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Regenerative Agriculture To Stop Climate Change

Featuring Guest -

Christian Shearer

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
EP
53
February 15, 2021

Christian Shearer is the CEO & Co-Founder at Regen Network, a community of actors engaging with ecological regeneration, ecological monitoring, verification, distributed computing and technology development, centered around Regen Ledger. Christian went from permaculturist and educator in Southeast Asia to a global tech entrepreneur looking to solve global challenges like climate change, desertification, and resource depletion that affect nearly every aspect of human life.

Starting at age 24, this ecological innovator founded the most well-known permaculture education center in SE Asia, the Panya Project. After spending over a decade working with farmers across seven countries, he co founded Terra genesis international to work directly with brands to create solutions that regenerate soil, increase biodiversity, and boost their business.

These experiences opened his eyes to the most powerful pathways for reversing climate change and unlocking the largest untapped market in the world: farmers and the earth’s Ecosystems. So he decided to create a block-chain based marketplace that allows land stewards to sell more than just produce. Farmers can monetize their ecosystem services to buyers around the world, functioning to reverse climate change, and improve their soils, through incentivized carbon removal.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In 21 days before their TechStars debut they were able to secure 136 farmers with 5.2 million acres of lands to be part of the solution. They have partnered with dozens of organizations and universities across the globe. And most recently, Regen made a monumental carbon credit sale to Microsoft who is committed to remove all the carbon that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975.

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Scroll below for important resource links & transcripts mentioned in this episode.

Want hear another founder who is using advanced technology in novel ways? - Listen to Episode 033 with Brett Hagler, Co-Founder & CEO of New Story, who has innovated the world’s first 3D printed home which only takes 24 hours to build, and costs $4,000, a fraction of traditional construction costs.

what you'll learn in this episode

  • How Christian bought a piece of land in Thailand after college
  • How Christian became an expert in permaculture to fulfill his own needs
  • What a world renowned permaculture designer taught him about inspiration
  • The surprising secret of just how much agriculture affects our lives
  • Why Christian moved back to the states to start Terra Genesis International
  • The biggest lesson Christian learned working with permaculture clients
  • The fundamental questions Christian started asking self about agriculture and the climate crisis that led to Regen
  • How incentives can drive change, for better or worse
  • How to better incentivize farmers to practice more regenerative agriculture
  • How Regen is using open source, blockchain technology and advanced verification to support farmers
  • How Christian went from permaculturist to technology expert
  • What TechStars taught Christian and how it shaped his business
  • Why companies would want to purchase carbon credits
  • The counter intuitive reason why carbon credits incentivize companies to have more sustainable business practices
  • How entrepreneurship affected Christians previous marriage
  • The impact of Microsoft purchasing offset credits from Regen
  • How Regen's blockchain technology works
  • Why they are open sourcing their technology, even to competitors
  • The problem with big agriculture
  • The real reason Christian has dedicated his life to this mission

How Christian Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

Loving one another. Being kind to one another. Smiling at each other. That's so important in this country right now. That's for sure. So much division. So starting there just on a human to human basis is a great place to start. I'd say thinking from a totally different paradigm about what we're doing in the world promoting incentives, so that when a farmer or rancher or anyone really, even a consumer is thinking about making a choice, they are incentivized to make a choice that actually makes the world a better place rather than a choice that degrades.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Brandon Stover: [00:00:54] Hey, everyone. Welcome to evolve. I'm Brandon Stover and today's guest went from permaculturist and educator in Southeast Asia to a global tech entrepreneur looking to solve global challenges like climate change, desertification and resource depletion that affect nearly every aspect of human life.

Starting at age 24, this ecological innovator founded the most well-known permaculture education center in Southeast Asia, depending on your project. After spending over a decade, working with the farmers across seven countries, he co-founded Terra Genesis international to work directly with brands to create solutions that regenerate soil increased biodiversity and boost their business.

These experiences opened his eyes to the most powerful pathways for reversing climate change and unlocking the largest untapped market in the world, farmers and the earth ecosystems. So he decided to create a blockchain based marketplace that allows land stewards to sell more than just their produce.

Farmers can monetize their ecosystem services to buyers around the world, functioning to reverse climate change and improve their soils through incentivized carbon removal.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive in 21 days before their tech stars debut, they were able to secure 136 farmers with 5.2 million acres of land to be part of the solution. They've partnered with dozens of organizations and universities across the globe. And most recently made a monumental cart bin credit sale to Microsoft.

Who's committed to remove all the carbon that it has admitted since the company was founded in 1975.

Today's guest is none other than CEO and co-founder of region network, Christian cheer. Now before becoming a technologist fighting the good fight against climate change. Christian was a permaculturist who wanted to live the good life in Thailand. After college,

having lived there since he was 12 and becoming deeply influenced by the time Buddhist culture, he wanted to go back, buy a piece of land and invite his friends to live with him. So in his early twenties, he wrote a seven page proposal to his friends called the band tie project, which roughly translates to the house of freedom. Inside the proposal. He stated there are no property taxes in Thailand. Once you have a house on the land, solar power is very feasible and the land is fertile and these conditions are perfect for being able to live a wonderful existence without having to pay all sorts of bills and monthly.

Christian Shearer: [00:03:17] It's a, it's a pretty funny story in retrospect. I mean, I'm saying that because here I am. Sitting as the CEO of region network. And like, as our company is just about to take off and as just credit our first piece of real impact in the world with a sale to Microsoft, when I S.

Set out to start the bond type project in Thailand. I had this philosophy that, you know, why would I ever have a career careers are so 19 hundreds it's so the old philosophy of life, like I'm gonna S I'm gonna make my own life. I ended up the designer and creator of my own life. And in that moment, it was really clear, clear to me that careers had nothing to do with that.

Well, We can get into the story, but one thing led to another led to another led to another. And now I'm a CEO of a technology company.

Brandon Stover: [00:04:09] Yeah. Yeah. Quite a change. So when you were building that first project, why did you decide to focus on permit culture, education?

