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Environment

Eureka Spring Cleanin': A Clean-Up and Sustainability Event

10+ workshops with take-home supplies to help you get started and move forward towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Cover photo by @grantfalter on Instagram

The Eureka Spring Cleanin' event (May 10th-12th, 2019) sponsored by Keep Arkansas Beautiful and part of the Great American Cleanup (the nation's largest community improvement effort) will take place at The Farm, a campground nestled in the hills of the Ozark Mountains in Eureka Springs which sits on 160 acres that backs up to Mark Twain National Forest. The weekend will include live music, workshops, demonstrations, take-home supplies, and fun-filled activities for children and adults geared towards the education and application of zero-waste and sustainability.


Get Involved!

Last year, volunteers collected over 6,000 pounds of waste from a three-mile stretch of highway leading to the venue! Again this year, volunteers will receive free admission, a Keep Arkansas Beautiful T-shirt, and breakfast/dinner on Saturday and Sunday! Volunteers will be asked to help with the highway litter pickup on Saturday OR Sunday, which allows them to attend workshops on the opposite day.

Attend Sustainability Workshops

  • Cradle To Grave: The origin and decomposition of recyclable (and non-recyclable) materials.
  • No More Plastic: Repurposing everyday/used items to replace plastic shopping bags.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose: Turning trash to into useful treasures
  • The Dirty Secret: The truth about our cleaning products and how to move on. *Making effective household detergents and cleaners that lessen our environmental impact.
  • Party on, Pollinators: Learning about the insect crisis and what we can do to help pollinators thrive.
  • Scrapping Kitchen Waste (composting):Getting started on turning your kitchen scraps and compostable waste into the real black gold!
  • Grow for your mother (sponsored by Birdsong Gardens and Landscaping): How native plants help the environment, easy ways to incorporate them into the home landscape, and how lawns are actually bad for the environment.
  • Recycled Fashion (sponsored by Jill of all Trades)
  • Bee Keeping with Courtney Mae
  • Herbalism and Making Tea with Jenny Dietzel
  • Community Sustainability (sponsored by Terra Rosa Farm)...and more!

& Enjoy Live Music

  • Skye Pollard
  • The Damn Neighbors
  • Chucky Waggs and the Co. of Raggs
  • The Whispering Willows
  • Me & Him
  • Grassfed

This event will also provide a platform for local and environmental causes. If you would like to VOLUNTEER, host a workshop, speak, or set up an info booth/table, please pm or email our coordinator: Shilah Molina, shilahwhilah@hotmail.com.

Learn more HERE.

Community

One of a Kind Volunteer Opportunities in NW Arkansas

Check out this list of upcoming nontraditional volunteer opportunities!

Northwest Arkansas as a region is one of a kind. Seriously, in what other region could one's volunteer experiences unfold like so; from attending a refugee camp experience to volunteering to help refugees resettle to the area, from helping preserve a Civil War battlefield to erecting a replica of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, or from freely attending 5-day film festival to a 3-day food festival? See below.

From a Refugee Camp Experience

Students for Refugees

With the help of Student for Refugees at the University of Arkansas, Canopy Northwest Arkansas has organized a 'Refugee Camp Experience'—an interactive event meant to educate the public by offering them an experience of what it is to be a refugee fleeing places like El Salvador, Syria, and Myanmar. As you arrive, organizers will assign you a national identity that you'll bear as you make your 'journey' to a resettlement camp. "We hope when you experience this event, you will leave with a better understanding of what today looks like for millions of people around the world," reads the Facebook site created for this event.

The Refugee Camp Experience will take place on April 27 from 12 pm to 6 pm at 2828 North Crossover Road, Fayetteville. For more information, you can email your questions at uarkstudentsforrefugees@gmai.com. You can support this initiative by donating HERE.

To a Refugee Mentorship Program

Would you like volunteer as a 'good neighbor' mentor? Canopy Northwest Arkansas—a non-profit organization focused on helping refugees resettle in the area—will be launching their Good Neighbors Mentorship Program with help of Tyson Foods and Engage NWA. They are looking for established community members to help refugees successfully resettle in the area. The program will run from the beginning of May through the end of July. "This program will pair 25 newcomers in our community to 25 well established community members to help them increase their sense of connectedness to the community and help them achieve 1-2 focused objectives for themselves or their families," reads the Facebook site created for this event.

If you'd like to apply to this program, you can fill out a SURVEY that will help organizers pair you up with a mentee based on common interests. For more information, you can contact Ms. Jessica Garross at jessica.garross@canopynwa.org. To be considered please apply by April 29th at 5PM.

