Richmond Vale

Clarity and Inspiration

Clarity and Inspiration
By Sara Auerbach I chose the Climate Change Activist Program , because it was an opportunity to do something different and to engage in meaningful action. There were a few things that I hoped to gain from my experience at RVA: Clarity. I hoped the program would give me a better picture of how I wanted to move forward both career wise and in everyday life. Inspiration. I wanted to revitalize my passion for environmental stewardship and addressing social problems. Practical skills . I wanted to leave RVA with ahandful of new skills that would aid me in living a life that would be more sustainable, more conscientious, and healthier. I can honestly say that RVA helped me to achieve all of these things. I am grateful for my experience at the school and for the opportunity to travel, create new relationships, and to broaden my understanding of the world. I believe that the community projects and sustainability goals that drive RVA are a positive force in a world that sorely needs effective programs that build people up and take care of our planet. I will say that the program is not perfect; I experienced frustrations as well as doubts over the course of my time at RVA. Ultimately, these are the things that open our minds and help us expand the way that we think and how...
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St. Vincent’s geothermal development approach

St. Vincent’s geothermal development approach
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) with a population of approximately 104,000 people is 150 square miles and lies 60° 56’ West longitude and 13° 15’ North latitude, approximately 100 miles west of Barbados, 68 miles north of Grenada and 24 miles south of St. Lucia. From a morphological point of view St. Vincent shares similarity to the other Windward Islands, consisting of a central axial range of mountains starting from La Soufriere (1,234m) in the north, to Mt St Andrew in the south. The island is entirely volcanic with six main volcanic centres located along its central axis. Like most of the CARICOM member states, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago and to a lesser extent Barbados, SVG is heavily dependent on imported oil for commercial energy need, particularly in electricity generation. The all-time high electricity rate of USD 0.43/kWh in 2014 was attributed to a 56% fuel surcharge. In response to the high electricity cost and oil dependency, the exploration of indigenous sources of energy became a top priority for the Government. A geothermal project became the preferred option given the limited baseload power alternatives and the already exhausted exploitation of hydro energy. Geothermal energy development , as stated by Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves, “will become the game changer for economic development in SVG” . The Prime Minister considers the reliance on imported oil...
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Richmond Vale

Planet of Slums

Planet of Slums
During the 18 months Fighting with The Poor Program , participants both study and take action to fight global warming and global poverty in St. Vincent, Belize and Ecuador. Part of this program is to also to plant trees, organize clean up actions, teach in schools and start vegetable gardens along with a number of theoretical studies to understand the causes of poverty. One of the study tasks focuses on the book "Planet of Slums" by Mike Davis , and here is from the introduction to the study task.   In 2008 the number of people living in cities for the first time surpassed the global rural population. The individual who tipped the scale might be a baby born to a city dweller or an adult migrating from the countryside, but in either case, it's likely that the newcomer will have arrived in a Third World slum. By 2030, an estimated 5 billion of the world's 8.1 billion people will live in cities. About 2 billion of them will live in slums, primarily in Africa and Asia, lacking access to clean drinking water and working toilets, surrounded by desperation, poverty and crime. Already these slums are huge. According to Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums, nearly 80% of Nigeria's urban population, or some 41.6 million people, live in slums. The comparable numbers in India are...
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Richmond Vale

How to look good in green

How to look good in green
Dressing sustainably can be very simple when you know what you’re doing! Commonly known as eco-fashion, it is the concept of taking into mind the long-term environmental and social impacts of our clothing every day. But often people don’t know what informed decisions to take in dressing fashionably without impacting the planet. For many people, this means recycling: instead of throwing away that tee shirt you ruined in the wash, could you make it into something? Could it become a cute pair of sandals, a pillow case, some cleaning rags, or a pair of socks through some careful stitches? In this article I’m going to give you... 10 steps on how to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle your stuff! 10- Second hand shopping Instead of going to your favourite high street store go to a vintage store or a charity shop. It’s great for saving money, you might be lucky and find an amazing piece. It’s crazy what people throw away sometimes 9- Get your hands dirty! (don’t be afraid to D.I.Y) Go online and learn how easy it is to make your own clothes or accessories from recycled and old clothing 8- Shop on Ebay You can find second hand goods that are still brand new! 7- donate to charity stores Give back and instead of throwing your old clothes away, someone else might like your unwanted clothing....
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Richmond Vale

