EPISODE 35: Regenerative Design W/ Stephen Brooks

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Show Notes

Today Ryland chats with Stephen Brooks, a self-trained ethnobotanist and an eco-community creator. Alongside his father Norman, Stephen has created several ecological communities in Costa Rica like Punta Mona, Alegria Village, and La Ecovilla, just to name a few. Stephen’s communities have touched the lives of thousands of visitors and students, and even made an appearance in the Netflix show “Down to Earth” with Zac Efron.

Transcript


Welcome everyone to another episode of kiss
the ground. Today we chat with Stephen

Brooks, a self trained ethnobotanist and
ECO community creator. Alongside his father Norman,

Stephen has created several ecological communities in
Costa Rica, like Puntamona, allegria

Villa and Eco Villa, just to
name a few. Stevens communities have touched

the lives of thousands of visitors students
and even made an appearance on the Netflix

show down to Earth with Zac Efron. Today Stephen is here to chat about

the importance of community permaculture and his
plans for the future as he works towards

systemic change with a global redesign.
My Life, my purpose was to be

a protector or to care for mother
for nature. Soil really is the nutritional

bank account for our willstance. Together
we can do something that we've never done

before. We can rebuild our ECOS
system. Are degraded soils and are degraded

water cigns. Freedom to me is
the ability, the right to be all

of who you are. I think
we can all do our roles, even

if you're not a farmer. From
the words of Roomy, let the beauty

you love be all that you do. There is hundreds of ways to deal

and kiss the ground. Stephen Brooks
has nearly thirty years experience building communities of

change makers. But what does that
really mean? Great question, you know.

I think the first thing that comes
to mind for me is just like

how incredibly intelligent human beings are and
just how creative and resourceful we've become,

intending the ecosystems, you know,
the ecosystems where we live, and all

the thing, you know, whether
it's growing food in the desert or,

you know, you know, drying
wetlands or or making wetlands. You know,

we've just figured out how to do
everything. So we've certainly learned how

to tend it the ecosystem. The
harder part is tending the EGOS system,

like how can we really figure out
how to live together and how to do

this together? You know, it's
such a it's such an art, you

know, and it's such a and
I you know, I think as as

you know, we think about yeah, sure, so many people are beginning

to want to, you know,
connect with their food source and live off

the land and get back to nature. So what's happening is a couple of

things. One is since the s
people the back to land movement. You

know, people started, you know, in droves going back to the land

together, which was often a very
hippie, kind of informal, rustic experience,

to say it nicely. You know, my mind my dad did.

My Dad did two years living in
Peasleyville, New York, in a teepee,

cooking every meal on wood fire through
the winter, three foot of snow

up the side of the teep.
So yeah, he was one of those

doing it in a very rustic way. So that wasn't so attractive. So

that is was a dead end for
the movement. And then it feels like,

you know, and then the other
the other kind of way that people

have been doing it, people with
more resourcess, they'll go and they'll move

outside of the city and they'll buy
a piece of land and then they'll try

to do it on their own,
you know, and then next thing you

know, where are they there on
their own, you know, and it's

lonely and it's hard. And so
how can we figure out strategies where we

can actually do this in a way
that's collective, organized, well done,

with experience, with with good design, you know. So I think,

I think that's that's really what the
I feel like that's really what this next

chapter is been a entail. You
know, and I've been called it a

lot, this global redesign. We
need the global redesign, you know,

and it's like things are the way
they are, but they don't need to

be this way. You know,
that's like, you know, the way

that the cities have been set up
and then the suburbs and then the rural

area. But how? Who decided
that? You know, was there like

some Human Council where people sat around
and said, okay, well, this

is the way. No, it's
just it's things just kind of happen random

and as as we learned from permo
culture, which we can talk more about,

is really this this in is bringing
in tension, really merging intention into

our design. In case you're not
familiar with the term permaculture, it's intended

to be a contraction of the words
permanent and agriculture. Basically, it's a

method used to create a sustainable way
of living. You know, and what's

so incredible is so like mass amounts
of people pretty much warn't the same thing.

