“I see my job as bringing together people from very different backgrounds and trying to create a new way of working. Because clearly, the old way of working isn’t working for the planet,” says Clara Rowe, CEO of Restor.
Clara and her team moved into FlexOffice Zurich Fraumünster at the beginning of 2021.
Founded by ETH Zurich’s Crowther Lab and developed in collaboration with Google, Restor was a finalist for the Royal Foundation’s 2021 Earthshot Prize and is an official partner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Restor’s fundamental mission is to accelerate the global restoration movement by connecting everyone, everywhere to local restoration.
Jeannette Weidmann, COO of FlexOffice, met Clara for an interview.
Learn more about how anyone can easily join the restoration movement, why restoration is more than just planting trees, and how Clara and her team feel about the perks of being part of the FlexOffice Community.
I joined remotely at the beginning of 2021 and then I moved over to Zurich in April. That’s what feels like my real start date — when I arrived here and things started to feel more real.
What are the next milestones.
Right now, there are 75,000 sites on our platform, so that means we’re reaching 75,000 different projects with the (ecological) data that we have. We’d like to get to 150,000 by the end of this year. And then more of an internal milestone is around our hiring and making sure that we are on a strong path at the end of this year, with lead engineers in place so we can build out the platform in 2022.
About the framework.
Restor is its own company. It spun off from ETH Zurich at the beginning of the year and we’re a company owned by a foundation. So, we fundamentally have a for-good, nonprofit structure but with the nimbleness of a company. We still have strong advisors in our science partners at ETH Zurich, and we’ve also had development support from Google who helped us get the platform off the ground and helped us build.
How can I join the restoration movement?
I hope in the future there are many more ways to join, but today you can go on to Restor and you can look for volunteer opportunities, you can look for donation opportunities, you can check what’s happening in your own backyard, and you can actually draw a shape around your backyard and see like, hey, how much carbon is here and how much carbon might there be if I were restoring?
Can I just plant any kind of trees?
One thing at Restor that we’re really trying to help bring to life is the fact that restoration is more than just trees and more than just planting trees. We’re trying to help tell that story a bit more: that ecosystems are many, many things and so restoring nature means many many things.
There are ecosystems around the world that are not meant to have thick forests. There are grasslands and wetlands and peatlands, with all sorts of species, that are natural without trees.
As a very small organization at the beginning of a year that was still very much driven by Covid and by the need to be flexible in terms of being at home and being at work, FlexOffice for us has meant the ability to grow and to shrink as needed. It’s been the right price point for us. It’s been the right location for us. Operationally, It simplifies so many things for us.
We don’t have to think about the internet, and we don’t have to think about printers and we don’t have to think about the kitchen, and so again, it allows us to focus in on the core of what we’re doing right. And that’s been really important to us.
Do you feel the perks of the community?
Yes, we do benefit from other tenants here in the office, we actually found our fiduciary who’s been helping us with accounting here. I have informally been able to sit down with people who do recruiting and think a bit about our strategy in terms of insourcing and outsourcing, and that’s been really terrific and then, of course, just getting to hear about the other things that are exciting and inspiring people. And even if that’s not something that’s day-to-day operation, there’s a connection.
You feel that energy of people who are making things happen.