Category Archives: Inspiration

Entrevista con Luis Chavez – EcoAldeano

El hombre:

Luís Chávez, de 50 años, amigo mío desde el 2004, amante de Jacques Cousteau, parte biólogo, parte oceanógrafo, con título de acuicultor. Los que lo conocen en la ciudad, saben que es profesor de inglés, matemáticas, o Director de Programas Internacionales. Lo que no saben es que previamente fue exportador de peces para acuario e instructor profesional de buceo submarino.


Quería hacer una maestría en Recursos Marinos Costeros Sostenibles pero se tuvo que “aguantar” una de Alta Gerencia. Finalmente, después de un intento final de aprobar el tema de Emprendimientos Sostenibles para su tesis, cambió de idea, y empezó a enfocar su vida hacia el campo, en un terreno de su propiedad que hoy quiere convertir en una Eco-Aldea*.

Ubicada en la Comuna Dos Mangas, provincia de Santa Elena, Ecuador, la eco-aldea de Luis tiene 3.6 ha. El terreno fue inicialmente comprado en el año 2000 con el objetivo de construir una hostería con cabañas para alquiler.

Fue el sueño típico de muchos ciudadanos urbanos: tener una casa de campo con caballos y alquilar cabañas para ganar un poco de dinero extra. Sin embargo, Luis aprendió bastante rápido que este sueño no era sostenible.

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Re-making the way we make things

One of the highlights for me from the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference, which took place on Oct 17th at the Vancouver Convention Centre, was having the opportunity to see and hear Dr. Michael Braungart. He is one of two authors of the fantastic book: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things, a book that has greatly influenced my thinking around sustainability.

Although I think he might have rubbed some audience members the wrong way by questioning Vancouver’s Zero Waste initiative (he asked, why not Positive Waste?), I feel that what he really wanted us to do was to be better critical thinkers.

In his own words, “support the good, not simply, the less bad.”

He reminded the audience of the importance to reflect on the question “What is the right product?, rather than, “How can we optimize an existing product?”.

And he has a point, why do we just want to settle for improving something that has problems when we can re-make things the right way around, or in other words, so that a negative environmental or social impact doesn’t even exist.

In the book, the authors refer to this as eco-effective design and advocate for: Products that, at the end of their useful life, do not become waste but can be tossed to the ground to decompose and become food for animals and plants and soil nutrients, or alternatively, can return to industrial cycle to provide material premium quality new products.

What do you think about remaking things the right way around?

What do you think might be some of the challenges to achieving an eco-effective design process?

How can we overcome these challenges?

You can also check out author William McDonough on TED Talks explaining Cradle to Cradle design:

La importancia de mirar hacia adentro…The importance of looking inward…

El otro día escucha a Gloria, representante de ORMUSA (Organización de Mujeres Salvadoreñas), dar una presentación acerca de las buenas prácticas de equidad e igualdad de género en el desarrollo local.

The other day I heard Gloria, representative of ORMUSA (Organization of Salvadorian Women), give a presentation about good practice in gender equity and equality in local development.

Me quedé casi muda cuando escuché los logros del grupo, entre ellos, integrar la igualdad de género en las políticas, planes de acción y presupuestos de 10 gobiernos locales en El Salvador.

I was left speechless as I listened to all the achievements of the organization, among them, integrating gender equality into policies, action plans and budgets at 10 local governments in El Salvador.

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Cuando le pregunté a Gloria: ¿Cuál es el primer paso del acercamiento al gobierno local?, su respuesta demostró la necesidad de mirar hacia adentro, antes que cualquier otra cosa.

When I asked Gloria: What is the first step that needs to be taken when approaching a local government about gender issues?, her response showed the importance of looking inwards before anything else.

“El primer paso es realmente reflexionar como mujer, y como persona…Las mujeres necesitan darse cuenta que no es su rol hacerlo todo solos….sino que existe una co-responsabilidad con los hombres.”

“The first step is really reflecting as a woman, as a person…Women need to realize that it is not their role to do it all…that there is a co-responsibility with men.”

Son palabras muy poderosas y muy sabias para una joven. Sirven como recuerdo para mi que el trabajo de desarrollo empieza adentro de cada uno. Requiere honestidad y humildad para reconocer tus propias capacidades y limites, además de aprender de los errores y colaborar con otros. Gracias a Gloria por este importante recuerdo.

To me, these are very powerful and wise words spoken by a young girl and they help me remember that development does start by looking inward on oneself. It requires honesty and humility to recognize one’s own skills and limits, as well as to learn from your errors and collaborate with others. Thank you Gloria for this important reminder.

Interview with Mini-mal Collective

Interview with Mini-mal

Oct 27th, 2011

This interview was motivated by a desire to know more about an economic initiative (mini-mal  is a business) that seeks to strengthen Colombian socio-cultural and environmental identity using art as a strategy. It is considered that mini-mal´s more than 10 years of experience, serve not only as a good example, but as a source of learning for individuals and organizations looking to contribute to the sustainable development of the planet.


Read interview here in

Read about mini-mal here and here 

Future we want

Future we want: a global conversation about building a positive future.

Visit the website to learn more.