RVA launches Pass-It-On Model Garden Project

RVA launches Pass-It-On Model Garden Project
Richmond Vale Academy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Chatoyer Garden, and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Preservation Fund, will launch its home garden project today, June 5. The launch takes place at Richmond Vale Academy beginning at 13.00 with tour of the organic gardens and is open to the public. The Pass-It-On Model Garden Project aims to build the capacity of the local communities to live more sustainably, cost effectively and healthily by creating model gardens for families (or farmers) and for people to pass-on what they have learnt, to inspire others to start their own gardens. This project uses crop diversification and organic principles of production as a means of adapting to the effects of climate change while also using agriculture as a means of environmental protection. [caption id="attachment_11062" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The project teaches participants to cultivate food on small plots of land, without the use of chemicals. Using this model, a household or a farmer can use 800 square feet of land (a plot measuring 20 x 40 feet) to produce 130 heads of lettuce every two months along with 36 roots of chives soon after. Two intensive vegetable garden beds can produce okra, eggplant and hot peppers are other vegetables. An animal component can consist of a coup for raising two rabbits or layer five layer...
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Organic Bananas

Organic Bananas
New technologies are being introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, to improve Banana Production in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Ministry is partnering with H2K Agro to conduct trials on Banana Farms with the aim of controlling the Black Sigatoka and Moko diseases that have been affecting the banana industry. Speaking at a media conference, Mr. Rex Suckoo, Representative of H2K Agro, pointed out that the Company utilises natural means of strengthening the banana plant. He said that this will create a healthier environment for farmers and possibly open up a market for organic bananas. Mr. Suckoo also said that overall they have demonstrated that the technology works, and he ensured that it would have a greater benefit to the people of this country. Soruce:   agriculture.gov.vc
Richmond Vale

Learn more about our amazing Academy!

Learn more about our amazing Academy!
It’s 9 pm at Richmond Vale Academy, and a small circle of drummers sends rhythms into the darkness of the hills. The stars seem to be on steroids, but we still need flashlights for our dragon quest. Franklyn—the local hiking guide, night watchman, and nocturnal pollinator-in-chief—ambles ahead of our motley group: two young Scandinavian honeymooners, two mature ladies from Barbados, and a burly Dane who is minding a teenage boy with unspecified problems. Franklyn leads us into rows of tall, twisting cacti whose flowers reach full bloom only at this time. Lacking the right moths, they need human hands and a paintbrush to stimulate the production of dragonfruit, Hylocereus costaricensis. The huge white blossoms have a monstrous beauty. Tonight there are 54, significantly less than the record 1000, but enough to contribute to a crop. The succulent red globules that they’ll turn into helps make this institution the largest producer of this exotic fruit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The extraordinary Richmond Vale Academy is full of such surprises. The first is that it exists at all. A part of the International DRH Movement (Danish “Travelling Folk High School”), RVA can trace its origins to 1970, when pioneering educators took a busload of Danish youngsters into Asia Minor to expand their horizons and learn by experience. Their encounters with poverty led to engagement, and eventually...
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6 Causes of Water Pollution and How to Stop It INFOGRAPHIC

6 Causes of Water Pollution and How to Stop It INFOGRAPHIC
Over two thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by water. As Earth's population continues to grow, people are putting ever-increasing pressure on the planet's water resources. In a sense, oceans, rivers, and other inland waters are being "squeezed" by human activities—not so they take up less room, but so their quality is reduced. Poorer water quality means water pollution. Pollution is a human problem because it is a relatively recent development in the planet's history: before the 19th century Industrial Revolution , people lived more in harmony with their immediate environment. As industrialization has spread around the globe, so the problem of pollution has spread with it. When Earth's population was much smaller, no one believe pollution would ever be a serious problem. It was once popularly believed that the oceans were far too big to be polluted. Today, with around 7 billion people on the planet, it has become apparent that there are limits. Pollution is one of the signs that humans have exceeded those limits. Causes of Water Pollution Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and makes up over 60% of the human body.  Water pollution affects marine ecosystems, wildlife health, and human well-being.  The answer to solving pollution is to make changes in our daily habits and pay more attention to the types of products you consume.   (Click infographic to...
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Richmond Vale

