Poetry for Human Transformation and Integration

Jose E


Larissa Loures

Larissa Loures


Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management


Ron Fry

Ron Fry

Global Goals

3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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QueenNut's CEO and founder, José Eduardo Mendes Camargo, believed that human transformation was key to coping with diversity and chose to use poetry to promote integration and collaboration. As part of the pursuit of excellence, QueenNut promoted constant quality training and human development for employees and partners, based on social programs to qualify young apprentices and offer a transfer of agricultural technology and training to suppliers. According to José Eduardo, the biggest innovation was to focus on human transformation through Poetry!

The results impacted many of the 17 SDGs, especially: quality of education (4), good jobs and economic growth (8), innovation and infrastructure (9), reduced inequalities (10), sustainable cities and communities (11), protection the planet (13), life on land (15), peace and justice (16), and partnerships for the goals (17).


As part of the pursuit of excellence, QueenNut promoted constant quality training and human development for employees and partners, based on social programs to qualify young apprentices and offer a transfer of agricultural technology and training to suppliers. According to José Eduardo, the biggest innovation was to focus on human transformation through Poetry!

Poetry for Human Transformation and Integration


The inspiration for this innovation came from José Eduardo's observation that his business development depended on technical training, especially the work with 'human transformation.' At first, the strategy adopted was to invite inspiring leaders to give talks to employees. After a short time, José Eduardo had an insight: Since he was calling speakers for his company, why not expand this opportunity for transformation to other people in the community? Thus, in addition to lectures provided only for employees and partners, José Eduardo began to organize events in cinemas throughout his city Dois Córregos and neighboring cities inviting workers and their families to attend. In these events, he realized that the most innovative people were children. At about the same time, his wife got in touch with a project that aimed to bring "philosophy to schools," but as José Eduardo's passion was the love of poetry, he came up with the idea of setting up projects to take "poetry to schools!" The year was 1995, and instead of lectures with leaders, 'human transformation training' came to mean 'poetry training' to teachers to integrate poetry into the school curriculum to promote diversity, interest, and engagement in education. That year, the "Instituto Usina dos Sonhos (Dream Mill Institute)," an NPO, was created with the motto of promoting "a culture of peace" with poetry as a vehicle for social transformation.

Overall impact

The work with poetry in schools caught the attention of a government minister who requested that the project be implemented in troublesome schools with high rates of violence. The result was surprisingly positive because, according to José Eduardo, poetry offers a sort of "metalanguage" capable of overcoming diversity, offering a serene space for interaction and learning. From this success, Dream Mill Institute expanded its operations beyond its region and state. The pandemic offered the possibility of inviting Luso-poets to online meetings from Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Portugal, as well as Latin American poets from eight South American countries. New poetry projects reached many communities by encouraging them to declaim and act poetry. The Magia da Poesia (Poetry Magic) project put together two plays that reached more than 100 cities. A Brazilian filmmaker became interested in making a documentary about Usina dos Sonhos. In 70 min. of film, the lives of five men and five women poets with cultural, social, and intellectual diversity, having only poetry in common, were documented: "Poetry has the power to bring people together," explains José Eduardo. The strength of his passion led him to create a project in partnership with the City Hall of Dois Córregos, in which the most popular routes were decorated with poems written on tiles: "You walk around the city, and at each stretch, you find poetry on the walls and public areas of the city!" José Eduardo celebrates. "At the entrance to the city, you can read: Dois Córregos, here poetry begins." An inspired José Eduardo exclaims: "I come from ancestors who fought all the way to victory. I pray to do justice to this Glory in my ways; there is summer, thorns, and flowers. Thorns forged my character, and flowers perfumed my paths. Another moment of Ascension! Together we will win with faith, humility, and determination."

Business benefit

In 1989, José Eduardo started a nursery by planting 250 seedlings. Queennut Macadamia currently has approximately 100 thousand trees planted. It is an industry that processes both its macadamias and those of other partner farmers, totaling 35% of all Brazilian production. The challenge of investing in macadamia nut represented the search for integration of diversification. Macadamia cultivation only accounts for 1% of all other nuts, such as pistachios and Brazil nuts, common in Brazil but the billing is doubled. The commitment and seriousness in managing the business yield important numbers and titles. QueenNut exports to the United States and several countries in Latin America, Europe, Japan, China, and others.

