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A few weeks ago I came across BTTR Ventures, a company that uses coffee waste to grow mushrooms…whaaa? Turns out it actually works, and it works really well. BTTR is pronounced ‘better’ and stands for ‘Back to the Roots’ – but it could just as easily stand for ‘Poster-Child for Innovation and Sustainability’. Are their products sold near you? You betchya. I was lucky to interview not only the two co-founders Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, but their marketing guru Lisa Wang as well.

LC: So coffee waste can be used to grow mushrooms. In my mind, those two go together like ham and tuna fish. Based on your plethora of awards since 2009, I believe you guys are on to something, but could you explain what inspired you to use coffee waste? Why does it work?

Alejo: The greatest ideas come when you least expect it. Nikhil and I were in a business ethics class when our professor, Alan Ross, had mentioned that gourmet mushrooms could be grown on recycled coffee grounds. Neither of us knew the other, but we both separately contacted our professor to get more information. He hooked us up and from there, we started talking about how we could make this work. After doing some research, we found out less then 1% of the coffee beans actually ends up in your morning cup of joe, the rest is tossed. We thought about how addicted America is to coffee, and how we could help divert this waste into something usable. It just so happens that the coffee grounds when condensed is a perfect medium for oyster mushrooms to grow on, acting similar to something like wood.
LC: Does the type of coffee bean alter the taste of the mushroom?

Lisa: We get this question a lot. So many people ask us, “do the mushrooms taste like coffee at all?” The coffee grounds don’t alter the taste of the oyster mushrooms in the least bit, so the specific coffee bean certainly does not as well!

LC: Talk about innovative. I feel like Alejo and Nikhil are mad mushroom-eating scientists that aren’t actually mad, but genius. Did you have any science-experiment flops/experiences that you look back on now and get a good chuckle?

Alejo: Haha, yeah it’s funny that you ask. The best story was the first time we ever tried growing these mushrooms. After we met and had talked and researched a bit on what we needed to make this happen, we went to our local Peet’s Coffee and asked for some coffee grounds. We set up 10 buckets with the mushroom spores. At the time, I was living in my fraternity house, so we just left these huge buckets of coffee grounds out in the kitchen over Spring break. When we came back, out of the 10 buckets we set up, only one had a little cluster of oyster mushrooms. It was really because of that one bucket that we decided, “Hey, this might actually work.”

LC: You guys went from supplying the Berkeley Whole Foods with mushrooms to being the one, the only oyster mushroom supplier to all NorCal Whole Foods stores. When I go home to NYC in May, can I expect to find some BTTR in the Union Square Whole Foods?

Nikhil: You can find them in every single Whole Foods nationwide by May!! And as of April, you can find us in 9 out of the 11 Whole Foods regions… including the Northeast!

LC: Congratulations! Awesome. Word on the street is that you guys are so heavily involved in the community that you donated soil to 10 urban school and community gardens, won UCLA’s Opportunity Green Conference Top 25 Sustainable Company in 2009, and have a FB album dedicated to sharing your outreach experiences. How has your community involvement influenced the way BTTR runs the B?

Nikhil: Well, when we started Back to the Roots, one of the most important aspects of the company was its “sustainability.” This word definitely is used a lot these days and can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. When we think of this word and Back to the Roots’ relationship with it, the community aspect is inseparable. On a micro scale, we create a closed loop system by using recycled coffee grounds to grow mushrooms. The used coffee grounds rich with mycelium turns into great soil amendment and compost, returning nutrients back into the soil. On a macro scale, our community drinks the coffee, creating large amounts of coffee ground waste. We create these mushroom kits for our community, to divert the waste that would otherwise be in the local landfills. Currently we are diverting over 32,000 lbs of coffee grounds a week. We then close this larger circle by donating part of our used coffee ground-turned soil amendment to urban farms serving the community, the same community which drinks the coffee. So incorporating the community into our business isn’t just a good way to give back, but it is essential to our survival. Community involvement is really at the heart of our company, and so at every step of the way, we are always trying new ways to engage and incorporate the community into the way we do business.

LC: Based on your innovative business model, this creative prompt shouldn’t be too difficult for you. I kindly request that you create a haiku relating to your booming mushrooming business.