Renewable Energy: Everything you need to know

Renewable Energy: Everything you need to know
Renewable energy or green energy comes from resources that will be naturally replenish within a human timescale.   What does this mean? Well, simply put, renewable energy draws from an infinite bank of resources. Think of tides, sunlight, rain and the currents in rivers! They are not running out anytime soon, and unlike fossil fuels , using them does not entail major environmental risks. Historically, every time there has been an increase in oil prices, the world has turn its eyes towards renewable energy. After oil prices drop, however, things have gone back to business-as-usual. If renewable energy is the best option available why does this happen? Cost and a huge interest from big oil and chemical corporations to not make it happen, mainly. The infrastructure for drawing out and using fossil fuels is already there. This does not only entail complex oil refineries and coal-powered plants, but the electricity lines, gas pipes, etc. that make it possible for you and I to use these resources. The same is not true for renewable energy. Big corporations are already making profit from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, building the infrastructure for the production and use of renewable energy would take heaps of time and money. People who are in the money-making business have not interest in wasting these resources. TYPES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY Most renewable energy comes either directly...
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Richmond Vale

6 Main Causes of Poverty in the World

6 Main Causes of Poverty in the World
Poverty is a social condition that is characterized by the lack of resources necessary for basic survival or necessary to meet a certain minimum level of living standards expected for the place where one lives. The income level that determines poverty is different from place to place, so social scientists believe that it is best defined by conditions of existence, like lack of access to food, clothing, and shelter. People in poverty typically experience persistent hunger or starvation, inadequate or absent education and health care, and are usually alienated from mainstream society. Poverty is a consequence of the uneven distribution of material resources and wealth on a global scale and within nations. Sociologists see it as a social condition of societies with unequal and inequitable distribution of income and wealth, and the exploitative effects of global capitalism. Causes of Poverty In the war against poverty it is crucial to understand the underlying causes of it; for only tackling the roots of the problem one can provide a final solution to it. This is especially useful to remember when considering that although poverty is a global issue, there is no blanket cause for it. Therefore, there is no common solution. The causes of poverty vary from one country to the other and are ascribed to their history, governance and the dynamics of society within it. However; when...
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11 Reasons to become an activist Infographic

11 Reasons to become an activist Infographic
A beautiful aspect of being human is that we have the power to change things that we don’t agree with — whether it is what’s in our food, how animals are treated in captivity, or inequality between genders or races. When you begin to take action to bring awareness to the causes you care about, you become an activist in the process. So, while the seemingly extreme actions mentioned above will definitely get you noticed, they are, by no means, essential for becoming an activist. All it takes to become an activist are passion, knowledge and the a desire to make a change. There are so many ways in which you can be activist for a better world; options are wide and open, everywhere in the world organizations -like Richmond Vale Academy - are looking for volunteers, people that are in need of help and there are causes in abundance to fight for. Reasons to Become an Activist  Becoming an activist for a better world is something that everyone have to do at least for a period in its  life. To step out of your regular and standardized life is not only of great social benefit, but offers so many benefits for your life. Here are 11 reasons why you should become an activist and help in big!! (Click infographic to enlarge .) Share this Image...
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Richmond Vale

9 benefits of crop rotation for the environment

9 benefits of crop rotation for the environment
The crop rotation is a thousand years old technique that has been proven to help the environment , improve the soil and so many other things. Crop Rotation This system is the practice of growing several dissimilar or different crop types (or no crop at all) in the same area and in sequential seasons. Historians believe that farmers in the Middle East already practiced crop rotation as early as 6,000 B.C, although they didn’t fully understand the science behind it. The logic behind crop rotation is when the same crop is grown at the same place for several years the soil is depleted of certain nutrients. [caption id="attachment_6471" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Example of crop rotation on a small-scale. Photo Credit: Wikipedia . Doing rotation, a crop that draws one kind of nutrient from the soil is followed during the consequent season by a crop that returns the nutrient to the soil or draws a distinct ratio of nutrients. Environmental benefits of the crop rotation Several problems begin to creep up when you don’t rotate crops. All these problems can lead to decreased yields over the course of several years. First, the land itself can become “tired” and less fertile. This is because if the same type of crop is planted in the same area, the plant will continue to drain same nutrients from the soil.. Second, certain...
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Rainwater Harvesting: 6 Ways to Save the planet!