Social and environmental benefit

Through the Usinas de Sonhos Institute and its actions, projects emerged that contributed to the community. This success attracted the attention of government officials who requested the scope of projects in other cities and states. José Eduardo reflected on what other passions besides poetry he could share with others to promote the human transformation that was his intent. Jiu- Jitsu, a sport practiced by José since he was a boy, also became part of the "human transformation curriculum." Everyone, including bosses and employees, was invited to participate in the company's Jiu-Jitsu workout. José Eduardo jokes: “ The workers, truck drivers, tractor drivers, and mechanics, who participated in Jiu-Jitsu workouts, were pleased to say that it was the only company in Brazil where the employee could hit the boss and not get fired!" This sports project also surpassed the company's walls. The city Mayor showed interest in offering martial arts, Jiu-jitsu and Capoeira, to young people, especially from the periphery, to get them away from drugs and develop discipline, among other benefits. Still focusing on human transformation, the company hired a photographer to promote environmental education who recorded 70 birds from the region that could be easily spotted. Thus, schools received 800 illustrated books as teaching materials to foster love and care for nature. "With this project, we reached about 400 young people. QueenNut macadamia has planted 400 ha of macadamia and 100 thousand trees. During the harvest, we work with 200 employees and local farmers. It is coherent with our scope of action that we do environmental education!" exclaims José, and continues: "I like dreams. Bobby Kennedy said once, "Some men see things as they are, and say why. I dream of things that never were, and say why not?" And John Lennon said, 'A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.' And there's also a poet from the Rio Grande do Sul who used to say: "... a bridge of sigh unites us!" Sharing his passions, José Eduardo developed projects watered with love, which sprout happiness and favor the flourishing of communities. For when Usina de Sonhos, in partnership with the City Hall, carried out an environmental education project to re-signify the trees on the city's sidewalks. The falling leaves bothered the housewives who complained about how much they had to sweep! Poetry called attention to trees' importance for little animals, shadows, etc., and the women changed their minds. Resignification is also the focus of a more recent project that aims to expand the region's economic vector, almost entirely dependent on agricultural activity, to become a touristic route. In this sense, a survey of the region's attractions are being carried out, e.g., sightseeing, food, and culture along the Tietê River, in the stretch that joins São Paulo to the interior. José Eduardo adapted a communication structure that used to work only for his company to publicize the region's beauty in a project he called "Caminhos do Tietê (Tietê Paths)." The advertisement takes place through radio, TV, and a magazine, distributed to all seven cities mapped to promote the tourism route. "Our communication aims to create agile and correct information with innovative content to support regional integration and development. We are showing the best we have in gastronomy, ecology, art, and what we have in hotel and inns infrastructure to enjoy and develop tourism in our region. I want this communication network to leverage regional development. Let's try to do what we started doing in our city of Dois Córregos, now for our region. We get to know each other by expanding!"

At the end of the interview, I asked how he felt being part of this beautiful story, and José Eduardo replied: "I feel good because this energy exchange feeds me... New projects, meeting interesting people, seeing that the people are in transformation! That's what gives me life, right? I will be 73 years old, but I still feel very excited today!" And he ended the interview by reciting a poem from his book Luminescence: "I'm going to wake up like the sun unraveling the clouds, warming bodies and getting lost in the horizon. I will collect myself like the moon dancing among the stars reflecting me in the waters, illuminating the paths of encounters. I will merge in your light, and our union will shine in the universe." (José Eduardo Mende Camargo, 1997, Luminescence).


José Eduardo Mendes Camargo, CEO & Founder

Photo of interviewee

Business information



Dois Córregos, Sao Paulo, BR
Year Founded: 1986
Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Located in the central region of the state of São Paulo since 1986, QueenNut has invested in the development and technology innovation in the production of macadamia nuts in Brazil. The challenge of investing in macadamia nut consisted of coping with the great diversity of local small farmers who were previously dedicated to the sugar and alcohol sector for over 60 years. The values that guided the development of this agribusiness served as guidelines for the creation of QueenNut Macadamia: delighting customers and partners, motivating and valuing employees, profit as a development factor, environmental and social commitment, quality in everything that is done, and maintaining leadership through a recognized brand in the market and financial strength.