Talk About Environment

A woodworker and a community engagement consultant talk about their roles in their respective fields in promoting and empowering environmental efforts.

The first edition of BFF Talks, entitled "Creation, Conservation, and Communities," organized by the Best Friends of the Forest Movement, brought together Niccole Jose and Jen Horn to share insights on how their roles as creators help protect and conserve the environment.

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 in March 2018. The movement gathers 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.

As the BFF representing the arts and culture passion point, Jose talked about how art engages people in a personal way helping raise awareness on environmental issues and stirring the youth into action toward conservation and protection.

For this sculptor, art is just one of the many extensions of his advocacy.

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

But as a staunch practitioner of upcycling, all of Jose's works were crafted from reclaimed wood effectively bridging the gap between creation and conservation.

"I am very conscious of the material I use. I always use second-hand lumber from junk shops, fallen trees after typhoons, or even from old houses," he shared.

He continued, "At the same time, in my studio we practice zero waste. Nothing gets thrown out. Everything is used to the point that it's a sawdust. But even then, the sawdust gets used for the vermiculture and also for the plant nursery."
Through the BFF Movement, the thirty-something artist 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," he averred.

Horn, on the other hand, took advantage of the BFF Talks platform to discuss the growing role 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 of them provide support to communities through initiatives that aim to develop a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

"Conservation is a community effort," said Horn. Speaking of her experience as MUNI's chief collaborator, Horn recounted working with social entrepreneurs and discussed how enterprises can serve as a platform for promoting advocacies.

MUNI builds a community of cause-driven creatives through meaningful events and experiences that change how we shop, eat, travel, and do business.

"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," shared Horn.

Since its inception as a grassroots movement in November 2012, MUNI has organized over 50 meet-ups across the country and abroad.

Horn concluded her talk with an impassioned 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."

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