Making the Earth Charter real.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 20:18

Earth Charter US invites you join with us to make the Earth Charter real in the lives of people, and in government policies and organizational practices across the United States. 
Over 10,000 individuals and organizations in the United States have endorsed the Earth Charter and joined Earth Charter US.  And many more are working to create a just, sustainable and peaceful future for the community of life on Earth.

Here are some ways to be involved:

1. Participate in Earth Charter US programs. Earth Scouts is an Earth Charter based scouting program for boys and girls ages 3 to 13 years, now in 25 states.  The ECUS Sustainable Business Awards and Coalition has recognized over 30 local businesses since 2008 that are demonstrating commitment to“People, Planet & Profit” as framed in the Earth Charter.  We are also engaged in an Earth Charter economic development project in Zambia, and are beginning a program on Earth Charter Parenting.  We are putting resources on line so that you can build your own local programs. The resources include manuals, process steps, and summaries of events as they happen.

2. Tap into Earth Charter resources.  Over the past 15 years, the Earth Charter Initiative has clarified what sustainable development really requires in our lifestyle choices, organizational practices, and governance structures. One of the most promising results of this year's EC+10 events has been identifying how the Earth Charter is being used to bring this framework of genuine sustainability into action in education, religion, business, governance, and community development. We are pulling together resources to assist professionals to reorient their work in these areas toward strong sustainability.

3. Get active in the Rio+20 campaign. ECUS, in collaboration with Earth Charter International, will be conducting a campaign to have the United States and the United Nations adopt an Earth Charter inspired framework for social and economic development in 2012. Rio+20, the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, provides a major opportunity to advance the use of the Earth Charter and its acceptance as a universal ethical framework for sustainability.Since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992-where an Earth Charter was originally to be adopted-little progress has been made in implementing the Summit's plan for sustainable development (Agenda 21). The need for a more comprehensive universal ethic such as the Earth Charter has only increased. Rio+20 is an historic opportunity for governments and civil society to embrace the values and ethical principles that are the foundation of sustainability The Earth Charter can play a vital role in helping nations accelerate progress towards sustainable development. Join with us in this campaign.
4. Organize Earth Charter activities in your area. We are currently developing the Earth Charter Community Connection Platform (Earth Charter Ning) where you and others can join together in strengthening the Earth Charter movement.  We are revising the website to offer a portal on the Home Page that leads to an organizers section where you can post comments and tags to direct people to you.  We will give you and your local organization a web page on our site, or offer a click through to your site.  We will help you set up a Ning page for interaction among your volunteers, and we will send you email contacts for persons in your zip code area if you wish.

5. Join the network of ECUS advisers. We are reaching out to involve Earth Charter leaders in shaping our programs and organization.

We want to hear from you what additional projects or resources you would want from us to make your job of promoting the Earth Charter easier.  We are open to all suggestions including providing webcasts on the website, providing webinars, collecting data, and opening fund raising sites for your organization. Please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 We look forward to working with you in strengthening the Earth Charter’s contribution to a “time remembered for an awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life”.


Apiculture- A New Future

Thursday, 04 November 2010 00:27

Apiculture – Bee Keeping – offers a real economic boon to local villages in Zambia. Victor and Collins recently attended the African Apiculture Conference in Lusaka, where they learned a lot about bee keeping and met some very dedicated and supportive people. Nick Ferguson took great care of Victor and Collins, even introducing them to Dermot Cassidy, the African God of Apiculture! Now they are preparing for further training before they start spreading the news to the villages. In the meantime, they are returning to Shapi Village, near Mansa, with 2 new toilets, and then to Chilupula, near Chongwe, with 2 more. At that point the villages will be trained on the installation, and we will be able to send toilets as we find funding. We will keep you posted here as our efforts develop!


Mansa Toilet Installed!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 01:23

Once the toilet finally reached Mansa, Victor and Collins began to organize the work. Choosing who was to get the toilet is a difficult task, and all we asked was that the choice be fair. The village chose to start with Mr. Chilinda, who is the Chairperson of the Cooperative. They also placed some mechanisms and criteria in place for the next toilets. Gender was a big selection factor. So, now that a male has the first one, the next will go to a female trainee. Also, they made age a criteria, since the elderly have more problems with the toilet situation. Overall, the selection seemed to meet our criteria of being fair.

Next up, the people were surprised to find that the new Ecodome Toilet was different than the first waterless toilet they installed. The trainees began to complain that they now had to relearn the whole process. But quickly they discovered the advantages of the Ecodome, especially its relative ease of installation, and enthusiastically embraced it. They dug the hole in a day or so, and then the installation took a day, and then another day to finish the enclosure. In reality, all those things were happening simultaneously. But the entire project was completed in 3 days instead of the 5 days for the Otji Toilet.

