Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute (“the Institute”) is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations that have come together to foster a “restoration economy” in which diverse livelihoods support and restore healthy natural systems and support prosperous and vibrant communities in the US – Mexico borderlands. The Institute provides a year-around restoration fellowship and internship program, a summer field school with world-class faculty, and an organizational home where organizations, communities and individuals work together on cutting-edge programs and projects.
The Institute was created in June 2016 with the support of the Biophilia Foundation and five partners organizations – Cuenca Los Ojos, Borderlands Restoration, Deep Dirt Institute, Borderlands Habitat Network, and Wildlife Corridors. Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute is a non-profit LLC subsidiary of Borderlands Habitat Network, a 501c3 public charity. Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute is guided by broad-based Institute Council and a board that provide for collaboration and leadership by organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to the Institute’s mission.
Imagine borderlands where livelihoods come from caring for the land and the people on it, where a sense of place brings a sense of purpose. Imagine borderlands in which rivers flow freely across borders and back again, where native plants and wildlife abound. Imagine borderlands where cultures, communities, and families not only survive, but rather thrive. Imagine with us: bookkeepers and beekeepers, scientists and sawyers, children and elders who all have roles in a story that we write together while living it. This story is nested within complex systems of exchange, reciprocity, and caring for place that empowers people to steward many kinds of relationships at once, and in concert — the restoration economy.
The mission of the Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute is to foster ecological and cultural place-based learning and leadership which cultivates a restoration economy in the US-Mexico borderlands. As a world-class ecological restoration training institute, we provide first-rate programs, research facilities, work experience opportunities and project management training in the field of ecological, cultural, and economic restoration.
We are U.S-Mexico border, local community, regional & global allies in action
Place & Project Based
We are a learning laboratory for ecological, cultural & economic restoration
Experiential & Experimental Learning
We foster youth, life-long & intergenerational action-oriented learning
Work Hard, Play Hard
We love our work & celebrate our lives
We create good work, for good pay and thriving communities
We are committed to meaningful contribution & justice in all that we create
Diversity, Resilience & Inclusion
We foster interdependent, accessible & open opportunities for engagement & advancement
Practice Is Our Pathway
We are continually learning how to cultivate kindness, authenticity, humility & bold action
We model and work with nature to create solutions & partnerships addressing complex challenges
We cultivate the discipline of leadership through our shared work & iterative learning
Scientific Research & Development
We engage in and develop interdisciplinary approaches, prototypes & innovations for our growing research & field portfolio
Our Approach to Teaching
We teach and learn in tandem and together as a team. We encourage input at all scales and from all social groups as we forge opportunities for people to build deep understandings of restorative purposes and potentials. Our work takes shape from the ground up, in a “learning by doing” environment that builds leadership capacities while increasing social and ecological impacts at once. Participants can make vital contributions to active restoration projects in various ways simultaneously, such as stacking rocks to harvest water, growing and planting plants that benefit from the increased moisture, and monitoring the groundwater impacts of this work with some of the region’s top scientists.
A Collaborative Process
With the understanding that it is now, more than ever, imperative that collaboration occurs between restoration practitioners, educators, artists, facilitators, business owners, farmers, and dreamers in this field, our partner organizations came together, with the support of the Biophilia Foundation, in June of 2016 to co-create the foundation of an institute that would be a land-based learning laboratory where we could continue to experiment with building a restoration economy, scaling these practices, as well as teach what we were learning to our own community and the global community at large. We embarked upon creating this Institute with a Working Group of 12-18 committed community members and partner organizations meeting bi-weekly for facilitated meaningful conversations, creative games and collaborative prototyping processes that supported us to dream together, be shamelessly idealistic, and put our purpose into action.