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The man behind SLush

In loving memory of Paulo Mellett

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who could completely change your outlook on life quite like Paulo. That’s not to say he was perfect; he could be stubborn, argumentative and a bit petty. So often on trips together he would be 20 minutes late leaving because he was whizzing up some algae infused snozcumber smoothie in his room. One time Agnes found Paulo arguing with another colleague in the carpark about keeping bananas in the fridge.

However, when you travel with people you often find their true character is revealed. And with Paulo, when he let his shine, he lit you up with it. It was impossible not to be infused with his passion and drive for healing the planet. He set a fire in everyone he met, he taught us tirelessly about permaculture, soil, nitrogen fixing, alley cropping, social structure, culture, even spirituality and all that time we questioned “Why do we need to know it Paulo, we’ve got you?”

Now he’s gone. He had a higher purpose. He promised himself and the universe that if he recovered from leukemia he would make what time he had count. In the 15 years following he led marches for Greenpeace against war and climbed the Houses of Parliament to change climate policy. Somewhere around 2009, whilst awaiting trial for taking part in the Didcot Power Station action, Paulo made a connection with Lush. Well actually he made a connection with Ruth, who became his wife. Ruth already had made huge strides in our business, and together their passion and determination was a force of nature. Truly.

Quickly he described that it was time to create a new model. Business, humanity even, didn’t have to be destructive. It can do more than limit its impact. It can be a force for good; it can regenerate, heal and prosper. He didn’t just tell me. He showed me. First we bought cocoa from the Colombian Peace Community, next we supported Paul Yeboah in Ghana where he showed he could create a self sufficient, sustainable business in just 4 years. 

Paulo fell ill; a visiting Shaman likened it to a warrior struck down in battle. In the thick of it in Ghana, digging passive water dams he caught malaria. What followed was his greatest fight yet and unfortunately, his last. Encouraged and accompanied by my wife, I visited Paulo for one last time a month before he passed. It was a comfort to tell him how well his legacy of projects were beginning to blossom - geranium, aloe, moringa - simple ingredients providing life lines both to the people and to the Earth through his beautiful design.

It’s painful at best to lose one of your own, but to lose one of a kind is worse still. Good luck Paulo with your next journey, you are much loved and missed in equal measure.

Paulo touched many hearts, if you feel moved too, please share your experiences here or using #peacepioneer

*P.S. A previous version of this article stated that our Amazonian rainforest concession was: 'providing rosewood that we can use in our products'. Unfortunately, at present we are still working hard to make this a reality. Look out for updates in the future!

Lush Buying: Colombia Peace Cocoa Butter: Extended Version

Comments (29)
29 Comments

tom.chambers

about 5 years ago

Beautiful article and comments. Beautiful life and legacy.

bryce

about 5 years ago

Paulo's life was never one that could really be told in words. Paulo's life can only be known by his actions. His actions in this world were those of a giant, a gentle loving giant. Our lives crossed and re-crossed over a decade, usually in the places of highest offering, in the spirit of the greatest change-making. His spirit was one of those rare people, who you knew could move the world. Something about his confidence, something about how he carried himself, something about the light that shone from all of him - told you that, not in words but in spirit, in your heart. Our first connections with Paulo were in Wales at CAT (centre for alternative technology) where Paulo was studying for his Master's degree. We are absolutely sure that in only that one small aspect of Paulo's life, he touched the lives of hundreds of people, who even these many years later, will remember him. Many many people will have had their lives changed, sometimes in some small ways and sometimes in the most profound of ways, by the knowing of him. Perhaps it was his facing illness and the real possibility of death at a young age, that shaped his way of being in this life. And maybe that experience only refined his essence, refined his living light, to be a prism of Love, utterly dedicated to creating balance. He had a great elegance of vision that encompassed the healing of the world. And an utter commitment to taking whatever small step, or using whatever tools were at hand, to begin the work of change. Paulo's inspired imagination was a ray of shared vision and beauty. It made him a sort of mature Peter Pan, both an elder who could bear the burdens of this troubled world, while he could still hold hope and share laughter. His heart led him to the damn building project, because he felt that he was contributing to the global healing, one village, one raised bed, one water dam, at a time. A few snapshots from our hearts, of our times with Paulo: - Hearing the successes and also significant challenges of rebuilding a Portuguese ruin into an ecohome, permaculture project. - Running into him at the Big Green Gathering and finding out which Permaculture workshops were hot and which were not; while one of us was wearing an evening dress and the other a skirt. - Sharing thoughts, laughter, food and critiques (where's the music?) at a UK Permaculture convergence. - Sprinting for the car, for a meeting we were already late for - but we'd at least made the time to make our smoothies, that bounced precariously our hands, while we ran. - Driving to a train station in Italy from an ecovillage gathering and hearing from Paulo about a concert so incredible and beautiful and bizarre, that I'll always remember the telling of it. - Debating the merits and pitfalls of Spirulina algae as the central theme of his MSc Thesis. He was absolutely sure that he could work Spirulina into both his Thesis and his Lush work (or was it the other way around? As always, he was thinking about stacking functional elements . . . The last time I heard Paulo's voice was over two years ago and sadly it was mostly background to another conversation but it was enough to congratulate him on finishing his Thesis. And while we weren't directly in touch and I'd returned home part-way around the world - his work and spirit still found a way to touch our lives. We recently met someone who had gone to the Permaculture gathering in Cuba last summer. Of course, Paulo was one of the first people she connected with and connected with deepest. She remembered being strongly impacted by his workshop on Economics, which described our collective need to return to real Wealth - the good food that we have and the Love that we share. And our friend also said that there was something else that clearly shone from Paulo - his deep love for his wife. Even to a near stranger, Paulo's words and actions also expressed this. Blessed to have met you. We will always remember and miss you. Journey well our Friend - alyx & bryce

