Winter 2016 Newsletter
Decomposing the old, bringing in the new!
Hello to all our wonderful friends and supporters,
It is my great pleasure to catch you up on some of the exciting things that CoRenewal and Amazon Mycorenewal Project have been up to lately. We’ve been busy growing our organization, designing new research initiatives, creating collaborative opportunities and healing the Earth.
The last couple of years have brought many changes to our organization, and some new and exciting opportunities. Last year, we began the process of revising our organizational structure to better support growth in new directions, while increasing our efficiency and effectiveness. We gained additional members and welcomed some amazing new people into our organization.
Part of this transition includes the consolidation of CoRenewal and the Amazon MycoRenewal Project into one entity. CoRenewal is the name of our 501c(3) non-profit organization, which has the broader mission of fostering education, research, ecological restoration, sustainability and community health. Amazon MycoRenewal Project, a fiscally sponsored project of CoRenewal, has been engaged in community development initiatives and research on remediating oil pollution in the Sucumbios region of Ecuador for the last 9 years. Because there is so much overlap between the two groups, and we do more than just mycorenewal, we decided to transition towards solely using the CoRenewal name.
Our most recent achievement is the implementation of our flagship biofiltration installation for the Municipality of Cascales in the Sucumbios region of Ecuador. Biofiltration is the use of plants, microbes and fungi to filter contaminated water. Using CoRenewal member Robert Rawson’s IOS-500 bacterial blend, biochar, and other innovative approaches to environmental clean-up, we filtered contamination from sewage water, butcher waste, and landfill deposits. Before our intervention, all of these contaminants leached directly into the nearby rivers without any type of filtration--impacting downstream wildlife and poisoning water sources for local inhabitants. Currently, a majority of municipalities throughout Ecuador have similar practices of dumping their city wastes directly into the river without any treatment or filtration. To motivate more municipalities to install similar biofiltration systems throughout Ecuador, we have presented our work, and met with other organizations interested in emulating this project. In addition, we created educational courses on sustainability for local communities to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, and to reject plastic bags, plastic bottles, and other various disposable items.
Our recent bioremediation project in Cascales was a big step towards cleaning up oil contamination in the region. Our next step is to do a pilot project with IOS-500 on an oil-contaminated site; we plan to study the efficacy of these biological treatments, and evaluate strategies for cleaning up the massive oil pits that cover the Succumbios region in Eastern Ecuador. We are currently building collaborative relationships with other organizations in the region and seeking funding for this project.
Although we are very excited about using bacteria to clean up oil, we haven’t forgotten about the incredible fungi that originally inspired this organization and continue to motivate our efforts. :) After having limited success with fungi that have proven to be effective at cleaning up oil spills in North America, we are now focused on identifying local native fungi that are already doing the job in the Amazon rainforest. So we are doing fungal enzyme assays to identify and charactarize native fungal communities. We are currently putting the finishing touches on the project design, building relationships with universities and allied organizations, and seeking funding for this project.
We also recently built our own mushroom lab and production facility in Eastern Ecuador. We now have the capacity to grow fungi for the purposes of bioremediation and study the efficacy of various fungal species and mycoremediation techniques. With this lab and cultivation space, we are also able to teach local community members how to grow culinary and medicinal mushrooms as a form of sustainable income.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has given their time and energy to this project over the years, to everyone who has shown interest in volunteering, everyone who has reached out to network with us, and everyone who has has expressed their support. We are not always able to integrate every volunteer, but we always love connecting with new allies. In these times of large-scale environmental racism and unchecked corporate greed, we find that our power to create resilient, positive change depends on these networks of solidarity and mutual aid. We invite you and your friends to join us as a donor, volunteer, or even just as another social media contact. We invite you to support us in this very real challenge to combat and rectify the environmental injustices in Eastern Ecuador. Every contribution makes a difference and is immensely appreciated. Together we can heal toxic wounds and support sustainable and just livelihoods in the Amazon rainforest and around the world.
Let us decompose that which no longer serves the greater good, and create fertile ground on which new life can grow.
Yours truly for the Earth, and the incredible diversity of life that it supports,
Rebecca has been an incredibly helpful new volunteer--working with the fundraising committee on grants, crowdsourcing, the website, and more! Her skill and time go along way towards supporting our mission, and bringing our ideas to reality.
Here’s a mini-interview with her:
How would you summarize your background in one sentence?
My education is in conservation biology and agroecology and I've worked in the fields of environmental science, environmental education, and agriculture (now fungiculture).
What drew you to CoRenewal, and why did you decide to work with us?
Contributing to CoRenewal's fundraising efforts is a great way to remotely support mycoremediation research and development of open-sourced biofiltration & remediation technologies for the global community. I feel grateful to support CR's important research & project work which empowers locals to participate directly in the process of healing their watersheds & communities.
Big thanks to Rebecca for all her contributions!
What is IOS-500?
CoRenewal Member Robert Rawson has been working with a blend of bacteria trade named IOS-500 since 1991. The technology has proven to be an environmentally safe, practical, and cost effective method for quickly growing and sustaining large numbers of inexpensive, non-pathogenic bacteria that eat petroleum and perform other beneficial environmental functions. Of all of the types of bioremediation out there, we’ve decided that working IOS-500 holds incredible potential for cleaning up oil spills in Ecuador, and are planning a pilot project to do just that.
Biological Filtration on Landfill Point-Source Contamination:
Joining Efforts With the Municipality of Cascales
Article by Lexie Gropper
February 22, 2016