The work of Agros and this book would not have been possible without all the people over the years who have helped to build Agros into what it is today. This website gives me another chance to thank:

  • My wife Cyd – encourager, supporter, and partner of 45 years.
  • My children – for their understanding when their dad was gone so often and so long.
  • The Agros family – past and present board members, staff, volunteers, donors for grabbing on to the vision and taking it further than I could have dreamed.
  • The Agros team in the field – for their faithful execution of the tasks and meeting the innumerable challenges.
  • The Agros villagers, who have taught me about peace and joy in the face of tremendous adversity.

For the published product, I owe special thanks to:

  • My son Peter Li, for editorial and layout services.
  • Joel Markquart, for cover design.
  • Cyd, Chris Canlis, Jeff Vancil, Daniel Ichinaga, Ryan Thomas, and Lindsay Schuette for reading a very rough manuscript and offering key critical commentary.

For this website, special thanks to:

  • Peter Li, for overseeing the development of the site.
  • Marty Herbert, for outstanding design and programming.
  • My son Brian Huotari, for the video content.
  • Agros International for access to and use of their photo bank.

An unlikely story, an unlikely life

Twenty years since he had lived in Latin America, Chi-Dooh Li was stunned by a throwaway comment by a man he had never met. The idea was so remarkable it compelled him to leave his comfortable life behind, including his wife and two young children, for the jungles of Guatemala and a people whose suffering defied imagination.

Buy This Land is the unlikely but inspiring story of how lives were forever changed — all because this Spanish-speaking Chinese lawyer from Seattle once said yes to a crazy idea.

All proceeds from the sale of Buy This Land go to Agros International.

About the author

Chi-Dooh “Skip” Li is founder and partner at the Seattle law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry, PLLC, and founder of Agros International, an organization that has received recognition from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank for combating the root causes of poverty.

Skip spent his first 16 years living in Asia, Australia, and Latin America, and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. His law practice has involved extensive work in other parts of the world. This has given him a unique global perspective for his professional and community activities. As a young lawyer Skip was deeply involved in politics, and from 1973 to 1976 served as legal counsel to Washington Governor Dan Evans. The experience was a formative one, and he remains a deep admirer of Evans as a politician and a man.

Skip obtained his undergraduate degree in political science from Seattle Pacific University, and his law degree from the University of Washington. He also did graduate studies in international politics at George Washington University. In June 2000, Seattle Pacific University awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters.

From 1998 to 2009, Skip wrote op-ed pieces as a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a major daily newspaper, on a wide range of political, cultural and social issues. His columns were consistently written from unique perspectives, often going against the grain of conventional wisdom. Here is his farewell article shortly before the paper was shut down. He especially enjoyed interacting with his readers over his columns, and fondly recalls multiple occasions when he was accused by some of his readers for being a knee-jerk leftist and mindless right-winger over his views expressed in the same column.

Since 1993 Skip and his wife Cyd have devoted a great deal of their time to interacting with university students. Skip is a frequent speaker at student leadership gatherings, and consistently challenges the students to remember the poor here in the U.S. and across the world. His work with the rural poor of Central America and Mexico through Agros International, described in Buy This Land, has strongly influenced and shaped his thinking.

Skip and Cyd have four children, three beautiful granddaughters, and one very good-looking grandson.

I used to dream in my sleep, with eyes closed. Now I dream with my eyes open. It’s much better to dream with your eyes open because you can do something about making those dreams come true.

Noemí López
Agros villager, San Diego de Tenango
El Salvador