In this episode of The 2pt5 innovator podcast my guest is María José Iturralde. We are talking about human behavior for change and climate protection actions as a service and so much more.

Maria Jose Iturralde
(c) María José Iturralde

About Maria José Iturralde

Chochi as she is called, is the co-founder of Humans for Abundance, an organisation in Ecuador that connects rainforest restorers with co-restorers across the globe. Humans for Abundance brings humans together via an E-Commerce platform which allows the easy booking of climate protection actions as a service. The purchase triggers defined actions, supports communities and develops a global understanding of the width of climate change responsibilities and requirements.

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Connect with Chochi & find out more

Mentioned in the episode

  • B Corporation
  • BBC documentary about Omar Tello and Humans for Abundance

Humans for Abundance “Tripple Impact”

  • “A family in Stockholm, far away from the rainforest, creates real and long-lasting impact by partnering with a family that lives in the forest, but doesn’t have the funds to take care of it properly. 
  • One family buys the eco-services that the other family offers and then receives a report and photos of those eco-services. The other family receives funds that help educate and feed their children, and uses their time and knowledge to help grow the forest back.
  • This union brings a sense of agency to both families and a palpable increase in biodiversity to the ecosystem that they are restoring together. This is a great example of actions that have a triple impact: social, economic and environmental, and a model that encourages us humans to turn our destructive ways around: quickly and effectively.”

And now what?

Become a co-restorer, develop your community and the community of the restorer now.

Humans for Abundance is offering an online shop for saving the rain forest to trade human actions as a service to preserve the rain forest and thus develop the communities of the restorers and of the co-restorers around the globe. Humans for Abundance is looking for partners and investors that will help them to grow the community of co-restorers and is looking for feedback and support to build their next generation platform.

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Transcript

This manual transcript was created by podcasttranscribe.com

Klaus Reichert: This is The 2pt.5 – Conversations Connecting Innovators. My name is Klaus.  I’m an innovation coach in Baden-Württemberg, in the southwest of Germany In this episode of The 2pt.5 Innovator Podcast, my guest is Chochi Iturralde. We are talking about human behavior for change and climate protection actions as a service and so much more. Chochi, as she is called, is the co-founder of Humans for Abundance, an organization in Ecuador that connects rainforest restorers with co-restorers across the globe. Humans for Abundance brings humans together via an e-commerce platform which allows the easy booking of climate protection actions as a service. The purchase triggers defined actions, supports communities and develops a global understanding of the width of climate-change responsibilities and requirements. Check out The 2pt5 website for all the links, videos and the transcript at the2pt5.net. Enjoy the show.

Chochi: [laughter]

Klaus:  [laughter]  Hello again.

Chochi: Hello again. So my name is Chochi Iturralde. People call me Chochi, it’s my nickname, and that’s the name I use because it’s usually easier for people, especially in this kind of work that I’m doing right now for international… for other countries to pronounce Chochi, for some reason, than just María. María doesn’t feel like my identity. 

Klaus: Hello, Chochi. Welcome to The 2pt5 Podcast. Thank you for being with me tonight and I’m excited about that conversation that we’re having right now because you are in Ecuador.

Chochi:  I am in Ecuador. Thank you so much for inviting me to your podcast. I’m delighted.

Klaus: Chochi, in the background, I can see a bookshelf and you collect books or notebooks. What do you do with them? How did the collection start?

Chochi: If I see a notebook, anywhere in the world, when I travel, especially if it’s a nice notebook with blank pages, I have to buy it. It’s an addiction, I think. My brain just wants to doodle and draw and put… just doodle, and doodle lines and stuff and drawings. I love drawing. So that’s why I have to buy them and I started collecting the notebooks. I also take notes for  whatever project I’m in, right? So I take the notes while I doodle. Sometimes the notes that are around the doodles and they take this organic form that my brain really understands. So instead of writing in regular… like regular lined paper, on regular lined paper, I need this blank space, which, I don’t know, it’s open space for thinking for me or for downloading ideas sometimes or for organizing in a different way. So my brain is very much a right-side-driven brain.[laughter]  I very much look at the bright… sorry, the big picture. Well the bright picture, too. But the big picture… I need to see the big picture all the time, maybe come back to the details, but then look at the big picture again and come back to the details. So doodling helps to do that and it’s a way for… a medium for me to write down these ideas and maybe connect things that are not seemingly or obviously connected. So yeah. That’s actually how the project started: me connecting things that are not obviously connected, I think.