From the Preservation of a Civil War Battlefield

Friends of Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Are you able to lend a hand for preservation? On May 4th, 2019, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park will be participating in Park Day, the American Battlefield Trust's annual event where history lovers and preservationists volunteer to help their local parks with maintenance projects large and small. This year's event will aim to clear vegetation from the Borden Hillside in order to restore the terrain to a more accurate representation of what the soldiers saw during the Battle of Prairie Grove. You can sign up for these activities by emailing Park Interpreter Matt Mulheran at matt.mulheran@arkansas.gov or calling him at (479) 846-2990.

To Erecting a Replica of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial


"Like the original Memorial, The Wall That Heals is erected in a chevron-shape and visitors [will be] able to do name rubbings of individual service members' names on The Wall." — Downtown Bentonville, Inc.

If you'd like to commemorate veterans' sacrifices, you can do so by volunteering over Memorial Day Weekend at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art and helping install a replica of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. The wall will be erected near the museum at 600 Museum Way. Volunteering training will start on May 22 at 6 pm. You can apply to this opportunity HERE. For more information, you can reach Andrew Heath at andrew@downtownbentonville.org or call him at (717) 824-2281.

From a 5-Day Film Festival

BFF volunteers pictured here with Geena DavisBentonville Film Festival

The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) is calling for volunteers for their 5th annual festival, which will take place from May 7 to 11. Volunteers are needed for the week before and during the festival. Volunteer shifts last between 4 and 6 hours, and they usually are held from Tuesday to Friday during the day with a number of evening events happening over the weekend.

The BFF will be giving volunteers official shirts, hats, and free access to screenings and discussion panels that are not sold out. You can sign up for this opportunity HERE. For more information, you can email volunteer@bentonvillefilfestival.com.

To a 3-Day Food Festival

"BITE NW Arkansas is a three-day food festival as part of #NWAChampionship Week in Northwest Arkansas. The festival celebrates the region's best cuisines, ingredients, restaurants and chefs, giving attendees an unparalleled culinary experience in their own backyard." — Bite NW Arkansas


Bite NW Arkansas returns on June 26 and they're going to need some help! In this three-day event, people get to taste the best food and craft beer in the region while enjoying live music. Bite NW Arkansas is calling for more than 80 volunteers for this year's event, who will receive a Volunteer Package filled with gear for the event. You can register for this opportunity HERE. If you have questions, you can contact Justine Yu at justine.yu@octagon.com or call her at (646) 406-1657.

Join us in furthering this region's volunteering spirit as it continues to shape Northwest Arkansas into such an unique place to live in!

Community

Impact Jobs Alert: Local Organizations Seeking Cause-Driven Candidates

Check out these recent job postings by the Walton Family Foundation, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Teen Action and Support Center, and Canopy Northwest Arkansas.

Whether you are looking for a purpose-driven career or just a part-time gig doing meaningful work, this post is for you. Some of our regions most impactful organizations are currently hiring—are you ready to make a difference!?

I. Walton Family Foundation

"Astonishment of Perception" by Yatika Starr Fields

The Walton Family Foundation is looking for skilled, highly motivated and entrepreneurial individuals to help them continue to create access to opportunity for people and communities in Northwest Arkansas. They are currently have two open positions listed within the Home Region at the Bentonville office.

Quick Fact: In 2018, the Walton Family Foundation awarded $48.6 million to grantees in Northwest Arkansas with a focus on improving quality of life by supporting vibrant downtowns, engaging youth and increasing access to the arts and the outdoors

Associate Program Officer, Home Region Program

The Associate Program Officer will work in a small, entrepreneurial team under the supervision of the Senior Program Officer guiding the Preserve a Sense of Place strategy. The purpose of this strategy is to preserve a sense of place in Northwest Arkansas through quality urban planning by investing in mobility, design, and green space preservation. The vision is to continue to position Northwest Arkansas as a desirable region for businesses and residents to grow and/or relocate because of the quality of the built and natural environment. Learn more and apply HERE.

Program Support Associate, Home Region Program

The primary duty of the Program Support Associate is to support smooth execution of the team's operations, budgeting, strategy, and grant making. This includes preparing and processing grant-related documents, assisting grantee acknowledgement letters, compiling reports, and more. This role provides critical support to program officers, grantees, and ultimately the entire team. PSAs should operate with sensitivity to the needs of those they support, build strong relationships, and help make the work easier. Learn more and apply HERE.

II. Northwest Arkansas Food Bank

The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank is looking for someone with a broad background in the marketing and communications field who understands and supports the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank's mission. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor's degree, with a minimum of five years of experience in communications and marketing, particularly focused on external constituents and with a working knowledge of media relations. The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank offers full benefits, including paid health insurance and a generous time off policy.