Four seasons a year
Mushrooms inside your kitchen
Mushrooms everywhere


Thanks Alejandro, Nikhil,and Lisa! Okay readers. Time to hit up your Whole Foods to make some Mushroom Maki!


Chance Claxton is on the screen and ready to roll with today’s interview. She is founder of Kids Konserve, the most stylish way for you and your family to be environmental, no joke. She is one cool cat that can definitely offer you some goodies to fill your Easter baskets with this year.

LC: Wow! I don’t know where to begin. We both know I’m a huge fan- your products are BPA, Lead, PVC, and Phthalate free. Was it hard to set this standard for all of your products? What do you think is holding back companies like Ziploc, Glad, & Hefty from measuring their products on the same yardstick? (Remember this Hefty commercial?)

CC: It was not hard to set this standard, as we never had another standard, we set out to build a company whose products contain no;  BPA, lead, PVC or phthalates. Ziploc etc do not do it because they have enough sales and customers that are still unaware of the pitfalls of these toxic chemicals, to keep them in business.

LC: One thing that I like about your website is that it has the same informational resources & community engagement opportunities as many non-profits have. Most for-profit company websites are product first & social responsibility second. Your product IS socially responsible and your Community tab really exemplifies that. How does this alter the way business decisions are made? Has the company ever come to a cross-roads when it had to fight or flight on its environmental standard?

CC: Thank you! No we have been very successful with keeping an educational presence on the site, as our customer base really cares. This is what makes our work so rewarding! Also, it is part of our mission at Kids Konserve to help ‘be the voice of change’ by putting people in touch not only with safe, reusable products, but by helping them to be armed with the correct information as to why REUSE and purchasing these products is SO important!

LC:  As far as your ‘Waste Free Challenge‘ for schools goes, who are the rockstars? Have any schools really revamped & reduced their waste as a result?

CC: Yes many, in fact I would say most schools are trying to do something to ‘go green’. You may look here under Kids Konserve Partner Schools on our site for highlights of schools that are making big changes.

LC: Are there any plans to create similar programs for colleges and universities, or team up with any organizations like Net Impact?

CC: I am not familiar with Net Impact, but will look in to them! Our next big venture is to launch a line of reusable, waste-free lunch packing and storage products for adults. It will be called U-Konserve, and will launch this summer.

LC: 2011 is the Year of the Forest. Can we expect to see any forest-themed products? What’s in-store for this year?

CC: Did not know this either! Thought it was the year of the rabbit, ha…. See above, we have a lot of great things in store for this summer, including new colors for many of our items!

The day finally arrived, I am officially selling my shirts made from pillowcases at a store in SoMa called The Common. Monday night I invited a few friends to the store & celebrated the shirts debut. Did I take pictures? You betchya. I took my growing inventory of pillowcase photos as a sign to get my online act together and create a separate page for Found & Lolafied so tonight, I did just that. If you go to the ‘events’ tab you can see photos from the night.

I’m very excited about today’s interview, as it offers insight into the wonderful and complex world of sustainable design in the corporate sector. I was fortunate enough to connect with Adam Menter, Sustainability Design Consultant for Autodesk and get his insight into this essential aspect of business. Get ready to learn some things worth talking and tweeting about.

LC: Sustainability projects work to incorporate economic, social, and ecological factors into design. From your experience working in the corporate sector, do one of these elements always dominate and influence the objective of the project, are they considered evenly, or does it depend on the scope of that particular project?

AM: Economic factors usually trump others. If it doesn’t make financial sense to make a sustainability-related investment, you either need a darn good reason to do it or a lot of spending money. Then, depending on the situation – and its potential risk and/or upside to the company – social and environmental factors may be equally likely to dominate.
LC: I was at the Autodesk gallery about a month ago. There is just so much innovation in one place, like a physical snapshot of Moore’s Law. What is it like working in an atmosphere with such cutting edge technology and what type of projects are you able to execute as a result of the accessibility to these technological resources?

AM: It’s great to work at a place that has the opportunity to really improve how we build and make things. If you look at almost everything around you – from the building you’re sitting in, to the chair you’re sitting in – it could have been designed with Autodesk software. Our software products enable new and important innovations. Most of the things you saw at the Autodesk gallery weren’t made by Autodesk. They were made by the engineers, architects, and designers who are our customers. But as our software gets better-and-better, it helps those customers work in new and better ways. 