You know. It's like I could
sit on any with with any group

of people in kind of this world
and kind of paint the picture. How

would you like to, you know, send your children to a school that

you co create with all of your
friends and their commute to school and your

commute to their best friends houses,
through orchards and across Clean River? You

know, it's like yeah, sign
me up. You know, it's like

it seems like. It seems like
so many of us are are dreaming this

same dream. So how can we
provide that? How can we create it's

just it seems so simple. You
know, it seems like Duh. You

know, Stevens Passion for living off
the land kickstarted when he was just twenty

one years old. He was on
a family vacation in Costa Rica when he

witnessed something that was life changing.
And the reason why I first even had

the idead even do that was because
I witnessed a playground full of indigenous children

get sprayed by a Chiquita banana crop
duster and a turtle. That rocked my

world. Steven couldn't believe what he
was seeing. Like you know, talk

about design and lack of well,
actually, there's a lot of design,

but it's what is the design?
The design is to maximize profits for shareholders.

You know, it's like totally destroy
all the ecosystems, use massive amounts

of chemicals, you know, totally
poison the land and the rivers and the

ocean, poison the workers and you
know, and you know, really rely

on cheap labor that's disposable. I
mean all of the all of the design

involved is just isn't far from the
kind of win wins that we want to

be a part of. So,
after realizing that design was so broken,

I wanted to figure out, wait
a minute, like can we do this

differently, like how how did this
happen? Like, come on, humanity,

is this really the best we could
do? And so that that kind

of just, you know, pushed
me to figure out to see like can

even on a small scale, like
what would that possibly look like? Later

Stephen was living in Costa Rica when
he met someone who introduced him to what

it really means to live off the
land. I met my neighbor Patty,

who, when I first met me, goes, boy, my court is

buried right out there in the yard. I was like what my cord is?

He would mean he was born there
and he was. There's already an

old guy this was in in nineteen
ninety five, so he was born there

in nineteen twenty eight and he used
to live there. There used to be

sixty families living there at Puntamona,
and one by one they left to go

live in the towns because the road
never made it there. And for me

that was the attractive thing, and
he was the last remaining resident. Patty

would grow his own food, Cook
over fire, use kerosene lamps instead of

electricity. It was all so simple
and so different from the way of life

that so many people had grown accustomed
to and I thought, well what,

maybe I could start bringing students here
to experience this type of living, in

this type of reality. In Nineteen
Ninety Five, Stephen Founded Costa Rican adventures,

his way of bringing students to Costa
Rica to experience the rainforest and learn

more about the decimation of indigenous culture. By started doing that, and what

started happening is all these people started
reaching out and heard about it and they're

like wow, we want to come
in volunteer there. It sounds amazing.

I was like volunteer, okay,
and and so what happened was I started

getting drogues of volunteers coming that would
kind of help me at Puntamona and then

help me lead my tours, and
then in between tours we would all go

back and live at Puntemona. My
company exploded though, the Tour Company for

students, because we're really the first
one to do trips to Costa Rica focused

on biology and environmental studies, and
so the company grew really fast and we

had all these students coming down and
then I had all these volunteers that wanted

to come and and now, twenty
seven years later, you know, there's

rarely less than thirty or forty people
there. The first community Stephen created was

Puntemona, a permaculture farm and education
retreat center located on the Caribbean coast of

Costa Rica, and it's a it's
a very interesting type of community. It's

more of like a rotating community on
the farm that my family owns, you

know, and you can relate to
that. You know, it's like and

it's magical and it's beautiful and and
their decisions are made. You know,

it's like, I'm certainly not called
for every decision. You know, it's

like on macro things, yes,
but it's the the community that's there really

really runs the place and it's really
been beautiful and and what's so interesting is

the like big groups where every people
want to go there. Sure, it's

beautiful, it's the beach to talk. People want to go there because they

literally walk through that portal and are
just they feel something different. So that

was that was integral to the to
the drupes of the vision was to create

a demonstrate, a physical demonstration of
how to live this way. So we

created this incredible water system and all
electricity was solar and we built all our

buildings from fallen trees and we started
farming and getting into permaculture and growing food

and really growing food, and I
became obsessed with collecting exotic foods and we

started growing all these things, and
that was great and all, but then

what really, you know, did
it was like we also wanted to be

a model for another way to do, you know, create like a socio

economic reality, you know, which
is also a very important piece of the

design, and promacls, recall it, the invisible structure, and and so

how can we really like sure,
I'm the owner of the farm and,

you know, Peters the manager of
the farm, and there's like, you

know, ten or twelve local workers
that come to work every day, and

then there's like another ten or twelve
fourners that have jobs there, and then

there's another fifteen or twenty work traders, and then there's like another you know,

fifteen or twenty volunteers, and then
maybe there's like another thirty or forty

guests there. But how can we
blur the lines between us, like it's

not like I'm awfully in some mansion
eating filet Mignon while like all the you

know, in volunteers are eating porridge. You know, it's like, wait

a minute, how can we create, how can we create a reality that's

different and that that people come there
and they feel it? And so I

would say that that was really the
first, what kind of my first step?

