In honor of International Women’s Month, The Planetary Press is highlighting women around the globe who are driving positive change for our planet and global community. Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to artist and Founding Partner of Healing Coral, Lina Carvajal. 

You have an impressive background as a serial entrepreneur, an artist, and diver. Please tell us about yourself and how you first became involved in marine conservation. 

I have always been in love with the ocean. I believe that the ocean has the power to heal me. When I go into the water, it cleans my energy and thoughts; suddenly, my breathing takes the rhythm of the waves, making me grateful to be alive.

Since I was in school, I have wanted to work in something related to the ocean. But my artistic skills were more relevant at that moment in my life, so I started working in the film and television industry. Even though I always felt that I was working for entertaining people, the price nature was paying was too high. The fashion and textile industry contaminates a lot, so I was always concerned and thought about how I could design costumes without much waste. 

I tried to spend all my free time near the sea, but free time wasn’t enough. I would always come back with the feeling of sadness that I wasn’t doing anything for that being that gave me so much.

In December 2020, after Hurricane Iota passed by San Andres Island in Colombia, my husband and I wanted to help. We wanted to do something significant for the people and for that love of mine, the ocean. We traveled to San Andres and stayed at Albert’s house, a Raizal community leader and musician who has become a close friend. Every day we spoke about the community, the Raizal people, the kids, the ocean, and how we could help. 

After all the night chats and hearing the chant of the ocean, and smelling the salty sea breeze, I met a group of three children ranging in age from 8 to 11 years old. They were listening to music and hanging around the grocery shop. They asked me where I was from, and I told them I was from someplace near Bogotá, which was hotter than San Andres but didn’t have a sea or beach. They looked at each other with surprise and started asking me if Bogotá had mountains, how the weather was, and if I could fish in a lake. In between our questions and answers, I asked them if they knew what coral was. They answered no. 

It surprised me so much that children living near the shore didn’t know about this amazing living being vital to humankind’s existence. The next day I asked Albert how that could happen. Albert explained that the percentage of children not attending school had increased significantly since the pandemic. That fact shocked me. 

When I returned home, this idea of the kids not knowing their environment started to occupy my thoughts night and day. I asked my husband what we could do about it, and he said we should gather people to help improve the community and host some workshops for the kids and the community where they can learn about the ocean. I’m an artist, not a scientist or a marine biologist. How could I teach something I had only seen diving? That was my starting point for research and learning. After some months, we gathered this amazing group of people that have the same passion for the ocean. Between meetings, chats, and realizing that we needed money to support our workshops and fund restorative divers across the Caribbean, Healing Coral came to life. 

You are the Founder of the impact startup Healing Coral. Can you tell us about your organization and its mission? 

Healing Coral is a nonprofit organization that aims to heal our relationship with the blue planet we live on. 

We have a holistic approach where we combine art, Web 3, education, marine ecosystem regeneration, wellness, and geospatial monitoring in the production of conscious NFTs. These new, revolutionary assets support the results of the different regenerative projects we support. This way, the owners of the NFTs can make a profit and, at the same time, contribute to positive change.

You work with artists from around the globe on designing NFTs. What is an Impact NFT, and can more artists get involved? 

Conscious, or Impact, NFTs are the ones that are designed to fund positive social, cultural, and environmental impact or sustainable development. They act as digital assets for recording and enumerating impact actions in the physical world. In our case, projects that involve education and community restoration initiatives for the marine ecosystems to thrive. This is why we’ve started calling them Regenerative NFTs or #NatureBackedCryptoAssets. 

We are always looking for new artists that want to have a positive impact with their pieces. We look forward to working with artists that have been part of distinguished museum exhibitions and worldwide art galleries and are aware of the climate emergency. 

Healing Coral focuses on restoring coral in the Mesoamerican and Caribbean Sea. Why focus on this region, and can you walk us through the process of coral restoration? 

We focus on regenerative projects located in the Mesoamerican reef and the Caribbean sea because we aim to connect the different marine ecosystems and fragmented conservation efforts to evolve into a bioregional approach. We aim for everyone to be conscious— we are all #OneReef.

The process of coral restoration can take many forms. Ranging from growing, gardening, and outplanting to harvesting millions of naturally produced eggs and sperm to create millions of new genetic individuals. One of the most common restoration approaches is to place artificial reef structures on the ocean floor, called nurseries on which corals can grow. When the corals have reached a specific size and been alive for a period of time, they can be transplanted to the reefs. Effective conservation and management strategies are critical to addressing the local stressors that led to reef decline in the first place. No reef— natural or artificial— has much chance of survival if we do not improve water quality, reduce overfishing, and cease harmful and destructive practices.

Healing Coral has a new campaign, #OneReef. Can you share more about this?

#OneReef aims to facilitate the transition between traditional donations to fund marine conservation towards participation via Regenerative NFTs. 

While flagship partners in the USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Colombia (and soon many more) can support the crowdfunding campaign and take advantage of tax benefits, individuals can learn about the importance of marine ecosystems and the many ways they can get involved. For example, with the use of a QR, people can donate and invest in Regenerative NFTs or simply round up their check at a partner hotel or restaurant. But most interestingly, they can start making money by taking part in the regenerative economy. 

What are your three favorite solutions to one of the world’s challenges? 

I’m sure that if we, humankind, change our consuming habits, we can definitely improve the health of our ecosystems. Healing is becoming conscious. 

For example, think twice when you buy. Being conscious of the differences between needing and consuming. When you buy something, does it produce waste? Think about the packaging, and also ask yourself where does that waste go? For example, if you buy a shampoo bottle, the waste is not only the bottle but also the chemical waste in the water. Where does it go? It goes to the pipelines and the sewages that end up in rivers and, eventually, in the ocean, where the corals and millions of other species live. Many of which capture CO2 and produce the oxygen that we need to breathe. So, it’s not only about the health of the planet; it is also about healing yourself and investing your money aligned to consciousness.

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences as a diver. 

It’s hard to choose just one. Every time I enter the water, it is a different experience. I never know what I’m going to see or what is going to happen. I think the feeling of releasing expectations and just giving the ocean a chance to show me how versatile and unique it is is my favorite part of diving.

Keep up with Lina and Healing Coral!
Twitter: @HealingCoral_
Facebook: @HealingCoral
Instagram: @HealingCoral