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is when a digital model of a building is enriched with information to help make better decisions about how it’s

designed and built. For example, information about the thermal properties of a building can be combined with weather data to help predict and improve its energy efficiency. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a contractual way of aligning incentives between building owners, architects, engineers, and contractors that reduces waste and improves the quality of the building. IPD would be possible without BIM – but BIM tools make the IPD process more effective by helping different design disciplines work together more closely to improve the efficiency of a building.

So, in short, I’m most excited when our customers use our tools to continue to raise the bar on what constitutes good design practice. Sustainable design is good design in that it leads to the most effective use of energy, materials, and other resources.


LC: When it comes to solar panel designs, would you suggest it is more beneficial to analyze and improve existing designs, or to start from scratch to create a cheaper, lighter, more mobile unit? Does this rule of thumb translate to other sustainable designs as well?

I am not an expert in solar panel design, but it’s always beneficial to think of new approaches and novel ways of solving problems. You don’t always need to start from scratch – but it’s important to think about the whole system and be deliberate about looking for inspiration from other fields. Both of these things can lead to unexpected breakthroughs. Biomimicry has been a hot topic in sustainability in recent years. Biomimicry is essentially a disciplined search for design inspiration from the fields of biology and ecology. 

I’m currently working on an education initiative to teach engineers the principles and practice of sustainable design. Because Whole Systems thinking is so fundamental to sustainable design, we included it as one of the first topic areas on our new educational platform: The Autodesk Sustainability Workshop.


LC: You are co-organizer of the GreenerMind Summit, which connects sustainability professionals. It allows them to share ideas, and more importantly act upon them. The motto as I am told is ‘Just Fucking Do It’ (I love it). What made this summit so successful and what is in the works for another event?  

Three key things that made the Greenermind Summit successful were: 
1) The location
. We got away from civilization and spent two uninterrupted days in the woods – connecting with each other, having meaningful conversations, cooking together, and having fun. No cell phones and no internet.

2) The attendees. The folks who came were working on interesting projects and had meaningful things to contribute. They had both a love for ideas and an appreciation that ideas can only get you so far without action. Also, the Greenermind Summit was an outgrowth of Net Impact San Francisco – so the majority of people there had a very concrete grounding in business.

3) The vibe. We got people out of their comfort zones early – and set a tone that allowed attendees bring their whole selves to the conference. From the opening “ice-breaker” activity to the final morning’s time for introspection, we pushed the attendees to be at their best and bring-out the best in others. In the end, serious discussions of work projects and creative ideas to solve our environmental & societal problems went hand-in-hand with volleyball games, smores around the campfire, and late-night dance parties.

In January we’re planning for a 6-month reunion. One of the things we’ll do is talk about the projects and actions that were catalyzed at the Summit. In June, we’ll host the second annual Greenermind Summit back up in the Mendocino Woodlands.

Thanks Adam! Now we know what industry leaders like Autodesk are doing on the sustainability frontier, and are able to gain some insight into how technology-based innovation ties into sustainable design.

There’s been a lot going on these days. Below are some updates on the current projects I’m working on. It is all very exciting and couldn’t happen without the support of all y’all. Thank you.

Official Consumer Guide is Released : The Rainforest Action Network’s forests team takes their campaign public by pointing out the leaders and laggards in the publishing industry. Which publishers are actively contributing to rainforest destruction? Click here to download the pocket guide OR the full report. Great for holiday shopping if you only plan on killing one tree this year.

PlantMyPhone Blog Launch : Less than a week about PlantMyPhone launched the blog ‘More Than Just Talk’. It highlights the movers and shakers in the environmental industry, bring people together through community involment, and enlighten the world about eco-living. Today’s post is an interview I did with Robin Averbeck (campaign manager for RAN’s forest team), to give insight into the exciting and ever-changing life of a campaigner.

TechCentralSF Launch : I had nothing to do with the site prior to it going live,  but I’ll be at the launch party tonight and will be a contributor from there on out. TechCentralSF is an amazing new site categorizes, supports, and unites start-ups that fall under the high tech, biotech, and green tech sectors. Can you guess which sector I’m covering? Thaaat’s right. Green tech.