After being in Costa Rica for ten
years, Stephen found himself wondering if

he could be doing more here.
I am, I want I'm getting older

when I have children, my parents, you know, are getting older.

It's harder for them, for them
to come here. What might that look

like if we want to really create, you know, a replicable, larger

community? Before Stephen could take on
anything new, he first had to define

the criteria of the project. How
big will it be? What purpose does

it serve? That kind of thing. So for me, first I'd first

and foremost, I knew I wanted
to be in Costa Rica. there.

I love it here, you know, for a million reasons. Second,

I knew I wanted to be closer
to San Jose this time, so I

said I'd like to be within one
hour from the airport of San Jose.

HMM. And then I decided that
I wanted to be on the Pacific Slope

as opposed to the Caribbean Stoke.
The Caribbean stope has very just it's kind

of like People Hulu where it I
kind of just reigns all year, you

know, as opposed to the you
know, the other side, where you

have distinct rainy and dry seasons.
Yes, and then I really I thought

I had just visited this epic river
and I said I want to be able

to lay on big hot boulders and
I want to be able to roll off

into a crystal clear pool of water
and drink it free island. This is

my dream, this is my that's
right now. Yeah, exactly. So

I could do it that. He
continued to jot down all the traits he

was looking for four to five hundred
meters in area. Ideally it would be

about eight hundred meters above sea level
so we could still grow all the tropical

fruits and vegetables he desired. And
finally, it had to be land that

had already been deforested. So you
know, you don't want to here in

cost drica. People, a lot
of foreigners, come here and they see

this their beautiful waterfall in this beautiful
forested land and then they want to start

a community there. It's like,
what are you going to you're going to

clear the land. You know there's
already so much land that's already been cleared.

So that that felt like a really
important part of the criteria. So

the clearer you are in your criteria, the easier it is to find what

you're seeking. Whether you're trying to
find a husband or wife or you're trying

to find a piece of land,
get clear what you're looking for and you'll

have a much better chance in finding
it. I was sitting at a friend's

house in San Jose and I was
at his mom's house and there was this

newspaper on the table and I just
kind of picked it up and I never

really see the newspapers or I just
like funneling through the pages, and I

saw this article that said that it
had a map and it had an article

about the ten cleanest river or in
Costa Rica. Look at it and two

of them were close to the San
Jose in the Pacific slope. So literally

the next day I just went drove
straight to these two rivers and started looking

and literally the next day is where
we found this property where I am right

now, and it's called like Equivilla, and there are this is on seventeen

hectors, forty six acres and currently
there's around forty five families living here from

twenty two countries. The the Parents
Co created a school that has more than

fifty children in it. Lie Equovilla
was founded in two thousand and six.

It's roads are made from a cycled
plastic, the septic is treated by one

of Central America's largest methane digesters and
the large communal gardens and orchards feed the

residents. Every Saturday all of the
neighbors get a giant box of of Greens

and vegetables and every Saturday go and
pick up your box and whatever fruits are

going off at that time. There's
boxes and you take whatever you want,

which is amazing, and then all
the road sides are just lined with fruit

trees. So you drive in and
there's Jack Fruits and egg fruits and everything

just lining the roads, which is
incredible. So so this place has been

a great, great look. You
know, we've learned so many lessons here.

While creating like Ecovia, Steven was
worried that some of his friends wouldn't

be able to afford living there,
so he bought another property up the road

and began building again, this time
with a few modifications. So the structure

at equal villa what we call in
Costa Rica. It's called condominium law,

which when we think of Condomini and
we think of like townhouse, but the

legal structure of a condominium is is
basically you can take a property and you

could create internal roads and then you
could sell lots within there of any size,

and then you can have common areas
that are co owned by all the

lots. And the interesting thing also
about the community the condominium law is that

you could create rules and regulations for
the homeowners, which is is an interest

ining. When somebody buys in,
they're legally binded with the homeowners association rules,

which means like it could be anything
from you can't, you know,

the color, you can't have an
Iridescent Pink House, or you can't build

five stories or you can't you know
whatever, whatever the you can't cover more

than a certain percentage of your lat
which it's nice to be able to to

set some standards, agricultural standards,
ecological standards. His new project, to

Co Taal is seventy acres and shares
a river with ECO Villa. It is

co owned by thirty three families and
is designed to help lower income Costa Ricans.

