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I love helping people create their homes and I love giving back.  Not only does it keep me happy, (YES, contributing a consistent portion of my income makes me HAPPY), I receive constant inspiration from witnessing the problems of our world and seeing the creative changes that nonprofits enact in our local and global community.  Elephant Energy is such an organization who has sought to implement creative solutions to problems they have identified in the world.

Over 1.3 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Elephant Energy works to solve this problem by empowering local entrepreneurs to supply affordable, clean, and practical energy technologies to their communities. With operations in Namibia, Africa and on the Navajo Nation in the United States (under the name Eagle Energy), their technologies help reduce household expenditures and health risks associated with traditional lighting and enable children to study after dark, businesses to stay open later, and people to stay connected to news and their families.  So, what does this look like in practice?

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Meme Felicia smiles, cooking fresh cuts of meat and preparing chips in Oshikango market. She adds another cut of beef to the grill. Customers wait in line and point to the pieces of meat they want, and grab a piece of tripe to chew on while they wait for Felicia to prepare their order. Felicia serves up a plate full of food to a hungry customer, and he pays his bill and begins feasting.

What’s strange about this scene? Its hours after dark. A month ago, Meme Felicia would close her business at sunset because she didn’t have access to light.

Meme Felicia has prepared and sold food in Oshikango market for 4 years. There was no electricity at her business location, so she used candles to keep her business lit. The candles were placed above her so she could illuminate her working area, but wax from the candles would drip on the meat and customers complained. Even with the use of the candles, she would close her business around sunset because the candles could not provide enough light to operate during the night.

Last month, Felicia attended a solar light demonstration in Oshikango hosted by Elephant Energy. At the demonstration, Felicia learned about Elephant Energy’s solar product offerings, including the popular Sun King Pro. As the name suggests, Sun King Pro is powered by the sun. During the day, the Sun King Pro soaks up energy from the sun, and at night, it provides light and also charges cellphones. To those without light at night, it also provides an opportunity to extend activities after dark. And since all of Elephant Energy’s solar products come with a 1-year warranty, including the Sun King Pro, quality is guaranteed. “It didn’t take long for me to decide that this solar light would help my business,” said Felicia. She purchased the Sun King Pro from Elephant Energy a few days later.

She’s now been using the Sun King Pro for a month and in that month, she’s seen dramatic positive changes in her business. Because she no longer uses candles, she saves money on candle costs. The meat she sells is now wax-free and customers compliment her on the quality of the product. Felicia now graciously offers free cellphone-charging services for neighboring business owners. But most importantly, because her business area is now illuminated by the Sun King Pro’s light, she has been able to extend her operating hours so she can sell food to hungry customers hours after the sun has set. “Thanks to my new solar light and extended hours, I have tripled my daily profits,” Felicia exclaims.

I’m inspired.  You are too?  To learn more about Elephant Energy, take a look at their website.  Follow Elephant Energy on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Or DONATE.

Remember, Conscious Real Estate contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice and we would love to give a boatload of money to Elephant Energy.  So, give us a call at 303-908-9873 when you buy or sell your next home, tell your friends, tell your mom.  We are ready to make some change in the world!

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On one of my adventures through my neighborhood, The 80205, I saw the horse barn a couple years ago and thought, “Someone should really develop this.  It would make great condos.”  Thankfully, someone did develop this building and they had a much better idea than condos!

Denver’s Historic Horse Barn in Curtis Park has been renovated into a hub for local and international development.  The Horse Barn was built in 1882 at 33rd and Arapahoe to house the horses and horse cars used for transportation at that time.  In 2008, this was the last building standing of its kind, was in major disrepair, and had been vacant for years.  The Denver Housing Authority purchased this building intending to scrape it and build housing.  Joe Noble of the Curtis Park Neighborhood Association argued that the building has historic value and should not be destroyed – Thank you, Joe!

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The barn was developed into the Posner Center for International Development by tres birds design/build firm, which houses over 40 international development organizations, such as Elephant Energy and PowerMundo, as well as the local nonprofit, Denver Urban Gardens.  The design accommodates both private and shared work spaces, including former horse stalls transformed into private rooms, and sports an open modern kitchen for fundraisers and Urban Garden cooking classes.  The Posner Center also hosts the Curtis Park Neighborhood Association meetings.

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While most economists agree that the Great Recession is over, many nonprofits in Colorado and across the nation have not recovered from their fundraising declines that began in 2008.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association reports that while nearly 58% of our state’s nonprofits state that they will meet or exceed their individual donation goals, more than 34% will fall short.  Nearly 77% of Colorado nonprofits have noticed an increased demand for services this year, but 22% had to cut back on programs and nearly 17% turned away clients.

Food pantries have taken a large hit, as the food stamp program benefits have been decreased.  The Colorado floods also hurt many nonprofits, as donors redirected their giving from their usual beneficiaries to the flood efforts.

The Denver post reports experts’ estimate that it will take about seven years for charitable giving to return to the pre-recession levels.  People are reluctant to part with their money unless they think the economy is stable.  On a positive note, Colorado Gives Day raised $15.4 million for Colorado nonprofits in 2012, while 2013 Colorado Gives Day broke a record by raising over $20 million.

Here at Conscious Group, every day is Colorado Gives Day.  We strive to always give back to our local and global community, by contributing 10% of all commissions from home sales and purchases to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice.  Come make a difference with us when you buy or sell your next home – it feels pretty good and you might just have fun!

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Conscious Group is proud to partner with Environmental Learning for Kids.  ELK is an inclusive non-profit organization that develops inspired and responsible leaders through science education and outdoor experiences for underserved, urban youth ages 5-25.