So while I am bzzy-beeing, I am also working to release some riveting interviews for the upcoming weeks. So many amazing people and companies out there! I love learning about them, and can’t wait to share their stories with you.

Going back to my old stomping grounds, today’s Featured Friday is all about NYC, and a man that is transforming the landscape. Derek Denckla is all about bringing the green to urban living. Whether it be through architecture or agriculture, he’s moving things forward in a big way. Check. It. Out.

LC: Derek, you are involved in so many projects. Did you have an ah-ha! moment when you realized that it was your mission to change the way in which we live, to make ‘sustainable’ and ‘conservation’ household terms?

DD: I did not really have an “aha moment.”  I became energized by the possibilities for small businesses — particularly non-profits involved in the arts; to walk-the-walk of environmental talk.  This idea led me to undertake projects that push the envelope on “triple bottom line” projects at a scale that can be easily understood and modestly achieved.

We can debate all day about the comparative carbon footprints of ethanol versus bio-diesel but, ultimately, both of these industrial processes are remote from our everyday understanding.  I think that some of the disturbing climate change denial backlash arises from a frustration over the diversity of the causes of environmental problems and the variety of the potential solutions thereto.

The complexity of interrelated forces acting on our planet can be overwhelming for people to grasp.  So, rather than try to absorb the complexity, many people feel compelled to simply reject it.  It’s like when several people are talking to you at the same time, you might get frustrated and say “Shut up!”  I respect the source of that frustration, as I sometimes share it, so I always approach green projects with a sense of awe, humility and discovery, trying to learn about every detail so that I can evaluate it and summarize its value to others.  I find that the traditional bottom line helps concentrate this effort — if I can tell you why a certain green project is worth money and time, then I have successfully communicated the core value of my work.

LC: As a former Williamsburg resident, I am especially intrigued by your company Propeller Group. What exactly is Greenbelt and how does it affect NYC residents? Why is this important for the world?

DD: Propeller Group is my consulting practice that focused on helping emerging and small non-profit arts groups undertake major business decisions, largely related to real estate leases, purchases and renovations.  From my experience consulting with arts groups, I began to see a pattern where artists where priced out of neighborhoods, like Williamsburg, after many years contributing to making the place desirable to outsiders.  The presence of an art community tends to drive up the property values for both artists and long-term residents, leading to displacement of both groups and a homogenization of the neighborhood by the incoming “gentry”.  In short, that process is a particularly NY variation on “gentrification” which has happened before in places like SoHo and Tribeca and DUMBO.  The most striking — and sad — aspect of the oft-repeated scenario is that the “gentry” have usually sought out the hot new area precisely because of the presence of the arts community even though, ironically, their condos and higher rents cause displacement.

Seeing a potential silver lining to this advancing cloud in 2004, I approached some like-minded partners, like architect Greg Merryweather and some other social investors, to see if we could craft a project that made living space for neighborly newcomers while retaining sizeable, affordable space for the arts.  Our means were modest, so we could not also carve out affordable housing from the same whole, although we wished we could.  The project was only 14,000 SF (the size of some McMansions!) with 4,000 SF for the arts and 10,000 for eight new residents.  From the outset, Greenbelt sought to demonstrate that these two groups — condo buyers and artists — could co-exist in a project that honored their mutual desire to be in the same place — while making a decent profit as well.

As we were working out the details of how to merge an arts space with a residential condo, we were also thinking about Williamsburg’s history as an industrial waste dumping ground.  In the 1990s, I had taken part in protests led by Neighbors Against Garbage where the Kent Street waterfront and the area surrounding it were referred to as the “Toxic Mile.”  Given that recent history, I thought it was incumbent on any new development to address environmental impacts in an area so scarred by man-made ecological damage.

Green urban residential buildings are still a relatively new phenomenon.  Greenbelt was the first LEED Gold building certified in Brooklyn. It is one of only five residential projects certified to date in a borough with literally tens of thousands of new construction permits filed each year.  Prior to Greenbelt,  most green buildings were expensive and massive corporate towers or single family private residences.  At the same time, so many artists with whom I worked yearned for a way for their work to address sustainability but so many of them worked in a way that was environmentally problematic.  By bringing green building to a relatively affordable and neighborhood scale for an artspace and neighborhood homeowners, we conveyed the message that environmental change was possible at every level.