Christian Shearer: [00:04:16] in the conception of the project, I knew nothing about permaculture.

I didn't really know what it meant to live an alternative lifestyle and to design my own life and like become a creator rather than a consumer, you know? And it was through creating that project. And basically what happened was just as I was graduating college, I presented to my friends and family, like about 50 different people a proposal.

There's like a seven page proposal that basically said let's all throw a little bit of money in together and we'll buy some land in Northern Thailand and we'll see what happens with it. I don't know what happens with it. It's up to us to make it happen. But what I am pretty sure of is that having this project in our lives will be amazing for our lives, whatever we do with it.

And that that thesis has definitely turned out to be true, you know So at the time, I think I was imagining something more like building a bungalow, getting a margarita mixer and a hammock and just living the good life, you know, but what, what ended up happening was I needed to figure out how to grow the mangoes that were going to go into that margarita mixer and how to construct that bungalow in a way that was beautiful and functional.

You know, and I was an environmentalist at the time. I certainly cared about things. And but I didn't have a depth of knowledge or depth of understanding of what that really meant to live in tune with nature and connected with natural systems someone along the way. Thank you, whoever you are suggested that I take a permaculture design course, if I'm going to do a land project like this, and I really had no idea what that was, but I took their suggestion.

I went and took a six week internship at lost Valley education center in outside of Eugene, Oregon, and got my first introduction to permaculture design. And, and from there it became clear. That using a permaculture design as a framework for all of us who are, co-creating this project in Northern Thailand to rally around, you know, like let's all come together, let's do a PDC course together.

Let's create a design of what we're going to do on this piece of land, so that we can start implementing this land into the future. Well, that was just a great idea at it. And it worked out really well to, to bring all of our disparate ideas into a clear and coherent vision.

Call To AdventureBrandon Stover: [00:06:39] When did this expertise start to turn the light bulb on for you that, you know, this could be a powerful driver for climate change.

Christian Shearer: [00:06:46] Well, what was really cool is we, we decided to host a permaculture design course. I reached out to a number of different teachers about what that would mean if they would come to our land and this guy that had never heard of named Jeff Lawton wrote back, it turns out Jeff Lawton is not only an incredible permaculture design designer and doing incredible projects in the world, but he has a storyteller that can really inspire action, inspire creativity. You know, and, and I went on to become a permaculture teacher as well.

And I always told my students on day one, my main goal here is to inspire you. Hmm, if I can get you inspired so that you then go and learn lots of things and do lots of things that is so much more important than me giving you a bunch of information, right. You can get the information let's, let's start with inspiration.

And that's what he did for sure. I mean, he It gave us everyone in that course, a spark of understanding of like, wow, there's so much possible, you know, for my own self and my life, there's so much possible for this piece of land. There's so much possible for this earth and the, and the relationship between humans and the earth.

And so I started exploring that and diving into it and figuring out how to deal with water and deal with, with biology and deal with human beings and communication, and It's a, it's a lifelong journey. I still have a lot to learn, but I've been passionate about that work ever since.

Brandon Stover: [00:08:12] Can you explain a little bit about how much agriculture really affects us and how intertwined we are? I think right now in current day society, we're so lost between that connection, but it does affect us deeply.

Christian Shearer: [00:08:24] Oh yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah, the, the impact that agriculture has on our living systems of this planet is just incredible.

A few stats for you about 70% of all the work of all the water. All of the fresh water that is used on this planet is used for agriculture systems.

About a third of all the greenhouse gas emissions that are admitted on the planet are emitted through because of agriculture thing processes which is almost equivalent to the fossil fuel contributions. Right. So we really vilify fossil fuels and Exxon and Chevron and all of them, but it turns out where we are sourcing our food from is almost equivalent to the amount of negative impact on the planet, as you know, digging coal out of the ground and burning it for for our electricity.

about 60% of the entire land area of the planet. Is managed by individuals and their families to practice animal husbandry or practice agriculture. And this is where the thesis of regenerative agriculture potentially being an incredibly powerful leverage point for global ecological change really comes into play.

If there was a way that we could influence the decisions and actions of those people that are managing those pieces of land all over the world. We could very rapidly turn around the ecological degradation happening on this planet. Crossing the first threshold

Brandon Stover: [00:09:56] let's move the story along a little bit and you know, you're making mangoes for yourself for your own margarita is you're teaching other people to make their Migos.

Why did you decide to leave that life? Come back to the States and start Terra Genesis.

Christian Shearer: [00:10:09] Right. Well, I don't actually know that I spent much time and a headache or drank many margarita night time there. That was my original vision. And I'm still, I guess I'm still working towards that. If you will, My time and efforts at the Panera project were amazing. You know, it's life-changing, and I'm still connected with our project. Now, we still we're still hosting high school projects that come through. You know, COVID has done a little bit of a twist in this, but besides calibrated, we're still hosting schools.

We're still hosting PDCs, some natural building courses. But along the way I met some amazing colleagues. , the five of us like kind of got together and said, Hey, look what each of us has our own areas of expertise, areas of skill here. We're all still learning and growing. Perhaps if we, you know, form something together, And not only might we be able to make something different happen in the world than we could on our own, but we might also accelerate our own, our own learning process. And that's what we did at first. It was just you know, a collective of people that none of us were even giving it half time, to be honest But that was fine.

If one of us brought a project in for Terra Genesis we could just do that project ourselves, or we could pull in some of the other folks in the, in the collective to work with it on us or work on it with us. And yeah, it was cool. It was the first opportunity I ever had to get paid. Like at the time when I thought it was really.

Yeah, well it seems like a small number now, but you know get paid really well to do permaculture design on larger landscapes. You know, we produced really beautiful, amazing you know, full. Project management manuals about how to take a piece of land from one from one state and try to help transform it into another Yeah. it started having more success in getting more clients.

So that was kind of my, my step from the living completely off the land without a career kind of like putting a half a foot into a collective of designers .

