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BFF Talks: Exploring the Unlikely Connection of Art, Social Entrepreneurship and Conservation

August 30, 2018

Meet Niccolo Jose and Jen Horn. One is an artist and woodworker; the other, a community engagement consultant and staunch proponent for the sustainable lifestyle. Together, they are forest conservation advocates and certified BFFs of the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (#BFFMovement).

Faced with the combined threats of land development, logging activities and mining projects in areas such as Palawan, Sierra Madre, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, the BFF Movement was launched last March 2018, to gather a community of young, action-oriented environmentalists, travelers, social entrepreneurs and artists, who aim to inspire people to be advocates of forest conservation and protection.

The Movement held its very first BFF Talks, entitled Creation, Conservation and Communities, with BFFs Nicolo and Jen, exploring their roles as creators in promoting and empowering environmental efforts.

Delving into this theme as the BFF representing the Arts and Culture passion point, Niccolo discusses how the power of art engages people in a personal way, helping raise awareness on environmental issues and stirring the youth into action towards conservation and protection. To him, art is just one of the many extensions of his advocacy.

After all, being a woodworker and a conservationist may seem like two completely opposite things. Indeed, as being a woodworker requires the use of wood, which raises the question of where it is sourced or if a tree was felled for this very purpose.

But as a staunch practitioner of upcyling, all of Niccolo’s works are crafted from reclaimed wood – effectively bridging the gap between creation and conservation through this practice. “I am very conscious of the material I use,” he explains. “I always use second-hand lumber from junk shops, fallen trees after typhoons, or even from old houses. At the same time, in my studio, we practice zero waste. Nothing gets thrown our. Everything is used to the point that it’s a sawdust. But even then, the sawdust get used for the vermiculture and also for the plant nursery,” Niccolo added.

Through the BFF Movement, Niccolo hopes to galvanize a new generation of advocates to take action. “For me, being a BFF is learning how to share your ideas, inspire people to be creative with what’s around them, and above all, to help people appreciate nature more.”

Meanwhile, for Jen Horn, the BFF Talks provided her with an avenue to discuss the growing role that social enterprises serve in promoting advocacies and raising awareness on social issues. After all, social entrepreneurship in its simplest terms is doing business for a cause. And while these causes may vary, most provide support to communities through initiatives that aim to develop a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

“Conservation is a community effort,” said Jen. Speaking of her experience as MUNI’s Chief Collaborator, Jen recounts her experiences working with social entrepreneurs and discusses how enterprises can serve as a platform for promoting advocacies. “We create events that connect communities – the conscious consumers and the mindful producers. We aim to provide a platform for more socially and environmentally mindful businesses who are creating products that have the people and the planet in mind.”

She concluded with an impassion rallying call inviting the youth to take action. “The objective of the Movement is to encourage sustainable change and inspire more people to take action for the environment and this can be achieved by building a community that supports each other, that can learn from each other, and share different ways on how we can live a more sustainable life and help protect the forests and the planet as a whole,”  said Jen.

During the Talk, the Foundation’s other grantees and partners, including Bambike, Philippine Coffee Alliance, Natural Museum of History and Woven PH, also shared their conservation stories to inspire the attendees.

What part will you play to save the forests? Take action now with the BFF Movement! For more information, visit http://www.forestfoundation.ph/be-a-bff/.

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