Meeting LAC fellows

It has been a long time since my last blog post…here I am again….keeping up Vivamos el Bosque 🙂

The Do School program, ¨Engage in Conservation¨ has officially ended this year, but the initiative of protecting the Otonga Cloud Forest is still up and running. Some news about my favorite place in the world coming soon 🙂
I´ve now become an alumni of the DO school,  and with my fellow Diego from Chile we were selected as ambassadors for Latin America. yeyyyy!!! what does that mean? 😉 Diego-CaroWell, we are planning an Alumni meet-up in Latin America in fall next year and hope to organize a Challenge 2.0. The isea is that all participating Alumni from LAC,  with their multidisciplinary backgrounds and ventures, will work on a challenge to create an impact in the region. Keep an eye on this coming meet up! Any ideas from you…are more than welcome 🙂

Beside that I was lucky to meet Lucia from Perú and learn about her great initiative Willakuni. willakuni A social and artistic project that work with women affected by political violence in Peru. I hope to visit her soon again!! Here a picture of both …

Lucia Caro

Next steps of Vivamos el bosque?? well I am first finally translating my blog into spanish and sharing with you news and exciting interviews from some good friends of the Otonga Forest….People who has been following and supporting the initiative want to learn more about Otonga, its people and friends.  Some of the questions I´ve been asked and will try to answer on my next blogs:  what do people who love Otonga think and feel about this forest? why is such an interesting place for so many people? Keep checking my blog… news, histories, interviews and guest blog posts coming soon!

Step by step…how to create a social enterprise?

Our social entrepreneurship program is getting to its end. Last week Vivamos el Bosque held its legal advice workshop at “El Maltón” community. Here, Jorge Muñoz, shared his experience as a business owner and entrepreneur. He gave good advice about certain topics that need to be taken care before “legalizing” any venture. For example, some of our young entrepreneurs are under 18 years old, what makes impossible for them to sign any legal document; and most of them are still studying so their availability is limited.
como construir una empresa Besides that, Vivamos el Bosque shared with the students, a comprehensive list of things to-do to legalize their venture. Where to go? what to bring? how much does it cost?
With this information they can start their business once they feel ready to do so.
One more workshop left!!! keep following the blog!

Engaging youth in biodiversity conservation….

¨Education breeds confidence, confidence breeds hope, and hope breeds peace¨ -Confucius

Last Monday, I had the chance to present Vivamos el Bosque at the Catholic University in Quito to a class of undergrad biology students. One of the goals of the project is to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation in urban areas, and to invite more people to take actions to protect the cloud forest.
As a guest speaker in a course of Biodiversity and Development, I presented Vivamos el Bosque from beginning to end…How did it started? The dream, the idea, the project… How did Jane Goodall Inspired me? How did Dekeyser & Friends Academy supported my venture? and How did I implemented Vivamos el Bosque this year….DSC_0869My goal was to show how small initiatives can have a positive impact in people and the environment. Students got really interested in the project. They asked important questions and gave good feedback to improve the project. Questions such as “how sustainable is the initiative in the long run” or “how self-sufficient are the youth entrepreneurs” made me rethink about certain issues of the project that still need to be taken care. For example, it is critical that Vivamos el Bosque initiative works well with me or without me and to attain that point there is still much to be done.
My hope is that my presentation inspired them a little and more youth take action to protect the environment with Vivamos el Bosque or with any other initiative they are interested in.

Thank you very much to Prof. Alvaro Barragán for giving me the chance to present the project to his class, for his friendship and ongoing support!


This post it is not about a workshop for our youth entrepreneurs but the evaluation I conducted about Vivamos el Bosque. Been accountable is for me very important… I am constantly asking myself if the program I designed is really benefitting the youth from “El Maltón” community or if the beneficiaries are supporting the activities…
Evaluacion Vivamos el BosqueThe better way to know about their perspective is asking for their feedback and listening carefully for their recommendations. Evaluacion vbTo be successful, Vivamos el Bosque must be genuine in its work with beneficiaries and the community, clear in its financial dealings and open about what the money is spent on, and veritable in its reporting. After a long talk with our young entrepreneurs, I am really happy that Vivamos el Bosque is fulfilling most of their expectations and that they are feeling encouraged to become social entrepreneurs. They asked for information about the legal requirements to start a company in Ecuador and the step by step to obtain the sanitary permission. These topics will be covered in the coming workshops.
Finally, Vivamos el Bosque wants to also be accountable to itself, to its mission, friends and volunteers. Please feel free to ask for any information you may need. It is important for us!

Solidary Economy and Finance Management

Why solidary economy? DSC_0156

The second workshop was held during the second weekend of December at “El Maltón” community. We had 9 participants that joined us to the session held by Raúl Proaño, leader of a citizen school for about 20 years.