Our building and other pioneer projects, like LEED Platinum Silhouette, have helped catalyze a transparency of information for consumers where developers — LEED seekers or not — now feel somewhat compelled to identify “green” features of their projects.  This expectation of environmental relevance for residential construction comes about through market leaders — like Greenbelt — which take exponentially bigger risks for the sake of belief in an ideal.

LC: So not only are you creating sustainable buildings, but you are transforming existing spaces into agricultural havens. Where can examples of the Capital B project be found? Can city dwellers follow this example? Any advice for the folks faced with lack-of-space?

DD: Capital B was a project born in the boom and hatched in the bust.  Initially, we conceived of Capital B as launching a planning process that would gather community forces together to help prevent Bushwick from becoming the next Williamsburg — developed hastily and curtailing its character as a haven for the arts and affordable housing.

Our community discussions revolved around issues of vacant lots, half-finished developments, empty new buildings and problems of that nature.  From that mix of messy real estate issues, I looked to the 1970s for inspiration when neighborhood groups faced similar problems of “urban blight.”  Surveys taken by Capital B yielded universal concern about litter and need for safe, accessible open space.  In my experience, community gardens have provided the quickest and most effective way to make an eyesore into a thing of beauty.

However, Community Gardens require group consensus and a lot of volunteer time.  I began to wonder if there was some way to devise of another Triple Bottom Line project for green urban spaces by growing and selling food.  TheGreenest.Net was launched in October 2009 in an effort to investigate the status of urban agriculture and the possibility for alternative investment in its future growth.

Capital B laid out a process that any community can follow.
Basically, Capital B was a neutral-convener of Town Hall meetings.  Even when politicians hold such Town Hall meetings, they are seeking support for existing ideas or future candidacy.  Capital B removed the Town Hall from this political context.  So, if you want to replicate Capital B, simply create an unincorporated neighborhood association and then gather interested parties in a room with a cross section of incomes and backgrounds to talk about the future of the neighborhood.

The result will be an amazing sharing of ideas and information while networking in a safe and comfortable environment outside of established business, personal and professional circles.  Sometimes the Chamber of Commerce can play this role in small towns.  However, it tips too far in favor of business interests.  NYC’s major problem is that it is a City of neighborhoods run as if it is a cohesive megalopolis.  The boundaries and constituencies of NYC’s neighborhood are fluid and shifting, so a project like Capital B may be necessary every few years as a local way to define the physical and social limitations in which we all agree to be neighbors.

LC: In reference to Farm City being a utopian solution. You said ‘Brooklyn is home to a fertile cross section of both traditional and experimental urban farming methods.’ How does Farm City help to create this urban utopia?

DD: Initially, Farm City began as an idea for a micro-loan investment fund to support the growth of urban agriculture. Most of the projects I investigated were highly experimental and exciting but not yet investment-ready.  Motivated by a desire to see urban agriculture mature, I wanted to “invest” in urban agriculture in a different way — by promoting its growth and its profile with the public rather than looking for a place to park high risk capital.  For me, the social and educational aspect of urban agriculture equal the importance of any food or income that might be grown within the City limits.

Farm City was launched with the support of the most unlikely of partners, French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).  For the past few years, FIAF has held a Fall festival of the arts called, Crossing the Line, curated by Lili Chopra and Simon Dove.  Crossing the Line seeks to engage in projects, performances and events that surmount traditional cultural and disciplinary boundaries in the hope that fertile new ideas and imaginings will come of a unique mixture.

From that inspiration, I began planning Farm City events that explored the intersection between art and urban agriculture, spanning celebrations to conversations in four different events: Farm City Fair, Farm City Film, Farm City Tours, and finally Farm City Forum.  Other collaborators approached me and I expanded Farm City to include an art exhibition, Brooklyn Utopias: Farm City, and various other Farm City events.

FIAF is based in Manhattan.  They asked me where Farm City events should be held.  Without hesitation, I answered “Brooklyn.”  Brooklyn has the highest number of urban farming experiments — from long term successes, like Added Value, to new and untested projects, like Eagle Street Rooftop Farm.  Agriculture is more than just production or farming, it involves the entire food shed: processing, distribution, marketing, sales, retail, consumption and recycling of waste.  The activity at the farms was supported by restaurants in Brooklyn presenting their produce to the public.  As Wendell Berry says “Eating is an Agricultural Act.”

