Partners for Change on

10% Giving Guest Post: Ecotrust

— By: The Team at Nau

[Today, on the final day of our week-long pledge to donate 10% of sales on nau.com to our Partners For Change, we are pleased to share a  guest posts from Seth Walker from Ecotrust, a unique Portland-based organization inspiring fresh thinking to create economic opportunity, social equity and environmental well-being. -Ed.]

We at Ecotrust were honored as one of Nau’s original change partners because, like Nau, we too believe in the need to build long-lasting communities that are more in tune with nature and the needs of local citizens. Our efforts over 20 years include founding the world’s first bank to lend money on social, economic and environmental priorities; we’ve also created a range of programs to help farmers, fishers, timber harvesters and others create more sustainable economies for themselves.

What inspires us toward this work? Many things, but perhaps nothing more than the lessons we learn from America’s original inhabitants. Tribes and First Nations are more than an ethnic or minority demographic – they hold long-range vision, sustainable societal values and a history of the land and marine ecosystems that goes back to “time immemorial.” Ecotrust works to marshal what resources it can to support tribal leaders because their leadership — and deeply expressed responsibility to community and homeland vitality — is necessary for a long-term sense of place in the growing global economy.

Ecotrust uses financial support from Nau’s Partners for Change program, in part, to support what is perhaps Ecotrust’s most important indigenous program – the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. This award has quietly become one of the most important resources for supporting tribal leaders in the West. Since its inception in 2001, the annual award has recognized more than 40 tribal leaders for their work as catalysts for better conditions in their communities.

The award itself makes a modest investment in the community and/or personal initiatives of these amazing leaders ($25,000 to the awardee, $5,000 each to four additional honorees). But the award is much more than money. Ecotrust invests in the involvement with a wide range of indigenous people from California, Nevada, western Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia and Yukon Territories, because of a strongly held belief that the resulting cooperation and knowledge is beneficial for the entire bioregion. Recipients of the Ecotrust Award for Indigenous Leadership have accomplished great things, including founding an embassy in Washington, D.C. dedicated to the needs of Native Americans.

Without support from organizations such as Nau, efforts such as the Ecotrust Award for Indigenous Leadership simply wouldn’t be possible. Nau’s support is a positive catalyst for change, and it passes thru Ecotrust and to some of the most deserving and inspiring people in our bioregion. The next award ceremony will be held at Ecotrust in Portland on December 2, 2010. Please consider purchasing a ticket on our website and joining us as this important, annual cultural event.