Why solidary economy? It is important to know a little about the Ecuadorian context to understand the foundations of this workshop. In 2008, Ecuador passed its new Constitution where a new development model came into force. The model is based in the “Well living or Sumak Kawsay”, and is sustained in the development of the human being and the care of nature. And more important it has an article in which the social solidarity economy is the axis of economic development.

It seemed to me a good idea to give a workshop in solidary economy along with finance management since the nature of our social veture is the conservation of the Cloud Forest.

“Vivamos el Bosque” studied these changes, and learned from fellow experiences at the social organizations, peasant and indigenous organizations and NGOs, working to sustain this State model change.

The workshop was really interesting and got really engaged to our young social entrepreneurs. They learned about basic concepts of economy and social values that need to lead any social venture. With games and simple exchanges of products, simulating a community market, important concepts were covered and valuable information about the local situation of each of the participants could share.

I was lucky to share such an incredible experience! I am looking forward for the coming one!

Social Entrepreneurship and Conservation Program

Finally started! After a long preparation, the first weekend of December 2012, “Vivamos el Bosque” held its first workshop under its Social Entrepreurship and Conservation program for youth at El Maltón Community.
Youth social entrepreneurs

I had the pleasure to host six youth from El Maltón community in Quito and two inspiring Social Entrepreneurs that work hard every day to conserve the biodiversity of Ecuador, Gabriel Iturralde from Floare, and Lola Guarderas from Wikiri. FloareTheir personal experiences leading a social business that aim to protect the Orchids and the frogs in Ecuador, gave as a clear overview of why, how and when to start such a business. Wikiri

The workshop was interactive and rich in information. We had lunch together and went visit some shops in Quito where products from other social business are sold. DSC_0145

The sessions help me with the later preparation of training modules and curriculum that will respond to the needs identified in the training need assessment, and we worked on the development of a curriculum and an implementation plan for a proposed mermelades business.

We Want Peace…

To finish up-dating you about the latest news of Vivamos el Bosque, I would like to share with you my experience at the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations (UNAOC) Summer School at Coimbra, Portugal!!

I was invited to participate at the UNAOC summer school held on August 5-13th in Portugal. I might admit I was lucky to be there and it has really been one of the most important experiences I had in my life so far. UNAOC promotes World peace, dialogue and understanding by presenting and uniting youth’s different perspectives and backgrounds. 135 youth were invited to participate, and Vivamos el Bosque was selected as part of the Education for Intercultural Dialogue workshop. I presented the biocentric foundation of Vivamos el Bosque and explained how environmnental education can promote dialogue and understanding in a multicultural and plurinational setting like Ecuador. After the presentation, we had a great discussion about the topic and I receive good feedbacks, and made some important contacts interested in contributing with Vivamos el Bosque initiative 🙂

I was already really happy with everything in Portugal. I met Baker, my co-fellow from Uganda and then, I found out that Florian and Katherin from D&F Academy, Germany were giving a talk and workshop at UNAOC! it was lovely to meet them and spend some time with them. It is always good to have my D&F family close!

That is all for now!!! keep checking the blog so you don’t miss any news from Vivamos el Bosque!

I am posting here a video of the 3rd UNAOC Summer School so you can have a better idea of the event! Enjoy…

Considering the last eventS in Libia, Youth speak out asking for peace!

One leaf at a time…

Live the Forest or “Vivamos el Bosque” started as a dream, became an idea and it is now a plan that is coming along little by little. Through a recently founded Roots & Shoots Group, I am working to develop a pilot non formal educational program for children and youth, in addition to a business plan that Otonga Foundation could use to sustain the program in the long run. I plan to raise 10 000 USD in the next 10 months to start running the program properly.

The project has no money now. Although raising money seems always difficult at first, I am positive that by thinking outside the box and working hard in what we are passionate about, we will find our way. The project’s fundraising plan includes activities such as:

– Photography workshops at the Otongachi Research and Educational Center.
– Orientation and survival workshops at the Otonga Forest.
– Scientific illustration workshops at the Otongachi Research and Educational Center.
– Bird Watching workshops at the Otongachi Research and Educational Center.
– Organize “Scientific discussion forum in Coffee shops” in Quito.
– Organize an awareness event: “The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador” with the communities surrounding the Otonga Reserve.
– Crowd funding:
– Grant applications

We plan to raise money with each event while continuously applying for more money from bigger donors. I hope we can start running the educational program by January 2013.

Last week I presented “Vivamos el Bosque” to the board members of Otonga Foundation and some good friends of Otonga.

They are all really excited about the idea and are willing to help the project. I received great input and currently we have all their support!! 🙂 Thank you all for joining the dream!

Don´t hesitate to give me your inputs please!… The more we are, the stronger we get!