The way we set it up is
everybody at Tacos all kind of knew

each other. At least I was
the center spoke, and what we did

is we bought the property and then
we divided the shares between all the all

the whole group, and then we
created an internal document, kind of creating

the rules. The only difference is
is that they're not legally binding, but

it felt a lot more comfortable because
everybody knew each other. Where at ECO

Villa, we bought the land,
installed the infrastructure and then we sold lots,

you know, to pretty much whoever
came, you know, whoever.

You know, of course, like
if somebody came and they didn't seem like

they fit, we didn't try to
sell them. But but that's basically what

happened. Then three years ago we
bought the property right next door, which

is called aligree of village. Alagria
is seventy acres and has a hundred and

forty five lots and elder village and
event space and a high school being created

by the crew from the Green School
in Bali. Since June I've been planting

the roadsides and we have more than
you know. Ninety varieties of fruit trees

along the roads are ready, not
to mention they're all intercrop with heliconias and

gingers and all kinds of flowers and
tumor achs and ginger. I mean it's

just out of control. Gorge is
the roadsides. We've AAR already built the

most epic Guarden, which you saw
the pictures of, that big that Big

Guardian with the Dome, and then
we built the yoga deck over the garden,

which it's a great thing, and
that that's how we started. We

bought the property, installed the most
epic garden ever and then built the most

beautiful yoga deck overlooking the garden,
and that's how we thought we would you

know, we thought we would start
doing events to to promote it, and

then covid came and then we were
like, oh no, what are we

going to do? And then Zac
Efron came and two thousand and eighteen stephen

got a surprising call from a friend. They said they were working on a

Netflix show called down to Earth.
Was Zec Afron, but that name didn't

really mean much to Stephen. I
thought the name sounded familiar from like the

supermarket check out line, like the
cover of like the tabloid magazines. It

sounded I imagine him with, you
know, all the breakups and all the

stuff that was going on and on
the magazines as I'm checking out of the

supermarket. The show they were filming
followed Zach Fron and wellness expert Darien Olean

on a journey across the world to
discover healthy, sustainable ways to live,

which is why they came knocking on
Steven's door. So they ended up coming

down. We filmed in November of
two thousand and eighteen and then I kind

of forgot about it, you know. I once he got here, I

realized what a big deal he was, but I I kind of just forgot

about it. Just say, nothing
happened. Like I thought it was supposed

to come out in February or March
of like a few months later, and

it didn't, and then I just
kind of forgot about it. And then

a year and a half almost went
by and then a friend of mine,

Bradley, calls me and he's like, Stephen, I just saw you on

a commercial on Netflix. There's like
what, Oh, yeah, and then

I go and he sends me the
link and I click on and he says,

well, you know, premiering July
ten and yeah, it was pretty

like insane. That show came out
and I literally for I don't know,

two or three months, was get. I was getting like I don't know,

hundreds of emails a day. You
know, it's like I've never watched

the TV show, thought it was
interesting and then like emailed the person you

know, or like try to hunt
down the person. But people do that,

I know. I don't know thousands
of people like hunted us down.

And what's so interesting? It doesn't
even mention all agree I in the show.

Yet people found through me and through
everything, they found the project and

what's so interesting is, you know, I every I'm actually going tomorrow,

like pretty much every other week,
I'm in San Jose at the lawyer's office

signing for the lots and I'm meeting
a lot of these people for the first

time. A lot of the sales
my dad does on Zoom and all that,

you know, and I've been on
like the original Webin or webinars where

they first heard about us. But
like as I sit across room in the

lawyer's office, they leave and they
and then the next one comes in and

in between the lawyer just looks at
me in shock like wow, where are

these people coming from? Because,
like I said, there's people from thirty

seven countries and they're all incredible.
Everybody's incredible, like it's like, you

know, they all that. That
TV show really really hit some cord in

people, especially that episode where it
like if people were like tired of society

and the way things are, if
people were really wanting to connect with their

food and live in a community like
they watch that show in it like Jolke

did them and they reached out and
now there's all these people. Soon Stephen

had sold a hundred and forty three
out of a hundred and forty five lots.

