Founder's profile

Fernanda Baumhardt

Fernanda Baumhardt

Born in October of 1970 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Brazilian and EU/Italian citizen, has worked in more than 20 countries.

"Throughout my life’s journeys - professional, personal and spiritual – I have accumulated lessons that have transformed my once “normal road” into a deep sense of mission.  As your mission is a reflect of your values, I had the vision to create ProPlaneta so values could flourish into real actions."

I have a BA in Social Communications with specialization in Journalism. I graduated at age 25, back in 1995, from Unisinos, a large University in the south of Brazil. When I finished Journalism school, my dream was to be an international war correspondent for CNN. After working for two years as a video reporter and producer for a small medical cable network in Brazil, CNN doors opened wide, but on it’s advertising sales side. Sometimes I do regret that I did not follow my heart then, but perhaps that decision is a crucial pillar that holds my today.

After 12 years working in the media industry, I was hit by a big questioning phase of working for a purpose and not only to make a living. I had this deep need to work for a cause and not just a salary. But it took me around six months balancing out pro’s and con’s to finally decide that I needed to courageously follow my heart and refocus my career and energy in an area that could make more difference. So with my heart pumping strong, I gave back my CNN business cards and stepped down from my big car and heels. My motivation was to find a way to merge my experience with media and communications with our planet’s needs. But before going out there willing to randomly help, I decided to put my foot on the ground and firstly learn about these problems from a scientific and academic point of view. How really serious is the situation humanity and our planet are facing?

To answer this and many other questions, I joined a master program in the Faculty of Earth and Life Science at Vrije University in Amsterdam. There, more lessons I learned, more questions surfaced and I came to realize that the core of our main problems are deeply related to poor ethics and values. I then came across the ethical principles of The Earth Charter. It’s Preamble and The Way Forward are an important source of inspiration and hope, despite the news headlines daily out there.

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During my search for a deeper purpose, in parallel with my studies, I came across a great article, where Pablo Suarez - Associate Director from The Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre - argued about the great results he was getting through the application of participatory-video on educating African communities about climate change. I contacted Pablo and he gave me the opportunity to do my thesis research with The Malawian Red Cross/ Red Crescent Society on ‘Participatory-video as a tool for community-based climate change adaptation with rural communities in Malawi’. I am grateful for such unique experience and that my search for a new path was beginning to take shape.

After two months in Malawi, I saw with my eyes, brain and heart, the efficiency of this tool in helping document and transfer information to groups and communities. Information that, in the end of the day, translated into more food on their tables. That’s when you begin making a difference, even if a small one.

After this experience, which was published on a scientific journal in Europe (‘Farmers become filmmakers: climate change adaptation in Malawi’, IIED, PLA N 60°), I was absolutely sure that I had found the new north in mine and in Proplaneta’s winding roads. Due to the results of this project, I ended up being awarded by the Images and Voices of Hope Institute that recognizes media and communication professionals that are acting using media and communications as agents of change.

As a journalist, participatory-video was something natural, but in the same time completely different and fascinating: to help community members to learn how to operate a camera, build a script, hold the microphone and be confident to identify and tell in their own perspectives, REAL STORIES that can make a difference for them and especially, to all the communities that watch and learn with the films made by “people just like us”. And certainly, there is a lot more to be done.

With gratitude,