About Helen Samuels
A modern elder. Helen Samuels 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:
Odin Ruz Hansberg
is one of Mexico’s foremost innovators in sustainable development and ecological design. Combining expertise in Permaculture, teaching and project management, Odin has successfully lead a diverse array of projects including: teaching conservation techniques to indigenous farmers in the Sierra Madre Mountains, creating a pilot project to develop a composting system for all of Mexico City and directing the regeneration of a 200 acre nature preserve on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Contact
RESUMEN Cultura 2010.pdf
Laura Valdes Kuri
Laura has been recognized as a leader in the Mexican environmental movement.
Since 1985, Laura has propagated environmental practices, sustainable education and community development projects that benefit the environment and society as well. With a background in Social Studies, Environmental Education, Bioregionalism, Permaculture and Ecovillage development she has spearheaded and served as an advisor for hundreds of rural and urban projects throughout Mexico such as the Environmental Promoters Group of Tejalpa, a recycling center run by a women’s collective.
Laura is co-founder of the Green Dome Project and has been founder of the Bio-Regional Movement in Mexico and Latin America, co-founding member of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA) and coordinator of the national education project ECOHABITAT. She is also an Ashoka associate in Mexico. Laura and the networks she participates in have organized events, symposiums, conferences, fairs, workshops and international congresses in Mexico, Latin America and United States. She is focalizer for national and international environmental and bioregional networks.
She has compiled and edited environmental books such as Welcome Home: Life Experiences and Bioregional Thinking (Mexico 2003) and Ecohabitat: Experiences Towards Sustainability (Mexico 2006).
Tata Juan Camajá Pinula
Juan Camajá Pinula was born in the village of Cunen, north of the Quiché department under the Nawal of jun lajuj n’oj, descendant of Maya Quiché Ancestors. Three days after he was born his Grandfather, the Principal authority of the village for over 40 years visited his home and took his hand declaring that he would be the one to take his place and he would be a man with education. Tata Juan’s commitment to his people the Kunentekos has been one of a lifetime and has transcended national borders.
Tata Juan has a dedicated commitment to seeking the well being of his community. He supports their efforts, whether it be in the area of organization by forming committees and associations for native farmers or as a spiritual guide as a Mayan priest participating in spiritual ceremonies at home in Guatemala and in other nations around the world. Always asking for the protection of life, Earth’s natural resources and the continuity of their treasured Mayan culture.
As a sample of his leadership and the acceptance of his indigenous community he has been voted as mayor of his village for three periods. As their spiritual guide being a Mayan Priest he has participated in Maya ceremonies and celebrations both nationally and international, asking for the protection of life, natural resources and for the well being of humanity in general.
Brian David Hardin
is a Music Producer, Engineer, Writer, Videographer and Editor. A creative inspiration.