The Plan: Working at Terra GenesisBrandon Stover: [00:12:06] What did you start learning from the clients that you worked at Terra Genesis that kind of started leading you to the idea behind region network?

Christian Shearer: [00:12:13] Well, one of the main learnings here, and this is, you know speaks to entrepreneurial-ism in general is that our original idea of how it would work was not how it actually works.

So, and so in this case, I'm talking about like working with a client, creating a master plan for their site, and then and then giving that master plan to them, basically what they were asking for was like, in the end. And I didn't, I didn't think about it this way at the time, but these clients are approaching us saying, you know, I've got a thousand acres.

We have resources. We want to do something amazing with the site. What they were asking for between their words they were saying, I want to do something amazing with my time and my resources. I want to feel really good about what I do. I want to learn and grow, and I want to be engaged in something that I feel like is, is giving back to the world.

when we just listened to their words, what they were saying was we want to hire you to tell us what to do to make this land you know, a regenerative project. And what we ended up doing was we would do that for them. We like create a master plan you know beautiful, like, you know, a hundred page long version of all the different areas of land and analysis of where the swales could go in the trees and the, and you know, all the different systems and how he could monetize that and everything.

And then we would give it to the clients and then the client would read through it and then put it on their shelf and nothing would really, and we were just kind of scratching our heads. Like, what did we do wrong? Well, it turns out that we weren't really acknowledging what the client actually needed, what they thought they needed and what they actually needed were two different things.

Right? So that was a big, important learning. And for all the entrepreneurs on this call, I really encourage you to think about your own business and how, what you think your customer needs. Maybe and what they're saying, they need maybe different. And then what they're actually actually wants. So you can apply it to your own situation here.

what I discovered, and we got a lot more client like engagement and interest, what they actually wanted was something that was engaging and empowering and, and grew them as human beings. So rather than. Making master plans for them and giving them the answers. We became a design company that actually involved our clients in the design process with us and invited them to consider the many factors and invited them to think about how could this work and how would that look?

And is that something you would actually want to be spending your time on? You know, what is it that you want for you and for your kids and for your grandkids and for your community? You know, let's, let's dig into that. And, and through that process, not only did they have an incredibly transformative experience, but we ended up with a plan that was much more aligned with our hearts and their visions and that they were like ready to implement.

Brandon Stover: [00:15:14] Brandon Stover. And you're listening to the evolve podcasts with Christian shear of region network. And just a moment. You're going to hear the most important questions. Christian started asking himself about the climate crisis that led to the creation of his startup, the region network. But first I wanted to let you know all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free worksheet at evolve.

the.world/episodes/christian shear. All of the lessons Christian is sharing are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones that you're actually going to put into action. That's why I distill all the action items from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately apply them to your life and business.

Lessons, like getting clear on what customers want, creating the right incentives. Now how to have fulfillment in your work and so much more. These lessons are all available at evolve. the.world/episodes/christian Scheer. That's evolve the doc world slash episodes slash Christian shear, where you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app.

Now let's get back to the evolve podcast with Christian share region at work, as he describes the discoveries about regenerative agriculture and the climate crisis that led to region network.

The Plan: Discovering RegenOne of the interviews that I listened to in preparing for this I heard you, you ask yourself a question and it was what needs to be true.

That isn't true. And I was curious what your answer was when it came to regenerative farming. Solving the climate crisis.

Christian Shearer: [00:16:43] Well, great question. So yeah, I mean, I'm going to do what I like to do with my clients, even in turn this back out to the people that are listening to the call here. I think another word for what you're saying is what is imperative on this planet?

So let's take the entire food system. You know, there is a system that ends up getting food on your table so that you can feed your families. It's an imperative that you get food that your family and your, your kids and you eat that food. So you stay healthy. Okay. We're, we're meeting that imperative.

Now. What is imperative for the entire food system to actually be in service to global ecological health? Yeah. And that's a question that has not been asked of our current capitalists system. That that question has not helped design the way that food systems currently work. Right.  Could dive into what questions were asked, but I don't, I don't know that it was necessarily helpful right here.

You know, coming back to natural systems. And coming back to permaculture and the principles of permanent composer, you know, work with nature rather than against it. Right. When I think about what's imperative for food systems to serve ecological systems, to serve the global wellbeing, I think about the fact that the food systems for basically every other species on the planet besides humans.

Actually do serve the planet. Sure. So, so how, how are, is different than that? You know, like how could we be working with the natural patterns of ecological systems to be able to cultivate. Harvest and deliver food to our communities in such a way that that actually creates clean water outcomes and biodiversity outcomes and build soil over time.

And, and nourish is ecological communities, not just nourishes our bodies as an outcome. And then another question that goes along with this is how do we. How do we incentivize and invite those who are currently stewarding the land in the model that they have been encouraged and taught to do?

How do we invite them on a journey of asking these questions and, and making a shift towards practices that might, you know, result in those ecological outcomes that we're after?

Brandon Stover: [00:19:15] I think it's really important to look at what the incentives are and how those are be giving to, you know, in this case, the farmers, what are they actually incentivized to do?

Because if you can change the incentives, you can change the behavior that comes after those incentives.

Christian Shearer: [00:19:30] Yeah. That's all right. That's all right.  Let's make sure that as we're utilizing incentives to create positive outcomes, that we are doing it in a way that acknowledges whole systems and whole whole health. I might have misgivings about capitalism and and capitalism as the answer to all of our problems. In fact, there may be large part of me that hopes that we transition rather rapidly rapidly into something other than the capitalist approach.

Capitalism. And the incentive structures that are built into the, to the money system are arguably one of the most rapid one of the, one of the levers that we can pull that may most rapidly change people's behavior for better or worse. A lot of people on the planet are focused on their income and how do I, how do I get income so that I can pay for my family's food so I can send my kids to college that I can like, you know get the things that I need in life.

