TFT...From Forests to Earth!
A dream unfurls as our impact grows
I was leaving the office last night when Christiane, our HR Manager, called out to me.
“We’ve passed a milestone!” she said.
“How so?” I asked.
“I’ve just entered our new staff from Cote d’Ivoire on our list. We now have 201 people working for TFT!”
It’s almost 16 years since TFT started and by some calculations, that’s not rapid growth. But for a non-profit working in a space already crowded with giants striving to defend the world' forests, it feels significant and I want to celebrate it. And what better way to do that than with the release of a new TFT website!
Yes, launched today is TFT’s new website and what’s really exciting is that we’ve moved beyond tft-forests.org, our URL for the past many years, to tft-earth.org. That gives me goose bumps.
I remember when TFT started in March 1999. Bjorn Roberts, now our UK Country Manager, was our first staff member and he worked out of a tiny space in a creaking industrial site in Kidlington, near Oxford. I was out in Ho Chi Minh City working for TFT Founding Member ScanCom International. Together, we were busy fathoming how to transform the wooden garden furniture industry away from illegal wood. We didn’t even have a website until finally in April 2002 some old and clunky thing was launched and we became more a part of the global community. Since then, our website has passed through various iterations. Our most recent version wasn’t too bad but it never properly featured our people or the philosophy and thinking behind who we are and what we do. When you visit our new website and see the colour and movement of our people featured there, you’ll be as thrilled as I am to know that such a wonderful group of folk are on the case.
It was never our intention to stay so much in the shadows. It’s really been just a matter of working hard on the ground to deliver results before crowing too much.
As we pass that 200 staff milestone and find ourselves now working on 13 different commodities across many different countries, it really is time to share more of our thinking. We definitely are having an influence, punching beyond our weight. The dream that started with a 15-year-old lad hoping to save some of the world’s forests is unfurling into something grander.
Some years ago, I did a back of the envelope calculation to work out how many millions of dollars of product turnover we were impacting. Counting all the turnover in furniture from the forest to the factory, through importers, to stores and then to people’s backyards and then doing the same for all the palm oil products we were affecting, I reckoned we were touching over $100 million worth of product. Think of the millions of souls – human, plant and animal - affected by that global supply chain juggernaut! Now, as we work across all those different commodities and at a scale never imagined, my guess is that we’re approaching $1 trillion of supply chain impact. That wouldn’t be great news if we were a huge polluting behemoth but as you can see from our new website, that’s not who we are. We’re just a group of folk striving to make a difference. The wonderful “Change” video featured on our new homepage is, for me, a very beautiful thing. It shows our philosophy so magically in a message delivered with great humanity and humour by some of our many TFT colleagues. It’s a multi-cultural celebration that only shows a fraction of the diversity within our little chalice.
For me, TFT is a very precious thing and to think that we really now have moved beyond forests is something I could never have imagined. We are still very deeply attached to our forests but we’re also deeply engaged helping people reconnect with Nature on many other fronts.
As we move beyond 200 TFTers and move to tft-earth, I really do want to reflect a moment on the mountain we’ve climbed so far. Much remains to be done. We’ve only reached a ledge on what remains a huge climb ahead; our task must surely be to touch $10 trillion worth of product, to make $100 trillion worth of supply chain turnover responsible. But the view back, looking over what’s been achieved, is exhilarating. Looking around at not only the 201 TFTers assembled on the ledge with us but also all those people inside companies, NGOs, governments, communities and in other places that have joined us on the journey is so very inspiring.
I hope that everyone enjoys our new website, www.tft-earth.org and that with me, you will keep visiting it to see new updates, new videos, new stories; yes, new hope. We don’t have any target at TFT to have X people working with us, but we are so thrilled to be together with our brave 201, and we look forward to heading into the mist with them and our partners as we set off upwards and onwards to scale ever-higher peaks.