Klaus: Mm-hmm. I was impressed when I first heard about your project in a BBC documentary, and I was really impressed by the broadness of what you were looking at, or dealing with, and I think we have to take our time to discover that. But first of all, I have never been to Ecuador. Sorry, I don’t know much about Ecuador. I have been doing some reading on Ecuador and I was fascinated. I have looked at pictures. It looks very like a very beautiful and interesting country. Give us an idea, please, of where you are, what your surrounding looks like, what, maybe, life is in Ecuador for you.

Chochi: First of all, Ecuador is a really fascinating country for many reasons. People usually know it because of the Galapagos islands. So people think Galapagos islands are like separate from any country, but it actually is part of the Ecuadorian… of the Ecuador country. So we have the Galapagos, which are really, really amazing. But then we have three other… in the continent we have three other areas which are, well, the coast, the Andes Mountains, so we have a range of snow-capped mountains, which is where I live. And then the Amazon rainforest, once you go down the mountains towards Brazil, let’s say. So it’s a really amazing country. It’s very tiny, but you can be in any of these places that I just mentioned in a couple of hours. So after a two-hour drive the scenery changes, you know, from wetlands and the Andes to the Amazon rainforest with those huge rivers and huge trees. So it’s a really, really, really beautiful country, surrounded by nature. We… I think we are in the top 10, at least, of the most mega diverse countries. I don’t know if people know this in Europe, but yeah, we have… we’re a hotspot for biodiversity, all over from Galapagos to the Amazon rainforest, right? So we have a lot of species that are endemic to Ecuador, that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. So it’s a very, very special place. And yeah, sadly it’s becoming… I wouldn’t want to use the word “destroyed”, but, you know, we’re destroying a lot of it. Human activity, as we know, we’re taking a lot of resources for other purposes. Yes, I am located in Quito, in the capital of Ecuador. It’s a big city to become contaminated, but so I chose to live a little bit outside where there’s a lot more nature as you can see in the background. But you can see there is an avocado tree, so I’m very happy because I have space to grow my own garden, my own food. I’m very, very into organic food and having a better relationship with the soil and the water and not… reducing my footprint a lot in this way. So my relationship with Mother Earth has changed immensely. Well, I don’t know if it has changed because I’ve always had this consciousness in this love for the earth and for nature since I was a kid. But you know, as you grow up, you become more conscious of the things that you do that produce, you know, more contamination, like the food that you buy or the clothes that you buy or, I don’t know, customs that you might have, how much you drive your car, etcetera, etcetera. It’s like, as you become older, you reduce… or you’re more conscious in reducing those things. So I’ve become really passionate about reducing and educating about this, so far to my family and my circle of friends, but hopefully we’ll be able to do more and more of that nationally, (how do you say this?) at a national level. 

Klaus: You live in Quito, which is… or outside of Quito, which is very high up in the mountain. Does that change the way you live? You do sports, for example, or you do things that are physically challenging?

Chochi:  No, we’re because I was born here and we get used to the altitude. And I mean biologically used to the altitude. So we produce more red cells I think in our blood to be able to carry more oxygen inside our bodies, which is something that visitors don’t have, right? So that’s why they feel the altitude so much. I think… I’m not sure about the science behind this, but I think there’s a little bit more trouble digesting food or sometimes pregnancy when you go higher, in higher altitudes. Or sometimes if you have, like, respiratory diseases and stuff like that, some doctors recommend that you should go live somewhere where it is lower. But for me, personally,  I’m very used to Quito. I love Quito because it’s a… eternal spring weather. My friends from the U.S. and from other countries tell me that I am a spoiled… a weather-spoiled person, [Klaus laughs] because if two or three degrees go up, I’m really hot and if two or three degrees go down, I’m really, really cold. So my range is, you know, five degrees Celsius. [laughter] It needs to be, you know, from 15 to 20°Celsius, which is the weather like in Quito, so it’s pretty good.

Klaus: Well thank you. That really helped me to sort of better understand where you’re at and get some some personal glimpse at Ecuador. Which I think is fascinating, looking at it from the outside. You said there’s lots of nature, there’s lots of biodiversity in your country. And I think we should talk about your project now. You call it Humans for Abundance. And I think this abundance might come from what you just said about the richness of nature that you have around you and maybe the changes for that.

