This latest podcast installment of Ordinary Anthropologists Doing Extraordinary Things and guest blog post features AAA member, Tara Waters Lumpkin. Tara is the Executive Director of the non-profit Izilwane. She founded Izilwane to explore, with the help of others, how human beings can shift their perceptions so as to learn to co-exist with other species and nature. In addition, she is an environmental and medical anthropologist who has worked as an international development consultant for UNICEF, the United States Agency for International Development, and a variety of nongovernmental organizations. Prior to international aid work, she was an environmental journalist and professor of writing and media, and has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as having won more than half a dozen writing prizes,fellowships, and grants. At this time, she is writing a creative nonfiction book and is at work on an eco-memoir.
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IZILWANE, which means “animals” in Zulu, is a cutting-edge multi-media platform, or e-zine, that takes an anthropological approach to biodiversity loss. As you may know, our planet is losing approximately 30,000 species each year or three species every hour. IZILWANE’s goal is to raise awareness about this biodiversity crisis and create a new ecological paradigm based on enhancing the relationship of human beings with other species and the natural world.
To this end, IZILWANE publishes articles that take our readers on journeys around the globe and into the human psyche to explore why humans are causing biodiversity loss and harming the environment, and, most importantly, what we can do to stop this pattern. The IZILWANE project believes that we will change our destructive human behaviors when we are able to feel closer to other species and nature, that feeling is as important as facts in creating awareness and behavior change. This is why we have chosen storytelling to enact a positive change in our human perception of our relation with nature and other species. Our tag line is: IZILWANE—connecting the human animal to the global ecosystem.
To this end, our entirely volunteer team of editors trains individuals, including youth, from around the globe to be citizen eco-reporters who tell their own stories about our theme through writing, photography, and video. In addition, our all-volunteer core management team trains our younger support team in non-profit management skills in areas such as outreach, development, social media, and more. By working together, the entire team of editors, global citizen eco-reporters, and non-profit managers become biodiversity advocates who co-create eco-centric models of thinking, living and being, and share their knowledge and experiences with each other and the general public.
Our e-zine is at: www.Izilwane.org. We publish articles, photo and video essays, our own blog, and are blogging for National Geographic’s News Watch. In addition, we share content with Ecology.com. We operate virtually and our team members are in the U.S.A, Britain, Belgium, and Rwanda, to name a few locations. Valuing our volunteers time at $35/hr, we have logged over half a million dollars in volunteer time since the birth of our project in 2009.
We work primarily with students at the undergraduate and graduate level. These are the people who become our global citizen eco-reporters, our editors, and our non-profit management support team. Many students work in multiple departments of our team, writing, editing, and doing some management. Have a look at our our team, our contributors and our past volunteers.