The enclosure was so substantial I think it would be hurricane and earthquake proof. This is a testament to how seriously these people take the construction of a proper sanitation installation. We have enough money to send them three more, but then we run out. We are trying to convince the Ministry of Health and various NGO's that sanitation is the responsibility of the government, not the individuals in the village. Can you imagine if we in the States had to dig and build the sewer in front of our houses and then hook them up? And pay for it all at once? The villagers are eager to help with the installation, but even the $450 price for the toilet is almost twice their yearly income.

When it came time to return to Lusaka, of course there were no buses for some mysterious reason. Victor and Collins wisely chose not to return on the Ecodome truck, which had left three days earlier. So, according to Victor, they “found” a private vehicle heading to Lusaka (some 300 miles) and caught a ride. Zambians just never give up!

The drive and determination of the villagers to improve their lives is very inspiring to me. They are creative, hard working, and intelligent. What is keeping them back is a historical reality they had no control over, a reality that imposed an unfairness that would be inconceivable here in the US. When I look at the pictures in the slide show, I see the individuals I met in Mansa, hard working people who just want a break, not charity. Brilliant entrepreneurs who just want some start up capital that will release their creative economic impulses. And that is what keeps me working so hard on this side of the Atlantic. Whatever little I can get over there I know they will leverage into a future that will more fair and less punishing. I am honored to have them as partners.


Adventure on the Road to Mansa

Thursday, 07 October 2010 20:26

Victor rarely believes me when I tell him I have put him on the greatest adventure of his life, but he may be coming to my point of view. The task was simple enough, install an Ecodome toilet in Mansa, while teaching the villagers how to do it, so we can just send toilets in the future.

Since we do not have much money, well, actually none, for administration, Victor and Collins decided to ride with the Ecodome toilet, on the transport truck. It left Lusaka late because the truck could not get a good alignment for the tires. Which was due to the fact that when they replaced the ball and joints on the suspension, they used ones that were too small.

So, they left Lusaka very late. By the time they reached Kitwe, it was almost midnight, and they decided to stop for the night.

If you look at a map of Zambia, you will notice a deep cut down the middle. This is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yes, THAT Congo. To save time, the drivers decided to drive across the Congo rather than go around it. The road is very rough, even in the places where it actually looks like a road. What happens? First, there is a flat tire. Tough enough to fix, but they replace it with a spare, helped along by a few Congolese farmers amused by their situation.

Then the too small ball joints fail, and the truck is stranded yet again. This time a Mansa Governmental Affairs truck, also taking the short cut, breaks down in nearly the same place. However, unlike Victor and Collin's transport, the Government truck has tools. After a delay to fix the truck, they rolled into Mansa a day late. And the people were still happy to see them.

Victor and Collins had called ahead to let the people know to make some bricks for the toilet construction. When they arrive Victor and Collins find 2000 blocks! That's enough to build 100 toilets. They were very anxious.

I will save the story of the actual construction for another time, but here is the link to a slide show of the construction:

Mansa Toilets


Ecodome Waterless Toilet

Friday, 01 October 2010 00:46

Nothing ever goes as planned, but even Mr. Murphy would be shaking his head in admiration at Victor and Collins' resilience.

The Ecodome was supposed to be installed in one hour, and the whole construction finished in a day. The estimate was only off by 3 days!

For starters, when the toilet arrived, it arrived still embedded in the plastic sheet from which it had been stamped. The people sent by Ecodome to supervise and train our COPE members were puzzled. Fortunately Victor had seen what the toilet looked like on his tour of the factory, and so he led them in cutting the parts loose so construction could continue.

The hole was more precise than we had been expecting, and so lots of work and modifications were needed. We used more cement that expected. The roof needed more metal than we had planned.

After all, this was the show house for Chief Bunda Bunda, and he wanted it not in his compound, but on the hill in front so everyone could see his support for the waterless toilets. And to make a great statement, we needed a great outhouse. Victor created the monumental toilet, for certain.

We now know more about installing Ecodome Toilets than we had ever imagined. Not just Victor, but villagers are trained where the next two Ecodomes will be installed. This demonstration project will show the government, NGO's, and the people themselves that villagers can install these revolutionary toilets that will solve the sanitation problems of rural areas that lack both abundant water and sanitation infrastructure.

This is the kind of revolution the Earth Charter Principles guide and support as we in Project COPE start the long road to eliminating rural poverty.

Next up, building a local economy through business incubators, village banking, and the creativity and drive of the Zambia people.

For a slide show, go to:


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