I conceived of Farm City as a central gathering place to connect all of this amazing urban agrarian energy.  All events were intended to create new networks and understandings amongst the farmers, makers and artists while encouraging participants to expand their role in the food system.

Specifically, Farm City events sought to collapse the false distinction between active producer and passive consumer.  We wanted to engage participants in a continuum of agricultural practices — from intensive to easy — that would dazzle their senses and capture their imaginations so that they would feel empowered to grow, to cook, to preserve and to compost themselves.  All of the feedback that I got from attendees was positive, particularly remarking that they had never seen this combination of diverse projects under one program before.  Farm City was able to surprise and excite people and — in that moment of openness — help participants see the world as it could be — a bit more green, loving and thoughtful.

LC: You have a lot going on! It is all so wonderful, it almost makes me want to move back and get my green thumb in on the action! So, Derek what is next? What can we expect for 2012?

DD: Next. Next. Next.  I am still recovering and recording and fundraising.  Anyone interested in supporting what we have done and what we will do, should make a Farm City donation!

At Farm City Forum, Amanda McDonald Crowley, Director of Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, ended our day of reflection on the future of urban agriculture with the charge pioneers should devote 20% of their time documenting the process of discovery so that others can learn from our successes and failures.

As someone with a fresh and current overview of urban agriculture in NYC, I am really honored that I have recently been invited to speak several times this month, including a talk for architects seeking continuing professional education!  As I talk about the status of urban agriculture, I am also looking to the future of Farm City and how it can best help urban agriculture grow. In that vein, I have been sitting down with artisan food producers to discuss creating an incubator kitchen and market that would allow them to take their businesses to scale.

Farm City has also helped initiate a lot of important and crucial discussions about the future directions for the growth of urban agriculture, which makes me pretty darn happy with our efforts so far. I have been discussing a year-round covered farmer’s market for Brooklyn (like those already underway in Manhattan). An artist with whom I work, has engaged me as a producer for a possible farm installation at a large museum.
When any one of these many possible projects is ready to hatch, I will definitely let you (and the rest of the world) know.  Right now, I am still investigating and exploring possibilities.

Thanks Derek! If you want to keep in the loop on Derek’s upcoming projects you can follow Farm City on Twitter or check out the Farm City Blog.

There has been so much controversy when it comes to reusable shopping bags! This post is to set the record straight. I’m going to help you decide which ones to buy and how to care for them. This will ensure not just the health of mother earth, but for you and your family as well.

DO: Wash your bags regularly. Apparently 97% of the people using reusable bags forget to give them a little wish-wash, laying the groundwork for bacteria like E. coli.

DO: Keep the bags in your car for convenience, but throw them in the back seat as opposed to the trunk. We both know how hot your trunk gets, don’t unintentionally add bacteria to your shopping list.

DO: Use reusable shopping bags for multi-purposes.

DON’T: Throw your gym clothes into the same bag that carries your cucumbers. Get a few bags and task them out like they are your minions.

DON’T: Buy non-woven polypropylene bags. They are made with petroleum, the same stuff that makes plastic bags. This means more harm than good. Whoopsie.

DO: Buy rip-stop nylon, canvas, organic cotton, or hemp bags. Long-lasting, and great for the environment.

Below are examples of excellent bags to use, talk about stylin’.

Super cute sandwich bag.


Crazy stylish tote.


Awesome organic cotton bag.


Last week at the Rainforest Action Network’s rip-roaring 25th Anniversary party REVEL I had the opportunity to meet Oliver Utne. He was in town only a few days after spending several months in NYC learning how to install solar panels. Oliver works for the Pachamama Alliance; the recent New York Times article put it best in describing the NGO, ‘Pachamama Alliance, which for the last 15 years has helped the Achuar and other Amazonian indigenous groups from its Quito office with land titling, skills training, economic development and policy advocacy.’

Oliver has lived in Ecuador for the past two years working with the Achuar tribe at their Kapawi Lodge & Reserve, and now plans to install solar panels to supply the lodge with 100% solar energy. The United Nations said the lodge was amongst the top five outstanding environmental conservation and community development projects in the world. No. Big. Deal.

