A reverence for nature is a central value in everything we do, even in our literacy and library projects. We are at a critical point in human history, with environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity accelerating at a frightening pace. Together we must learn — or relearn — how to live sustainably with our environment and other life on earth. At OliveSeed, we see literacy, critical thinking, and responsible stewardship as intertwined, and we have an opportunity to inspire positive action through knowledge. We also believe that the communities we work with have much to contribute to the world's wisdom on living sustainably.
At the ground level, our approach is boosting education, building quality knowledge on nature and current environmental challenges, and collaborating on project-based learning that fosters local leadership.
Awareness inspires action
Since the beginning of Morocco Library Project, every library has had books on nature and the people who are working to protect it. The English Club at Chouiter High School outside Marrakech was so inspired by books about Rachel Carson that they formed an environmental group and planted 20 trees — and this is just one example.
The power of One
The beauty of Carson's story is that one woman sparked an environmental movement, and she did it with one book, Silent Spring. We want young people to know that they too, as individuals, can make a difference.
"Preserving natural resources around the world cannot be practically and truly done unless we start by developing literacy and raising the new generation's awareness that little things matter."
~Ali Amhal, English instructor, Biougra, Morocco
Management team, Morocco Library Project
Young OliveSeed leaders sharing their passion
FatimaZahra Taghlaoui giving a presentation in Khenifra about the poaching crisis in sub-Saharan Africa... and Mohcine El-alji teaching students in Chouiter about the need to take personal responsibility for the environment.
FatimaZahra and Mohcine were both students where we have high school library projects in Morocco. They developed their English literacy through this after-school program and their interest in environmental impact through their connection with OliveSeed. They're both now in college and on the OliveSeed team making a positive impact.
NEXT STEPS IN 2020
Mara Girls Wildlife Club
We are collaborating with Friends of Maasai Mara and the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya on the Wildlife Club at Mara Girls Leadership School. The Mara Girls Library already contains the complete collection of books and guides about local flora, fauna, and conservation recommended to us by the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. Now the Club is growing and will expand to more extra-curricular activities, including trips to the nature reserve hosted by Friends of Maasai Mara.
Gaining hands-on experience
One of our next steps at Mara Girls is to offer a tech workshop that includes running a website for their Wildlife Club. The girls will report on local conservation efforts, with facilitators from Friends of Maasai Mara and Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. In the process, they'll gain experience in journalism, photography, conservation, and technology.
NEXT STEPS IN 2020
Morocco: Citizen nature journalists
In 2018-19, we ran a pilot program called Environmental Changemakers at three library partners in Morocco on climate change and plastics pollution, with support from the US Embassy. The teachers created their own programs, and we supplied materials. We also connected one site to a high school in California studying the same topics.
This year, we plan to expand the program to a writing workshop and a student writing project about preserving biodiversity through their community's indigenous practices and traditional land use. Some of these students have already had experience writing for the Rooted Everyday nature program. The year will end with a writing competition and publication and sharing of stories.
Join us in California!
We have events in the San Francisco Bay Area on environmental and literacy initiatives. On the environmental side, in the past couple years we've hosted Amos Kipeen and Prince Harris Taga from Friends of Maasai Mara, Professor Rodolfo Dirzo from Stanford, and Goldman Prize-winner and Climate Trailblazer Hammer Simwinga from Zambia, and more.
The goal of these events is not only to learn, but to make a difference!
Please sign up for our email list if you'd like to be informed of future events. We would welcome your involvement.
"Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it."
~ Wangari Maathai
founder of the Green Belt Movement