Rainwater Harvesting: 6 Ways to Save the planet!
Rainwater Harvesting is one of the best methods to save money and help to protect and care for our planet, especially to avoid dependency on regular water supply system . But, what is a Rainwater Harvesting System? It is an innovative technique that is use to harvest rainwater from roofs and other above surfaces to be stored for later use. Rainwater harvesting have many uses, such: garden and crop irrigation, watering livestock, laundry, and flushing toilets. However, unless you establish a well purification system, you cannot use the harvest rainwater for showering, bathroom sink or kitchen because it’s not really fit for consumption. In a normal scenario the rainwater is collect from roof buildings and then store inside of a tank. The desing of rainwater harvesting systems is done after assessing site conditions that include rainfall pattern, incident rainfall, subsurface strata and their storage characteristics. Those in the city, can harvest and use rainwater, also, the people in more rural areas can use it too. Reasons for rainwater harvesting Water in the oceans and seas is not always drinkable water and little [caption id="attachment_10903" align="alignright" width="375"] Rooftop's rainwater harvesting linked to ground storage. Photo Credit: Gilbert García . of it can be directed to other purposes. So, there is a constant shortage of water that is either good for drinking or home and industrial use. Besides,...
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Richmond Vale

DIY: Reduce your Footprint! Part 1 by Annick

DIY: Reduce your Footprint! Part 1 by Annick
By Annick    Our way of living is largely contributing to climate change . On average, the ecological footprint of a US citizen is 9.0 gha meaning that this amount of land is needed to sustain one person in the US. It also means that 9.6 worlds would be needed to sustain the current population. Obviously, we only have one world. So how do we live? And how does this affect our footprint? Find out all about how you can reduce your footprint by reading my blog series in which I present every other week simple steps on a new topic. And guess what?, becoming more sustainable is more easy and fun than you would think. So stay posted! [caption id="attachment_10882" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The ecological footprint of several countries. Photo Source: The Green Market Oracle Blog 1: Food This week we will talk about food! Your diet can have a large footprint via multiple ways. Let’s find out how that works and what you can do! Livestock: how eating meat increases your footprint Let’s start with meat. The meat industry is recognized by the Food and agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) as one of the main contributers to GHG in the atmosphere . This has various reasons. First of all, eating meat is less efficient as a lot more land is needed to...
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Richmond Vale

My 6 months in Ecuador by Ammon

My 6 months in Ecuador by Ammon
By Ammon  During the last six months working as Development Instructor in Ecuador we have worked with Humana Pueblo a Pueblo on many different projects as well as our own personal projects as Development Instructors. We are here as a team of 3 DIs from Richmond Vale Academy as part of the Fighting Shoulder to Shoulder with the Poor program. During my time here as a development instructor I have worked in the Community of Opoluca which is part of the district Paltas or Catacocha. I have worked with Humana to develop organic home gardens, compost production, and organic pesticides as well as working with large garden parcels and distributing saplings and seeds to the families in Opoluca. I myself have also given English classes as well as various other classes in the school as well as my personal project of building water filters to recycle water for use in gardens. In the Barrio of Opoluca we work with 40 families in total. Around 30 of the families have organic gardens and the rest of the families either raise pigs or chickens. I only work directly with the gardens. We focus on making the gardens an integral part of the family’s everyday life and everyday diet. I focused on teaching the basics of seeding, planting and maintaining a garden. The families have knowledge about plants because...
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6 Benefits of having an edible garden at home (INFOGRAPHIC)

6 Benefits of having an edible garden at home (INFOGRAPHIC)
Traditionally the lawn was a symbol of status in the Feudalism . Large expanses of lawn, meant that the farm had many sheep and many cattle. Americans have been obsess with lawns since the 1950s, but that way of thinking is changing. It's time to rethink and use our lawns better. [caption id="attachment_10844" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Photo credit: Pexels Keeping and caring for a lawn requires a staggering amount of energy. It uses a lot of water, uses valuable soil and the pesticides and petrochemicals used to fertilize the grass, filter and contaminate our groundwater. The typical American lawn uses 10,000 gallons of supplemental water (not including rainwater) annually. This a serious problem, especially as we see more and more areas facing water shortages and droughts. Here are some problems caused by lawn pesticides: They contaminate our water supply . A study from Virginia Tech found that most homeowners apply chemicals to their lawns in ways that pollute our drinking water. They create serious health risks for wildlife and pets . A 2013 study published in Science of the Total Environment found that dogs exposed to lawn care chemicals can have a higher risk of bladder cancer. They get into our homes and present health risks . They are correlated with increased risk of a variety of cancers, nervous system disorders, and other illnesses. Children get expose...
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The newest teenager climate activists - Vanessa