And I mentioned earlier that 60% of the land area of this planet is managed by individuals and families who those families have these considerations in mind when they're, when they're thinking about how to manage their landscapes, what should we plant this next year? How do we want to manage that?

And oftentimes the economics and the financials of that. Of those decisions are front and center for them. We need to plant the crop that is going to return us income so that we can send our daughter to university. We need to, we need to use the techniques that are going to be the most financially viable for us so that we're not taking too much risk and sending ourselves into debt.

So I guess we have a thesis here that, that if. When they asked those questions, their answer was we should choose techniques that return clean water and biodiversity and clean air. And aren't leaching nitrogen and phosphorus into the waterways and, and produce really highly nutritious food and sequester carbon into our soils and build, build soil over time.

if the answer to the question of what should we do this next year? That would return us more money was that we would be on to something that could very rapidly transform, you know, 60% of the planned area of this planet. And that's, and that's what we're working on and region network.

Brandon Stover: [00:21:52] Yeah, absolutely. So these questions and these, this thesis is what led you to regenerate work and building an open marketplace of solutions and technology. To really start managing the ecology for these farmers and verifying, you know, what's going on. So can you elaborate and explain what region is and the technology behind it?

Christian Shearer: [00:22:13] Yeah, absolutely. So region network is an open source community governed public infrastructure.  that we've created to try to bring more transparency, more auditability, more liquidity to the ecosystem services credits markets. And when I say ecosystem services credits, the one that most people have heard of is carbon credits.

There's also water credits and biodiversity credits and other wetlands mitigation programs and others. we are not a company that is actively managing any landscapes. We're not actually the heroes of this story. We're not doing the regeneration. What we're trying to do is enable. The heroes of this story, who are the farmers and ranchers around this world to be able to do their stewardship in a way that in a way that allows them to regenerate the planet and get rewarded and recognized for that.

Right. You know there are literally 2 billion people on this planet whose day-to-day lives are wrapped up in agricultural system. And those are the people that are going to help us. Get past this, global existential crisis of climate change and, and the fifth greatest extinction on the planet.

They're the ones that are gonna help us turn around. And what region regional network is trying to do is build the infrastructure, the technology to help them. To be able to monitor what they're doing to build a verify the fact that they have in fact, created positive outcomes, to be able to help them take that verification and turn it into the issuance of digital assets that they can, they can sell.

And to perceive income for the production of those of those ecosystem services.

Approaching the cave: Learning TechBrandon Stover: [00:23:58] Hmm. Well, I want to touch on I think a key part in your story, especially for entrepreneurs. So you spent a couple of decades as a farmer. How did you go from farmer to being an expert in technology like blockchain and remote sensing practices?

That seems like a big jump, but I think like you had some good parts on your journey that can help explain that.

Christian Shearer: [00:24:20] Yeah. Cool. Well, first of all, it wasn't actually a farmer.  I worked with a lot of farmers, so I started to understand the, complexity there and the, and the depth there and what it really takes to be, or at least to some degree, what I started to understand what it takes to be a good farmer and to do that work.

How did I go from that to, to technology, I guess, region to network or sorry, Terra Genesis was part of that transition. So, you know, I explained that we were working with landholders and shifted some of our assumptions around that, you know, at some point in Terra, Genesis a story, we, we pivoted again.

We recognize we're doing a pretty good job here. We really, we have clients, we have, you know, a couple thousand hectors that we're, that we're, we're helping clients to transform, you know, and, and over time we could scale that up to, you know, 10,000 hectors or a hundred thousand hectares, but honestly, These amazing people that were working on Terra Genesis international.

We wanted to have a real impact on global climate change. Yeah. And 10,000 hectors just wasn't going to do it. That's like a drop in the bucket. Sure. Yeah. So at some point, we said, okay, we need to, we need a very firm strategy here. We need to be effecting, you know, hundreds of thousands or millions of acres if we're going to have an impact.

So we, we decided to try to intervene in the supply chains of, of natural products companies, you know, some of these amazing companies like rebel elixir drinks that some of you may know just an awesome company grounded in really deep ethics in cash organics, which is a superfood company that just.

Produces the best works with the best farmers and brings in the best foods into this end of this country. Mega foods is a supplements company that we worked with you know, many others down those lines. And basically these companies all already have organic and fair trade supply, but we're asking us about how do we go from, What arguably is a less bad paradigm of organics to a paradigm of actually creating positive impact on the planet.

And I want to be clear here. I'm not trying to trash on organic, so we should all be buying organic from the grocery store. I think it's the best for the most part. It's the best we can do right now, right? Yeah. But what I'm saying by it's a less bad paradigm is that if you were to go to a Driscoll's strawberry operation or to a giant.

You know, earthbound lettuce operation, and you were to look at that landscape. And I was to ask you, is this landscape being regenerated? The answer would be no, it's not. It's still being degraded by those activities as being degraded a lot less because they're practicing organic strategies, but it's not being regenerated back to health.

And no, it's still a huge monocrop that is wholly extractive out of the, out of the system. And there is a way that we can do agriculture regenerative and there's, there's more and more farmers every year that are doing it. And that's what these companies were after. And then after engaging with these companies and recognizing that what they needed and that their customers oftentimes didn't believe their claims.

So, you know, a company like mega foods literally would put six figures into engaging with their, with their farmers and helping them upgrade their systems. You know, they would make a claim on their packaging or share with their customer groups that, you know, this is what we're doing. Well, the brand down the road would just hire a film crew for a day, go to the most picturesque little farm that there is, and like make a little film about how much they love their farmers.

And you really couldn't tell which brand was being genuine and which wasn't right. You know? And so we recognize there is a piece of infrastructure that is missing here. Hmm. There needs to be a way that, that I, as the consumer or I, as the regulator or I, as the board member or higher as the company can actually verify whether impact was actually made or not, you know, and, and our belief is that needs to be done in an open, in a peer-to-peer way, in a transparent way, in an auditable way which is different than the existing paradigm of.

