Every cloud has its silver lining. And in the case of a dark economic cloud hovering over the economy, the dampening effect it has had on developers’ plans to turn our precious wild spaces into golf courses, ski resorts, holiday lodges and subdivisions has proven to be a heaven-scent windfall for conservationists and for a new type of social entrepreneurialism: It’s called Undevelopment.™ And Adam C. Hall is at the forefront.
Hall was a super-successful, Type-A, short-fused real estate developer who went on a shamanic journey in the Amazon rainforest in search of something more meaningful than money. His angel-led experiences in that amazing environment compelled him to abandon his old way of life and emerge from the jungle as an EarthKeeper — an initiate of an ancient lineage who accepts responsibility for the wellbeing of all life.
The Law of the Jungle
Nothing in Hall’s history prepared him for this unexpected metamorphosis. Early on in his career in real estate investment and property development, he’d heard a respected industry leader explain that, “We live by the law of the jungle: Whether you’re a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up you better run like hell.” This became Adam’s do-or-die credo. And for the next 22 years, he pursued ‘success’ at all costs — becoming a predator to avoid being prey.
At the end of this era, despite his large home in Malibu, the expensive toys and country club membership, he felt spiritually and emotionally bereft. His marriage was crumbling and his children were alienated from him.
It was a desperate need for authentic renewal and inexhaustible wealth that ultimately set him off on his spiritual quest. Looking back, Hall now views the mother of his three lovely daughters as the first of four angels impelling him forward on his path of dissolution and rebirth.
The second angel came in the form of a wise inner voice that Adam started hearing as he sat in despair at the beach. It was this voice that guided him to journey well beyond his narrow notion of reality and possibility.
Ironically, when Adam’s journey took him to the Amazon rain forest, he quickly saw that the Law of the Jungle was not at all what he’d been practicing in the marketplace. The greed and insecurity that characterize many high-stakes business deals make them far closer in nature to a street brawl than to the balanced cycles of life and death that occur every day in the jungle.
“Everything works harmoniously,” he discovered. “Things are sprouting and things are dying in concert with each other. The king of the jungle is the jaguar. But he, too, is living in rhythm with his nature and with the whole of Nature, just as the monkey does.”
Hall also saw the daily destruction that occurs in the jungle is of renewable resources, which is what keeps the whole system in balance. Amidst the Amazon’s magnificent diversity of flora and fauna, he could easily recognize the insanity of destroying precious natural resources — that have evolved together interactively over eons of time — for the sake of relatively short-term human objectives that often benefit the few at the expense of the many.
A Polar Shift in Paradigms
Upon his return from the Amazon, Hall sought ways to apply his 22 years of professional experience — and his rapport with other high stakes investors — to be of greater service to the industry, to the health of the planet, and to all of life. “The real estate investment and development industry has been great at creating jobs, lifestyles, and homes,” he points out. “But it hasn’t been sustainable.”
One of Hall’s primary goals was to find a way for investor/developers to thrive in compliance with the actual Law of the Jungle — such that “everything works together to contribute to the perpetual balance and harmony of the whole.”
But how could he reconcile the preservation of wild spaces with people’s desire to live and play in beautiful, natural settings — and with developers’ hunger for ever-greater financial rewards? The Holy Grail that Hall set out to find was a viable ‘both-and’ business model that could make allies of developers and conservationists.
Working together with a select group of like-minded real estate professionals, Hall founded the EarthKeeper Alliance (a profit/not-for-profit corporate hybrid) to help bridge the gap between these two very different worlds — and to embrace a ‘third world’ at the same time. This is what is known among social entrepreneurs as Impact Investing, which involves generating a profit and creating social benefits simultaneously. Here’s how the Alliance does it.
Reweaving the Web of Life
The group of investors that form the Alliance gain stewardship over vast and beautiful wild acreage that has become available for a fraction of its former cost (since development capital is no longer readily available). They then do whatever is required to restore these lands to their natural state and to put legal restrictions in place that will protect them from future exploitation.
Through such efforts — which Hall terms Undevelopment™ — flyways are preserved, watersheds restored, ecosystems re-established, and carbon emissions are reduced.
“The properties we purchase are gems,” Hall says, “suitable for sustainable pleasures like fishing, hiking, horseback riding, star-gazing and anything else that connects us gently with the Earth and the Heavens.” When the Alliance subsequently sells the land, the purchaser is free to create an eco-friendly development on the 5-20% of the land that is set aside for that purpose.
The Alliance then uses 10% of its profits from the sale of the land to create inner city parks and organic gardens so families there can strengthen their own bonds with the Earth and grow the greens that sustain them. Learning centers are also planned for these green spaces to educate and inspire future Earth stewards about the importance of protecting the beauty and capacity of the Earth to nurture us in perpetuity.
Angels of Redemption
Hall is dedicated to Undevelopment and to the conservation of natural beauty so that “our youngest inhabitants have the opportunity to connect with unadulterated wild spaces.” Mother Nature, he believes, “is the best place to meet oneself deeply and to align with the ‘better angels of our nature.’”
Once a ‘tough-minded’ cynic in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world, Hall now contends that, “we all have angels — within and around us — but we often don’t recognize them or can’t receive their gifts.” He is convinced that whether you’re a corporate raider or a spiritual seeker, “You just have to show up, and you have to be willing to receive the messages from your angels to know how best to live your life — in harmony with the Law of the Jungle.”
In the process of transforming his life and worldview, Hall met the angelic woman who became his life partner and fellow traveler on the road to unity consciousness. Together they met Alberto Villoldo, whom Adam considers the fourth angel assisting in his metamorphosis. It was Alberto who introduced the couple to indigenous shamanism and led them on their journey to the Amazon to encounter their authentic selves through a deep communion with the Earth.
As an EarthKeeper, Hall is “one who dreams his own life into being — based in truth, knowledge and imagination.” He defines ‘destiny’ as “a completion of our union with our Higher Self — through which the greater plan and purpose of our lives unfold.” And he gives thanks each day that he has stepped upon his path of des-tiny and soul fulfillment.
To learn more about Hall’s work, and to become an Earth Angel yourself, please visit his website: www.earthkeeperalliance.com
Laurel Airica, M.A., is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA. She can be contacted through her website: www.laurelairica.com
© 2011 Laurel Airica