Underserved, culturally diverse youth in Arapahoe, Adams and Denver Counties do not have the same opportunities to succeed and thrive as other youth. There are far more opportunities in urban neighborhoods to skip school and join gangs than there are to become a contributing part of the community.  Eighty percent of the students that ELK works with in school programs, mostly in Denver, Commerce City and Aurora, qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Through Learning Environmental Activities for Families (LEAF), ELK’s family-based program, ELK encourages parents to experience the outdoors with their children. Parents are invited to attend all ELK activities.  As an additional source of support for students, ELK’s Youth in Natural Resources (YNR) program offers leadership development, mentoring and one-to-one assistance as students prepare for college. To date, ELK has helped secure $70,000 in scholarships for students to attend college.

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Priscilla Alcocer, a 12 year old ELK student said, “I’m only 12, and I know what college I want to go to. I know what I want to do with my life. ELK taught me you’re never too young or old to try something new or think about your future.”

I am inspired by organizations such as this that provide education and better options for our next generation.  You may donate to Environmental Learning for Kids, volunteer, or enroll your child.  Follow ELK on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates about the great work they are doing in our community!

For just $250, one student can participate in ELK activities for a year. A gift of $100 will provide 25 students with the opportunity to experience the outdoors on an ELK field trip.

As always, Conscious Real Estate contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of your choice, and ELK is a great choice!  Let’s make positive changes together in the community when you buy or sell your next home with Conscious Real Estate.  Call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

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Conscious Real Estate is proud to announce a partnership with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. CAEE is a professional organization for environmental educators, which facilitates communication, cooperation, collaboration, and coordination among the varied environmental education programs in the state.

Environmental education is a life-long learning process that increases awareness about the environment and its systems while developing critical-thinking skills that enable responsible decision-making.  Environmental education builds knowledge and skills in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and allows opportunities to apply those skills.

Environmental education also fosters a connection to the community and civic responsibility by developing environmental literacy, which is the capacity to understand the implications of our actions, to critically think about daily choices, and to make informed and responsible decisions.  Reaching this level of understanding and developing these skills on a large scale is only possible through quality education.

We need environmental education if we continue to expect the people of Colorado to make tough choices about environmental issues (i.e., water use, air pollution, development, transportation, etc.)  We are lucky to live in such a beautiful state, and it’s important to bring environmental awareness and education to our current and future generations.

If you need additional motivation to support CAEE, watch this controversial commercial from Toys R Us which all but denounces not just environmental education, but education in general.  Parents have to compete with such enticing ads to keep their children engaged in healthy activities, as obesity rises in our country and the educational system declines.  Even Stephen Colbert had to take a stab at this one!

Become a member, donate, or volunteer with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and follow CAEE on Facebook or Twitter to receive updates on the great work they are doing in our community.

Remember:  Conscious Real Estate always contributes 10% of commissions to the nonprofit of your choice when you buy or sell a home with our realtors, so you can make a generous donation to great organizations in our community like CAEE.

If you can donate any technology items or office supplies, The Wish List for CAEE currently includes:  projector, computer speakers, recent computers and laptops, Adobe InDesign software, Laptop cases/bags, Wireless mouse, laminator, colored paper, copy paper, paper shredder, flip chart paper, easels, Avery labels, Avery name tag holder, Avery name tag inserts, Spray Mount, Post It Notes, Tools (hammer, nails, etc.), Standing lamps, light bulbs, Vacuum, Room Air Conditioner, Fans, Plastic Bins, Tupperware, Set of knives, Folding Tables, Folding Chairs, Cutting Boards, Meeting Space, Small Moving Dollies, and Wheeled Storage for Events.

Please email info@caee.org to donate these items.

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Conscious Real Estate is proud to announce a partnership with award-winning Denver nonprofit, PlatteForum. PlatteForum is an innovative nonprofit arts, youth-development, and urban artist-in-residence program in Denver that teams underserved youth (K-12) from around the Denver metropolitan area with contemporary master artists in intensive, structured, and long-term creative learning environments.

In 2002, Judy Anderson and Mark Smith (East West Partners) co-founded PlatteForum in Denver, Colorado, to address diminishing access to the arts in public schools and provide a place for artists to have the time and support to create new work.  Youth work side by side with resident artists to collaboratively plan, produce, and exhibit a body of work in an environment in which artistic excellence is highly valued.  Through the creative process, PlatteForum gives hope and direction to underserved youth who collaborate with master artists from around the world.  This experience transforms the lives of the youth, the artists and the community.

PlatteForum welcomes the public to their events, it’s a great place to volunteer, and creative workshops are led by professional artists… with cocktails, or you can make a donation.  As always, you can remind your friends and family that when they sell or purchase a home through Conscious Real Estate, 10% of our agent’s commission can go to PlatteForum to help underserved youth and lend to the vibrancy of our community.

 

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A good nonprofit seeks to solve problems with creative solutions.  Denver nonprofit, Yard Harvest does just that.  Yard Harvest connects with local homeowners who have a surplus of produce on their fruit trees and vines.  Volunteers harvest the produce, leave a portion with the homeowners, and deliver the rest to daycare centers, homes for the elderly, community kitchens, and other charities that serve people around Denver who are at risk of going without fresh, healthy food.  They also partner with organizations that conduct educational workshops with the produce, providing much needed skills such as canning, cooking, and otherwise preserving and preparing fresh, healthy food.  In 2012, they delivered 3000 pounds of fruit to a variety of organizations.

If you would like to participate in the efforts of Yard Harvest, you can register your yard for harvest, volunteer, or donate.  Or, if you know of a nonprofit who could distribute the fruit to people in need, you may contact Yard Harvest to receive produce.  As always, if you or someone you know is buying or selling a home, Conscious Real Estate contributes 10% of every commission to nonprofits, and we would love the opportunity to support the efforts of Yard Harvest.