Certifications and having a centralized, trusted body that is like, this is the trusted entity to say, yeah, if they say it's good, then we should just all be like, yeah. Okay. It's good. We have the technology and we have the means now to run a totally open peer to peer open source science project.

Where we can use remote sensing verification models, and constantly upgrade our systems to get better and better and better through citizen science and the, and the contributions of our community of caring actors around the world. And there are literally billions of those caring actors that would like to contribute to this.

Approaching the cave: Tech Stars

Brandon Stover: [00:29:07] when you guys went through the Techstars accelerator, you had put out a call to some of those people. And got an overwhelming response back. Can you kind of show the story leading up to tech stars and launching that?

Christian Shearer: [00:29:19] Yeah, we were super proud to accept the offer from Techstars to come and join in their incubator programming and Techstars, generally partners with a corporate partner.

That's kind of how they work. So you might be, you know working with. We're working with a bank or working with food company or, you know, and in this case, it was the first time that they had partnered with a nonprofit, they partnered with the nature Conservancy. And so we were actually embedded in the nature Conservancy's building for three months incubated by Techstars and had access to both the, the tech and business chops of Techstars and the, the deeply you know, conservation focus of the nature Conservancy was awesome.

Only 2% of companies that apply for stars or are approved and accepted into the program. Right. And so it was a big honor for us. And they really, you know, cracked the whip on us a bit, be honest you know, we're the founders of our company, including myself, love to dream and ski team at a high level about what's possible in the world.

Yeah. And, and Techstars helped say, okay, we love what you're scheming. Let's put it into practice. You know, how do we do customer interviews, customer interviews, and how do we test our hypothesis about things? How do we choose a narrow focus to focus on and do that really well? And once we've proven that we can expand and grow into all that, you know, as possible.

Yeah, so that was an incredible learning opportunity for us. And it was during that time that we were exploring the fact that there are many different kind of ecological contracting potentials. That's kind of where we were when we entered in, like we're building a platform for ecological agreements, right. We know there was about six other angles in the end, we landed on ecosystem services credits and, and carbon credits, and just saw how much interest there is in the purchase of voluntary carbon credits as offsets for corporations emissions and to how little.

Or how constrained the supply was for that, how, inaccessible those markets were to farmers and ranchers. And we said, I think this is a spot that we could intervene and have a huge amount of impact.

Brandon Stover: [00:31:33] And so you guys were building a marketplace, which is a chicken and the egg problem, which side do you build first?

You got a great response from the farmers. How did you get your first companies to start purchasing credits?

Christian Shearer: [00:31:43] So at the end of Techstars they encouraged us, like you should get some farmers signed up you know, it'd be, we're like, great. Let's target like a hundred thousand acres or something before the Techstars demo day video.

So like three weeks before that video, we kind of splashed it out on our social media and said like, Hey, any farmers out there that want to get paid for ecological impact, please like sign up on our website, tell us what you're doing. We had. I can't remember the exact number right now, but somewhere around 150 farmers sign up and farmer cooperatives and things sign up our website representing 5 million acres of land in that first three weeks of it blew me away.

The interest on the supply side is definitely there. It's like they want to do this. So your question about the buy side, who's going to, okay, great. So we can verify that they're making it back. Who's going to buy these things like. And people ask us all the time. Like, isn't that just a charity thing.

Like charities charities are not very good business. There's not that much money that runs through. Well, it turns out that there, there are over 1400 international corporations now that have made really strong commitments to offsetting their carbon. A lot of them committing to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

You know, Joe Biden is talking about the whole United States becoming carbon neutral by 2050. You know, these are, these are ambitious, but absolutely necessary targets for these companies. So, and why would they do that? You know, why would a company like Microsoft or Delta airlines, which committed to becoming a carbon neutral airline or Stripe, or, you know, why would these companies do this?

There's two main reasons why they, why they would choose to do this. The first reason is a reputational reason and just the fact that consumers are shifting their buying patterns,  towards wanting to buy products that are in line with their values. Right.  Companies nowadays want to be seen as having that as part of their image. Yeah.

This, the second reason why a company might want to do this is for risk mitigation. Hmm. And, and people are like, what do you mean risk mitigation? And I'm here to tell you that the movement has already started to hold these companies accountable for killing our planet and your life. And people are like, what do you, what do you mean by that?

Well, just like at some point, the movement started to hold tobacco companies accountable for the fact that they gave a lot of people cancer. This could go in a very similar direction. And now at this point in 2021, a company cannot claim that they did not know that they're manufacturing, that they're shipping, that their products are causing the planet to literally die before because of what they're doing. They can't claim that they didn't know that. Well, there is now a price, a risk price associated with carbon. You know, companies like Exxon mobile and shell oil are buying up carbon credits to help mitigate their potential future risk of these lawsuits.  Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify you know, Stripe Delta airlines, et cetera, are buying up carbon credits too, for both of those reasons.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:09] It's powerful when they actually start looking at this as a cost and putting it, you know, on the balance sheet, they can see it that way.

It gets everybody in the company, not just somebody who's like, you know, we should be doing something good, but it gets everybody like. We need to bring these expenses down of future lawsuits or when they are purchasing these carbon credits. Now that's also, you know, a line on their sheet and be like, you know, if we did more sustainable practices, we could probably get this cost down.

Christian Shearer: [00:35:36] That's exactly right. That is like such an important point here. So using Lyft, for example, you know, the, the car sharing app company early on in the lifts enlist development, they decided to, offset all of their carbon. All of the carbon of all of their drivers, all the carbon of all of their servers, all the carbon of everything they're associated with.

And what that did for them is that all of a sudden their CFO was on board. You know, it's not just their chief sustainability officers saying guys, guys, we should do these programs. Yeah. Yeah. You're just the sustainability officer. No, it's now the sustainability officer and the chief financial officer are working together to say, okay, Just like you said, it's a wine on it.

