Changemaker Nomination: Helen Samuels of Eko Habitat

Next in our series of 2012 Changemaker Nominations suggested by a chocolate lover! 

Congratulations to Helen Samuels of Eko

Here’s what Teri and Brian have to say about this fearless organization:

“Helen Samuels is an amazing person. She has helped build bridges between indigenous communities, taught children in Mexico how to survive in the dumps they were living in (including sustainable practices for growing food and how to make solar ovens), helped out in Haiti when the earthquake struck and much more. Please take a look at her bio on her site and also check out the videos there as well. Please consider her. She is a fiesty angel here on the Earth and she could use some help right now. Thank you!” — Teri

“Helen is 66 and has dedicated her life to creating and inspiring change in others. She is among a rare group of innovative and courageous social entrepreneurs who are changing the way the world views solutions to our environmental and social challenges. With dogged determination, compassionate action and hands-on grassroots organizing, Helen, an ASHOKA Fellow, has spent more than 30 years and visited over 25 countries inspiring and supporting youth with projects mainly in Mexico and the United States. Devoted particularly to fostering self-generated solutions to the poverty and social devastation in and around urban settlements and rural areas. Her passion particularly extends to the “4th SECTOR” — the massive and fastest growing social sector of urban youth worldwide who are struggling with the day to day survival facing the challenges of POST-Development. Traditionally national development strategies all too often do not consider the youth as stakeholders and active promoters of their own well-being. In order to advance, the youth must invent their own future and Helen is there to hand them the tools. Her dedicated efforts have lead to the creation of more than 150 youth-run projects which have hence spawned an additional 500 community based projects themselves as they have replicated their sustainable practices through other local and global networks. In the last 20 years Helen has also committed to facilitating events that promote the protection and restoration of traditional native cultures and the promotion of sustainability practices with the.

Helen facilitates projects generated by youth leaders who strive to offer their community an answer to poverty, violence, environmental collapse, despair and crime. She is creating an extensive support network of adult and youth mentors to inspire and train the youth in alternative technologies and sustainable practices while inculcating a philosophy of living with respect and in balance with Earth’s life supporting systems. Helen and her network of caring adults have worked alongside the youth to enable their productive efforts as they craft a sustainable future.

Helen has altered the way the media, decision-makers, and others perceive urban and native youth cultures, as well as the way the youth perceive themselves.

Examples of Helen’s leadership in the international scene includes the co-creation of ‘Earth Crew’ with Los Angeles based Graffiti artists & ‘Urban Courage,’ a coalition of youth from gangs who became the first to present innovative community improvement projects with the perspective of urban youth at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Global Forum in Manchester as well as participation in the New York PREPCOMs and Habitat II conference in Istanbul. Urban Courage won three 1st place awards for ‘Youth Best Practices’ and was invited by the United Nations Youth Unit to attend the World Youth Forum in Vienna, where they received a grant from Japan to create a community youth center in Mexico City.

In recent years, her community‐building activities have resulted in the creation and replication of ‘Green Dome Projects’ — a consortium of environmental groups from the U.S. and Mexico which was launched in 2004 with the collaboration and support of Hanne Strong and the Manitou Foundation in Colorado. The first Green Dome EXPO and was featured at the EDC Sponsored Youth Employment Summit in Veracruz, Mexico. In 2006, the Green Dome Project was a co-creator of the Alternative World Water Forum in Mexico City along with GYAN‐Mexico, Tierra Viva and Organi-K.

The momentum of these activities is exploding, with numerous invitations from other expositions and youth-led groups worldwide.
The following are links to a few of her projects and affiliations: ” — Brian

Check out the website:

“The purpose of Eko-Habitat is to provide a 21st Century creative ‘space’ where youth can network and explore attainable sustainable solutions for an improved future, share their common goals and practices as well as be exposed to the most effective environmental and social solutions available from around the globe.”

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