Quick Fact: In 2018, the NWA Food Bank distributed 8.5 million pounds of food in the four county area.

Marketing and Communications Manager

The Marketing and Communication Manager will be responsible for planning, directing and coordinating all aspects of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank's promotion, messaging, marketing (including event marketing), brand identity and communications across multiple communication channels and audience platforms. They'll also have primarily responsibility encompassing collateral materials, social media interactions, website design and content, media relations and outreach, and advocacy and public policy. Learn more and apply HERE.

III. Teen Action and Support Center

TASC's mission is to empower teens to take action in their own lives and communities and offers an array of resource, service, and therapeutic programming to teens and their families in Benton and Washington Counties. The range of services offered help to eliminate barriers for all teens, including those who are teen parents, facing homelessness, involved in the juvenile justice system, have been incarcerated, are under-resourced, in need of counselling or mentorship support, or those who lack access to programs to help them succeed and become agents of change in their lives and communities.

Quick Fact: In 2018, TASC served nearly 2,500 youth throughout Northwest Arkansas.

Part-Time Assistant Director at The Station

The Assistant Director will be primarily responsible for program support and office administration at The Station. The Station is a collaborative space in downtown Springdale offering youth in the community a safe, welcoming, and transformational environment for teen-led social change throughout Northwest Arkansas and beyond. Through collaborations and community partnerships, there exists a continuum of services for teens all in one place, focused on youth success and connection to the community. The ideal candidate for this part-time position will be a creative changemaker with passion for working with teens. Learn more and apply HERE.

IV. Canopy Northwest Arkansas

Canopy's mission is to provide a robust network of support for refugees resettling in Northwest Arkansas. Their vision is to not only meet their basic needs, but to equip them with the tools to thrive as active members of the NWA community.

Quick Fact: As many as 56 new refugees will be joining us this year, from all over the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and others.

Part-Time Case Manager

The Case Manager provides services that assist refugees in adjusting to life in the United States by helping the refugee or client meet immediate needs upon arrival and by preparing and implementing a resettlement plan in accordance with timelines and requirements of federal, state and other funding sources. Some of the essential duties include serving as an advocate and resource for clients, preparing for arrival of refugees, greeting refugees at airport and transporting them to residences, providing orientation for clients, and developing self-sufficiency plans in cooperation with employment specialist with the goal of assisting clients in reaching self-sufficiency within established time periods. This is a part-time, salaried position, working between 15-20 hours per week. To be considered for this position, you can submit your resume and cover letter to Emily Linn at emily.linn@canopynwa.org by April 26. Read the full job description HERE.

Lastly, Canopy also has FOUR summer internships available: Refugee Services Internship, Refugee Employment Internship, and Child Education Internship, Volunteer Management Internship. Learn more HERE.

Environment

Celebrate Earth Day 2019 in Northwest Arkansas

Earth Day is an annual event held worldwide on April 22 to support environmental protection initiatives and it has become a huge part of our culture in Northwest Arkansas.

Cover photo by @beccab_20 on Instagram

If there is a cause we can all get behind, it is to protect and heal our home planet. You don't need to become a full-blown activist to make an impact. It doesn't take all that much to make a difference: with small, everyday acts that foster ecological awareness, we can preserve not just our region but the world as a whole. All of us want to have something to pass down to future generations—this beautiful place we call home. We want our kids to experience the same amazing Northwest Arkansas that we know and love today a hundred years in the future.

On Earth Day, people all over the world get involved to create awareness about the environmental challenges we face together. There are a ton of events happening in Northwest Arkansas leading up to Earth Day that will help you start thinking of ways we can make our home as a region and a planet a better place!

Buffalo National River Cleanup and Paddle

On Earth Day, April 22, you'll be able to join the Buffalo National River Partners for either a river or trail clean up. The event will start at 10 am, when participants will get to decide whether to go hiking 2.6 miles from Ponca to Steel Creek—for which they'll meet at 10 am at the Ponca low-water bridge—or to paddle 2.5 miles along the Buffalo River, as 20 canoes will be provided to do the cleanup. If you'd like to use a canoe, you can indicate so on the registration for this event by sending an email to Ms. Lauren Ray at lauren_ray@nps.gov. If you'd like to register more than one person, you can also point it out in your email registration.

"Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Bring a sack lunch, water, and any other items you will need for your comfort [...] Be sure to dress appropriately," reads the National Parks Service's homesite.

