How a Corpsmember Used his Stipend to Start a Successful Nonprofit in India that Upcycles Waste

 

This year C. Srinivasan was the recipient of Earthcorps' Annual Alumni Award. Steve Dubiel, Executive Director of EarthCorps, recently took time to write us and explain Srinvasan's inspirational story. Based in Seattle, Washington, Earthcorps enrolls participants in a year long program. Approximately half of its participants  are AmeriCorps members and the other half are from other countries. In total, Earthcorps has alumni in 74 countries. 

In 1997 we had the pleasure of welcoming C. Srinivasan to EarthCorps. He’s from India. While at EarthCorps, Srinivasan saved the majority of his stipend to launch a non-profit, Exnora-Green Cross Vellore (soon to be renamed Indian Green Service).

The driving goal for all of Exnora-Green Cross Vellore's work is to “bring about socio-economic changes through employment generation based on environmental conservation.” Programs seek to utilize three abundant resources: sunlight, people power, and garbage. Srinivasan told me that “EarthCorps helped me to understand that the goal is not to isolate people from nature, but to help both coexist sustainably.” He further added that, “my real success in India is because of the field work I did with EarthCorps in Seattle.” Srinivasan provides a model for all of us to help educate people and “help them see the legacy (good or bad) that they will leave their children.”

Srinivasan’s organization has launched several initiatives, including a Zero Waste Management project. Using India’s people power, Srinivasan has developed an innovative model for transforming waste management. Instead of collecting and dumping garbage at great cost, Exnora-Green Cross Vellore has created a system that generates modest profit from waste collection by "upcycling," or transforming nearly all waste into marketable goods. Waste is collected twice each day and sorted into approximately 200 categories. Each component is then developed into a marketable good that is sold to support the overall program. There are only about 10 items that can’t be recycled, including items like chewing gum, Styrofoam, broken ceramic, and aluminum candy wrappers.

Srinivasan and his team are constantly working to reduce the number of non-recyclables and have reached out to 1,000 companies (India, US, and beyond) working with them to redesign packaging and products to move closer to the goal of zero waste. This model program has the attention of the Indian government who has tapped Srinivasan and set the goal to replicate the program in 500,000 communities across India over the coming 3-5 years. Needless to say, this is an incredible success.

Srinivasan’s story provides a great example of how corps programs inspire young people to change the world and give them tools to succeed.

The Corps Network Participates Public Lands Summit

 



Photo of Glacier National Park 
via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

The Corps Network, along with member organizations Student Conservation Association, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps North Bay, Montana Conservation Corps, American Youth Works, and Southwest Conservation Corps, participated in a national summit with the Public Lands Service Coalition concerning the implementation of a 21st Century Conservation Corps. 

President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar have pushed to include more youth in plans for our nation’s public lands, and this summit was a discussion between youth corps from across the country and the land management agencies that oversee the public lands. Agency staff from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, and the Corporation for National and Community Service met with corps staff to plan how best to get our nation’s youth into the outdoors. 

For more information on the PLCS or the meeting, please contact
 Mary Ellen Ardouny at The Corps Network. 

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Coconino Rural Environment Corps at Grand Canyon


 

This article was originally published in the Coconino Rural Environment Corps’ Newsletter.

Recently Vice President Joe Biden visited Grand Canyon National Park as part of a tour designed to highlight the effectiveness of projects within the National Park system funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Vice President spoke at Hopi Point on the Canyon’s South Rim to a small crowd of elected officials, Park Service staff and CREC’s eight-person summer Grand Canyon crew. Mr. Biden referred to Grand Canyon as “a cathedral” and spoke about how the Recovery Act not only helped to create jobs in the Park and to address backlogged maintenance needs, but also represented an investment in our nation’s sacred places for the benefit of future generations. He described the task as one of maintaining access while minimizing impacts saying that the goal is to ensure that all people can experience parks while leaving behind an ever smaller footprint.

After the speech, Mr. Biden took time to recognize the CREC crew for their hard work in rebuilding the South Kaibab Trail – a Recovery funded project. The Vice President described AmeriCorps as “one of the best things President Clinton ever did,” and recognized the crew’s dedication by saying, “Your generation is volunteering in greater numbers than at any point in American History!”

 

Wearing a CREC hat and looking much like a Corpsmember himself, Mr. Biden then took individual pictures with each member of the crew as well as a group photo. For the crew, the Vice President’s visit was a monumental way to end the summer season. His visit occurred on the very last day of the crew’s three month hitch at Grand Canyon.