Chochi: I’ve been surrounded by abundance my whole life, right, especially in resources and nature and beauty and sounds and, you know, concerts of the forest. Because I love going to the Amazon and… my father used to work there, so I went there since I was a little kid. So I’ve seen how abundant nature is in terms of diversity and all these riches that you’re talking about. But I also recently was reading a book, I think it’s… the author, I forget… Lynne Twist or  something like that, which talked… she talked about the soul of money and how humans are… look at money and resources with a scarcity mode, with a scarcity mindset, right? Like if I take resources, they will not be enough for you or if you take resources there will not be enough for me. So we have the scarcity mode that we’ve been… like all humanity has been, in the last, I don’t know, 100 years or taking, taking, taking, because we think there’s not going to be enough. And this lady was saying how, if we change that mindset to an abundance mindset, when we think there will be enough for everybody and we’ll share it and we’ll let those resources, that money, flow, you know, as a currency, then it will help things grow for everybody. So… and she was comparing it to a river, or to water, right? So when you take money and you hoard it for yourself, just like if you hoard water, that water sometimes turns or rots, right, it becomes like toxic water if you keep it for yourself. But if you let it flow just like money, right, or resources, if you let them flow, if you share them with others in the planet, then that water brings life and brings more resources. And nature is very, very good at this. Like I can tell you from experience. I bought this house in this piece of land and started planting trees and fruit trees. There is enough for me, my family and many other families just in this little piece of land where I live because nature is really really generous when you give to it instead of just taking from it. So because we need to do this, we have this need to make money because we think we’re… there’s not going to be enough, we use all these resources in a bad way, in a not effective way, so nature cannot produce enough. And that’s what we’re seeing, right? But if we change our mindset to abundance mindset, we start communicating or having a different relationship with nature, a more bio centric relationship, then we will create upon this. That’s our perspective and our hope, right? Because we have to be optimistic when it comes to biodiversity loss and climate change, otherwise why are we doing this, right? [laughter] But we are really optimistic. I am really optimistic because I think human… we are at a point of human nature where our consciousness is changing from scarcity to abundance. Not everybody is there yet, but I can see or I can feel a lot of people changing this mindset and people seeing the results of that abundance. So that’s why we came up with a name. It’s like, alright, Humans for Abundance. Let’s say… let’s get all the humans to change their behavior and their mindset so we all produce abundance for everybody, for everybody, including all other living beings and not living beings, right? So that’s how the name started.

