change the way we make, use, and throw away “stuff.” We are thrilled about this transition, and we know that at its new home under Story of Stuff, Catalog Choice will continue to grow and serve consumers looking for effective zero-waste solutions.

Overbrook grantee featured in Fast Company

This month’s online edition of business magazine Fast Company featured Erin Barnes, co-founder and Executive Director of Overbrook grantee ioby. ioby is a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led neighborhood projects aimed at making positive, grassroots-led change in communities from the bottom up. Founded in 2008 by Erin and fellow Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies graduates Brandon Whitney and Cassie Flynn, ioby has since expanded from a small pilot in New York to over 400 neighborhood projects in 6 different cities. In 2012, Erin and her co-founders were awarded the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation.

In the interview, Erin talks world-changing strategy and emphasizes the importance of working with opponents to find and achieve common goals. “To get anything worthwhile done requires involving a diversity of constituents, and that means stepping out of your comfort zone to talk with people you don’t agree with,” she says. You can check out Erin’s interview over at Fast Company.

Remembering Jaime Levy

The Foundation is deeply saddened by the recent sudden passing of Jaime Levy, world renowned conservationist and indigenous rights advocate. Jaime was director and co-founder of Altropico, a long-time partner of the Overbrook Foundation. Since the 1980's, Jaime worked directly with highly isolated indigenous groups in Ecuador to gain legal recognition of their territories, advocate for their human rights, and provide tools and training for the sustainable use of their native rainforests. More recently, Jaime served on the International Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council and the IUCN Specialist Group on Mountain Connectivity, Protected Areas, and Mountainous Transboundary Landscapes.

Jaime was an honorary member of the Indigenous Community Conservation Area consortium and was essential to the establishment of the Permanent Indigenous Peoples' Committee. He was an irreplaceable advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Foundation offers its deepest condolences to Jaime's family and friends.

jaime levy
jaime levy

Overbrook grantee GESG wins prestigious award!

On World Environment Day, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) – an organization founded by community members to combat their region’s environmental degradation – was one of five recipients of the prestigious Energy Globe award (an annual award founded in 1999 by Austrian energy pioneer Wolfgang Neumann). Each year, the Award identifies five organizations that represent the best in national sustainable practices the fields of earth, fire, water, air, and youth. The award also carries with it a €10,000 cash prize, in recognition of the fact that many of the organizations have accomplished a lot with a very little, and could accomplish a great deal more with even a little more.

GESG won the award for its groundbreaking work in restoring watersheds and supporting communities’ sustainable food efforts. As part of the project, more than 289 communities in the Sierra Gorda region will receive support to preserve and strengthen their water supplies through improved agricultural techniques, including soil regeneration and carbon capture. In addition, communities will receive training on how to reduce the impact of current agricultural practices on the community ecosystems, without compromising the food production and income levels.

Congratulations, GESG!

UPDATE: and thanks to GESG's work, a new species of magnolia has been discovered! Read more about it here.

Rebuild by Design Winners Announced!

Last week, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan announced the winners of the Rebuild by Design competition; a multi-stakeholder initiative that will place New York City and New Jersey waterfronts at the epicenter of climate change resiliency planning.

Over the last year and a half Rebuild by Design brought together many of the world's top engineers, architects, policy professionals and local community members to create innovative ways to minimize flooding and protect shorelines. Among their entries: building a series of protective breakwaters in New York Harbor that slow the force of waves while serving as living reefs to rebuild the dwindling oyster population; designing "hyperabsorbent" streets and sidewalks that would mitigate storm runoff; digging channels along streets to divert stormwater; and creating buildings that are designed to flood without being damaged.

The six winning projects - which will receive a combined $1 billion in prize funding - together provide a comprehensive plan of protection, enhancement, and innovation. Check out all the winners here!

June Environmental Grants Announced!

The Environment Program awarded 17 grants this grant cycle. Of this group:

  • Five are for Latin American Biodiversity Conservation (Earthworks, Fundacion Cordillera Tropical, Mongabay, Rainforest Action Network, and The Vance Center);
  • Seven for Sustainable Consumption & Production (Clean Production Action, Food Tank, Forest Ethics, Green Press Initiative, Product Stewardship Institute, Story of Stuff, and Sustainable South Bronx);
  • One for Media (Island Press);
  • One for Movement Building (Climate Justice Alliance);
  • Two are multi-year pledges that were awarded in 2013 (LAANE and Urban Green);
  • Two are new grantees (Climate Justice Alliance and Sustainable South Bronx);
  • And in total, the Environment Program awarded $505,000 this grant cycle.

