The Story of LOACOM
A Movement Company for a Better World
LOACOM is a better world movement company based in Santa Barbara, California that cultivates, connects, and activates ecosystems of changemakers to build vibrant communities and nurture a thriving planet.
Many years ago, a tight group of friends at UC Santa Barbara found the magic formula for striking a balance between studying hard, committing to student advocacy, building community, and having a good time. It was the mid-late 90’s, and massive potlucks, natty dreadlocks, and late-night jam sessions created an important bond among a growing group of college buddies. Casual gatherings morphed into detailed strategy sessions, community organizing campaigns, and thoughtful policy ideas.
Isla Vista, California was the testing ground. The Pacific Ocean was the backdrop. The roots of LOA were born.
Chapter 1: LoaTree
“The collaboration was magic. It all worked.”
– David Fortson, Founder and CEO
Much like his time spent as a university student advocating for causes he believed in, David Fortson launched into his post-graduate career by working with a host of mission-based nonprofit organizations committed to environmental and social good. His advocacy in the nonprofit sector led him to work for a local assemblywoman and, later, experiment with starting his own small business venture. David experimented, observed, adjusted his thinking, and continued to experiment. In 2009–2010, 10+ years after graduating from UCSB, Dave founded LoaTree.
In creating the company, Dave pulled from his college and early career experiences as well as inspiration from his closest friends (special shout to Jenn and John Birchim), family, and wife, Terra Basche. But contrary to his earlier approach as a young student activist, he felt that a better model existed for bringing about positive change — one that was inspirational in nature and not based on confrontation and blame, something common in his nonprofit and advocacy experience. For Dave, the concept of ‘attraction’ was strong, particularly, the ‘Law of Attraction.’ ‘LOA’ became an anchor for building his new vision, while the ‘tree’ in LoaTree signified the deeply-rooted and ever-growing connections that allowed this new vision to flourish.
With a little watering and lots of energy, the LoaTree grew.
Initially focused on supporting and promoting artists that highlighted sustainability through their work, LoaTree landed its first non-artist client, helping produce and market the 40th Anniversary Earth Day celebration in Santa Barbara on behalf of the Community Environmental Council. The 2010 Earth Day celebration was a major success and signaled a new beginning whereby clients began hiring LoaTree for assistance with marketing, event production and management, and more.
Eric Cárdenas, Dave’s longtime friend and fellow organizer, joined LoaTree in 2011, bringing his own set of relationships, experiences within the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and community-building principles to the team. LoaTree expanded its client base and reached out to a more diverse set of partners and collaborators. A small group of interns joined Dave and Eric and, working daily from Eric’s kitchen table, a small ‘eco-renaissance’ began to emerge among a growing collaborative community of changemakers in and around California’s south-central coast.
Chapter 2: LoaCom
As the LoaTree brand grew and became known for impactful, eco-groovy events and activities, Dave and Eric realized there was an opportunity to create a more sophisticated agency that could provide services to ‘better world’ companies in addition to producing fun lifestyle events. So in 2012, they launched LoaCom, a consulting arm to LoaTree that began offering marketing, business & organizational development, and event services to an expanding list of clients.
Sticking to its ‘better world’ interests, LoaCom pursued partnerships with companies that incorporated sustainability and community-building into their core business models. Clients began to include philanthropic foundations, nonprofits, government agencies, and small startups making an impact throughout California. In its early phase, these included the Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation, the Quivira Coalition, the Environmental Defense Center, and others. Companies LoaCom had long admired soon joined the roster, including 1% for the Planet, All Good, Clean Power Alliance, First 5, the Regen Network, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, and many more.
The stage was set for the next level.
Chapter 3: LOACOM
2019 was a seminal year. With several years and dozens of successful client engagements behind it, a small and passionate team set sights on its next phase.
It was at an early 2019 team retreat filled with hot chocolate, snowball fights, and late-night hot tub sessions on the outskirts of the Los Padres National Forest that the Loa team solidified (for the first time) its organizational brand, vision and mission statements.
LoaCom became LOACOM, and the team doubled down on offering services intended to elevate brands, grow audiences, provide unforgettable experiences, win campaigns, and more for better world companies.
A Better World
LoaCom and LoaTree had been using the term “better world” for many years. The phrase was ideal considering the personal philosophies and interests of its team members as well as the mission-oriented nature of its client base. But what did “better world” actually mean? Stemming from its 2019 retreat, the following description emerged:
For LOACOM, a better world is a world in which people take care of one another, take care of their environment, and enjoy the fruits of nature’s bounty in its original, purest state. It is a world governed by decency, empathy, and respect for all people and living things. Transparency and inclusivity are honored. Communities flourish. The collective wisdom of the whole is harnessed in pursuit of something greater.