Chochi: The project started because I’m an educator and I took some students to the Amazon rainforest. We did a toxic tour. You can hire someone to do a toxic tour in the Amazon here. Which is pretty revealing, in the sense that this tour takes you to the oil rigs. You know,  Ecuador’s main income, or source of income, is oil. So we export oil to other countries and that’s how we pay our, you know, national systems. So yeah, I went to see these oils, especially the ones from a certain company [laughter] that… we’re involved in a legal battle. So when you go there, it’s just devastating. The flares of methane and natural gas are pouring out to the atmosphere, you know, 24/7 since 45, 50 years ago. And this is the same atmosphere that you have, [laughter] right? You don’t live in a separate… even though you live in a different country, we share the same atmosphere and these are the same rivers that go to the ocean that belongs to everybody, right? So a lot of contamination through the rivers because of the pools where they extract samples so that they make a hole in the ground to test if the oil that will come out from that spot will be liquid enough to pipe, right? So they make all this testing and they create pools where… and they leave it on the open so animals can fall in these pools that are full of, you know, heavy metals and other contaminants. When it rains -and it rains a lot in the amazon-  those pools overflow into the rivers. So all the rivers in the amazon, or a lot of the rivers of the amazon, are very contaminated. They go through the communities, through indigenous communities, which have cancer rates at an alarming… you know, they’re increasing their cancer rates at an alarming pace. And eventually those rivers arrive to the ocean. And so… so yeah, it’s a pretty big, big problem. It broke my heart when I saw this. So we started thinking about “all right, we need to change everything we’re doing [laughter] and start a project that mitigates some of this, maybe a little bit.” But I kept having the feeling that we needed to do something bigger, something… that if we do something local, it might not have enough impact. I don’t know why my intuition told me, like, to go bigger. So we started thinking about what we could do. And we came up with this idea of making… basically becoming a bridge, right, between the people who have resources, who have more knowledge about the ecology and climate change and biodiversity lot, with the people who actually have the land and the time and the knowledge to do it, right? They know how to take care of the forest and the plants that are native from there, they just don’t have the resources. So they are pushed to cut those trees, to put cattle in their lands, to put a monocrop, because that’s what the government impulses and promotes, right? Because we’re in countries where our basic needs are not fulfilled by the government. So our medicine and, you know, health systems are not great, our food systems are not great, our education systems are not great. So people are just trying to fulfill basic needs. So there’s no way where they can think about climate change and keeping resources and protecting force. There… that’s like a different level. They need to think first of how they’re going to feed their kids, how are they going to send their kids to school, with what money are they going to pay for the medicine that they need to buy. So this is a very different reality. So, what we saw is that in our country, in Ecuador, and I’m assuming in other countries in Latin America, environmental loss, let’s call it, is very, very linked and interconnected with poverty, right, with a lack of education and with disorganized systems. So that’s what we saw, like, all right, how do we create a system, right, for… that combines environmental action, which we need desperately, right, because we’re losing this hotspot of mega diversity, which also includes Colombia and Brazil and, you know, other countries of Latin America because of the Amazon rainforest. How do we combine this action that we need to take with social justice, right? So environmental justice should be linked to social justice in our view. So you cannot just fix the environment because it’s not separate from the people who live in it and around it. So you can have a project, a reforestation project, let’s say. You plant the trees with all the technology that you want to, you even shoot seeds from, you know, drones and stuff. And then those trees grow and 20 years later, how do you prevent humans from cutting those trees if those humans need to pay for school? I’m not talking “these are terrible humans, the ones that cut trees, right? These are demons who don’t care about the environment.” No, they need to pay for medicine and for food. How else are they going to pay? If one tree in the Amazon can give you as much as $3,000 if you cut it for the wood. It would be illegal. Maybe you have to take the wood at night, but there’s no other way to do it unless they have a different source of income. So how are we going to bring the different source of income? Are we going to wait for the government to give them a source of income? Are we going to wait for the government to give them an incentive to not cut the trees? Well, I mentioned disorganized systems, right, that money just stays in certain pockets and it doesn’t come down to the people who are actually in the ground, taking care of the forest. So, yeah. And besides that, people, if the government incentivizes, you know, cattle as a way-out source of income or monocrops as a source of income and it gives, you know, loans to people and supports that kind of activity, because it’s good for the country, right, to the economy. That’s all they see. Then of course people are going to take those incentives and do what the government says, right? Or of course they’re going to take whoever that comes their way, because of lack of education. They don’t understand ecological, they don’t have ecological literacy. We don’t have ecological literacy in the city. I think in Europe, ecological literacy started recently, right? [laughter] But in my country, at least, ecological literacy is non-existent. The majority of people do not understand the interconnectedness of every living being. We think we live separately from the ecosystems, right? We don’t understand how our food arrives to our plates. We don’t. We think it’s magic, right? We plant something and then it grows. And it’s not. You need fertile soil and pollen… pollenisers? How do you say this? Pollinators. So yeah, it’s a circle, a vicious circle that we live in in these countries, that is very much linked to social injustice or social under-representation and social, you know, inequality. So that’s how the project started. Just we thought, “okay, we can become a bridge”, you know, So the people who are in the margins, the people who have the land, can become an active part in the restoration of nature. They can become the main subjects and the main heroes, I guess. But they need partners who actually have the understanding, right, why this needs to happen and who actually have the cash to move those resources as in this mindset of abundance that I was telling you before, right? If you move those resources to these people, then more will come back to you in terms of more biodiversity and carbon sinks and all these things that we need to create urgently, right? So, that’s why we… So the idea came exactly from a delivery motorcycle I saw once and I said, “right, if people who have the resources and the understanding cannot do anything for the amazon rainforest because they live in Germany and they have a job and they have three kids that go to school, they’re not going to move to the Amazon by land, you know, and restore the land. They don’t even know the Amazon rainforest. They’re probably scared of everything that lives there, right? [laughter] They probably don’t want to leave their family and, [laughter] you know, or change their life just to go restore what, 2, 3, 20, 50 hectares of rainforest? So… But people who are in the city, right, they want to do something for the environment, but sometimes they don’t know what to do, they don’t have the means to do it. So you’re left with activism, which is really great, and you’re left with protests in front of governments and you’re left with recycling at home and buying an electrical car. [laughter] Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, rivers are getting contaminated, you know, which again, land in the ocean. Atmosphere is very… is being contaminated and, you know, full of emissions, and trees in vital ecosystems are being destroyed. So if we could… by seeing this delivery motorcycle, and we’re like, “all right, we will just do that.” We will do the work that they cannot do, right, because of these limitations of their city or their location or whatever, but we are located here, so we can do that work for them if we create these partnerships. So that’s how the project started. Sorry, with such a long answer.

