Team news: Welcoming Ben Tairea as Community Steward, and a heartfelt thank you to Rudo Kemper

There’s a lot happening with the Earth Defenders Toolkit (EDT), and we will soon be announcing new guides and case studies. Stay tuned! 2023 is also bringing some changes to the Earth Defenders Toolkit family, and we would like to use this blog post both to welcome Ben Tairea as the EDT Community steward and to acknowledge and thank Rudo Kemper for his excellent and dedicated work leading the Toolkit for the last two years. 

⬇️Read more about this news below ⬇️

Ben Tairea: The new Earth Defenders Toolkit Community steward

We are thrilled to welcome Ben Tairea as the EDT Community Steward. Ben is Maori from the Cook Islands and has been a long-time inspiration to us. In 2018 he co-founded the Āhau tool, a tribal management and cultural archiving platform (which is a listed tool in the Earth Defenders Toolkit) and has since been supporting Indigenous communities to develop their capability and access to digital tools. Ben is also a member of the Digital Identity New Zealand Executive Council, Advisory Board for Veracity Labs Aotearoa and Tairea Anau Village Council. 

Since the beginning, the intention has been for the Earth Defenders Toolkit to be a collaborative space for earth defenders and their allies, and Ben joined the EDT team to help expand the community engagement with the Earth Defenders Toolkit and broaden our network of community members, developers, allies, and others both in virtual and physical spaces. 

Our vision is for the toolkit and the EDT community to continue growing and offering tools that support frontline communities in their struggle to defend their territories around the world, as well as strengthening community networks for users to connect and share their experiences.

Since the launch of EDT in June 2021, many communities and organizations have contacted us, both to collaborate on the toolkit and to get support and guidance on its tools and resources, highlighting the relevance of this platform. For this reason, we are excited to bring on Ben, who will be in touch with you all, coordinating the co-creation of the toolkit and answering inquiries and messages about the toolkit and the tools featured on it.

“It’s an honor to join the Digital Democracy team and to be supporting the Earth Defenders Toolkit. I think this is an amazing project, and I’m really looking forward to growing this community and providing more opportunities for us to connect, share and learn from each other.”

Ben Tairea, EDT Community steward

A heartfelt thank you to Rudo Kemper

We want to express our gratitude and love to Rudo Kemper, who for the past two years was the Earth Defenders Toolkit Lead. Since joining our team in October 2020, he has been the motor behind the toolkit, keeping all the gears moving in harmony and success, and creating and strengthening bonds with many of you and others that are part of the EDT family. Many of you might have met him at events where he represented the toolkit. You might have also met him in meetings or via emails, as he played a key role in supporting the co-creation of the toolkit as well as the many communities that reached out to us since the launch in June 2021. 

Moreover, he is the founder and a core steward of the open-source application Terrastories, used by Indigenous communities across the world to map their place-based oral histories. Terrastories is a featured tool in the toolkit, which Digital Democracy is now stewarding along with volunteer support.

Although he will no longer be the lead and most visible face of Earth Defenders Toolkit, we are thrilled to continue collaborating with Rudo through Terrastories, and are excited that he is deepening his work on Indigenous land rights issues in his new role as Chief Program Officer of Cadasta. Congratulations Rudo! We wish you all the best on the next stage of your path, and to our future collaborations.