A better world is shaped by the many imperfect things we see on the day to day, coupled with the targeted actions of individuals and groups to address them. We see these imperfections as an opportunity for regeneration, and the chance to come together as a force for good. It is our ability to respond to the things around us — our response-ability — that puts humans squarely at the forefront of building the better world we know is possible.
Along with this definition, LOACOM developed a set of ‘better world’ values to guide company culture. The following values emerged:
We are strategic. Critical thinking and innovation are deeply seeded, alongside adaptability and fluidity.
We are connectors. We seek diversity, interaction, and the desire to grow networks across all the colors of the human family. Fundamentally, we love people.
We give back. We believe in altruism and leveraging the power of business to build a better world.
We are optimists. We live and work passionately, maintain positive relationships, and strive for abundance and levity of mind and spirit.
We honor the feminine and the value of nurturing and being nurtured. We prefer hugs to handshakes.
We are rooted firmly in the earth and believe deeply in the resilience of our local and global community.
We believe in regeneration. ‘Sustainability’ alone is inadequate to address the global challenges facing humanity. We must design all of our systems and processes to regenerate ecosystems and human society.
We are grateful. We do not take for granted how lucky we are, and live each day knowing that others are not so fortunate. We recognize the privilege of having access to resources that facilitate our success and aim to use these for the betterment of all.
We abide by the law of attraction (LOA). What we believe and how we act manifests in countless and untold ways.
With a firm definition to point to, along with new core language, LOACOM had finally created a concrete roadmap for itself based on a set of overarching, fundamental beliefs. Admittedly, it took a long time to arrive at this point, but for the team, it all unfolded exactly as it needed to.
How We Do It
“Our passion and drive for movement-building comes from years organizing communities towards a greater common good. We’ve taken grassroots organizing strategies, layered in some business savvy, and developed our own unique model for change based on our organizational mission.”
– Eric Cárdenas, Chief of Operations
LOACOM accomplishes its work using three key strategies: Cultivate, Connect, and Activate.
LOACOM is building a network of movement-builders and motivators who are passionate about using the power of business to bring about solutions to address the world’s greatest problems. This network will leverage financial capital, creativity, and back-against-the-wall ingenuity to help reverse the impacts caused by years of extractive and degenerative corporate culture. It will be relied upon to share information and resources, build collaborative working relationships and partnerships, support innovative and solutions-oriented technologies and campaigns, and elevate the collective brands within the network.
As the LOACOM(munity) grows, with individual members continuing to support each other in direct and indirect ways, LOACOM provides opportunities for human-to-human interaction and connection. Our social engagements manifest in many ways, from business mixers and conference workshops, speaking engagements and strategic retreats, to happy hours and outdoor adventures. Connection to each other is a critical ingredient that allows the network to function at its highest level while making the greatest impact. Bonds of humanity will always surpass separateness. So, while much of our connection can happen in the digital space, it cannot live in the digital space alone.
In addition to connecting with each other, the LOACOM(munity) serves as its own unique ecosystem, offering services and resources to those within the network. We hire each other for important gigs. We refer others to businesses within the network who might be the right fit for a particular job. In general, we work together internally while serving as an external resource for others.
The most important function of the emerging community is to put our collective social capital into action. As mission-driven leaders, our ultimate goal is to activate our business networks around the most pressing issues facing our planet. Climate change, water quality and access, ecosystems destruction, and agricultural degradation are among many of the mounting pressures we face. Together, we create and implement campaigns designed to build a better world — one interaction at a time.
If you’ve read this far, YOU are part of the LOACOM(munity). Whether you’ve been tracking us since the beginning days of LoaTree’s community work or joined the tribe more recently as a newer LOACOM friend or client, it is from the bottom of our hearts that we extend our gratitude for your presence and belief in our mission towards a better world.
Considering the nature of national and planetary challenges we face, the road ahead is a tricky one. Becoming a 1% for the Planet business member and getting B Corp certified are small ways LOACOM has found to integrate many of our values into action while continuing to nurture the ecosystem we seek to create. We believe that our client base also reflects our core ethos for a better word. But more is needed. We need your help. We need your skillsets. We need your vision and inspiration. It will take all of our collective action and resources to bring about the changes we’d like (and need) to see.
Are you a business owner inspired to leverage your resources with mission-aligned peers in pursuit of a healthier planet?
Are you an entrepreneur looking to connect with like-minded innovators and leaders to solve the myriad challenges faced by society?
Are you a designer, creative, artist, or musician looking to use your talents to bring about positive change to our global community?