By Morris Beegle
Welcome to my new Let’s Talk Hemp weekly industry profile – Shine on You – where I get to feature folks involved in the industry and who are doing important and interesting work from various corners and crevices of the hemp space. This is the second installment and this week I am pleased to have Alicia Fall from Her Many Voices as my guest. I met Alicia I believe years ago at a Melissa Ivey show(there’s a connection there) in Denver but then reconnected with her at the Asian Hemp Summit in Kathmandu Nepal in early 2019. She recently exhibited and presented at the 3rd annual Southern Hemp Expo that took place in Raleigh in the beginning of September.
Let’s get to know Alicia a bit better and why she loves hemp!
Alicia Fall (Eastern Band Tsalagi/Cuban Taino) has been an educator, performing artist and public speaker for over 35 years, addressing environmental and humanitarian issues. Speaking on Hemp and Humanity, Fall has been on the international hemp speaking circuit since 2018.
When and why did you get into the hemp/cannabis industry?
About 6 or 7 years ago I was looking into food and shelter alternatives for the communities we were working with in Haiti. After some time I contacted Tommy Nahulu, an artist friend of mine who was working in the hemp industry. He started introducing me to folks in the hemp world. It was here that I was introduced to Eric Mckee of Wnder Workshop. Eric was just starting a hemp workshop build in his backyard. The first in Denver, Colorado. I had the privilege of helping out on the build. The moment I got my hands dirty this plant started talking to me. It’s been like that ever since.
You are involved in non-profit work, can you tell us about the organization/organizations that you work with and what you do with them?
When I first started Her Many Voices (2009), we were artists responding to humanitarian need. Since then we’ve grown to include activists and global community members. Our mission is to ignite the artist in us all, to move our passions to purpose, for the betterment of women, children and Mother Earth. We do this by providing education and resources to underserved communities. Our work is international but mostly we work with Indigenous and BPOC women in the states and in Haiti. With the recent earthquake in Haiti, HMV now has its focus on rebuilding essential structures that were destroyed by the quake. I order to accomplish our goals we have partnered with Americhanvre LLC (PA), a full service installer of hempcrete insulation; Escher Designs Inc (VT) is assisting with architectural design; Hempoint (Czech Republic), offering consulting from farm to factory; Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve (Haiti), providing agriculture and sustainability trainings; Green Revolution (Netherlands), project investments and Earth Guardians (CO), providing youth trainings in environmental, climate, and social justice development. The US Hemp Building Association has also offered their assistance.
What are your favorite products and/or attributes of the hemp/cannabis plant?
With such a versatile plant, this is a tough question to answer but I guess I would say, as far as favorites are concerned, all things hemp construction and energy related. These areas have great environmental impact. When hemp is turned into a building material, it becomes carbon-negative. Crucial in addressing climate change.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’re working on and would like to let folks know about?
1 – Her Many Voices has been slowly reintroducing hemp to Haiti over the past 4 years. Between meetings and trainings with government officials, business people, farmers and community members, we’re finally seeing some movement on the acceptance of hemp. With recent events, now is the perfect time to really have hemp take off.
On Aug 14th, 2021 a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southwest of Haiti. This quake, like the one in 2010, decimated homes, medical clinics, schools and businesses, and took the lives of many. HMV and its partners will be rebuilding an orphanage that was destroyed in Camp Perrin, Haiti. This rebuild will also provide training for community members on how to build with hempcrete and the many uses of hemp. Providing this service will allow Haitians to build, rebuild and repair needed structures for everyday life. The Hempcrete project is designed to build safer homes, schools, orphanages, medical clinics and businesses, while providing economic revitalization. This project also addresses air and soil pollution.
2 – Aside from the rebuild, HMV has partnered with Earth Guardians, to create a Haiti Youth Earth Guardian Collective. The focus of this group is to provide trainings and support on environmental issues, and to provide hemp education. The young people have asked for machinery to create hemp, bamboo and/banana leaf plates with a press. They also wish to build hempcrete blocks and panels.
The plate project aim is to reduce, progressively, the use of Styrofoam plates in Haiti. Styrofoam use has been declared illegal since July 10, 2013. With Earth Guardians support, we can constitute a network of engaged young people who will collaborate with Her Many Voices, Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve, local hemp/bamboo/banana producers and any other potential partners. The Hemp/Bamboo/Banana Leaf biodegradable plates will give an eco-friendly alternative to styrofoam, as well as better economic opportunities to the targeted population. The same for the Hempcrete project.
3 – We are also raising capital to build a hemp longhouse community in the Denver area. Our idea is to promote the development of green businesses and jobs for Indigenous women by buying land on which we will create a hemp education center. This is a pilot project and one that gets to be replicated anywhere, for all people.
Having worked with Indigenous women in Denver for over 12 years, we’re well aware of the financial struggles they face. In fact, according to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, the percentage of Colorado’s Native American women living in poverty nearly doubled between 2015 and 2018, from 11.4 to 21.1 percent.
We are alarmed by the worsening air pollution due to wildfires. The Denver area has experienced more air pollution in 2020 than it has experienced in the last decade.
Our way of life is destroying the planet. Yet decision-makers and much of the general public resist making changes in lifestyle/consumption necessary to save the planet. For the vetted, Indigenous women we will work with, hemp offers doable opportunities to undo environmental damage and prevent future environmental destruction. Specifically, growing hemp and using it in place of less eco-friendly materials helps to: reduce carbon in the air, remove toxins from soil, regenerate soil, and prevent soil erosion.
What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation from your work?
Powerful question. I am doing my best to leave a legacy of understanding the connectedness of all beings. Knowing that whatever I do FOR another, I do FOR myself. Knowing whatever I do TO another, I do TO myself. Everything we do affects all there is, in big and small ways, so be mindful of thoughts, words and actions.
What is your favorite hobby and who are your top 3 favorite bands/musical artists of all time?
My favorite hobby is exchanging life stories with people I meet in my travels. I feel if we all did this it would make for a more inclusive and peaceful world. Musical favorites? Having spent most of my adult career in the music industry, the three top favorite band/musical artists question is a challenge for me. Music’s always been a love. Everything from Baroque to Folk has captured my heart at some point. Listened to a lot of Janis Ian, Cat Stevens, Peggy Lee and Billy Holiday when I was younger, and fell asleep to Joni Mitchell’s Blue album often. These days it’s Eva Cassidy, Melody Gardot, Zaz and Trevor Hall.
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About Morris Beegle
Cannabis/hemp advocate and entrepreneur Morris Beegle is Co-founder and President of the WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) family of brands. He is also the producer of NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo as well as publisher of Let’s Talk Hemp. For additional information on what Morris is up to, visit his website at www.morrisbeegle.com and if you would like to get in touch, drop a message to firstname.lastname@example.org