But it's like, you know,
I say the number, a hundred

and forty three families and it's like
he's a hundred and forty three families,

like with children and the whole realities
and and big dreams and and what's so

amazing is now, you know,
bringing all of those realities, emerging them

together and and dancing in this dance. And and we have, like there's

already probably like ten different WHATSAPP groups
for all agree. There's the aligree origin

regeneration committee, there's The allegrea governance
committee, there's the allegria conscious parenting group,

there's the elder group. I mean
there's already aligria youth meetings that are

happening and and and people are just
start. We just got the final permit

last week where people can start building
now. This means Stephen will soon have

a hundred and forty three projects happening
at once. But unlike in his past

projects, this time he brought in
some help. We just started a construction

company called Rahaneta construction because, you
know, the reality what happened in equal

villa is everybody wanted to build eco
and build green homes, but it was

like a lot of people are building
the first time they've ever built a home.

So it's it that's hard in itself
and trying to do things out of

the box. So, at equal
via, the houses really weren't as ECO

as we had hoped. Yeah,
and we're at Alagria, one of my

partners in the project, also has
a construction company. We have and it's

so beautiful. It's like this this
beautiful dance of cooperatition. You know,

there's like, yeah, he's building
homes and on building theme, but we're

not like fighting over the business.
It's like it's all good and we're all

and and what's so interesting is we're
like, you know, we're working with

like we're working with the same bamboo
experts that you know, he finds somebody

great, he shares them with us. We find, you know, stonemasons

that are amazing and and it's really
been amazing and we really want, we

really want this to be the most
incredible shining example of ecological design and and

you know, the infrastructure really is
first class. You know, it's like

all underground. You know, there's
fiber optic to every lot but there's there's

four springs on the properties of the
waters. Just incredible. The yeah,

I mean there's ponds and all the
common areas. There's going to be a

restaurant and there's a beautiful coworking space
and there's a small supermarket. It's it's

really, really exciting. So we're
pretty much there, which has been exciting

road and and and yeah, we
invite everybody to come down and see what

we're doing. Most of the people
at all agree. Are Building homes and

guest home so that people can come
and live and experience it's really exciting.

It's so beautiful. I mean just
the fruit trees along. I've been really

involved in just like the planting of
the fruit trees along the road. And

you know, I want to know
a secret. The reason why I do

all of this is just so I
can plant a lot of fruit trees and

get it fun to hit. One
of Stevens projects is an annual festival.

He found it called envision. It's
a celebration on the Pacific coast of Costa

Rica. The aims to build community
inspire others to create a sustainable world through

live music, workshops, are installations
and more. I started feeling and I

started as actually now more than ever, like with this this this vision of

the global redesign, and it's like
what would a replicable model look like?

You know, it's this in this
broken world where, you know, it's

like what would have macro replicable model
feel like and look like? And what

does that what does that mean?
And I was I was in I was

in Florida one time in my dad's
priest and he I was listening to Ted

x radio and I forget even who
was talking, but somebody was speaking about

climate change and just how overwhelming it
felt. And who's the WHO's the leader

of it? Is it Gretta?
Is that Al Gore? Like what's going

on? Like what is the climate
change and what are we going to do

about in and and if I bring
my cloth bags to the grocery store,

am I going to help the polar
bears? And it was like this whole

conversation and I started thinking about myself
and reflecting on all the different projects that

I was doing and I started thinking
like what size project is big enough that

it's actually going to make a significant
difference? And it like just came to

me in that moment like a beam
of light and I decided a thousand hectors.