Mellett5763

about 5 years ago

On Sunday20th July we had a very beautiful memorial gathering for Paulo at Monkton Wyld in Dorset. What was most significant for me as his mother was the consistency of people's views of Paulo, from childhood through to his death. He was the person you saw, and he had a true integrity of being. What was so exciting from that day was to feel his energy running through so many , and the creative plans that began to grow, even before the day was finished. Paulo must be just so thrilled to see all his favourite thinkers and doers hatching out plots for yet more wonderful projects around the world. May this energy continue to grow, even without him, for the world's sake.

stevechrtr

about 5 years ago

From the moment Paulo arrived at Ecoforest for the October 2002 PDC course (which I taught) it was clear that here was a very unusual, passionate and inspiring young man. His challenging journey in the previous years had brought him to the combination of raw food and permaculture that was offered at Ecoforest. He was a great guy to have on the course, and during his time after when he stayed on to volunteer with us for around a month, as part of a wonderful group. That was a very special time at Ecoforest, and Paulo’s part in that was significant, as it was everywhere he went and in everything he did. More recently I had been in touch with Paulo again regarding his inspiring work with Lush, to look at how we might encourage a better understanding and use of permaculture in the business world, working with the UK Association, with the hope that more companies might follow Lush’s example of making positive contributions to ecology, society and the economy. I would very much like to look with others at how Paulo’s memory and legacy can be continued, as his work demonstrates to me a visionary yet practical next step in the continuing evolution of permaculture, in positive creation-oriented activism, and in ethical, ecologically sound business development - in short, in living a life of active love for people and planet. I think it’s fair to say that Paulo was an example of a perfect permaculture student – because he went on to live it, and to carry on learning and doing, spreading and multiplying permaculture and positive sustainable solutions in a powerful, inspiring and (most importantly) effective way. We can all continue to learn from, be motivated by and be inspired by his example. Steve Charter

PBI UK

about 5 years ago

Paolo, only some of us met you but we were all touched by you. Only an incredible person can positively affect people who have not met them! Thank you for your efforts and achievements in solidarity with rural farmers in Colombia. The seed you planted continues to grow and the Lush campaign in support of the Peace Community and Peace Brigades International is one of the many fruits. Inspirational.

KingsclereKate

about 5 years ago

Paul was a childhood friend - my fondest memories being of long walks along various cliffs in Dorset (with piggy backs from Paul when my legs ached), of playing with various pieces of strange machinery in the cottage where Paul lived, of trying to launch the Happy Hippo boat in Seatown (Dad, Paul was right - it needed a keel...). My mum kept me up to date with Paul's life - I think we share the same philosophy although have different approaches (me as a passive academic, him as a man of action). It's strange to miss someone I haven't seen for years. Love to all who were close to Paul, especially Pete, Jane, Mary and to Ruth (sorry I haven't had the chance to meet you).

