A message from John D. Liu, Commonland Ambassador

It is a great pleasure to write to you again and share a little of the amazing developments over the last year. What an extraordinary year it was. The year started well at the SEKEM community and company in Egypt with the film I made for them. After opening the new office of Commonland  in March, I went to the United States. Due to COVID-19 measures, I could not reach my home in China or leave the United States. Avoiding COVID seemed like a good idea, so for five months, I lived in California in a tent on the side of a volcano and spent more time with bears, deer, eagles, hawks, and hummingbirds than with people.

When the fire season arrived with a vengeance, we were evacuated from Ecosystem Restoration Camp Hotlum. It was then that I learned how many people are homeless and suffering in California. This led me to work with many others to create a method for the homeless and the unemployed to join reforestation and regenerative agriculture camps in California and join in efforts to learn and share indigenous wisdom about fire ecology and forest tending.


2020 was a good year for collaborations in various kinds of media. Commonland’s work and the Loess Plateau’s story was featured in Judith Schwartz’s wonderful book “The Reindeer Chronicles“. The Netflix film “Kiss the Ground” and the U.S. Public Broadcast System film “The Age of Nature – Awakening” also told the Loess Plateau’s story and were broadcasted and streamed in 2020, reaching audiences worldwide.


Online activity blossomed as well. “The Great Work of Our Time online event reached over 10,000 viewers and highlighted the importance of ecosystem restoration. Willem Ferwerda, Jane Goodall, Paul Stamets, and many other friends and colleagues worldwide joined.


The Ecosystem Restoration Camps Movement continued to grow in 2020 to over 35 camps and is on track to nearly double in 2021. New collaborations with the Burning Man Project, The Buckminster Fuller Institute, The Permaculture Institute of Tanzania, The Jane Goodall Institute and many more show how participatory collaboration can bring us together.


2020 was a challenging year, but the call of service to life also brought joy and gratitude, illuminating a flourishing regenerative path personally and collectively that will keep us all busy and fulfilled for the rest of our lives.


John D. Liu

Ecosystem Ambassador Commonland Foundation
Founder Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation