The Green Living Project is a media production, marketing and entertainment company which has made showcasing global sustainability initiatives its raison d’etre.
Rwanda had a coffee problem. It has since found a solution.
This African nation of 9 million people has about 500,000 coffee farmers who were known to produce their coffee in about 500,000 different ways. The result was coffee of varying quality.
To help raise the standards of Rwanda’s java and in the process bolster the country’s economy, SPREAD - Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise - arrived on the scene. An alliance of institutes, industries and non-government organizations funded by the United States Agency for International Development, SPREAD worked to support cooperatives in Rwanda to boost the coffee’s quality and improved its transportation by employing a fleet of customized bicycles.
The organization’s efforts were recently documented by Green Living Project (GLP), a media production, marketing and entertainment company which has made showcasing global sustainability initiatives its raison d’etre. Founded last year by Wellesley native Rob Holmes, GLP aims to educate, inspire and entertain while encouraging individuals and communities to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Mother Nature would approve.
Through photographs, articles and videos, GLP seeks to increase the awareness of sustainability projects around the world as well as companies and organizations which embrace sustainability. It promotes its projects through its Web site, which features an extensive online network of partners, and its lecture series.
Project examples include responsible tourism, renewable energy, community development, wildlife conservation, water conservation, "voluntourism" and organic farming.
Its tagline, appropriately enough, is "Capturing sustainability one project at a time."
This year, GLP concentrated on projects in Africa, collaborating with such organizations as Maynard-based Earthwatch Institute, African Wildlife Foundation, CARE International, Aid to Artisans, United Nations Development Program and South African tourism.
Next year, GLP shines the spotlight on South America where it will document projects administered by travel companies, eco-lodges, conservation organizations and tourism boards.
The company represents an extension of Holmes’ own interests in global travel - he has visited more than 60 countries; sustainability - he has an undergraduate degree in wildlife management and conservation biology from Hobart College; and the media - he has been a free-lance photographer for 18 years.
After graduating from Hobart in 1992, Holmes traveled around the world, heeding the advice of parents, Dr. Lewis and Leslie Holmes, who still reside in Wellesley. "They said, ‘Go do something overseas,’ " Holmes recalls.
That "something" would eventually turn into GLP.
"I wanted (the trip) to not just be ‘Here’s my experience about going overseas.’ I wanted to make a positive impact, and (this company) gave me the opportunity... to combine the global, conservation and the media.
"At the end of the day what we’re doing is storytelling, and there are so many unique stories of sustainablity globally.
"For example, we documented African Wildlife Foundation’s project in Tanzania where a cattle ranch is being transformed into a wildlife sanctuary. It’s a story of change - bringing the land back to the way it used to be. But it’s also about working with the community, setting up shops for local crafts so people can benefit from wildlife."
In addition to creating the photographs, the text and a 3- to 5-minute-long video for each project, GLP distributes and markets the content. The companies, which pay GLP for this content, can use the material as they see fit, but they also receive a bonus - promotion.
"That’s what makes us different from your typical production company," says Holmes, who now lives in California where GLP is based. "We distribute and market the content because we care about these projects."
Hence the lecture series where GLP spreads the word further. "We hope the audience is entertained by a presentation, educated by it and inspired by it, so they’ll think twice about their actions... and we can have a more positive impact on the environment."
That said, GLP wants to expand the meaning of sustainability. "It can mean different things to different people," says Holmes. "It doesn’t have to be environmental sustainability. It can be about developing a community."
GLP will soon launch an education program where students can follow the company’s progress on an expedition by using Google maps and teachers can apply curriculum to the project.
GLP revenue comes from a variety of sources - companies whose projects are being documented, companies who want to distribute the video, organizations holding the lecture series and sponsors. Expenses are kept low as flights and accommodations are paid for through partnerships with airlines and hotels.
Projects come GLP’s way by working directly with organizations, through suggestions and from market research conducted by organizations which have a project in a country where GLP is going.
"It’s great to work with some of the big organizations, but sometimes the best stories come from tiny organizations," says Holmes.
Each project takes two to three days to document followed by a couple days of post-production. GLP has had to turn down projects because it’s received so many requests. The African trip involved 20 projects. South America will involve 10.
"There’s a need for this and an importance," says Holmes.
The company president is dedicated. The 1988 Wellesley High grad missed his 20th class reunion because he was working in Africa.
Bob Tremblay can be reached at email@example.com or 508-626-4409.
The MetroWest Daily News
GREEN LIVING PROJECT
President and founder: Rob Holmes
Employees: 10, majority are part time
Industry: Media production
Company background: Based in Van Nuys, Calif., Green Living Project is a media production, marketing and entertainment company that showcases sustainable initiatives around the globe. Its Web site is www.greenlivingproject.com.