A thousand hectors is twenty four hundred
acres. And then I was I

was sitting with a friend of mine
WHO's like a marketing guy, and he

was like, yeah, thousands cool, but like making a thousand and thousand

and one. Yeah, yeah,
one, you can maybe even do like

a sideway infinity sign and another one. And I started. I was like

yes, one thousand and one,
redesigning the Earth a thousand and one hectors

at a time. Although Steven's plan
to redesign the earth is still in its

early stages, the ethnobotanist has already
mapped out the criteria he's seeking to achieve

in this redesign, and I realize
it consists of conservation, which the criteria

of the thousand hectors is. Most
of the land has been has been cleared,

because that's part of the criteria,
but there's some that hasn't. So

we want to radically conserve this space, okay, and then we want to

and then we want to reforest,
right. So in reforce we want to

create, you know, biological corridors
between these existing forests and we want to

reforest mass amounts of area, okay, and then we want to obviously have

macro, example, every generative agriculture, you know, perennial food, forest

agriculture. And then we want to
merge that with construction farming. We want

to farm wood for for construction and
we want to farm bamboo and in the

under story of that we're growing our
own thatch for roofing. Okay, and

then, and then we want to
create communities merged into that, like we

have with Equoville and Aligria. And
then we want to have a permanent you

know, envisions great, but it's
on a least piece of land. We

want to create an event space that
we own that's not just used one time

a year, but it's constantly hosting
conferences and festivals and events, because you

think about the this ecological movement and
all the different ECO conferences that have happened,

I can only imagine how many you've
been. Do I actually follow you,

follow your escapades? You're still on
on the road going to different,

you know, eco conferences, is
like where they held at Marriott's and at

Hilton's, you know, and we're
eating non or we go to these conferences

and we're serve non organic food.
And in these, you know, you

know, hotels are owned by big
giant corporations, like against everything that we're

there to talk about or you think
about, like Joe Da Spencer, you

know, Jose Spencer Post these like, you know, two thousand person events,

and where does he do them?
In Cancun, because that's the only

place he can host them is in
these sterile, you know, massive,

cheesy hotels. So the idea would
be able to create a space where we

can host events like that. And
then we also want to create a whole

new education system. So about a
year and a half ago we started eat

conversity, which teaches you know,
we have a you know, put them

on. Is Basically our campus where
we, you know, teach courses.

But then we've been doing a bunch
of you know, permaculture and now we're

about to launch a six month herbal
certification with Rosemary Glad Star, which is

super exciting. And and the idea
is to create a campus. You know,

it's like the old school way of
learning is done. We all know

it, you know. So the
idea is part of this event spaces,

we're creating these pads, like e
coversity is going to have a campus.

Our friends, you know, momentum
collective, they do circus arts. They're

going to have a campus. Our
friends that are that are big youtube,

instagram people have their own media hub
where they're training young people had to edit

videos and had to, you know, create marketing realities. And then we

were working to a real good friend
of ours here in Coast Rico who's like

a real tech guy, and we're
going to create a tech and innovation hub.

So young people were creating a whole
architecture branch of e conversity without architecture

school, where you don't just sit
in theory and look at books like you're

actually out there building with bamboo and
harvesting and curing bamboo and working with wood.

And so, basically, one thousand
and one has now morphed into what

we're calling Eterna, which means eternal. You. You're here, you're this

is probably the one of the first
public places I'm talking about it. When

Stephen Dreams, he dreams big.
Luckily, he has his father, Norman,

by his side the whole way to
help him turn his visions into a

reality. I mean, I wouldn't
have been able to do any of this

without him. He is, and
not because we have some big dress frind,

because we don't. My Dad was
a dentist. My Dad is active

in everything that we're doing. Literally, my dad is on ten to twelve

zoom calls a a for the last
year and a half. He's been so

integral, he's so believes everything that
we're doing. He is the most incredible

partner, like literally we speak Twenty
Times a day. He is so supportive,

he's so smart, you know,
so any's so he's so detail focused,

like where I'm kind of macro and
just vision and, you know,

bringing the pieces together. My Dad
is just Mr Follow up. He's incredible.

So that's been incredible. My girlfriend
Andrea, who's Costa Rica, and

her she's so dedicated to this being, you know, and she's excited about

all of it, but really excited
about the inclusion of Coast Ricans and coast

Rican culture and and how can we
make how can we bridge, you know,

this kind of new age, you
know conscious movement with what's happening here

locally in Costa Rica, because all
these people are flocking to Costa Rica,

not only because coast rink is beautiful, but because the Costa Ricans are incredible.