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust's Litter Cleanup

If you reside in Fayetteville, on April 22, you can also contribute to the environment by participating in the activities organized by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. Their Earth Day event will take place in the Wilson Springs Preserve at 2783 North Shiloh Drive, Fayetteville, from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm. "Join our Land Stewardship Specialist Alan Edmondson out at our Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville for a family-friendly litter pick-up," reads the Facebook site created for this event.

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust welcomes supervised kids to come along and help make our environment cleaner. Sturdy boots are recommended. You can register for this event HERE.

Beaver Watershed Alliance

There are three events that the Beaver Watershed Alliance is organizing to celebrate Earth Day across Northwest Arkansas, which have been scheduled for April 20. This is a practical way to give back to the region, since you can take part in the event that's closest to you. If you live in Elkins or its surrounding area, there will be a cleanup of the East Fork White River at Bunch Park from 9 am to 1 pm . If you live in Fayetteville, there will be an Earth Day Trail Cleanup from 9 am to 12 pm. And if you're in Rogers, there will be a Lake Atlanta Cleanup at Clark Pavilion from 8:30 am to 11 am.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful: Earth Day Fayetteville

On April 20 from 9:00 am from 12:00 pm, you can make Fayetteville into a cleaner place by participating in the City's Earth Day event. It will begin "with a proclamation from the Mayor of Fayetteville," after which groups will be formed to "go to various sections along the Razorback Greenway to clean trails and creek areas," reads the homesite for the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission. You can learn more about this initiative by contacting Event Coordinator Brian Pugh at 479-718-7685 or bpugh@fayetteville-ar.gov.

U of A's 'Trash Art' Exhibit

The University of Arkansas will also be contributing to Earth Day by bringing a creative twist to recycling. On April 11, participants of a 'Trash Art' event will create artwork using recycled materials, the university will then hold an exhibit in the Anne Kittrell Art Gallery on the fourth floor of the Arkansas Student Union from April 15 to April 19. For more information, you can contact the Office of Student Activities at osa@uark.edu or call 479-575-5255.

Each one of us is a part of this planet and we all leave our mark on it during our lifetime. We can choose to leave our footprint on the environment or start creating a change in the way we live for people in the near and distant future to have a home that's as beautiful as the one we've been lucky enough to inherit from our ancestors. The task is up to us, and all that's required is to get involved in events like the ones scheduled for this year's Earth Day in Northwest Arkansas to make this community cleaner and healthier. Environmental sustainability begins with recognizing that every person can do something—no matter how small—to help effect tangible positive change.

Homelessness

The Beginnings of Something New for Northwest Arkansas

The New Beginnings Bridge Housing Community for people in need of shelter is set to break ground on April 12th.

Homelessness is an issue that is often seen as someone else's problem—it's easier to think about the people in these circumstances as paying for a mistake that they've made, and to tell ourselves: "There is no way that could ever be me." But sometimes we don't realize how fragile life really is. Everything can change in an instant and what was once a safe and comfortable life can suddenly turn into a nightmare where you lose everything.

The underlying causes of homelessness are varied and complex, ranging from alcohol and/or drug abuse to untreated mental health issues, to pet-related issues with landlords, to having a criminal record. The flesh-and-blood individuals we call 'homeless' are not of a single age, background, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, and often times we just don't know the story behind how they got to where they are. We see a gap between 'us' and 'them' because our sheltered lives allow us to erase these individual stories, which makes it easy to look the other way and ignore the issue of homelessness altogether.

But can we ignore the fact that we are fortunate enough to have the lives that we do, and that things could have turned out very differently?

In 2017, 592 visible homeless persons were reported in Northwest Arkansas—these are people accounted for during face-to-face interviews. Currently, experts estimate the number to be higher. That's why people in Northwest Arkansas have been organizing to develop affordable housing initiatives for the unsheltered population, especially recently with the ground-breaking initiative of the New Beginnings bridge housing community. This housing project consists of a low-cost bridge housing community that takes care of the homeless population in Northwest Arkansas by tackling the underlying causes of their unsheltered circumstance. Through innovative programs like these, Northwest Arkansas will remain committed to working on solving the issue of homelessness in the years to come.

The New Beginnings Housing Project

Dr. Kevin M. Fitzpatrick has been the Vice President of the Board of Directors of Serve Northwest Arkansas for several years. He's been working in research and advocacy for homelessness for 30 years. Serve Northwest Arkansas is the umbrella nonprofit organization which will run the New Beginnings community program. Dr. Fitzpatrick says that New Beginnings functions as a point of transition from homelessness to permanent housing—"an on-ramp for people who are living in an unsheltered circumstance to come in our community, spend more than 30 days," which is the length of stay that emergency shelters allow, "and work on the complexity of the issues that are currently keeping them either out of housing or out of a job, or both (in a nutshell, in an unsheltered circumstance), and thus work on that over a period of time so that we essentially create an off-ramp for them to move to more permanent housing." The idea is to offer a safe and stable place for a person to become able to "confront all of what's in front of them, to address all of the complexity to get them ready to occupy permanent housing."

