How to use the Earth Defenders Toolkit: a quick primer 🧰

It’s been a month since we launched the first version of the Earth Defenders Toolkit, and following our global launch event and Africa Forum for Earth Defenders, we are brimming with ideas and inspiration for expanding the Toolkit in the future. ✨

In the Earth Defenders Forum and elsewhere, we have also gotten the opportunity to hear what you think of the current content on the Earth Defenders Toolkit so far, and how we can improve the current website organization and presentation of content.

One request that we’ve heard several times is that it would be good to share more about how to use the Earth Defenders Toolkit. We’ve received inquiries both from local community members who want to share the Earth Defenders Toolkit resources with their own community, as well as from allies who are working with a community and would like to know more about how to bring and introduce the Earth Defenders Toolkit.

Although the Earth Defenders Toolkit is a modular, evolving platform of resources, and any of the content can be used either individually or collectively and adapted according to need, I would like to offer several concrete pathways for using the Toolkit.

Before we begin, this video provides an overview of what is inside of the Earth Defenders Toolkit, along with several testimonies from communities featured in the case studies or using the tools. It might be helpful to review.

❓ Wondering where to begin? Use our guides for getting started and our Toolfinder.

One of the hardest things to do when taking action is just figuring out where to begin, or even how to start the conversation. Many communities have a good idea of what the threats are, but could use some additional guidance on figuring out how to facilitate a dialogue about what actions to take and where to focus energy, or how to design a project.

With this in mind, we compiled two practical guides on How to get started and Mapping for earth defenders that are designed to be used in a workshop setting, with guiding questions for starting the conversation, hands-on exercises developed by Indigenous communities, and concrete steps to follow. These can be printed (see following section) so you can use them directly, and these templates have a larger font size so they are easier to read.

Along with getting started, it can also be very overwhelming to figure out what kinds of tools you need. Our interactive Toolfinder is designed to help narrow down specific tools based on goals, needs and access, and provides pros and cons for specific tools that are specific to earth defender communities.

🖨️ Printing ready-made PDFs and compiling an Earth Defenders Toolkit dossier

All of the illustrated Guides and Manuals, Featured Tool pages, and Case Studies, as well as the About the Earth Defenders Toolkit page, are already laid out in a template ready to be printed, professionally laid out by a graphics designer.

To access these PDFs, find the Download PDF link at the top and bottom of each of these pages. At the time of writing, these are available in English, but Spanish PDFs will be added very soon, and we are glad to add more languages as needed, and as translations become available.

It’s also possible to take the Toolfinder results with you, by downloading a PDF or printing the page once you’ve made a selection of tools. Simply fill out the form, scroll down to the My Earth Defenders Toolkit section, and press the Print icon next to the title.

If you are planning to use the Earth Defenders Toolkit in a remote location, you can print out all of the content that you want to use, and compile a dossier of resources to use and bring with you. 📁

✍️ Translate the Earth Defenders Toolkit to a language that you need

If you need the content of the Earth Defenders Toolkit available in a different language — whether a commonly spoken one, or a minority or Indigenous language — it’s possible to provide your own translations on our CrowdIn page. To get started, all you need to do is sign up for an account, and you can start translating right away. You can choose to begin anywhere, but a good place to start is the “Main website content” which is the core text found across the website.

Once a sufficient quantity of text for a new language has been added, we can add the language as an option for the website. If you want to translate the Earth Defenders Toolkit to a language not currently made available on CrowdIn, please contact us and we’ll add it.

✨ Contribute to the Earth Defenders Toolkit

Although the first round of content for the Earth Defenders Toolkit has been created by Digital Democracy in close consultation with our co-creation partners, the Toolkit is intended to be an open project to which anyone is invited to contribute.

Communities and allied organizations are welcome to join us in helping write guides, identify tools, pull together case studies, or otherwise build the Earth Defenders Toolkit and ensure that we are creating directly useful material for earth defender communities across the globe. If you find yourself in need of materials on the Earth Defenders Toolkit that don’t exist yet and would like to help create them, please contact us and let us know how you would like to contribute materials.

Lastly, we also welcome contributions to the Earth Defenders Toolkit Seedbank 🌱 blog post series. These are meant to be informal, short reflections on earth defender work. If you are interested in writing a blog, please get in touch and we’ll share with you some guidelines.

👋 Any other questions? Write in the Forum

If you need additional help in figuring out how to apply the Earth Defenders Toolkit for a specific use case, or have a special need that we haven’t addressed, please do share about that in the Forum. There is a budding community emerging here that will be eager to help you, and responses to your inquiry might help others as well.