Mellett5763

about 5 years ago

Hi Kate, so lovely to read your memory.I also recall that the "gentle " Paul hit you over the head with a wooden swede masher when he and you were about a year old! But they were very happy days then. jane

lua

about 5 years ago

Paulo and I first met in the European summer of 2010 at the GEN Europe conference in Damanhur (www.damanhur.org), an ecovillage situated in Italy. I had just stepped into serving within the GEN Network the year before when I attended the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) training for sustainability course held at Sieben Linden Ecovillage. At that time, I was living at Khula Dhamma Eco Community (www.khuladhamma.org) in South Africa with my partner and our two boys. When I attended the EDE in Germany, I strongly connected with the facilitators and realized I had common vision with some of them...during my one month stay there, I worked closely with all of the African participants and current President of GEN International and then resident at Sieben Linden Kosha Anja Joubert on supporting the emergence of GEN-Africa. Dragon Dreaming founder John Croft facilitated our group and from him I learned a most comprehensive method of project design and empowered fundraising which I applied from that moment on to realize the projects of my dreams. Attending that EDE changed my life in that for the first time I was surrounded by so many likeminded people with similar concerns for our planet and all beings and thankful to join an international community of people taking actions co creating the world we wanted. When I attended the GEN-Europe Conference in July 2010, I shared a vision and dream that I’ve held for years, one that did not only belong to me, but to millions and millions of people I’m sure...I shared my story, spoke of my home country the Democratic Republic of Congo, I spoke of the beauty found in our nature, the magnificent Mountain Gorillas, Bonobos, Chimps, our linked DNA, the fact that Congo holds within her flesh all elements which are found on the Periodic table...the interconnectedness of the world in relation to the Congo...made the point that my great, grandparents knew the forest as their home...I spoke of where we are currently as a nation and our hope of creating something new that would make the old systems which do not serve the people obsolete. A good friend Aili Pyhala, introduced us at some point during the conference and I recall sitting on the grass with Ruth, Aili, Kosha, Ville and Paulo discussing their ideas of how Lush could support projects within the GEN network, I remember for the first time hearing Paul Yeboah’s name mentioned many, many times as well as that of Limber and others whose paths we are often sharing and those whom Paulo worked closely with. The day we met, soon after I finished my presentation, Paulo came to me with tears in his eyes and the warmest hug which connected our beings and told me that he will help me to make manifest my visions to reality and to know that I can count on him, and that we are together. I feel in love with him and Ruth during our time together, it was such a magical moment for me, and how it all came to be in Damanhur: our time in the temples of humankind together, listening to the concert of the trees while laying on the grass, listening to Paulo singing Bob Marley’s ‘redemption’ song while enjoying a beautiful night around a fire, celebrating Ruth’s birthday...truly all gifts that fill me with hope. Over the years, Paulo has been a friend to me, an advisor, a guide, a teacher and a brother. I will be the first to admit that I often was in AWE of his being, and truly felt privileged to know him. I feel that we shared a deep spiritual bond which connected us beyond our beings. We had plans to further explore this realm together with our partners and some Sangomas (African Shamans) in April this year when he was back in Brazil... Kosha, Paulo and I were busy working on a partnership agreement between SLush and GEN-Africa when he was first hospitalized...we were also communicating about the projects that we worked on together. My friend once told me that although he was born in a white man, blued eyed, blond haired body, he believed that his spirit was Indigenous... His humility was so genuine and his intelligence soared!!! Paulo was very clear about his purpose in this life and he didn’t wait around for anyone to give him permission to perform acts that led to change. He inspired me to believe in change and supported me and my colleagues in realizing many of our dream projects. For his friendship, we will forever be grateful. As much as I celebrate his very well lived life, I sorely mourn my loss at his passing, which in itself has many lessons for me.

marcus.dittrich

about 5 years ago

I taught a course together with Paulo last year in Peace Research Community Tamera. This year we wanted to do another one. And we will... continue to spread the message that the earth's healing and people's healing is possible and is based on our actions and full participation in creation. Paulo stands for this in my life and work. Our re-union with primal knowledge as stewards of the earth, capable of manifesting resilient healthy, re-growing change in this current time through an open heart and a clear, uncompromising spirit. Thank you for the gifts you shared throughout your lifetime. Thank you that we met. All the Best. Marcus.

adamyosef

about 5 years ago

I didn't know Paulo but he seems like an amazing guy who did a lot of great things for so many people. Wishing him peace and love wherever he may be. x