We started discussing the idea for this site in April of 2011. Seth Inman was starting to plan for his summer work while Michael Muller was already looking for flights to India. Raxa Collective had recently been chosen as a name by a group of people in Kerala that included George M. George.
As owner of two resorts pioneering sustainable tourism in the Western Ghats and in the Backwaters, for George the name Raxa Collective resonated with his company’s tangible commitments to conservation. Raxa, derived from the sanskrit word for protector/guardian, reflected the intent; collective reflected the process.
An organization was formed, and incorporated in India, with this name. This organization’s core purpose is entrepreneurial conservation. Raxa Collective is a group of hospitality businesses that adhere to this purpose; and it is a group of professionals who develop and manage hospitality businesses whose profits are invested in the conservation of natural and cultural patrimony. George M. George’s properties were the first to join Raxa Collective.
Raxa Collective is an initiative of La Paz Group, which has been engaged in this line of work since its founding in the mid-1990s in Costa Rica. Unlike previous La Paz Group initiatives, Raxa Collective offers the means by which like-minded entrepreneurial conservation efforts around the world can be linked under one umbrella name.
Michael joined Raxa Collective for a couple of months prior to his senior year at Amherst College. He wanted to get his “hands dirty” in sustainable development. Seth, who had worked in Kerala during the months of 2010 prior to his freshman year at Cornell University, chose Nicaragua to extend his own work experience. In 2002 he had camped in the hills that eventually became Morgan’s Rock, and in May, 2011 the owners of that resort invited him to work there.
With Michael in Kerala and Seth in Nicaragua–they were born in the same town, and knew each other since childhood but had never worked on anything together–both quickly assessed their locations and identified topics of common interest. They wanted their summer jobs to achieve goals, not only for the resorts where they worked and not only for themselves, but somehow for a bigger purpose. Both knew that social media would be a useful tool.
Using skype and email they had a few short discussions about what they thought was missing in the universe of websites, blogs, aggregators, and summed it up with a couple questions: where can university students find out about alternatives to the mainstream occupations and career paths most typically offered to graduates of schools like Amherst and Cornell? Specifically, where can they learn about entrepreneurial conservation?
And so the purpose of this site was established: to facilitate collaboration among those who participate in and communicate about entrepreneurial conservation projects. The objective is to highlight and explain unique private sector initiatives in developing economies; to provide creative personal accounts of exploring the cultural and natural environments where these initiatives operate, illustrated with photography, video, music and links to supporting relevant media; to inform about these efforts and encourage travel to these places to further strengthen the resorts’ commitment of resources to these initiatives.
As part of the group in Kerala that named the endeavor, Amie & Crist Inman determined the range and depth of the topics to be covered on this site; identified the sources of information and media to fulfill that coverage; and recruited contributors. The second half of 2011 was spent getting this site launched with contributions from an excellent group of interns, mostly from Cornell University, and a small network of others.
Getting Our Groove (2012-2013)
In early 2012, George M. George contracted Raxa Collective to develop and operate several new properties. This led to the recruitment of a new group of interns, whose contributions to both operational and social media needs of Raxa Collective would be difficult to put a value on. With a local team of Keralites approaching 200 people, and these interns from every corner of the world for several months in mid-2012, Cardamom County was transformed into a Learning Laboratory.
From exploration of Western Ghats birds, to the improved understanding of monsoon rains’ therapeutic effects, interns working with Raxa Collective employees set a standard for collaboration in 2012. Pampa Villa and Kayal Villa came into the Raxa Collective portfolio and the team of interns based at Cardamom County helped conceive how these two private villas could be integrated effectively. They also worked on design advisory projects for Spice Harbour and Pearl Beach. The posts that each of these interns contributed individually, and as a team, during this period became benchmarks for what we would strive for more of in the future.
Moving Forward (2014)
With Spice Harbour opening in January and Pearl Beach in March, we continue walking the tightrope between wanting to celebrate and promote, on the one side, and keeping this site commercial free on the other side. Help keep us on track. Continue with your ever valuable feedback in our comments section. Thank you for visiting!