Klaus: [laughter] I fully understand what you mean. In the beginning I thought, well that’s a cool climate change solution. It’s a cool way to an alternative solution for CO2 compensation or CO2 reduction, when I first heard about your project or about your business, let’s put it that way. And then I found out that it’s also this great chance to develop that local community on both sides, on the side of the people that do the work on their land by, say, reforestation and taking care of the land and also on the other side, the communities also developed, where families for example, take care of that piece of land far, far away and create some sort of global understanding or global… don’t remember the name right now…

Chochi:  Reconnection…

Klaus: Yes, there is a connection between two families, for example, or two people across the globe using your solution, let’s put it that way. And… but it’s not one of these standard climate change CO2 reduction things. It’s much smarter, in a way, I think, and it’s less bureaucratic, more direct.

Chochi: When they… yeah, we bypass a few of the systems that are not very well organized, right, and a few of the traditional routes which governments are… which people used to interact or exchange things, right, which are typically government based or sometimes NGO based, right? But there’s another way which is business and sadly, well, our world is organized around business, right? That we’ve built highways for businesses. Every government in the world has allowed for businesses to thrive. It’s really easy to open a business, right? But sadly we use business as a force for destruction. And it doesn’t have to be that way. So, yeah, we chose to be a social enterprise, which is a model. We think it’s easier for us to… or it’s a model that will allow us to grow faster and we have this urgency, right, for climate change, we cannot… So being an NGO in Ecuador, it will be impossible to get the funds to actually crack, you know, the… and become really big and create these partnerships that we’re talking about. And at a big scale, because we’re looking for a compounded effect, right? We’re looking for millions of families to partner with millions of restorers. So the compounded effect on the environment is huge. But so we chose to go for the social entrepreneurship model and we’re looking for a B Certification. So the B Corporation Certification, which is a certification that limits the way we use profits. So yes, we are a for-profit but we want to use that profit, as I said again, to let the money flow towards more abundance. So we don’t… we’re not interested in hoarding money. We’re interested in letting it flow to create more abundance for everybody. And that’s how we see ourselves, right? Like collecting these resources and redistributing them to people who could be very far away from being able to create their own businesses or their own NGOs, right, who will never understand how to create a Paypal account, right, in the Amazon. So we need to act as this middle ground to allow these interactions that will create more abundance. So yes, as you said, we chose this model that we think could be scalable, right? We can move to other countries in the global south with our model and find more restores. And then thanks to technology, the same technology that is allowing us to chat today, thanks to that technology, we can look for people on the other side who want to create this impact by using different models, different systems, may be more effective, you know, the highway as I say. So yeah, if we need to take the planet to the ER, [laughter] right, we think it’s a better idea to take it, you know, to take the highway in a fast vehicle and not the back roads, in the carriages, horse and carriage, that has been, you know, designed… I mean designed for other kinds of models. For example, government routes, you know, those are sometimes very slow because of the organized systems, so…

Klaus: I was very impressed when I saw that you had an online shop for saving the rainforest for… where I could order a week of guarding a tree and stuff like that. So it’s a very, very straightforward process to become a co-restorer to become one of these partners with the people that do the work in the forest, for example. I was… that’s very, very nicely done and it’s very straightforward and it’s just a different way of shopping, let’s put it that way. 

Chochi: Yeah. [laughter] 

Klaus: And it has much more sense and much more soul or positive outcome than shopping cheap clothes for example, at one of these online stores. So that is, I think, very, very nicely done. So you are connecting at least two sides and on your website you’re calling these two sides “restorers” and “co-restorers” of rain forests and communities.

Chochi:  Yes.

Klaus: And I understand that you show these restorers on your website also, so I can sort of get a personal… better personal feeling of this person or of this family. But who is “restorers” and who is “co-restores”? Do you have an example? 

