News from the Amazon
An interview with John Easterling
By Kosa Ely
John Easterling, founder and CEO of Amazon Herb Co., created a model of ecological prosperity that is benefiting the Amazon rainforest and its inhabitants. Having personally traveled to the rainforest more than 175 times over the past 26 years, we asked John about his vision and mission, both for the present and for the future.
Kosa: John, weíd like you to share with us your model of ecological business.
John: Well, the model of ecological business is simply a model of being a good steward to the planet and to the people on the planet, so what I find is in economics and in business ó wherever you put incentives, it creates behavior and it creates activity. We all know the rainforest is being threatened by many different forces that are based on other models of business. There is oil exploration, there is mining, and there is cattle ranching and logging. The beautiful thing about our business, with Amazon Herb Company, is that weíve discovered the true treasure of the Amazon. Not only is it a true treasure, but itís true and valuable. So it has a significant value in the marketplace. By bringing that value to the marketplace, and exposing it, we are able to turn the tide on where the incentives are.
Now the incentives have become one of ecological preservation. In other words, we want to preserve the biggest treasure thatís there, these Amazonian botanicals, so that they will be available on an on-going basis over the years. Simply by our providing resources, by paying the Indians a dollar value thatís more than logging, more than oil exploration, with no damaging side effects at all, we have a real solution.
Kosa: What are your chances of success given the fact the rainforest is being destroyed at a rate of 75 acres a minute? Arenít you fighting a losing battle?
John: Our chances of success are a hundred percent. We are succeeding. Every time an acre is preserved, thatís success. Every time an Amazon Herb bottle goes out the door, weíre celebrating a great success. And our success will continue and get larger and larger on an even grander scale. Now there are 14 communities we work with. The Amazon basin is about the size of the United States, so there is a long, long way to go, and our mission and our vision is to affect, in a positive way, the entire Amazon basin.
Kosa: So, is it happening in a small way right now?
John: In a relative sense, itís small, but to the people in the communities where we are working, itís gigantic. So every day to me is a one hundred percent success.
Kosa: What would it take in numbers for you to be able to bring enough herbs to market here in North America to affect that entire Amazon basin?
John: Iíd say if we had 50 million people using these herbs, we could really affect the entire Amazon basin.
Kosa: People want to know, John, that harvesting the herbs is not going to deplete the rainforest, especially when you talk about 50 million people taking these herbs daily.
John: Well, think of it this way, there are two hundred and seventy million people in the United States. And think of them as all eating a plateful of food. Theyíre not taking a couple of droppers or a spoonful ó a few times a day. Theyíre eating platefuls of food each day. And every person in the United States is doing that ó two or three times a day. You have two hundred and seventy million people, times three ó so whatís that? Eight hundred million plates of food a day being consumed, and yet look at the tiny percent of land that is used to grow all of that food. So just try to put it in perspective in a comparative model. When you compare the consumption of herbs to the masses of food people are eating everyday, you can see how a very small area of the Amazon can feed hundreds of millions of people their daily herbage.
Kosa: In numbers, how much of the Rainforest have you already helped preserve?
John: Well, Iíd say our company has participated now in stabilizing and preserving 300,000 acres. I say that because of the communities we work with and the amount of land they have. They donít have the temptation to compromise the integrity of their land by inviting any lumber or oil exploration or gold exploration onto their land. So thatís 300,000 acres at this point. In addition, we are buying land ourselves.
Kosa: As your company spreads its sphere of influence, how will you deal with the political pressures that are often an obstacle in environmental protection?
John: Well, quite frankly, Iím apolitical. I just focus on the vision and the mission, and doing what weíre doing. I donít pretend to be victimized by agencies or political pressures one way or another, and as a result weíve never been interfered with in this country or abroad, taken the exception of the terrorist activity in Peru.
I have a high degree of confidence that the consciousness of people is shifting in a dramatic way. Iíve seen that happen in extraordinary ways in the past 15 years as weíve been working with these herbs. For example, the Natural Supplements Industry was not the most welcome kid on the block in the business community 15-20 years ago. There were major breakthroughs with DSHEA laws and the understanding of herbs and botanicals, and now the world is recognizing how valuable these plants are.
And the consciousness is awakened to a degree where people are looking for a way to participate and be good stewards on the planet. I see things getting better and better. Iím very optimistic about the future, and I feel that any resistance you refer to would be temporary and benign.
Kosa: The ecological business model youíve created ó how do you see it affecting other businesses?
John: Well, Iím glad you asked that question. I see its future becoming very popular. I see people wanting to be a part of this simply because of the ecological aspect of it. People are awakening to the fact that there is a limit, there is a finite amount of resources on our planet. I see the ecological business weíre doing ó that itís becoming a positive influence and a positive model for others, and I encourage that. I encourage other businesses to wake up to the possibilities of doing their business in an ecologically friendly way.
Kosa: Is there anyone else who is harvesting herbs in the rainforest. Are others following your lead?
John: Certainly with what weíve got started now, itís an attractive kind of model that other companies would want to duplicate. And we get calls every week from other companies wanting to buy herbs from us. Are there other people harvesting? Itís a big rainforest; there are other people beginning to harvest but thereís no one who has the complete model we have: relationships with the communities, the facility and reserve in the Amazon, and the crew down there. Different people are looking to see if they can duplicate what we have, but no one is involved with the relationships all the way through the process like we are.
Kosa: So what has been your key in crossing cultural boundaries and developing partnerships in the Amazon that work?
John: Well I donít know if there is a specific duplicatable key. It really comes down to following oneís passion. I didnít set out in the beginning to cross cultural boundaries and set up successful relationships with indigenous communities. In the beginning, I was following a passion of finding treasure. So that was the driving force that took me across the cultural boundaries, and it was then that I began to appreciate the cultural differences and being able to work with indigenous communities based on trading and purchasing a variety of tribal artifacts, ceramics, blowguns and things like that. I did that for years. So that was where the relationship was formed and really grew.
Then later, once I had a life- changing experience with their botanicals, we started talking about herbs and botanicals, and it opened up another entire layer of adventure, another layer to delve into. So if there is a key, I would just say ó follow the passion, follow the trail. I just stumbled into this. I am very blessed, and very fortunate with all the things that have happened to me while following that trail. I never know exactly where that trail is going to lead. And in this case, itís led me beyond the gemstones and the tribal artifacts into these herbs, and into relationships with indigenous communities, and now helping to reverse effects of degenerative issues. So really it just gets bigger and bigger. Itís a matter of staying on track, and staying with the vision. We see some really good things happening now, and itís not me ó I can eat only so much herbage myself. Now weíve got thousands of people with a shared vision and a shared mission and thatís whatís so encouraging.
Kosa: What is your vision and hope people in the Amazon?
John: Well on the big side, weíre probably in the most exciting point in history, and something of historical significance is going on now with the re-empowerment of the communities in the Amazon. What weíre doing is empowering these communities to make new choices about their future. As they become more and more empowered, over the next 10 or 15 years, these communities could rise to the level of having such power and influence ó they could be calling the shots. This is the next generation of empowerment thatís just beginning to start now. And I know itís going to play out in a very powerful and positive way.
For more information on partnering with John Easterling and Amazon Herb formulas, please contact (800) 362-3975 www.amazonprosperity.com
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