Here are my thoughts about a positive future:
In 2005, as a student in my masters program, I was asked to create a vision of a sustainable future. It was a very empowering experience and I am happy to have the opportunity to do it again, as well as to reflect on how and why it has changed or not.

Six years later, I am now a sustainability consultant in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and I work closely with communities, businesses, universities, NGOs and local governments. The first time I thought about a sustainable future, I focused a lot on integrating green spaces (trees and recreational areas) into cities, looking to highlight a much greater appreciation of the environment. Today however, I would like the future to hold a greater appreciation of people and stronger relationships among people in communities, cities, regions, and countries:

·      I would like to see trust & respect regained among neighbours and colleagues so that we can in fact find ways to dialogue constructively, make collaborative decisions and work together.
·      I would like to see people genuinely helping each other, not just to gain something for themselves, but to gain something for their community and planet.
·      I would like a future that celebrates true human well-being and not just economic status. I would like a future where equality among human beings is the norm.
·      I would like a future that cultivates good relationships among stakeholders and allows time to improve inter-cultural understanding.
·      I would like to see development efforts that really matter on the ground and don’t just look good on paper.
·      I would like to see a closer relationship between donors and beneficiaries. I would like to hear the voices of the beneficiaries, not about the number of people helped. I would like to see beneficiaries of development projects as the first ones to evaluate the results of the project.
·      I would like to see us embrace failure and mistakes to learn from them. I would like us to do better the next time around to avoid duplicating efforts and wasting resources.
·      I would like to see youth that are inspired and familiar with a sustainable society.
·      I would like to see youth more engaged in decisions about their future and their voices respected.
·      I would like a future where all voices and perspectives are valued, shared and considered when making decisions that affect different stakeholders and the integrity of our environment.
·      I would like a future where we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and understand where they are coming from.

This is what i wrote and the first thing that came to my head when i finished writing was that I really need to get to know my neighbours.  And this thought is really key. The important thing is that what we want for our future doesn’t just stay on paper, but that we create ways to really achieve our visions, that we make the necessary changes to our daily lives. This is the true challenge. Creating a vision of the future is only the first step towards real change. The bigger questions come next: What needs to be done to reach that future? What change is really feasible in the short, medium and long-term? What does it depend on? What are the constraints and how can they be resolved? How does my vision affect others and how does theirs affect mine? This is what a futures conversation should look like!
What do you want for the future?

Entrevista con el Presidente de la Comuna Puerto Engabao

Entrevista con Julio Villón

Presidente de la Comuna Puerto Engabao, Guayas, Ecuador

Octubre 26, 2011


La Comuna Puerto Engabao se fundó en 1995. Tiene aproximadamente 350 habitantes entre adultos y adolescentes.


Atracciones turísticas: Playa, Surf, Pesca Artesanal

Servicios turísticos: Alimentación y alojamiento


Julio Villon

Julio Villón al frente de la Casa Comunal, Puerto Engabao


¿Cuéntame sobre Puerto Engabao?


En realidad nosotros éramos el último rincón de la provincia del Guayas. Nosotros vivimos olvidados durante mucho tiempo. Puerto Engabao forma parte del territorio de la Comuna Engabao y siempre trabajábamos con proyectos sociales en beneficio  a la comunidad, sin embargo, no daban los presupuestos, no hubo apertura y los proyectos solo llegaban a la Comuna Engabao. En realidad nosotros nos organizamos para poder cubrir necesidades; nosotros mismos, dentro de nuestra comunidad. Hicimos una reunión con todo el pueblo, pequeño pero emprendedor, y decidimos entre el Presidente y el Presidente del Comité de Turismo unirnos y caminar por uno solo objetivo: por el desarrollo colectivo. Y lo hicimos. Firmamos actas de compromiso y empezamos con esfuerzo y sacrificio. Nosotros tenemos video y tenemos historias de cómo era Puerto Engabao. Era olvidado, una caleta pesquera. No teníamos los servicios básicos como agua potable. No teníamos vías de acceso. Nuestra vivienda era “criticosa”, o sea vivíamos demasiados. Sí, no nos daba vergüenza, pero eso era la realidad de nosotros, vivíamos como animalitos, todos en una sola. A pesar de todo, nosotros decimos no vencernos, por el bienestar de nuestras familias. Quien nos cubre en un fenómeno del Niño, en una tormenta de lluvia. La vivienda era de caña, piso de tierra, pero sí teníamos un buen televisor, una buena refrigeradora. ¡Éramos ciegos pues, nosotros! ¿No es verdad? Pero ahora ya con las capacitaciones que hemos tenido, hemos empezado, hemos empujado, hemos sabido valorar…nos dimos cuenta que esto no es así. Ahora capacitado y entusiasmado me pregunto: ¿Nosotros cómo vamos a vivir así? ¿Y el futuro de nuestros hijos? Entonces nuestras familias nos reunimos por ese proceso, el cambio a una vida digna con sacrificio en grupo.

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Vancouver: Modelo de Ciudad Verde

On September 8th at the Convention Centre in Guayaquil, we had the privilege of listening to 6 Canadian speakers share their experiences in transforming Vancouver into the greenest city in the world by 2020.


The conference was a real treat as it is rare to get an opportunity to hear how different sectors work together towards a common vision and goal. Continue reading