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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Drawdown Solutions in Collier and Lee County

Sep 30, 2018 06:39AM ● By Linda Sechrist

Teachers at the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Vocational College, in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala

In Collier and Lee counties, local organizations such as the Guatemalan Rural Adult and Children’s Education (GRACE) Project, founded by Genelle Grant and House of Gaia, founded by Maria Luisa “Lulu” Carter, were excited to learn that their mission and activities were already in alignment with two of the solutions for the climate goal of reversing global warming described in Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.  

Educating Girls

Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health.

Midwives in Totonicapán Guatemala study the bracelets and menstrual kits (in colorful bags)
Midwives in Totonicapán Guatemala study the bracelets and menstrual kits (in colorful bags)
Family Planning

Securing women’s right to voluntary, high-quality family planning around the world has powerful positive impacts on the health, welfare and life expectancy of women and their children. It also can affect greenhouse gas emissions.

The GRACE Project

GRACE is collaboration among the Organization for Latinos In the Exterior (OILE), Lee County Legal Aid, and the New Image Tabernacle Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers (UUCFM). GRACE director Genelle G. Grant, Ed.D, who is also the president of Happehatchee in Estero, has worked with indigenous and migrant farm worker families in Southwest Florida and is a member of UUCFM.

“Within the Guatemalan Indigenous people who settled in Southwest Florida after the Guatemalan Civil War of the 1980s and 1990s, no one speaks about the taboo subjects of violence to women in the home, and parents don’t talk with their daughters about sexual relations, birth control and menstruation because they are afraid that they will have sex too early. This summer, I talked with several local women who told me that our workshops saved their lives. It gave them strength and courage to leave violent marriages,” advises Grant.

GRACE volunteers make reusable menstrual cycle kits comprising hand-sewn cotton bases that clip onto underwear, and travel to Guatemala to distribute them. Tucked into the kits are flannel pads that can be changed out and washed for reuse.

Volunteers also make and distribute fertility bracelets, a highly regarded form of birth control among rural and Catholic women. “Women learn how to track their fertility on the beaded bracelets, giving them a no- cost, non-chemical birth control for life,” advises Grant, who notes that GRACE also trains women at Lee and Collier county community centers regarding human trafficking prevention, maternal health, family planning, and building self-esteem. GRACE also trains and employs local women that speak Spanish, MayaQ’anjobal and MayaQ’iché, or “Mixteco”.

House of Gaia

A grassroots nonprofit founded by Carter, House of Gaia is a volunteer team effort focused on educational programs and projects based on community building and self-help principles. She says, “There is little distinction between volunteers and participants. Volunteers, who might start out as women seeking a safe space, support and connections, aren’t so much helping someone out as they are taking part in the exciting opportunity to help build global connections through community development. Over our nearly 10 years, we’ve welcomed hundreds of single mothers and their children, as well as families. We’ve lovingly interacted with them as they learned, flourished, evolved and gave back to Gaia.”

Joyful women discover the reusable menstrual pads, San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala
Joyful women discover the reusable menstrual pads, San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala
From the perspectives of “giving is receiving” and “a family is a circle of friends who love you”, everyone at House of Gaia has been deeply enriched by relationships and interactions with local women such as Danica Roy, who works with Mannatech, a multi-level marketing company, runs the Vitamins for Haiti program and donates $8,000 worth of vitamins annually to children. Other enriching relationships examples include Isy Silva, a yoga teacher and herbal entrepreneur who recently launched Isy’s Infusions, and Alexia de Gunzburg. Known as Biro Spring, de Gunzburg is an artist who illustrated her trilogy of short books about her explorations in a newfound life after many years of living with a rare and debilitating disease.

“All of us at Gaia learn so much from each other. We are a beautiful and diverse community benefitting from the goodness and gifts of all who pass through our doors.” People come with their gifts and we help them to shine. House of Gaia gives women, children and families an outlet. By being active participants in activities, they learn to believe in themselves and in the process empower other women and girls,” advises Carter.

House of Gaia is located at 1660 Trade Center Way, Ste. 1, in Naples. For more information, call 239-272-6152.

For information on the GRACE Project, email [email protected] or visit

Top 10 Drawdown solutions

  • Refrigerant management
  • Wind turbines
  • Reduced food waste
  • Plant-rich diet
  • Tropical forests protection
  • Educating girls
  • Family planning, solar farms
  • Rooftop solar
  • Silvopasture—the intentional combination of trees, forage plants and livestock as an integrated, intensively managed system
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