EarthLinks was founded in 1996 by Bette Ann Jaster, OP, and Cathy Mueller, SL, who noted profound fragmentation and deep hunger for connection and belonging in society. This cry came from diverse people in many different circumstances, but was most pronounced among people who were homeless and low-income in the inner city. Because people who are experiencing homelessness are often isolated from others and alienated from the natural world, we have found that they can benefit from direct contact with nature in the company of others. This was the motivation for beginning EarthLinks.
EarthLinks works to form connections among people and with Earth for their mutual benefit. Education of adults and school children were part of the early years of our programming. Outreach to the homeless started in a craft and gardening program taken to the day shelters for homeless adults in Denver. From the beginning, Day Trips into Nature were offered to break the cycle of boredom and chaos in the lives of people experiencing homelessness, and as a means of beginning to form community amongst those on the street.
In 2005 EarthLinks moved to its present location, and concentrated on our “GreenFingers Project,” now known as the EarthLinks Workshop Program. Proceeds from the sales of our Earth-friendly products help to financially support the program. New collaborations have been formed with the “grow local” movement and through the development of new products. In an additional EarthLinks program, 40 individuals have graduated from our Floral Design Course in the last three years. Several participants tend our bee hives and harvest honey for sale or use in our new products.