It's a line item on their balance sheet. If they don't. Reduce the amount of carbon that they emit, they're going to have to spend all those dollars to offset. So th so then for Lyft, for example, they said, okay, we need to increase the amount of car sharing that we use, like multiple writers in the same car.

So they have, they've got the carpooling program and they, they, they give you a cheaper price. If you use that tool, they decided let's get scooters. So people will ride on scooters, which we use way less resources than a car does to get someone, you know, two miles down the road. Yeah. And, and bikes down, you know, the bikes Around the world.

And then they're incentivizing their drivers to use electric cars rather than gas vehicles. And so they've done a great job of implementing programs within their business to reduce the amount of imp emissions that they produce in the first place, which is a cheaper for them. Be better for the world.

And, you know, in the end requires them to purchase less offsets. And even though my company is a company that wants to sell offsets, I would rather, if nobody had to buy offsets, it's much better for them to not create the negative impact in the first place then for them to create it and then, and then offset it.

Ordeal: DivorceBrandon Stover: [00:37:33] Yeah, absolutely.  I like to showcase the entire entrepreneur and business is never like just built in a bubble. So in 2019 you and your previous wife decided to separate. So if you're open to it, I wonder if you would mind sharing as an entrepreneur, how this kind of changed your view about entrepreneurship and running a business.

Christian Shearer: [00:37:55] Yeah, I mean, it's important. There is a very serious correlation between people starting businesses and people getting divorces. You know, it's a, it's a real thing, you know, and I want to encourage everyone out there who are starting businesses and becoming entrepreneurs to recognize what is important in your life.

And what you're giving your time and your attention to your business is important. Yeah, it is. And you should be giving time and attention to it. But what other aspects of your life are, are maybe even more important to your, to your health and your wellbeing and your long-term happiness? One of my advisors once told me that a business.

Drops like a rubber ball. You drop it, it'll hit the floor. It'll bounce back up. You can like take care of it. A, a marriage drops more like a glass, you know, and if you drop it it's pretty likely that it's maybe not going to bounce back into your hand. Yeah. And you know, my divorce. I mean, I have to own that at least to some degree what we were just talking about here played into that.

I, I am really passionate about my work. I put a lot of time into it and I think, you know, to some degree, to the detriment of my relationship with my wife and to her and to all the possibilities that we could have created together, I'm really sorry for that, you know fortunately she and I also have a really, really amazing ability to communicate with each other and to like talk through things.

And even to this day, she is someone I can turn to and talk to and, and bounce things off of. And and she respects my choices in the world and she also recognizes that she's at choice. In, in the way that she lives her life and how she wants to be. And so at some point we, you know, fairly mutually decided, you know, we could, we could continue in our relationship together and, and we could keep working on it and it would, it would probably be pretty good, you know, and maybe there's something more maybe there's something, some other adventure out there for, for each of us and with lots of shared tears and, You know, heartbreak on both of our sides, we decided to separate and go our own ways. I'm really happy for both of us and I sincerely hope that she and I can continue to develop a beautiful friendship between the two of us that it's, you know, it's different than marriage.

It's different than living together, but we can still have a wonderful. That relationship.

Siezing the sword: Having impactBrandon Stover: [00:40:33] Hmm. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. Being somebody that's married myself, it's really good to hear positive re perspectives like that.  Well, last year you guys officially launched the region  registry, and then most recently had the sale with Microsoft, which is a huge, you know, market dominant company. When they do a big move like that, it starts to signal the rest of the market that maybe we should follow suit.

What impact has region made already in fighting the climate crisis and you know, the lives of these small farmers that we've been talking about?

Christian Shearer: [00:41:05] Yeah. Thanks. Yeah, I think that this, this purchase from Microsoft is, is, is a super big deal. You know, in a couple of ways, one is they are leading the way they, they took, they took the risks to work with us with a small startup, a company that's innovating in the space of soil, carbon, which itself is a little bit controversial, you know, like a lot of the players in the carbon markets Don't really trust soil carbon, because so many things could happen that could reverse that carbon back into atmosphere.

Like, you know, to be honest, it's much more likely that something could happen to reverse it. Then, then in the case of a forest where trees are just much more resilient than. Then soil and farming ag ag systems. So I hope that Microsoft is an example to others to, to say, you know, lead the way we need agriculture to be a part of the solution we're going to, we're going to do this.

Others should too. And I'm super proud of our team and our company for, helping to make that possible for Microsoft, for them to seeing, see something that is scientifically robust enough for them to say yes to.

So I mean, to be honest, I mean, what, what impact have we made and it's still a drop in the bucket, you know these. Landowners we're working with a group with a company called impact egg in Australia that that helps manage grazing operations around Australia. And they're amazingly progressive using high intensity rotational grazing strategies, and really returning health to landscapes that they're associated with.

Those. Guys have made incredible impact, you know, on the planet. Wilma for example, which is one of the farms that we've worked with has increased their soil organic matter from around 2% to four and a half percent over the course of a number of years through using these amazing grazing practices.

they're the real heroes, not us, all we're doing is measuring verifying, and then giving them a way to monetize that. However I should, you know, I, I shouldn't downplay it too much if other ranchers and other farmers look at what's happening at Wilma and say, I want to do that too.

Yeah. How do, how do I shift towards ecological practices and start growing soil then perhaps we have made a real, real impact on the planet and. Given that, that Microsoft announcement just happened, you know, middle of or end of January, since then the amount of submissions from farmers and ranchers onto our, onto our platform has just been going exponential.

So I think that that type of impact is. Is starting to happen.

Brandon Stover: [00:43:43] Hey, this is Brandon Snow. You're listening to the evolve podcast with Christian shear of region network. And just a moment, you're going to hear how region network is utilizing blockchain technology to revolutionize agriculture practices and accelerate their startup. At first, I wanted to let you know that all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free worksheet at evolve.

The doc world slash episode slash Christian shear. All of the lessons Christian are sharing are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones you're actually putting into execution. So that's why I distill every action item from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately apply them to your life and business.