The Foundation is extremely proud of the work of all its grantees, and congratulates them on their many and impressive successes!

Movement Building

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a newly formalized alliance of over 35 ‘frontline’ communities and grassroots groups, whose common goal is a “Just Transition” away from extractive industry and towards sustainable, local, and living economies. The Alliance members have experienced first-hand that communities of color and lower income communities often bear the brunt of polluting activities and are especially susceptible to the effects of climate change. In 2013, CJA launched the “Our Power Campaign” – a campaign designed to unite these communities in fighting against polluters and fighting for alternative solutions and climate adaptive measures. In September, local environmental justice organizations in New York and New Jersey will lead CJA’s grassroots mobilization effort in relation to the UN Climate Leaders Summit.

Latin American Biodiversity Conservation

For more than 25 years, Earthworks has worked to protect communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development. Overbrook is proud continue supporting its Campaign against Dirty Mining, which empowers grassroots groups to protect communities, biodiversity, and water resources from the impacts of irresponsible mining - and was a critical part of the successful effort to shut down the planned Pebble Mine in Alaska.        

Fundación Cordillera Tropical (FCT) is an Ecuadorian non-profit dedicated to empowering local communities to protect and sustainably manage their natural resources in the Ecuadorian Andes. Overbrook support will help officialize its innovative project engaging private landowners in forest conservation and pasture restoration in the buffer zone of Sangay National Park.  This program aims to prevent the advance of the ranching frontier where it can and manage it sustainably where it cannot, while protecting endangered and endemic wildlife and habitat found in the region’s cloud forests and páramos.

In 2012 the conservation news outlet Mongabay launched its non-profit arm in order to fill what founder Rhett Butler perceived as a gap in in-depth reporting on key issues affecting forests and the communities that depend on them. Last year's Special Reporting Initiative focused on local management of common pool resources. This year's SRI will explore the effects of Brazil's crack down on deforestation in adjacent areas and answer the question: Is Brazil's success displacing deforestation to other Amazon countries? Under its Special Reporting Initiative program, Mongbay.org will have an expert panel select a winning proposal, with the chosen journalist producing a series of high-quality articles under an open Creative Commons license to be shared on other web sites or turned into derivative works, including articles for other publications, books, and even videos and film.

Since 1985, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has campaigned for the forests and their inhabitants by working to transform the global marketplace. In the coming year, RAN will put pressure on America’s biggest importer of palm oil, Cargill, in order to convince them to publicly adopt palm oil safeguards in an effort to minimize the social, environmental and climate impacts of the company’s global palm oil trading operations in tropical forests. By convincing Cargill to adopt these safeguards, RAN hopes to catalyze a domino effect among major agribusiness palm oil traders.

The Vance Center advances global justice by engaging lawyers across borders in the areas of the environment; human rights and access to justice; free expression, media, and information; and health and development. With support from The Overbrook Foundation in 2014, the Vance Center's Environment Program will expand its work in Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil by offering pro bono legal services to additional local and regional environmental organizations in these countries that lack the financial resources for these services.

Sustainable Production and Consumption

Clean Production Action designs and delivers strategic solutions to replace the toxic chemicals used in products and by companies with scientifically-validated green chemicals, sustainable materials, and environmentally preferable products. This year it's launching both the Safer Chemicals Toolkit and the Chemical Footprint Project. The Safer Chemicals ToolKit will empower individuals and organizations by creating common language on the demands for sustainable solutions to toxic chemicals, through a mix of training and vetted technical and advocacy resources. The Chemicals Footprint Project will demonstrate progress about safer chemicals by measuring the chemical footprint of businesses, in the same manner that carbon footprints spurred public awareness of and push of energy use.

