Young Champ Liliana Jaramillo tells her story!

Liliana Jaramillo, 2017 Young Champion of the Earth for Latin America and the Caribbean, shares her experiences in greening the rooves of Quito.

July 2018

Moving on up...

Being an entrepreneur is a challenge, but I do feel that I am getting closer to certain goals; closer to my dream: greening the city with native plants. Working on what you feel passionate about, keeps you doing many different things and time flies.

Caption: First green roof prototype, photo taken on the day of installation. Credit: Nativus Quito

I had imagined that working on this project would require technical knowledge for developing green roofs. But I've realized that to create a bigger impact, I need to engage with many other related subjects too. I have been working hard to improve my communication skills, pitching my project in different situations. I have learned, through trial and error, how my idea is best understood. Every time I explain my project, and as different questions are asked, I notice where I should improve or highlight certain aspects. I feel that there is no precise formula for getting better at it, other than just trying and practicing.

Caption: Designing the second green roof to install with the team. Credit: Nativus Quito

Being an entrepreneur keeps you constantly out of your comfort zone. Rather than waiting to become an expert, there are many times when you have to make a quick decision in an area that is not your speciality. This exercise has been very hard but also helpful. Sometimes, waiting for perfection takes too much time and energy. Learning from fast results also gives you quick feedback, increasing your knowledge in different fields.

I have now decided that the startup is going to be focused on generating tools to make a greener city, which has established a clear pathway for us to follow. Developing environmental education simultaneously with green roof plant experimentation is a strategy that thrills me. I can get more people involved in conservation and create a bigger impact. I have established a working team, giving a name to the project and installing the first green roof experimental prototype. This has involved lots of teamwork, and we are constantly learning from each other.

Caption: First green roof prototype, two months months of installation. Credit: Nativus Quito.

Trusting my decisions and learning from my mistakes is the best way to go forward. I have acknowledged that keeping a positive attitude makes things easier, even when they seem to be difficult to overcome.

My work is starting to show results. The first green roof prototype has been installed with four different plant species. We are very excited about this opportunity and the next prototype, which will be a green roof designed to create an experience for people who visit the native garden.

I am eager to share our story and would love if you want to share it too. Nativus Quito is the name of my startup and you can follow us on social media @NativusQuito -  I invite you to keep following my venture!

 

March 2018

 

 

 

February 2018

 

 

My dream is to green the cities, but nobody tells you that between the dream and making it real, there is a process. There are a lot of questions, answers, mistakes, doubts, solutions, inspiring days, forgettable days and a mixture of emotions that will make the feeling of achieving your dream even better. I started with the idea of having green roofs with native plants in Quito. It might sound easy, but the truth I discovered is that there is a long way to achieve this goal.

 

Propagation area, where the magic happens! Cuttings are planted and starting to grow.

 

Quito is the capital of Ecuador, a city of 1.6 million people, with urban development that is increasing very fast. One issue is that all the plant nurseries offer a variety of exotic species with a limited list of native species, especially trees. All the current landscaping projects use exotic species because it is the only option. This made me ask, what if there were native plants for landscaping?

Alongside this is green roofing. The green roof industry is starting to develop in Quito, with more new buildings being planned with green roofs. Many projects have already been developed, but the question remains, who is behind these green roofs? It seems that there are different people building these types of roofs, but no unified vision. 

These two main questions are the puzzle that I am trying to figure out. I know clearly all the benefits that native green roofs can provide to the city, but the first step is figuring out how the green roof system works. Over the past couple of months, I have been asking, listening and asking again, learning every detail I can about the functioning of the city. Projects, policies, bureaucracy, markets, architects, construction companies, plant nurseries, all the actors count, all the details count. Understanding the system will help me be more effective in developing native green roofs in my city.

While all this research takes place, I am also working on the fun part, searching for plants in the field and taking them to a greenhouse to multiply them. This work has involved bibliographic research about the plants that I am interested in, finding the best pictures, and creating a field book for making the search easier. During the research I realized that there are dozens of plants that have been used traditionally by people in Quito. Now, this idea has grown to involve not only greening the city and preserving native species but preserving the local knowledge and traditions of the people of Quito. The more I discover the different impacts that the project will have, the more I fall in love with it. I identify with the stories and I feel the responsibility to pass on this knowledge to the next generation.

 

One of the happiest moments until now, the first sprout of a cutting. I am actually multiplying native species!

 

This past month has been intense, it feels like three whole months but it is just proportional to all the knowledge I have gained. This amazing path that I am on is giving me the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and disciplines that want to join forces and create a real impact. There is a lot of work to do but when I am tired I just think, “I love what I am doing”. It is too early to say that I have all the puzzles figured out, but that is the challenge, that is life and that’s what I’m exciting about.  

 

To be continued...

 

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