On paper, Oliver’s life looks like he would make for a great interview. I decided to do a profile on him not because of what he has done, but because of his mentality and attitude about what he is doing.

What do I mean, you ask? I asked Oliver what his goal in life was, and he couldn’t answer. We talked a bit more, and it became clear to me that he is motivated by emotion. He just does what makes him complete, what makes him happy.

Oliver is a special person to me because he is more than just happy. He is fulfilled. I wanted to find out what experiences Oliver has gone through to make him think, ‘This is it. This is what life is all about.’ Those formative moments grant humans the opportunity to be perpetual students of the world, and inspire us to grow. A life-shaping moment for me was when I took a crazy-haphazard trip through western Panama only to find myself on the other end, giddily swimming in the blue blue ocean doing 360 spins admiring the beauty of Isla Grande. I believe that life is about letting go, and welcoming those challenging but inspiring, wonderful moments to happen.

I learned why Oliver is fulfilled, because it is clear that he has those moments on a daily basis. When it comes to life-moments, most people have a few good ones, but Oliver has a lot of great ones. I think it is because Oliver is the best kind of explorer, the kind that isn’t searching for an answer but rather a way, a process, to open lines of communication and allow voices to be heard.

This exploration has led him to work alongside the Achuar tribe as they increase their global voice and preserve their culture. Oliver said that working with the tribe allows him to play a role in the history of this small corner of the earth. I find it profound in that Oliver and the Pachamama Alliance help an isolated tribe become a member of the global community, a place in the world. This is significant because it helps change the American dream to be something of substance and sustainability. They call it ‘awakening the dreamer‘. In a world where we all have different ideals and success measurements, this is a perfect example of the way things should be done. Uniting cultures through a mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation for differences in culture under the realization that we are all responsible for the state of the earth.

So, Oliver is headed back down to Ecuador to install solar panels. This will help the Achuar tribe, as tourism has proved to be their most viable source of economic stability. As oil companies foam at the mouth in a demented excitement over Ecuador’s natural resources, the Achuar are working to preserve their land, culture, and society.

All-in-all, I’m sure Oliver is in fact human and not infallible, but I do think he’s got a bit of super hero in him. It was wonderful meeting him and gaining a greater appreciation for the Pachamama Alliance and their efforts to defend the Amazon! I know you want to help them, so I made it easy for you, just click here and do your thang.

In the ocean for so long, these retired vessels are now facing skyward. They are  repurposed in quite a beautiful way. Located in a fishing community in Lindisfarne, England these awesome sheds creatively function as some seriously cool storage space.

You heard me. Next week is WRW, more commonly known as World Rainforest Week. It was created by the Rainforest Action Network to increase awareness about all the destruction and deforestation that occurs. Now, you may think that there is not much you can do to make an impact, but have no fear! There are many things you can do!

Also, I know you, and I know that you WANT to make an impact, but don’t have a lot of TIME to do so. So, ya welcome. Below are some easy-breezy ways for you to celebrate and be a rainforest super hero….instead of super villian.

1. Follow TikiTheTiger on Twitter! He is my favorite animal and he needs friends to help save his Indonesian rainforest home. There are only 500 Sumatran tigers left and he needs to grow his Twitter posse!Get to it.

2. Pledge to recycle your current cell phone! PlantMyPhone has a great pledge system set up. You give them your name and email, and when you get a new phone they will send you a postage paid mailer bag. Just drop your phone in, and they recycle it. Oh and yes! They plant trees for every recycled phone. Get your friends to do it too, and you built yourself a mini forest heyooo!

3. Finally, we cannot forget about our underwater rainforest! As you know from my past post on coral, the reefs are in serious danger. Below are a few quick tips to help preserve them.

Stop buying coral jewelry– There is no way to harvest coral without damaging the ecosystem. Even Tiffany & Co says “it’s too precious to wear.”

Don’t eat endangered fish! – Take my word for it, and check out these handy guides. I have something in the works to help you do this, so get excited to make an impact.

Well everyone! Now you are in-the-know and ready to go for next weeks Rainforest theme! I hope you guys get inspired by my lovely photographs of Tiki, phones, and coral and just can’t resist doing all three! But seriously, do least one.

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