One Meter at a Time

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The Cuipo team in the Back Bay.

A sustainable lifestyle necessitates action, from “do no harm” to “do something good.”  You cannot sit on the bench and claim to be green.

Lately we have contemplated local action by locals.  All good.  Here is a story about locals acting globally.

Why act to preserve the rainforest?  Folks from a Newport Beach company, Cuipo, make a good case.  Along the way they make it easy, fun and tangibly rewarding to own a piece of a rainforest.

First, why the rainforest?  The rainforest provides the essential natural resources for the survival of humankind.   Known as the “lungs of our planet,” the rainforest provides the essential world service of continuously recycling CO2 into oxygen and represents a store of renewable natural resources that have contributed to our survival and well-being.

Considering health, one beneficial rainforest aspect, ingredients used in pharmaceuticals to treat leukemia, breast cancer, high blood pressure, asthma and numerous other diseases can only be found in the rainforest. Keeping the rainforest in its pristine state allows for continued research to find tcures for a multitude of diseases.

Next, who is Cuipo? Pronounced “Kwee-po,” it is a cause-oriented organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the world’s endangered rainforest, “one meter at a time.” It was created to inspire the preservation of our planet’s most vital ecosystem by empowering individuals and institutions to act and become responsible trustees of our planet. This mission will be accomplished through innovative Web-based technology, family-oriented educational materials, and an ongoing search for easier ways to make environmental activism accessible to all.

The name Cuipo is derived from an endangered tree in the Central American tropical rainforest that serves as the home for the Panamanian national bird, the also-endangered harpy eagle. It extends above other trees to heights of 130-200 feet.

Cuipo’s rainforest preservation efforts are centered on the belief that education and awareness are a start, but not enough. The only way to stop rainforest deforestation is to buy rainforest land and set it aside for permanent preservation. The Cuipo project pools revenue from individuals and corporate sponsors to purchase large parcels of land for transfer to its nonprofit foundation, One Meter at a Time, for permanent preservation. One Meter at a Time employs local workers and indigenous groups to safeguard the preserved rainforest land.

Here’s the back story.  At a Back Bay Cuipo photo shoot, there was an opportunity to meet the Team.  Gus Hurst is a Newport Harbor High grad (’86) holds a degree from USC and spends a great deal of time acquiring land in Panama with his partner, Tom Murray.

In a helicopter ride to search for possible land acquisition, Gus and Tom see a large swath of land.  The land had been burned to clear space for a farmer and his family to graze five cattle and plant vegetables for sustenance. But they have destroyed the economic value, habitat, etc.

An “aha!” moment occurred.  What if we raise funds to hire the farmer as ranger tasked with preservation, and purchase rainforest land?


Gus is talking with an old high school friend, John Oswald (NHHS ’85), formerly a thought leader behind the amazingly successful Paul Frank brand.  Inspired by his friend’s endeavors, Oswald comes back with a model utilized for explosive growth at Paul Frank, the shift from manufacturing to licensing and creating a brand.

Now, any and all products purchased can be carbon offset with several meters of rainforest.  The customer owns a piece of a rainforest and is invited into Cuipo’s sticky content world of education, products to purchase, entertainment and opportunities to acquire more rainforest with other Cuipo partners.  No more unhealthy, throw-away candy bar for youth fundraisers.  By becoming an Eco Fundraiser, these events can generate funds for a school project and own a permanent lasting entity, good for the planet, while everyone involved will become a little more educated.

Gus sits down for a coffee meeting with Matt Genova, a USC buddy, when up walks Gus’s high school buddy Oswald to join in.  Genova knows Oswald because Genova’s company licensed Paul Frank for furniture.  Before long, Genova joins Cuipo as sales director and now he is the chief rainmaker.

Genova is tasked with realizing the opportunity by identifying other brands to partner with Cuipo.  Buy a Tesla, own a piece of a rainforest.  Corporate gift in the form of a water bottle that has a bar code for simple redemption for ownership and education.  Endless possibilities to activate a brand experience to save necessary rainforests.

Inspired action steps.  Own a piece of the Chepo Rainforest in Panama.  Cuipo currently owns rainforest land about the size of Newport Beach. $5 buys you five meters and a buck a meter for more.  Visit Seed Market at The Camp to buy a product and save five meters of rainforest.  The education and content will create a social movement like the crying Indian made a generation think and act differently about trash.

Visit for more information and inspired action options.  Perhaps this can be a model to save other important assets?

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