The Overbrook Foundation first started blogging in 2008 and hasn’t turned back since. We feel our blog is an effective means of spreading news that impacts our grantees and program areas, as well as the larger field of philanthropy. Blogging has also increased the visibility of our grantees’ fantastic campaigns and victories, from legal battles to grassroots demonstrations. We encourage you to read the following posts and to add your own comments to ours. Please enjoy (and follow us on Twitter)!

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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!

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Eco-Districts?

Check out this link to learn more about ‘Eco-Districs’ – a concept that’s both really old and really new, somewhat borrowed (but not blue, as far as I know).

Courtesy of UCLA-Berkeley

From Llewellyn Wells, who’s working to start an Eco-District pilot project in New York City: ”An Eco District is a neighborhood or district with a broad commitment to accelerate neighborhood-scale sustainability. Eco Districts commit to achieving ambitious sustainability performance goals, guiding district investments and community action, and tracking the results over time. An Eco District is a neighborhood committed to sustainability with the components of empowered people, green buildings and smart infrastructure.”

So what does that actually mean? Imagine a neighborhood which increases renewable energy use (relying on large players like nearby hospitals or industry) and energy efficiency, grows its green spaces, and decides as a community what it’s most important sustainability goals are (more farmers markets? less noise? flooding protection? etc).

Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. are doing it – which means NYC can do it better and bigger! Want your neighborhood to be the next Eco-District? Let Llew know!

Can Communities un-Tragedy the Commons?

What do Albany, Albuquerque, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have in common (‘politics is an impenetrable jungle’ is not the answer)? All are communities grappling with how to balance economic health with human health, community livelihoods with ecosystem livelihoods – and an answer to the question: who gets to decide?

Indigenous Communities and Local Resources: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda): The mountain gorilla is a wondrous animal to behold, if you’re lucky enough to get the chance; it’s estimated there are less than 1000 left in the wild. Continue reading