Chochi: So as you say, as you mentioned, right, we are a human based project with an idea to change human behavior, which is the one that’s causing the crisis, or the climate crisis, right? So we’re not per se an environmental… we’re focused just on environment, we’re more human based which… with a desire to change human behavior in the benefit of nature, right? So yeah, we have selected, like, specific actions that humans can take to… for the environment, right? So this is what we sell, we sell specific actions. So you can go on our catalog, browse our specific.. a specific action, right, so you know where your money is going. It’s going to that action specifically, and then you’ll get a report of that action because that’s what you’re hiring. You’re hiring someone to do that job for you because you can’t do it, right? So again, there’s human connection and, like, supporting one human, supporting another human, in this way. So, yeah, [laughter] very much, very much human-based and action-based. So how we see it is that the restorers, right, as you were mentioning, the restorers are people who usually have been in positions of disadvantage in terms of not having access to, you know, a city life, right?[laughter]  They live in the countryside. They’re usually unattended, underrepresented, very colonized in terms of… so colonization happened in, you know, in the global south and changed mindsets. So these are people who have a different belief about what they used to be and what they are now. They think they need to become occidental in their ways. They think they are less, sometimes, because that’s what they taught us. You know, when the colonists came, they taught us to be less important. What you know is less important. So we’re trying to rescue… well, not rescue, just, like, show the identity of these people, of underrepresented people, right, that have this different relationship with nature. They really understand and they really connect and not just at a physical level. They connect at a spiritual level. For them, for these people, sometimes a lot of indigenous communities, right, they see nature as a living and breathing being and actually where their ancestors lived and they can communicate in this way. So, our mission is to connect these people, right, that have this different, more bio-centric way of life and who have been lately underrepresented and undervalued, you know, to rescue and show the world that they can be valuable actors in this climate, you know, solution database [laughter] or methods that we’re trying to create. So we’re trying to connect those people from the Global South, who usually live in places that are… we call them vital ecosystems, right, like the amazon rainforest; they have the land there, they live there, they don’t want to move from there and they have the knowledge, with people from the Global North, who have a better understanding of climate change, a better understanding of how everything is interconnected and like all the science behind you know, CO2, yeah, and, like, why we… all the emissions of carbon and, like, how to create carbon sinks and all the all the science behind it basically. So they have the understanding. They have the bigger picture.[laughter] So our idea is to connect those two people, the people who have more access to education, to science, to the understanding into the urgency really, to the people who actually need to make another way or need to find another way to make a living that is not taking away their resources. Because they’ve seen. They’ve seen how after 40 years of cutting their forests and trees, their soil is damaged, they have less water, they have less resources and they’re desperate. They’re desperate because that’s all they have. Their land is all they have sometimes. So these are our restorers and co-restorers and that’s what you want to call that that way, like partnership, a collaboration between the two, because the two sides have the two essential pieces that we need to do this work. So just to add to what you said before, it’s a different way of seeing nature or doing an environmental project because we’re not focused on carbon credits or any other way of commodifying nature, right? We think nature or natural resources are limited and once we start trading with them, then we only have limited possibilities. But once you start trading with human actions, then the possibilities are infinite, right, because humans can take certain actions a million times over and over and over and for an extended period of time. So, so that’s why we said, like, how do we create a service, you know, where humans take actions in favour of nature and of themselves in the end, right? 

Klaus: That was what fascinated me, that different approach to that… to the same effect, let’s put it that way, with having much more going on and much more effect than just a carbon certificate or whatever you could call it. It is actually triggering a positive human result on both sides, or on all sides.

Chochi: Yeah. And also a really big focus of what we do is education. So this is our guarantee. A lot of people ask me, like, how do I… how do you guarantee that that forest is going to stay there forever? Like what legal documents that you have? Like I cannot legally bind anybody [laughter] forever to do, you know, certain things on their land. But what I can do is come… first bring a different source of income, so they feel secure and they can cover their basic needs for medicine and, you know, food and education. And then I can bring education, which is what changes the mindset, right? So once the mindset is changed, once the view and the perspective is bigger, then they decide to change and protect that forest and that land forever. And that’s what they teach their kids. So in our experience, that’s what’s really changing. So when we started the project, we brought money basically, we found money with a pilot community, we started paying them to restore, right? So they had cut the trees for purposes of agriculture and cattle and just to sell the wood and we told them “right, you’re going to do assisted reforestation or assisted secondary forest restoration”, right? So they started doing that, they started finding the seeds, they started reproducing the seeds in, like, a little homemade nursery and they started planting these trees and we brought scientists to teach them how to do it. Well, not just scientists but, you see, you saw on BBC video Omar, Omar Tello, who is an experienced restorer. So we brought Omar to tell them how to start this process of ecological restoration which is to bring the whole ecosystem back to its trajectory, to its former trajectory. It’s not just planting trees, it’s understanding how… all that biodiversity needs, basically. So we start bringing the money and of course that brings a change in behavior, right? People, instead of throwing chemicals on the soil and the plants, they started planting and taking care of the soil, making organic fertilizers, right? 

