Rainforest ECO – A Story of Homecoming

This story was recently posted on DC Cordova’s blog, for her new Entrepreneur Stimulus series. I want to give the credit due for writing, to Ian Scanlan, who wrote the story for a funding proposal we recently submitted to Village Capital. I loved the piece so much that I submittted it to DC, and put it in the first person. I so appreciate having a team to support this journey…

In December 2008, I returned to the land of my birth for the first time in 57 years. I carried with me the conviction that I was going to use my talents as a force for positive change in a land that I had only known from the stories my mother had told me as a child. As my airplane touched down in Sao Paulo, I didn’t know my end destination or the details of my purpose there.

Although I had spent nearly my entire life in the US, I retained my jeito, a Brazilian quality which connotes an ability to go with the flow and to get things done. My daughter, Leala Rose, was with me that day, and we both took a great leap of faith as we set off together on a journey of discovery in a foreign land. And Brazil responded…

Within a few days, I was pouring my enthusiasm into conversations with everyone I met. I had built a successful horticultural business in the United States and was a respected botanical artist. My passion for the plant kingdom poured into my work and my art. I had illustrated a small book on the healing plants of the Amazon rainforest and my watercolor renderings of orchids and pollinators were lauded as they went on display at the Smithsonian Institute. With a strong feeling that my work in Brazil was going to involve the rainforest, I made inquiries about traveling north, to the Amazon.

But I was surprised to learn that surrounding my birthplace in Rio de Janeiro was the most diverse and endangered rainforest in the world. It was the Atlantic Rainforest, known in Brazil as Mata Atlantica. And when I found out that from the time I had left Brazil until the day I returned, that millions of hectares of the forest had been decimated and converted into primarily cattle grazing land, leaving only 7% of the original forest intact, I paused for a moment.

My purpose at once became clear, and I embarked immediately to find a solution for this most precious region.

I realized that in order to implement truly sustainable solutions, I would need to engage local communities and find innovative ways to address fundamental economic challenges. Local leaders and change makers were invited to discuss possible solutions and a plan emerged.

In April of 2009 I filed the incorporation papers for Rainforest ECO, LLC – Life Affirming Enterprises. Having drawn together a magnificent team in both the US and Brazil to create and sustain the life of the rainforest, through commerce, I have a new-found zeal for life.

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