Lessons getting clear on what customers want creating the right incentives and how to have fulfillment in your work. And so much more. These lessons are available at evolve. the.world/episodes/christian shear. That's a wall, the.world flash episodes slash Christian show. Or you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app.

Now let's get back to the evolve podcast with Christian share of region network. as he describes the launch of their blockchain ledger and token happening this year in a way that even a layman as myself can understand.

Further Obstacles: Regen Blockchain

Christian Shearer: [00:45:06] Yeah, absolutely. So there's definitely a risk here that we get into territory that there's this, like, firstly, it confuses people. And so I'm going to do my best to kind of stay at a pattern level here.  One of, one of our assumptions here is that we could make a certain amount of impact as a company, if you know, region, network development, Inc.

Started a registry and innovated around soil carbon, and just try to get as many ranchers on our, on our platform as possible and got people to buy that we could, we could make a certain amount of impact to be, could be cool and exciting. That would be a very cool company. We actually believe that it would be more impactful to open source all of our code and invite many others to try to do the same thing.

And say, do you think you could start a registry too? We've got the technology here that you could start your, you know, I w you know, we're connected with the savory Institute. I'd love to talk to the state savory Institute about starting a holistic management focused, grazing focused carbon registry that all the projects and carbon coming off of that project are, are verified through methodologies that have to do with holistic management of cattle on landscapes.

They should run that registry. Yeah. we've talked with the nature Conservancy about them spinning up an ecosystem services registry that has to do with conservation projects. You know things in, in Brazil and associated with the Atlantic forest and the Amazon forest they can use the technology that we're building to ma you know, monitor, verify an issue, credits that these farmers and landholders can then monetize.

The way that works into our tech stack and into our business model is that. Underlying all of this is open and public infrastructure. Think that includes, like you said, a blockchain, a blockchain infrastructure. There's, there's an open and transparent ledger of all the credits that are ever issued of all the transactions that ever take place.

And who owns these credits? Does Microsoft own them or are they like legally? Allowed to make claims about them. Yes they are. You know, and if they've made claims, have they retired those credits so they can, they can never sell them to someone else. Yes, they have, you know, that's, that was what they wanted to do immediately.

And that is clear on the ledger. Once, once the ledger is live, it's not live yet. So This infrastructure, we want to be used by hundreds of different parties, many, many different types of applications, you know, insurance applications and banking applications, and, you know, Kickstarter type applications where maybe there's not much robust verification at all, but there's enough trust between the parties to be able to engage.

Right. That could all happen on our platform. Region network development, Inc is a for-profit company. That is helping to bring about and enable this entire economy of activity to happen. And when someone invests into our participates in the region token sale, they are, and they are investing in participating in this whole network.

And as the network grows and as the engagement grows and as, as the more transactions happen on chain The more value comes to that token itself. And so that's where we get into the token economics and then the return on investment for investors and, and why our business model is a completely open source take on business.

Brandon Stover: [00:48:35] I think it's an important ideology, especially when we're looking at problems such as the ones we are that are as big as climate change. It's going to take more than one business, more than one team, more than one person. So I think it's great that you guys are open sourcing all the. You know, technology that you were building that even a competitor could come in and basically build something because really in the end we're not competitors. Like we're all trying to solve the same problem.

Christian Shearer: [00:48:58] Yeah, that's right. And the, and the region token and region ledger, try to build that that alignment and shared incentives in an actual, very concrete way. If someone else comes and builds on region ledger, they probably want to build up some sort of position in region tokens.

And then they have an incentive to see the health of the whole network get better and such and such. They are invited to open source their science. To open source their code to cooperate with the other parties that are, engaging on the level of the, of region ledger  And that's what we'd love to see. This is not a zero sum game, Ecology is not a zero sum game. The more we can build ecological health, the better it is for all of us on the planet.

That is like, there's no doubt about that. Clean water, clean air, the higher nutrition, food, healthier communities. More birds and frogs and more beauty. And, you know, it's all to our benefit. It's, it's not at all a zero sum game, so we, we kinda need to leave that paradigm behind.  

Climax: Big Ag

Brandon Stover: [00:50:02] That's awesome. Well, I think as you guys rally these troops, one of the biggest. opponents that you're facing is our current, chemical practices and like big agriculture and the policy and the money. That's all wrapped up in that. Just to give our listeners a really good picture of what you're up against when you're going against big agriculture. Can you kind of explain, you know, what the system is and how it is pretty heavily kept going?

Christian Shearer: [00:50:27] Oh boy. Yeah, it's a, it's a big entrenched system. We've seen, we ha on on the positive side. So we'd seen some really great movement since Joe Biden took office and Tom Vilsack is taking over at the head of the USDA. He, he seems to have changed some of his tone from the time that he was working in the Obama administration.

You know, there's some really interesting stuff coming about out about trying to incentivize and shift agriculture as part of our climate solutions. So there is a, a positive, there is positive momentum here, and I will tell you that we have been approached by a number of the big players in that chemical hag specs.

You know, that are, that see the fact that carbon and soil carbon and conservation and ecosystem services credits are a big market for their farming partners and their farming customers. So they're figuring, trying to figure out how they can integrate their approach to agriculture with this with this model.

It'll be really interesting to see how that other goes There are huge amounts of incentives tax breaks, and other things, other systems that are set up that encouraged farmers to continue planting soy and corn. You know, whether it's the, the, the price of fossil fuels. Which has a giant subsidy on it in the us, which makes it cheap to run a diesel tractor and plow up your fields, or whether it's, you know subsidies on the actual purchase of these commodities.

So I inquire, which keeps them really really low cost. There's a bunch of things. That need to be taken out of policy to help the markets find what's actually fair and have us be able to move towards, you know, more quickly move towards a regenerative, the adoption of regenerative agriculture. there's a lot more I could say on that subject.