Klaus: Mm-hmm.

Chochi: So because we brought workshops and we brought, you know, people who knew how to do the restoration and we brought this education, an ecological literacy, we showed them how the soil was alive and how it was dying because of certain practices. And so they started to understand how they themselves have destroyed the chances of survival of their same community. And that clicked. And we have five restorers right now from that community on our website but 12 of them are doing restoration and this is the power of education, right? So because our workshops are free for everybody to come and join, then the people start understanding why they need to take care of that, first, in that tree and why their trees are so important for that ecosystem. So education is a very, very big focus and it’s our guarantee [laughter] that the forest will stay alive for the next generations. And not only alive, but producing food and medicine and maybe some extra resources for the people to make a living and to have enough, you know, enough food to feed their kids and grandkids, enough medicine from the same forest. So their health is great because of the way they eat and the organic things they eat plus the other medicinal plants and things that they have there. So that will be covered. And then they can have some extra resources to sell or to trade for, you know, some extra stuff to pay for the internet and stuff, because they all want to be, as well as the other humans, they all want to be connected and learning. So education is a big, big focus in our project. It’s what we’re most proud of and it’s what, we’ve seen, has the biggest impact. So, as you know, the problem is, in areas like this, and in countries like this, that are disorganized, education doesn’t come in a timely manner [laughter] or at the level that we want… that we needed at this level. And again, as I said, we’re… this is an urgent crisis that we’re experiencing.

Klaus: And you’re talking, you’re calling that on your website, the Triple Impact. I will put the text on the show notes also because I think that makes very much sense, it explains everything in three sentences and that’s very helpful for people to understand what you’re doing. So you  started with a community, a single community. And what I was wondering about is, for you, is there a limit of how many communities you could integrate into your system? Is there a limit, say, geographically, or what is your vision about that?

Chochi: As I was saying, we want to grow responsibly. That’s our vision. Because there are so many communities that want to join and want to have a different source of income. They don’t… as I was saying before, they’re not evil human beings who want to destroy the forest. The majority of the communities are people who… whose ancestors lived there for many generations and they want to keep it and they’re sad to see it go, but they’re forced into this capitalistic system, right? So they want to keep it. So there’s a lot of communities that, or just regular… you know, it could be one person, or maybe NGOs that want to join as restorers, but we want to grow… we don’t want to promise them, you know, that they will have a source of income if we don’t have enough people from the other side, the other side of the puzzle, right, bringing in the resources. So we take just a very small fee for this transaction. That’s our model. So the majority of the money goes to the restore. So if we have more money coming through from this side and more resources, then we can increase the number of communities and restorers. Well we’re beginning in the Amazon rainforest right now, because we need to use resources to verify. That’s another service that we do, right? We verify that they’re actually doing the work that we say they’re doing. We verify, we go there, we see their planting, we are constantly in communication and we also monitor the forests scientifically. And we’re going to begin monitoring the forest from the satellite, thanks to a partnership that we’re doing with a restorer, a Swiss company that will start using Google Earth satellite images to check on these projects.

Klaus: Basically no limits because technology will help you to do the controlling thing. And there’s lots of interest in being part of your system, of your movement, of your company, basically. How do you tackle the other side of getting people on the north involved in your project?

Chochi: Oh, yeah, that’s the challenge, right? So yeah, as you said, there’s ways that we can grow and move to different ecosystems here in Ecuador, once we have more resources. But how do you get those resources [laughter] from the other side? So right now, yeah, we’re looking… we’re putting together a plan to grow and scale up our business. So we need basically, right now, investors. We’re looking for investors who will help us become better known because, you know, how much investment you have to do in this ocean of virtual social media and how difficult it is for small organizations to, you know, access [laughter] or to let other people know about them in this huge ocean of so many other things. There’s so many services and so many institutions and products and everything. So the competition is fierce. So right now we’re looking to grow in that way as a regular social enterprise, looking for an investor who until we can make enough sales and until we find all those people from the north and to be self sustainable so they can help us promote what we’re doing. So basically, yeah, investing and hopefully PR and hopefully people like you who help us spread the message and the idea. So yeah, that’s our plan.