So, you know, really bridging
that and also bridging you know,

it's like how can we have the
map most impact in the communities, the

surrounding communities where we're going? So
she has a nonprofit where we're right now,

Guy Getting Ready to create. When
we did, I'll agree, up

a big percentage of the of the
prophets went into a fund, a community

fun that right now we're figuring out
with her nonprofit, the way that we're

gonna use that fun to support the
community. So some of the things that

we were creating a community center outside
of Aligria, which is going to have

a big commercial kitchen and and we're
going to be doing, you know,

classes in English and in and in, you know, Excel. So we

do we don't want to just supply, you know, jobs for gardeners and

maids like we want the surrounding people
around us to be able to, you

know, intimately work with all these
families that are moving here and have jobs

like they never imagined before and training
that that's never been available. So there's

so many pieces of this, but
what does it take to bring a vision

of this scale to life? So
just before this call, I was on

a call with my dad and like
another somebody else that we're bringing in.

Yeah, it's where the team is
definitely growing because it's a bigger project.

Yeah, it's macro. It's macro, and it's also not that complicated either.

You know, it's like the reality
is Raylan with funding. It's really

it's really a lot easier to get
things done. Like if you want to

plant out, you know, three
hundred acres and reforest it, it's not

that hard to do. It just
costs money. You need workers, you

need irrigation and you need big nurseries
and but it's not brain surgery either,

you know. So the most what
I'm find need to be the most the

two most complicated pieces. One is
kind of the financial back and Tacx Haes

and and and struction, financial structure
and model is not my first taste.

So that's the kind of scary,
one scary part. And then the other

part that's also complicated, very complicated
in the states, less complicated in Cotrega,

but it's still complicated, is just
the permitting and the water rights and

the it's still like, you know, it's still it's still it's still a

dance that we have to do.
So you know, finding the best people

to involve that that are good dancers
in all of those different styles is is

has been crucial, and the most
important thing at the end of the day

is we want to create a replicable
model where we can go to Sri Lanka

or we can go to Nebraska,
or we can go to Peru, or

we can go to Thailand, or
we can go to Austria or we can

go to Scotland and we can replicate
this model because it works and it functions

and it and and all parties are
winning. I'm sure there's plots that lots

of ways that you kind of bring
playful ritual into the Puntamona. That I

mean the experience. I'd love to
hear just what comes to your heart and

mind in this moment. So two
things. One is every single day before

lunch and dinner we hold hands in
a circle. Every single day without fail,

and it's kind of just to stop
to bringe eve to just you know,

every day we're so busy, everybody's
so busy running social media emails,

whatst that's the whole thing's dinging just
like a couple minutes to just stop look

around, because it put Amon of
people are coming going all the time.

So you get to see who's there. New People, introduce themselves, say

where they're from, their favorite fruit, their first concert and and just kind

of just pause. You know,
it's such an important thing to do to

pause sometime. And then the other
thing that we do at Punt Tomonto that

is really special as we once a
week we do we have a sharing circle,

which you know they're so we have
lots of meetings on logistics and who's

doing what, but once a week
we meet in the Yoga Shala and we

have can't. The whole place gets
lit up with candles and everybody just goes

around and just shares. And I
would say so many people that have been

at punt demono like one of the
most profound experiences that they've had out there

is the sharing circle, because it's
so rare where you just get to speak

and and just heard, just get
hurt, no one's answering, nobody's like

having a conversation. You just share
and it's really beautiful what comes out of

it, and it's also it's really
what Gels, you know. It's like

I've noticed at times where the sharing
circles aren't happening is where things come up

and where things are get difficult.
The sharing circles are so crucial. So

I would strongly recommend anyone to that's
that's trying to live with groups of people

to make that part of your practice. So how does Steven Kiss the ground?

I love feeding people new fruits.
I mean, ha ha ha,

I just love it. I love
you know, and I love just watching

their face and seeing their reaction.
I mean there's so many. I mean

it's just it's like it's like looking
at God or tasting God or goddess.

You know, it's just like wow, like I thought I tasted all the

fruits or I thought I explored my, you know, my taste buds,

but all of a sudden is just
like whole new world are opened and just

the places that that takes us.
I just and and especially feeding people things

that, you know, came from
some random seed that I collected on some

trip twenty years ago and now I
remember where it's at in the nursery and

I tended to tree for fifteen years. Now I'm feeding you this fruit that

not only have I tended but,
you know, hundreds of volunteers over the

years and together we get to to
to indulge in that, in that you

know collective frequency is so magical.
Kiss the Ground w/ Ryland Engelhart
The essence of the work of Kiss the Ground is this deep reverence for life. A conversation about ecology, soil, trees, and all the layers of the biology and living th... View More

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