Newsletter  22 December 2020
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The past year has been one of unprecedented challenges, stress and grief for millions of people all over the world. Every one of us has suffered, in one way or another, the loss of lives, livelihoods and wellbeing that the coronavirus has wrought. Many of us have also realised that the virus and its societal fall-out are deeply connected to how we, as a species, have wrenched ourselves away from our place in nature. And so, in the dark, our minds have turned to the natural world as a source of immediate solace in troubled times and as a source of hope for a changed world, post-Covid. We have come to understand that ‘back to normal’ is not an option, but that this pandemic represents our generation’s greatest opportunity to reset our relationships with the natural world, to renew these deepest of connections.
The events of 2020 have encouraged the GDF team to pause and reflect on how we contribute to the healing that our planet urgently needs. We have renewed our determination for our mission to sustain livelihoods, restore nature and ensure justice. Through our field programme in Morocco, new grants have allowed us to launch work that focuses on conserving traditional agrobiodiversity, supporting the ancient practice of transhumance and establishing sustainable and equitable markets for High Atlas products. In the Global Environments Network, we are poised to enter a year in which deep connections with nature, communication in times of polarity and the building of resilient nature-based health systems take centre stage. We hope you enjoy reading our stories of hope, inspiration and learning.
As the darkest day of the year approaches, so does the return of the light. In that spirit, we salute this year with a warm wish for renewal for our supporters, friends, partners and allies.
Best wishes, 
Emily Caruso, GDF Director
Photo by Saadani, O.
'Training our community researchers in more complex field data collection is not only a way to respond to the current travel restrictions related to Covid-19, but also an opportunity to strengthen their skills as key members of our team,' says Project and Field Coordinator Abdellah. Read about our training programme for community researchers with our partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association, supported by MAVA Foundation.
In September, we were delighted to announce the premiere of Ait Atta: the Nomads of the High Atlas, a community that we've been working with through our research in the agdal of Igourdane. This documentary film by Inanc Tekguc and Eda Elif Tibet follows the Benyoussef family’s transhumant journey from the desert-like landscape of Nkob to the green pastures of Igourdane, through the steep climbs and rocky descents of the High Atlas mountains. The Ait Atta tribe preserves their ancestral right of access to the agdal, a communal land management system that dates back hundreds of years in Morocco. Read a short story about the Benyoussef family’s journey here.
Photo by Tekguc, I./GDF
During this precarious time, we realise more than ever how challenging it is to maintain our support for the Dar Taliba boarding house for girls in Ourika in the High Atlas. Dar Taliba currently lacks the funds to support their beautiful school garden and environmental programme for the 112 students in residence where they grow delicious organic vegetables for school meals and learn about traditional plant knowledge!
Until 31st December, GlobalGiving will match 100% of new monthly donations (we will receive the bonus after four monthly donations) and so we invite you to become our partner in supporting the Dar Taliba girls by giving small amounts over time. Thank you for your support!
Photo by da Silve Cosme, P.
With partners from Spain, Portugal, Greece and Lebanon, we carried out the #MedFoodHeroes awareness campaign to celebrate sustainable food, traditional recipes and local products from the Mediterranean region. The response to campaign activities was overwhelming and a huge encouragement to us as we look forward to the coming year, when food and gastronomy is at the heart of our High Atlas Landscape Programme. Download the MedFoodHeroes Cookbook for delicious organic recipes and remember, eating well doesn’t have to cost the earth!
Understanding the paramount importance of personal and collective resilience, as well as community care, the Global Environments Network (GEN) stepped up support and mentoring for its members, beginning with Covid Community Support Calls, and created an unplanned series of In Conversation events. GEN also awarded seed funds to nine of its members this year to work on projects that strive to improve social, economic and environmental wellbeing in their respective regions. Read more in the recent GEN Community newsletter.
During the In Conversation event ‘What does food mean to me, you, us?’, Constanza Monterrubio Solís, Mama D Ujuaje, Gary Martin and Merelyn Valdivia Díaz shared their journeys and the transformative experiences which shaped and informed the approaches they now take with food issues they engage with.
Calling for applications for 2021 events!
Through a GEN collaboration, Daniel Abreu, Manuela Fernandez and Abigail Quic are offering live virtual and recorded sessions of eco-psychology and indigenous wisdom in the context of a global crisis and changes under Covid-19 and environmental, societal and economic risk. Don’t miss this unique chance to learn from the indigenous peoples of Guatemala (Mayan Kakchiquel), the Sacred Valley of Peru (Quechuas) and Chile (Mapuches). Sessions will take place online, in Spanish, on 13th & 27th March and 10th April 2021. Read about it here (deadline to apply: 31st January 2021).
Daniel, Manuela and Abigail introduce their project 'Indigenous wisdom and ecopsychology for empowering emerging Latin American change makers: moving from Covid disruption to better social and ecological wellbeing' in this short video. 
In June 2021, GEN will host a residential retreat, exploring how embodied grief practices can support environmental advocacy and transformative justice in the UK context. The retreat will prioritise people with recent ancestral histories of migration or colonisation and will be an opportunity to put into practice the grief toolkit research. Full details, including how to apply, here (deadline: 6th January 2021)
Sign up for GEN newsletters for announcements on other 2021 events, including our cornerstone event, Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA). GESA 2021 will explore some of today’s most critical socio-environmental issues through a three-part event in different UK locations.
For more on our work in the Mediterranean and around the world, visit the Global Diversity Foundation and Global Environments Network websites and sign up for our newsletters. To support our work, you can donate to our online fundraising campaigns or directly to Global Diversity Foundation by PayPal, credit card or cheque.
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