Klaus:  Okay. And I really recommend looking at your website because the way you show your vision and your mission statement, you show the services, you show the people behind the project is outstanding, I think. And it’s a great example of good e-commerce. And that sounds weird, maybe, in that context. But using the internet, using a website, using an online shop to do something very human is just such a smart thing to do because it is accessible from everywhere around the world. So it’s… I think your enterprise is also a good example of something, a global e-commerce business, even though you might not like that, but I think it is and it’s very well done, also. Very, very… it looks nice. It’s very easy to use and heads up to your web designer.

Chochi: Thank you so much. Yeah, as you might know, we’re in the beginning of the process of growth, of this enterprise, and hopefully we’ll go into a much better platform or can design a much better platform and you know, just with better design and with more features just like a typical e-commerce or an app that’s easier, that has more features. So that’s our dream, too, right, to grow in the technological side of things. So maybe we can have more languages and more currencies, right? Because right now we are limited, by the technology that we use, by a lot of things. So that’s our dream, too, to grow. So this is our better product. We’re happy to hear feedback from people who are listening. We are open to listening to where the problems are. So we can fix them and grow and have a much better experience for our users. So yeah, but our idea is just to facilitate the connection between those two worlds who are, until recently, disconnected, right?

Klaus: Mm-hmm. So you’re providing a system change. You’re building new ways to fight climate change. You are sort of strengthening a global sense of urgency and you’re providing solutions to solve climate change. You are providing global partnerships and you do a… you offer a design for a better future for the people doing the restoring work and also the co-restorers. And, sort of, you do things very different than normal.

Chochi: [laughs]  

Klaus: [laughter] You’re laughing right now?

Chochi: [laughter] I am.   

Klaus: So that’s normal for you, to do things that are not normal?

Chochi: It is actually. It is. That’s one of my characteristics as an innovator or as an entrepreneur, I think. For some reason, I don’t like that much to do things in the normal way, as you said. I love to innovate and think of things that have never been done before, that gives me a sense of “ah!” [laughter] and pleasure. My brain is very good at connecting things that are not connecting, that are not obviously connected. So to be able to create these new things or out of the normal things, right? And like new ways and new paths, that’s always something that’s driven everything I do. So even in the classroom, when I was a teacher, I didn’t like following just the regular, typical, you know, lessons that I had when I was a kid. I was always innovating and trying new things and reading about and, like, connecting things and applying them in a different way. So, yeah, this idea as that is the result of thinking in the new way we’re connecting this e-commerce that is so huge in the world right now, with Amazon and these other platforms. It already exists, and we’re already shopping and we’re crazy about shopping. There’s a lot of people who spend hours in the internet shopping, as you said, right? It’s kind of.. sort of.. like a human need to… I don’t know, for entertainment, I assume, this shopping. So we’re achieving those connections and those gaps that people like to do. But what we found, in most of our lives, especially because I’m a teacher, I know that humans like to help each other. This is one of our biggest traits and that’s why we chose this way. It’s like, “all right, let’s use this technology for e-commerce that already exists, right, to connect people who want to help each other.” So the motivation is there. And this is also the triple impact: is not only that I’m helping a person or a family and I’m helping myself, right, I’m helping the environment as well, which is what we need to do urgently right now. So, that’s why we thought it was a good connection to make a “let’s get out of the normal.” Sometimes, you know, our brains don’t tend to think, like, if we have an environmental problem, let’s solve it from an environmental way, or point of view. Let’s start planting more trees, let’s start, you know, protecting more forest, let’s start decontaminating rivers, well, let’s start doing all these things. But what’s the source behind that contamination? [laughter] and that… you know, those terrible things for the environment, what’s the source? What’s causing it? And it’s humans, human behavior. So what we need to tackle is the cause, the cause of these problems. And then nature will solve itself. It will repair itself faster than any human can do it with any technology. So we just need to get out of the way and help each other become more stable, happier, you know, in this abundance mode. And then nature will take care of itself and will actually take care of us, as well, with all these resources. So that’s how we see it.

Klaus: Dear Chochi, thank you very much for being an innovator and taking the time for this conversation.

Chochi:  No problem. My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.

Klaus: That was my conversation with Chochi from Humans for Abundance in Ecuador. Check out The 2pt5 website for all the links, videos and the transcript at the2pt5.net. In The 2pt5 Podcast, innovators from around the globe share the highs and lows of an innovator’s life, their motivation and creative passions, as well as their favorite methods, tools and ideas. The 2pt5 – Conversations Connecting Innovators Podcast is hosted in Baden Württemberg in the southwest of Germany, by me, Innovation Coach Klaus Reichert. This is The 2pt5. 

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