ForestEthics mission is “to protect endangered forests, and wild places, wildlife, and human well-being.” In response to an unprecedented scramble by huge fossil fuel corporations in North America to export as much coal, oil, and tar sands as possible to world markets, ForestEthics is galvanizing a network – OilNet - to prevent increased refining and transport of these fuels to the West Coast, the quickest and cheapest path to Asian markets.  With the Overbrook Foundation’s support of its network, ForestEthics will halt the new threat of the radically expanding oil-by-rail “pipeline on wheels.” ForestEthics also became the new home of Business Ethics Network (BEN) in 2013, a network of 700 individual campaign activists and over 150 campaign organizations, which provides numerous trainings to its members, as well as consulting, networking opportunities, and other resources.

Food Tank is a new organization created to reframe the current policy conversation about the food system. Food Tank seeks to align agricultural systems with nutritionally sound and environmentally responsible production, and connect sustainable growth for farmers with healthy food for eaters. Food Tank publishes original content several times daily and seven days a week, including video, articles, columns, reports, and investigative journalism. In 2014, Food Tank will continue to strive to become the go-to resource and convener on food and agriculture issues. It will focus on innovative, environmentally sustainable approaches to alleviate hunger, obesity, and poverty by highlighting emerging research, and global stories of success in agriculture. Food Tank is also partnering with the James Beard Foundation to create a rigorous and interactive rankings system of the top 250 sustainable food organizations.

The Green Press Initiative works to reduce the environmental and social impacts of the pulp and paper industry by shifting large paper-consuming sectors to recycled and Forest Stewardship Council certified papers and through efforts to accurately account for the greenhouse gas impacts from harvesting trees. In 2014-15, Green Press Initiative (in partnership with the Environmental Paper Network) will build awareness and broad-based support for a new methodology for forest carbon accounting that challenges the notion that harvesting trees for paper is carbon neutral. In addition, support will be utilized to advance continued measurable recycled fiber and FSC gains in the US book and newspaper industries, and continue advocating for US book publishers to cease purchasing paper sourced from endangered forests in Canada and Indonesia.

Founded in 2000, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) tackles the problems of our current system of waste management by encouraging product design changes, mediating stakeholder dialogues, and advocating for “producer responsibility,” whereby manufacturers fund and oversee the environmentally responsible management of their post-consumer products and packaging. In 2014 and 2015, PSI will provide technical expertise and guidance to states seeking to implement producer responsibility programs for batteries, carpet, packaging, and paint.

The Story of Stuff Project was founded in 2008 to change the way we make, use, and throw away Stuff to be healthier, sustainable, and just. The Project’s animated movies have garnered more than 42 million online views worldwide and motivated viewers to support hundreds of environmental campaigns and projects. In 2014, the Story of Stuff will launch a new YouTube series called “Ask Annie,” inviting the audience into a kitchen table conversation with founder, Annie Leonard. It will also continue to move its now 500,000 Community members through deepening cycles of participation in both the Project’s Community and their own. Its Boot Camp will provide basic training in civic participation for 1,000 of its Community members and will implement technology enabling Community members to set up and manage their own campaigns.

The mission of Sustainable South Bronx is to address economic and environmental issues in the South Bronx – and throughout New York City – through a combination of green job training, community greening programs, and social enterprise. The organization’s Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training Academy (BEST) prepares unemployed and underemployed South Bronx residents for jobs in the green sector, and its SmartRoofs social enterprise employs program graduates as it undertakes environmental and ecological projects throughout the city. The Overbrook Foundation’s grant will promote demand for a new kind of workforce in the field of recycling. The grant will support: (1) the development of a marketing campaign that highlights how Sustainable South Bronx’s social enterprise has successfully saved building owners both money and staff resources by conducting activities that aim to promote recycling; and (2) the outreach efforts necessary for the social enterprise to obtain new contracts pertaining to recycling work in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

Media

Island Press seeks, develops, and disseminates new ideas and tools for environmental problem solving. Its mission is to provide the best ideas and information in the field to those seeking to understand and protect the environment and create solutions to its complex problems. Island Press identifies critical information needs, consults with leading experts, vets new ideas through peer review, and develops books and other tools and resources as the basis for public education aimed at helping ideas take hold and forming sound policies and practices. Its focus areas include oceans and water; energy and climate change; the built environment; ecosystems; and policy, economics, and law.