San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps Staff Recognized as Hero

 

San Gabriel Valley (CA) Conservation Corps Supervisors manage work crews beautifying Whittier Narrows or reinforcing isolated hillsides prone to flash floods in the San Gabriel Mountains. They also receive training in First Aid and CPR. Andrew Martinez put his training to good use this past spring and assisted a jogger who was in distress near their work area. Martinez, who is CPR certified, was able to help the man start breathing again and was recognized for his heroics by Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina at the Board of Supervisors meeting this month. Read more in the Whittier Daily News.

Pennsylvania Conservation Corps Builds Wheelchair-Accessible Ropes Course

Pennsylvania Conservation Corps gives unemployed young people work on community service projects, and this week, helped build a wheelchair-accessible high ropes course at Bloomsburg University. For this year’s Signature Project, Pennsylvania Conservation Corps crews worked on the course, which is the first of its size in the Northeast United States. The work was done during three 10-hour days last week. "They accomplished double of what I thought they would," said Brett Simpson, executive director of Quest and the Corporate Institute at the university. The university received a $10,000 grant from the Degenstein Foundation for the project. Read more about this project in the Daily Item.

Wyoming Conservation Corps Takes a Step Back in Time


A crew of eight students from the Wyoming Conservation Corps is working on rebuilding the Mason-Lovell Ranch at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The students got a taste of being a homesteader/rancher at the turn of the century, installing a large corral at the ranch that had become dilapidated over the years and was eventually torn down. Though they used an auger and other power tools to help with the construction, the students were performing essentially the same work that Lovell did when he designed the original corrals and hand-dug holes for the railroad tie posts. “Our vision was for state and other agencies to use them to do construction projects,” Harvey said, adding that another purpose of the WCC was to peak students’ interests in resource management. “So the students would come to love the land and through science learn what the land needed.” 

Read more in the Lovell Chronicle.

San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps Greens Program to Receive Recovery Funding

 

San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps just got some green to go green. The Corps is receiving $98,122 from the Department of Labor to help promote green job training. "This is going to kind of round out our program," Executive  Director Daniel Oaxaca said.   "We  are already doing construction, so we figured why not teach them to do green construction?" With the money, the program will eventually expand its YouthBuild program from serving two dozen students to 35 students. And it will build the curriculum to include green construction techniques including solar panel installation and maintenance. Learn more in theSan Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Louisiana Green Corps Wins Sundance Award

 

This week, Sundance, the Independent Film Channel and Earthjustice announced that the Louisiana Green Corps won the top prize in a national short film competition in the "Spirit of Energy Efficiency" category.  Their rap video, Going Green, was created by Corpsmembers and filmmaker Julie Kumari Drapkin and features the Corpsmember rappers mixing rhymes about radiant barriers and door sweeps.

"I'm ecstatic," said Corpsmember Derek Taplet. "This started off as something to do to show how interested we are in what we were doing - weatherizing homes - and to mix our talent and what we learned." Huge congratulations to LA Green Corps for a job well done! Watch the full feature video, learn more at the Alliance for Affordable Energy website, and learn more about the contest at the Independent Film Channel's website.

270 California Conservation Corpsmembers Provide Logistical Support for California Wildfires

 


Members of the California Conservation Corps from across the state are responding to the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest and other wildfires throughout California. Currently there are 20 crews statewide -- 270 Corpsmembers -- assisting with logistical support at the fire camps. On the Station Fire, there are 12 CCC crews assigned from eight different locations: Camarillo, Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Watsonville. Along with the Station Fire, CCC crews are also currently dispatched to the Morris Fire in Los Angeles County as well as fires in Mariposa and San Bernardino counties.

 

So far this year, the CCC has dispatched crews to 23 different fires, under the direction of CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service. Corpsmembers routinely work 12-to-16-hour days at the fire camps, unloading and distributing supplies, checking in and replacing broken tools, and washing and rolling fire hoses. For more information about the CCC, visit www.ccc.ca.gov.

 

 

Milwaukee Community Service Corps Makes a Splash with Rain Barrels

 


With the ever-present threat of draught and the increasing cost of water, residents throughout many Wisconsin communities are installing Corps-made rain barrels to conserve and cut the cost of maintaining their yards and gardens. Corpsmembers at the Milwaukee Community Service Corps build these barrels out of recycled soda syrup drums-keeping the plastic drums out of landfills and creating an innovative water conservation device. Through a partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the rain barrels are distributed for sale throughout Milwaukee through MMSD, area natural foods stores, and nature conservancies. Recently, the utility manager for the city of Burlington, WI began ordering the rain barrels for her community-selling out even before her first supply of barrels arrived. MMSD has sold over 11,000 barrels since the program began four years ago, and in that time, Corpsmembers have learned the assembly and conservation skills that have made this program such a success. Learn more about the program and read about the impact the barrels have had in Burlington.

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