The community itself will consist of 20 individual units of about 175 square feet. These facilities are heated and cooled, and each one has a covered porch with inside storage. The official ground breaking ceremony of New Beginnings will take place on April 12 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at East 19th Street, Fayetteville. This day will mark the starting point of the program, and will be an opportunity for Serve Northwest Arkansas to share their vision for the future of this program with the public.

The 'Housing First' Approach

Homelessness is a challenging problem because, despite what many may think, it's not just a matter of getting a job. In reality, there are many working people in the region who can't afford housing and have to live at someone's house or else be forced to live in the woods. New Beginnings offers the space in which people can transition into permanent housing by providing them with the means to stabilize their lives.

To give people the space to work on their underlying issues, the New Beginnings program is following the 'housing first' approach, which provides people in need with a stable shelter first and then focuses on helping them with related issues. "We want to create some privacy, security, and stability for people because, operating on the 'housing first' principle, we know that in order to successfully work on the problems that many people have [they need a secure environment]," says Dr. Fitzpatrick. The goal is to create "a wrap-around service model that provides case management, housing management, healthcare, dental care—everything that is necessary to bring that person up to speed, up to that level that you and I are at that makes them a well trained potential applicant" to a job.

"Whatever the problems are (there are many of them, they are complicated), we need to be able to create this environment of security," Dr. Fitzpatrick says. "Most [unsheltered] people are focused on one thing and one thing only: survival. And if you're that consumed by that, then it's unlikely that you're gonna be able to work on all these other things, right? So the idea is to bring them in, put a roof over their heads, give them stability, and then begin to work on the issues."

Basic Conditions for Entrance

Although the New Beginnings community does not have several of the requirements common in emergency shelters, there are some conditions for entering, which need to be examined case by case. As Dr. Fitzpatrick puts it: "[i[f you have a pet, we're going to accommodate you. If you are not sober, we're going to accommodate you. If you have a mental health condition, we're going to accommodate you. If you have a criminal background, we're going to accommodate you. We're really gonna try hard to accommodate you. Then again, if you were convicted of a violent felony, are we going to be OK in taking you? Are you going to make for a good neighbor? You are currently unemployed, not getting any treatment for your bipolar disorder and you're drinking? That's a bad combination. [But] [i]f you are sober, you are employed—you had a felony conviction, but it was 15 years ago—are you a better bet? The answer is yes."

"We've got to unpack the situation and make decisions to potentially be more forgiving," Dr. Fitzpatrick says, "because the current system is not accommodating everybody."

The Need for Empathy

Dr. Fitzpatrick notes that people are too quick to judge homeless people regardless of their particular circumstance except when it comes to homeless kids. Of course, children shouldn't be blamed for being homeless, but the harsh attitude that people have towards homeless adults is amplified by the simple fact that they are not kids anymore. Part of the problem with homelessness is not so much the lack of information available to the public as the lack of empathy: "There is no reason for people not to understand the circumstance and the underlying issues around this problem," says Dr. Fitzpatrick. "We have been educating the general population since the day we walked in Northwest Arkansas in 2005. Last year I did so many interviews: newspapers, magazines—you name it. It's not like there is a lack of information. I think that what there is is a lack of empathy. We can educate all we want to, but if you educate the people that have no empathy, it's not going to get us very far." Dr. Fitzpatrick thinks that part of the work that has to be done to create empathy is to go beyond educating the public and getting people involved in volunteerism and civic engagement. These are ways of getting people to understand "the human condition and not lose sight of the fact that the person that you are interacting with right now has spent the last 18 months living in the woods. Take on the role of that person and imagine yourself in that circumstance. And then coming out of that: how do you think you might be? How is it going to be for you to interact with people generally?"

Some might see the idea of directly giving the homeless a roof over their heads as a handout which gives people a free pass. But if you lose control of your life and for whatever reason end up homeless, the most immediate and basic help of having a safe and stable space can make a real difference in your ability to get back on your feet. The success of programs like the New Beginnings community will be evaluated over the years to come, but there's one thing that's already clear: ignoring people in unsheltered circumstance is not going to make the problem go away. Denying homeless people dignity by rendering them invisible is a crisis of empathy. The only way to solve it is to stop turning away, shutting our eyes, and pretending that these members of our society do not exist. It's time to honestly ask ourselves the question: "Could it have been me?"

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