You know, it's, it's a little Frustrating and scary how much of a revolving door there is between the U S government and these giant lobbying corporations. But I'm, I'm, I tend to be a hopeful person and I'm hopeful from the. The indications that we've seen from the advisement Biden administration that some of these things may be shifting.

Transformation: New Perspectives

Brandon Stover: [00:52:49] speaking of how you see yourself as a person and how you've changed at the beginning of this call, we talked about, you know, making mangoes for our drinks in Thailand. And now you're building this entire network to, Help a lot of people and solve a major global challenge. How do you think you've changed the most from those two perspectives?

Christian Shearer: [00:53:10] Ooh. Wow. I mean that's what, that's a really good question. I think when I started out on this journey, my main focus was my own personal fulfillment as a human being. And I think that's something that all of us should be keeping an eye on. I really want for, for you and for everyone listening to this call to be fulfilled human beings, and it is something that you need to consciously curate and make possible for yourself.

There is nothing external to you that is as important as your own internal. Dialogue and stories that you tell about the world that will lead to your fulfillment. It's not the money that's going to make you fulfilled. It's not the partner that you meet. That's going to it's your own, you know, it's, it's your own decision and your perceptions.

It deserves our attention. However, at the, at that time I thought that fulfillment would. Related to me, if I was just like surrounding myself with my friends and my, you know, good food and a hammock and Margaret and, you know, and I'm not against any of those things. I still wouldn't mind having those things mixed into my life.

But I learned along the way that community was really important. You know, if I didn't have my friends and my family and my community around me I wasn't going to be happy. And if they weren't happy, I probably wasn't going to be thriving. Because having thriving people around you is very important.

So how do we start building thriving communities? And then I recognized, Oh man, it's hard to build thriving communities. If there isn't a thriving, natural environment around us to support these communities and a thriving economy to support the, the trade of goods and services. And so my passion for transforming ecological systems.

Still comes back to human fulfillment, actually, when, when someone asks me why I want to do this, I'm not the person that says it's because I care so much about the animals and the trees. And though I do, I actually more deeply, what's going to bring me to tears. And what's going to really bring their heart alive is as human beings.

When I think about how much sadness there is, how much disconnection there is, how much depression there is, and, and you know, obesity and, and, and abuse that happens. amongst our species and how much trauma there is that, that leads to all of those things. It's like, it breaks my heart. Yeah.

Like, I, I really, really believe that we can do better than this, that we can be loving each other and connecting with each other and, and like making music together. And, yeah. And treating each other in a way that acknowledges our humanity and the fact that we're imperfect beings, you know, and that we can get to a place.

I think we could do this relatively quickly. If, if, if it's something that we all care about, we could get to a place where, where we, where we trust each other. And we, when we see a stranger walking down the road, you have a sense of comradery and, and care for that person rather than skepticism.  And that's what really motivates me. Hmm. And I, I think that agriculture plays a huge part in, and that our food plays a huge part in that we, we gather around a table to eat you know, re we break bread together. We, we cheers over food and, and there's literally, you know, 2 billion people on the planet that are involved in the growing and production of our food.

Food is something that could unify us around this transformation as a, as a species. And so I want to see that happen. You know, I talk about that, like the, the aim of region network is to transform ecological systems through agriculture. You know, if I was being honest with you, I think the aim of region network is to transform human culture.

Hmm. Through transforming agriculture and ecological systems and having us all arrive again in a, in a, in a place where, where, where we dance more, you know, we sing more, we play music more. We, you know, we celebrate, we have more gratitude and yeah. That's, it's totally, yeah.

Brandon Stover: [00:57:33] Amazing. I love that. Well, before I get to my last question, where can everybody find you in region network?

Christian Shearer: [00:57:38] Check out www.region.network. That's our URL online. That's a great place to learn how to engage if you are a farmer rancher, or if you're interested in buying carbon credits or, or just want to understand more about our philosophy and the work that we're doing. We have a, a lively chat on telegram and more and more recently, we've been shifting over to discord But please find us on telegram. Find us on Facebook. Find us on Twitter. And connect to us and ask us how you could get involved in our, in our community and start engaging and being part of the conversation. We're building a network of participation. We'd love for you to be a part of that network, if your interest

How We Can Push The World To Evolve

Brandon Stover: [00:58:21] awesome. Well, we'll put all that in the show notes, make it real easy for people to find. My last question is how can we push the world to evolve?

Christian Shearer: [00:58:30] Hm. I mean, going on the theme of the end of our, of our talk here, you know, loving one, another being kind to one another, be smiling at each other. That's so important in this country right now. That's for sure. So much division. So starting there just on a, on a human to human basis is a great place to start.

I'd say thinking from a totally different paradigm about, about what we're doing in the world promoting incentives, Hmm, so that when a farmer or rancher or anyone really, even a consumer is thinking about making a choice, they are incentivized to make a choice that actually makes the world a better place rather than a choice that degrades.

Brandon Stover: [00:59:14] Hmm. Well, that is a powerful response. I thank you so much, Christian, for coming on the show and sharing your story and sharing everything about region that were

Christian Shearer: [00:59:23] absolutely my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Brandon Stover: [00:59:25] That was Christian shear of region network, which allows land stewards to sell their ecosystem services directly to buyers around the world through a blockchain verified open marketplace. What I found so amazing about region network is Christian's approach to aligning the incentives of all parties involved to incentivize more positive behavior.

Landowners are incentivized to practice regenerative agriculture, because they're finally going to get paid to do so. Businesses are incentivized to have more sustainable business practices because carbon offsets actually create a, an expense and line item on their balance sheet.

So they want to go ahead and get that down as much as they entrepreneurs, like you guys are incentivized to build tools for all of this, because everything in the region network is open source on its blockchain.

These are the type of businesses that really get me excited because they create win-win wins situations for everybody involved. Now as a reminder, all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free downloadable worksheet at evolve, uh, dot world slash episodes slash Christian shear.

You can also find all the show notes and transcripts for this episode at evolve, the.world/episode/christian cheer

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