The newest teenager climate activists - Vanessa
By Vanessa One of the most challenging but enriching project we have taken here at Richmond Vale has been to be in charge of a 17days environmental education, climate change and biodiversity program, where 12 teenagers from Saint Vincent and 12 from England would have to come together to learn and make different actions in order to prevent against climate change . During this time our main goals were not just to create awareness about one of the biggest issue of our time among the new generations, but two bring two totally different cultures (one develop country and thus principal contributor to climate change, and one developing country and indeed one of the most affected country regarding climate change). History had also a very important role to play during this program since St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a British colony for over 20 year. The British had a huge impact in the island landscape but also in its culture. To see those kids coming together, joining strength within different group, exchanging culture and understanding each other was a beautiful process we all gained from. The first day during the course we witness 24 very shy and independent teenagers avoiding intercultural exchange and not so much confidence about themselves. Within 24h we could witness an enormous change in the way they present and the interactions among...
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The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Andrea

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Andrea
By Andrea During the 18 months Fighting with The Poor Programs , students have the opportunity to learn about world history, the world of  today and also looking into future tendencies. One of the books recommended to read is Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" Shock is a word of French origin that means a collision. It refers to aviolent event that shakes up a person. In psychiatry, a shock is mental reaction to a traumatic event such as an accident, a very frightening or tragic situation. Such event may cause an acute stress reaction whereby a great amount of stress hormones are released by the action of the brain. These will prepare the person to flee or fight and can be useful if you suddenly meet a lion in the bush – but if a shock is very severe it may paralyze you so you become disoriented and even unable to remember what is happening because the brain goes into an emergency mode and do not function in a rational way. A severe mental shock may be deadly for people with heart problems who may suffer acute heart attack but even an otherwise healthy person may not survive a very severe shock. After World War I , where soldiers endured horrible battles in thetrenches of Europe it was observed that a great many soldiers suffered mental...
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Why we March against Monsanto

Why we March against Monsanto
The 19th of May we will march against Montsanto in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In St. Vincent many farmers, teachers and other people want to protect the island against the growing of Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs are created in a lab, by inserting a gene from one organism into another unrelated organism, producing plants and animals that would never occur in nature. No long-term safety studies have been done on humans, but animal studies link the consumption of GMOs to an increase in allergies, kidney and liver disease, ADHD, cancer, infertility, chronic immune disorders and more. Monsanto, Astra Zeneca, Du Pont, Novartis and Aventis, are some of the big food industry companies. They dedicate themselves to the commercialization of genetically modified agricultural products. They use policies on which the producers become dependent.The seeds sold by the companies are genetically modified. They speak of “seed protected from agrochemicals” that is developed from chemical products. A soy plant, for example, does not produce grains that can be used as seeds for the next season. Companies use this system to promote the sale of seeds and agrochemicals and to increase its lucrative potential through producer dependency. The producers remain trapped in a vicious cycle, totally dependent on these companies and the price policies they adopt. If the producer acquires seed through these companies he should secure fertilisers, insecticides,...
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Investigating the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary

Investigating the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
My team recently went on an investigation trip to the Grenadine island of Bequia. While we were there we explored a number of areas that were relevant to our social and environmental interests. One of these places was the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. We had heard that the living conditions for the turtles at the sanctuary might be questionable. We decided to check it out and develop our own conclusions about the establishment’s legitimacy. What We Discovered   We drove all the way out to the Atlantic side of the island to visit the Turtle Sanctuary. This was an expensive cab right ($100 EC). We sort of already knew what to expect about the conditions of the sanctuary. These suspicions were indeed confirmed. We discovered the sanctuary is a privately owned, for-profit establishment. We, very regrettably, paid $60 EC for the 4 of us to enter. Inside we found a number of shallow concrete pools full of nothing but water and sea turtles. [caption id="attachment_10795" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The turtles are kept in shallow cement pools The sanctuary guide told us a story about how the sanctuary came to fruition. The owner’s father, who was in a shipwreck, was rescued by a fisherman who thought that the man was a flailing sea turtle. This inspired the owner’s fascination with the sea turtles and his desire to protect...
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