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YGL at Sol Feliz Farm

YGLers learning about harvesting, saving and cleaning native seeds, with educator and farmer Miguel Santistevan. To learn about Miguel Santistevan’s work to protect native seeds, watch “Seed Sovereignty Declaration”.

Philanthropiece’s Youth Global Leadership crew is currently on their Insight Trip, a journey that is taking them through the Southwest US and providing them with incredible immersion experiences to explore social and environmental issues. Along the way they are meeting with incredible changemakers and reflecting on their role in creating positive social change in themselves and their communities. This is their latest installment from the road!

Hello everyone! We are writing to you from Elephant Butte, NM, and so much has happened since our last blog post. We spent four amazing days at Casa Taos learning from Miguel Santistevan about acequias and permaculture farming, touring the Earthship homes, and much more. Afterwards, we made our way to stay with our friend Coleen Biakeddy in Black Mesa, AZ (we know Colleen from Philanthropiece’s partner organization Eagle Energy). While staying with her, we mastered the art of sheepherding (just kidding, we almost lost all of her sheep) and we learned about the Peabody Coal Company’s consumption of the Navajo people’s resources, such as water and coal, as well as the subsequent Navajo-Hopi land conflict. Next, we drove to Monument Valley, UT and toured the Monument Valley Tribal Park, with our tour guide Leroy Teeasyatoh. Although it was striking, we experienced a thought-provoking contrast between a sacred native land, and a place overrun by tourism.

Earth Ship

In front of an amazing Earthship home in Taos, NM.

From Monument Valley, we traveled to Ft. Defiance, AZ, where we met teens from the non-profit organization Rez Refuge. We played an exciting game of ultimate frisbee, worked in their garden, and got to know each of their Youth Fellows on a personal level. We connected with them quickly, and learned about the different obstacles they face growing up on the Navajo Reservation.


Jumping for Joy

Jumping for joy in front of our van, which was stuck in the sand.

We departed Ft. Defiance, AZ and drove to Elephant Butte, NM. After a long 4-hour drive, our 15-passenger van and our trailer got stuck in a foot of sand on the way into the State Park. Luckily, we were able to call AAA and a very kind tow truck operator named Freddie was 20 minutes away, and pulled us to safety. However, there were lightning storms closing in on us from both sides, so Jake and Alicia made the ultimate decision to stay the next two nights in the nearby Comfort Inn. Obviously, the YGLers were devastated to be forced into sleeping in queen beds and having hot showers, but they accommodated.

Next on their learning journey, the YGLers will travel to El Paso, TX to stay at the Annunciation House, a shelter for migrants and refugees, where they will learn about border issues, immigration, and global trade. Stay tuned for more blog posts from the road!