About

Our mission: Aurora Lights supports locally-based projects that strengthen the connections within and between human communities and their natural environment by promoting environmental and social action. Ultimately, we hope to restore a sense of the sacred balance between the Earth and the human community that will promote sustainable and thoughtful land stewardship.

Our name is inspired by Aurora, the mythical Goddess of the Dawn. Aurora hung the stars through the night to keep light shining until she rode across the sky in her chariot to pick up her brother, the sun. In our times, Aurora Lights represents locally-inspired creative solutions to community problems.

How and why did Aurora Lights form?

Aurora Lights originally formed in Ecuador in 1998 under the name “Fundación Nucanchi Yuracuna,” which means “our trees” in the native Quichua language of the Andes. Jen Osha, Santiago Diaz, and Rodrigo Donoso worked together to purchase 12 acres of land, start a small organic farm and tree nursery, and organize environmental education projects. They also hosted summer interns in environmental education and as research assistants. We spent 12 weeks in the Sacha Huayco forest at 13,000 feet elevation studying the native Polylepis trees as an alternative to planting pine trees in reforestation projects. The projects were temporarily halted when the neighboring volcano,Tungurahua, erupted and buried the farm in ash. Currently, Rodrigo Donoso still runs the tree nursery through Alta Montaña, a mountain guiding company.

Who is involved in Aurora Lights?

To learn more about our members, see our Staff page. Be sure to check out our past staff and interns as well to learn about the amazing projects our crew has created.

Where did the name “Aurora Lights” come from?

Our name was inspired by Aurora, the mythical Goddess of the Dawn. Aurora hung the stars through the night to keep light shining until she rode across the sky in her chariot to pick up her brother, the sun. In our times, the stars hung by Aurora represent locally-inspired creative solutions to community problems. Let’s keep the stars shining while we work toward the new day!

Why are issues surrounding mountaintop removal at the core of many of Aurora Lights’ programs?

Mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) results in complete habitat loss and destruction of entire headwater systems. Local communities are also affected by blasting, loss of water quality, loss of entire streams, loss of community land, health impacts from coal dust and toxic slurry, and increased flooding. Therefore, many more specific issues of environmental and social injustice in this area can be traced back to the impacts of coal extraction through the process of MTR.

How can I help with Aurora Lights’ work?

There are many ways to become involved with Aurora Lights. If you are a student, we offer internship opportunities through our Scholar-Activist Alliance. We also welcome volunteers to help with work days at Morgantown Learning Academy and Mountain SOL events. If you are interested in learning about volunteer and internship opportunities, contact Hannah Spencer at Hannah@auroralights.org.

What are Aurora Lights’ future plans?

We are working toward purchasing land for the Mountain Stewardship and Outdoor Leadership School while continuing our existing programs.

How can I stay up to date with what Aurora Lights is doing?

Check back to the website and blog often. Also, “like” Aurora Lights and the Mountain Stewardship and Outdoor Leadership School on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Aurora Lights is a 501(c)3 non-profit.