December 2019 NewsletterDear friends & colleagues,
I am delighted to announce that Rajasvini Bhansali has joined the Swift Foundation Board of Directors! Vini’s grounded wisdom, lucid perspective, and courageous spirit is a most welcome addition to this widening circle of governance and vision. Her bio follows below.
Rajasvini Bhansali is the Executive Director of the Solidaire Network. In a wide-ranging international career devoted to social, ecological, and economic justice, she previously served as Executive Director of Thousand Currents for 9 years where she was credited with helping launch a collaborative climate justice fund, an innovative impact investment fund and grow the organization’s award winning grantmaking and partnership practices with social movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She has previously led a national social enterprise focused on youth development; managed a public telecommunications infrastructure fund addressing digital divide issues in Texas; and worked as a researcher, planner, policy analyst and strategy consultant for large public sector entities. Vini also worked alongside community leaders as a capacity builder for youth polytechnics in rural Kenya for over two years, an experience she credits as motivating her to work to transform U.S. based philanthropy.
Born and raised in India, Vini earned a Master’s in Public Affairs with a focus on technology and telecommunications policy from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor’s in Astrophysics and Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities & Social Sciences from UC Berkeley. In 2015, Vini was honored with a Leaders in Action award by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and she was a Social Entrepreneurship (SEERS) fellow at Stanford University in 2016. Vini has been involved in community organizing and volunteer board roles for the last two decades. Currently, she serves on the board for Tides Advocacy and the Swift Foundation. She guest lectures in the Master’s of Leadership in Sustainability Program at the University of Vermont and also works as a popular educator, executive coach and leadership trainer. A lifelong learner, she is currently attempting to improve her Spanish language skills and training to be a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. When not involved with learning or organizing, Vini can be found nesting with her family in Richmond CA.
Announcements & Opportunitieshere.
Gaia Foundation Updates: Photo Stories in Kenya and Uganda – Indigenous Communities Map the Past, Present and FutureThe Gaia Foundation put together two beautiful photo stories of mapping experiences with indigenous African communities. The first explains how indigenous Tharakan People from central Kenya are reviving their Earth-centered customary laws, sacred natural sites, indigenous seeds and the life of their territory in climate-changed times. View the photo story here. The second story highlights the indigenous communities living along the shores of Uganda’s Lake Albert and showcases the work of the community to map their future, one of abundant food, ecological restoration, and the restoration of indigenous ways of life. View the full story here.
Issues of Concernhere. here.
Philanthropists Bench Women of Color, the M.V.P.s of Social ChangeThis New York Times opinion piece by Vanessa Daniel, Executive Director of Groundswell, draws attention to the underrepresentation of women of color in receiving social change funding. It highlights how grassroots victories, led by women of color, are surging, yet white-led organizations continue to gain philanthropic support. This ‘misdirected philanthropy,’ as Daniel writes, is costing us. Read the main reasons women of color are shut out of funding here.
Indigenous Views on CRISPR-Cas9This brief prepared for the ITPGRFA GB8 on CRISPR Technology invites consideration of how gene editing affects Farmers Rights and indigenous and peasant livelihoods. The authors question how CRISPR will affect food systems that produce and sustain agricultural biodiversity, who shall be involved in the decision-making, and offer critical analysis of the CRISPR question from the perspective of indigenous communities. Read in full here.
Let’s Talk About Fundraising: A Perspective from Cochiti PuebloNonprofit Quarterly partnered with the First Nations Development Institute to publish a series of Native American writers highlighting the practices of community building in Indian Country and identifying ways that philanthropy might more effectively support this work. In this piece, Trisha Moquino, founder of an indigenous language immersion school in the Pueblo of Cochiti, New Mexico, challenges philanthropy to share power and face the historical truths that surround foundation wealth, which has often involved acquiring financial assets through the theft of Native land and resources. Read the full piece here.
People Powered: Strength-Based Indigenous MovementsIn this piece, also part of the Nonprofit Quarterly Native American writers series, Olivia Roanhorse reflects on movements in Indian Country. Roanhorse often hears that there is an absence of movements and movement-building in Native communities, to which she argues that indigenous people are always mobilizing their people and communities. How can non-Natives and those in positions of power support, uplift, and invest in movements across Indian Country? To find out, read the full piece here.
What Climate Collapse Asks of UsIn this essay, published on the The Emergence Network, Akomolafe investigates the contributions of “postactivism” by thinking about the nature of science and its products, climate change, the organizations we invent to frame the phenomenon, the responsibilities that emerge, and more here.
How Peru’s Potato Museum Could Starve off the World Food CrisisAgronomists are looking to the ancestral knowledge of farmers in the Peruvian Andes to identify genetic strains that could help the potato survive changing climate conditions. The Potato Park, located in Cusco, sits 3,400 to 4,900 meters above sea level and maintains one of the highest diversities of native potatoes in the world. Read about the potato guardians and their resilient potato crops here.
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Rosemary Hitchens, Swift Foundation