Savings more Important than Loans 
Friday, January 1, 2010, 10:31 AM - The Solidarity Economy & Microfinance
Sparking a Savings Revolution

This is the title and gist of a New York Times article at the related link below. It is a tad promotional but outlines well what many have been trying to explain for years. That is, savings is as, if not more important, than loans for supporting women and families in economic security. Loans might give a small business a leg up. Savings give the family a leg up. Savings can help send children to school, buy medicine in an emergency, buy an asset, pay for a sudden burial in a rural area without creating that vicious cycle of debt that we all know too well. Think of your own situation.

I am working with Village Savings and Loans Associates and a team from Oxfam, CRS, CARE and Plan to support these small savings groups to better understand the quality and endurability of these groups. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding. There are tens of thousands of them in existence mainly but not exclusively in Africa. They stem from local rotating schemes run by people themselves. Tiny credit unions. In some areas, they use oral forms of bookkeeping. For families in rural areas it is often the only trusted place to save.


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New Years in Mersey River area 
Thursday, December 31, 2009, 12:06 PM - Outdoor adventure

Who needs loud music and catatonic lights when you can curl up to a wood stove after a long snow-shoe. It was kind of wonderful to be snowed in to Mersey River Chalets with Jock over New Years.


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October in Saskatchewan 
Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 03:28 PM - Poetry and Writing
Such a gift to get the Wallace Stegner Residency and grant. One month of nothing but writing and sky.

Badlands

amber sloping lines
softened further by fog
emboldened by drift

Sagebrush

muted silver, rose
brimming from the edges
balls of vintage lace



Click on the link to find more about the Wallace Stegner House. Inexpensive retreat spot for writers and artists.
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How to Weather a Storm in the Backwoods 
Tuesday, September 1, 2009, 12:54 PM - Outdoor adventure


1. Pick the right camping partner
2. Ziplock remaining dry clothes quickly
3. Have plan B, C and D ready. Don't let pride trump safety.
4. Don't shirk on socks
5. A well-hung tarp
6. Hot toddies
7. Celebrate the beauty of wet forests
8. Dry bag your humour


Matching Grants in Seattle 
Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 05:43 PM - Inspiring
Seattle is an inspiring story of community development and smart funding strategies.

The city began with small neighbourhood matching grants to community groups. $1000-5000. What they did with the money was up to them. No strings.



Amazing what came out of this program. This is the after shot of the previous. Community gardens that neighbours created for themselves.



The only conditions were that the neighbourhood group had their own matching funds either in cash or in-kind. This was a neglected park washroom before.



This was an empty space under an overpass.




It has grown so large and gained such momentum that it has changed the face of planning in Seattle. It now takes place through decentralized neighbourhood councils in collaboration with city councillors. Each neighbourhood makes its own neighbourhood plan.



These photos are courtesy of Jim Diers from a PPT presentation at the Asset-Based Community Development Forum, Coady Institute. Check out his book "Neighbour Power."



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