[permaculture] Accepting apprentices/volunteers for Pine Ridge Lakota reservation project

Cory Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Sat May 14 11:40:51 EDT 2011

I am writing from the Oglala-Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, located on an 8000 acre ranch at Pine Ridge reservation, home of Wounded Knee and quite a lot of indigenous history. We are a permaculture project whose purpose is to facilitate sovereignty, regeneration and resilience of the Lakota people. 
There are many opportunities to expand our program onto the rez this year and we're hoping to do that, but we need more hands!  
We are currently installing a demonstration permaculture garden with swales, a pond, various demonstration gardening techniques, and many interesting plants (including grains, herbs, perennials, heirlooms, natives). We also plan to install the first phase of a demonstration food forest, using no-irrigation methods.  We have a large swale system (large scale water catchment/erosion control) and keypoint dam to install, and if we can get sufficient volunteers, we can plant 100's of trees as windbreaks this year. We are wrapping up construction on a root cellar and straw bale building. We want to put in rainwater catchment, and also a graywater system. We have various other projects planned or ongoing - vermicomposting, building solar dehydrators, a solar oven, biochar production, and other appropriate technology. There are many opportunities to increase your skill level here!
We are looking for people especially between now and end of June. May is a key month to get the gardening aspects done but there are many things we can do in June too, and we can plant trees through June and do much of the other infrastructure any time. The sooner we do these things, the more we will be able to do with outreach this year. We will be holding workshops on all of these things as well. 
Please forward this to anybody you know who might want to help out!  
As a note, we have hosted school groups here - they can camp and visit the local areas, and then we can also provide youth workshops (nature appreciation, horsebackriding, permaculture gardening, tree planting, building, and many other choices), apprentice days, etc. That's a great way for us to get smaller projects done and also give the youth a great experience they will never forget. We also take on responsible home schoolers as apprentices. 
We have a wild horse rescue program that will be connected to a horse and rider program for youth which is very exciting and connected to a project to regenerate the rangelands (more than 8000 acres and possibly up to 25,000 and beyond). 
Other planned projects include building a greenhouse, aquaponics, high efficiency stoves, and more. This is a project in its beginning stages but we are set up to move very rapidly - we would like to be off-grid or close to it in a number of areas by the end of this summer.
In addition, we are doing a lot of reach out to the rez and have many opportunities to interact with youth and others.  We would like to do ALL of this and could do it, with your help. We welcome experienced permaculturists, and beginners. We can find something to do for everyone.  This is a rich experience that you can get as much out of as you're willing to put into it. 
We are all doing this as volunteer work right now. I have been volunteering since 2008 (very part time starting 2006). The reservation has 90% or more unemployment at times, is the poorest county in the nation and has many other harsh situations. We can make a difference!  There are some wonderful people here on the rez who have lots of hope and energy and are creating their future as a sovereign nation. As one medicine man told me, he doesn't need or want charity, but we are now at a time in history where it is time for all of us to help one another - across racial and cultural differences, to heal the wounds of the past.  If you have considered volunteering as a WWOOFer, this is a great way to really make a difference. We are working on funding to be able to pay stipends to long term volunteers and this is a possibility this year.  We believe in cooperation, mutual respect, caring, and facilitating creativity and personal growth. We believe there
 is no better way to learn than by doing.  There is a lot of work to be done, but it is done under a huge sky and big open range with some of the most beautiful cloud formations I've ever seen, anywhere, and there is a lot of fun to be had too!
Please contact me with any questions. You can also learn more about the project at facebook.com/permacultureguild4,  facebook.com/olceri,  permacultureguild.usolceri.org.
The web sites are a bit out of date because we are busy! We do have a couple of articles coming out updating a lot of stuff that has happened since our last update, so check back. We update most regularly on the two facebook pages. 
Mitakuye Oyasin, 
Cory Brennan

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