We're excited to share the lessons and visuals of the Ecuador cloud forest, a region that's a canary in the coal mine of climate change.
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The StartupCuba.tv crew in the Mashpi Reserve. Photo Startup Cuba.

For the past 12 months we’ve been working on a project that we shot in the Ecuador rainforest. Inspired by the devastating destruction of Brazil’s Amazon, we hopped on a plane to the capital city of Quito, next door. From there we went to the Ecuadorian Chacó with some friends at the Mashpi Lodge. Mashpi sits in a cloud forest about three and a half hours outside of Quito. Although technically it’s still “in” Quito but that’s for another story.

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At the time, we thought we were filming a piece about deforestation and its impact on climate change. We wanted to share a first-person point of view of what a rainforest actually looks like. I just don’t think that the majority of us (myself included) truly understand the power of these environments up close. Nor do most of us have experience in the devastation that cutting them down is wreaking on our planet. I don’t want to speak for everyone but to most of us, the rainforests of the world “aren’t our problem.” They’re just something we hear about on TV.

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Zuzy contemplates the giant leaves in Ecuador’s cloud forest. Photo credit: Zuzy Martin-Aly

In reality, they’re most definitely our problem and we need to start paying attention. When our story comes out we’ll show you why.

What we didn’t know at the time of our shoot was that the additional lessons we gleaned about the role that balance plays in the rainforest eco-system —in South America and the world in general— would have such relevance a few months later when we would all be introduced to COVID-19.

More importantly, though, is that we’ll bring you up close to a region that is a canary in the coal mine of climate change.

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The StartupCuba.tv crew in the Ecuadorian Chaco. Photo Startup Cuba.

Our stories about our journey in Ecuador, and the cloud forest, the contrast we experienced between a strong bio-diversity and weaker one, and our experience at the Mashpi Lodge, one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World and noted as South America’s Leading Eco-Lodge from the World Travel Awards in 2018 and 2019, will be posted here soon. We’re super excited to share them with you. Visually, as you can imagine, they’re stunning. And, in our typical fashion, we had a fun time. More importantly, though, is that we’ll bring you up close to the Ecuador rainforest – a region that is a canary in the coal mine of climate change.

Related Post: Defending Ecuador’s Traditional Foods

(Hero image photo by the one and only, Karen Vierbuchen.)

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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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