Our Bright Future #8: Stephen Brooks on Building Thriving, Sustainable Communities for a New Earth, Aligned with Nature

Stephen Brooks

“Our Bright Future” Session #8
Featuring Special Guest: Stephen Brooks
(Replay available below)

(NOTE: This conversation took place on January 8th, 2021, but if you want to watch the replay, please use the “Join Us” link at the bottom of the page to register after which you will be given the YouTube rewatch link. All conversations in the “Our Bright Future” series are accessible on a “pay what you want” basis, so we invite you to inquire within yourself as to what you feel this content is worth to you and then, to share that with us as an exchange. Thank you & enjoy!)


Building sustainable, resilient communities has become one of the leading topics of interest in our online Ownstream Community in recent months.

Although many have been thinking about and experimenting with intentional communities, and eco-communities, for some time, the call to live in community feels especially loud now, when the world is changing so rapidly, and it has become clear that large, centralized systems of production, economies, and governments will soon come apart, and strong local communities will be the design for our future.

Creating new communities in harmony with the Earth also calls to us as many of us feel a split in the worlds, and disconnection from previous communities, and are finding new resonant groups with which we feel strong bonds of affection, and a desire to re-build. It is clear that the New Earth will be more local, that community resilience will be relevant to our immediate survival, and that sustainable community in line with nature will be a hallmark for rebuilding our society, our relationships to one another, and the Earth.

We have felt personally called to live in community, in closer relationship with Earth for about three years. This call began with a recognition that the way we are taught to live in this society, isolated in twos and threes and fours, separated by blood relation, is a strange, conditioned concept and tool of separation, and not how we are actually meant to live as human beings.

We also began to feel a disconnection from ourselves and our source that felt it could be restored only by the quiet, nourishing touch of nature. As we have become closer to conscious community online and around the world in recent years, it has also become clear that family is an expansive concept, and that we can each define our family, and where and how we want to live.

As the Ownstream Community has become especially interested in community designs, establishing community resilience, and rebuilding our Earth in local communities, one person rose to the top who we wanted to speak with, to begin this conversation about community, and the whats and hows for our future.

Stephen Brooks.

When we moved to Costa Rica in 2018 with the intention of building community with others, we were pointed again and again to Stephen Brooks as the person across Costa Rica who was the one to talk to about community.

Stephen has been building thriving ecological communities across Costa Rica, and living in close, abundant partnership with the land for over 20 years. Following a family trip to Costa Rica in the early 90s, when he experienced the abundance of the rainforest juxtaposed with a crop duster spraying pesticides over children playing next to a banana field, Stephen was inspired to return to Costa Rica to live, to learn more about harms of traditional forms of agriculture on small farmers and communities, and to build new solutions.

His desire to create a solution led him to create the Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design and Botanical Studies in 1995, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, which has become a world leader in tropical permaculture and an extensive botanical collection of useful plants. Punta Mona was Stephen’s first experiment with off-grid living.

There is no road to the center–it requires a 2-hour hike in from the nearest road, or a boat ride. Punta Mona grows over 200 varieties of tropical fruits, nuts, and spices, produces all of its electrical needs from solar panels, and obtains methane gas from the septic system to fuel the kitchen. The site has become known as a world leader in tropical, sustainable agriculture and sustainable living techniques.

In 2006, seeking a less remote location to build a more accessible community for his family, Stephen founded La Ecovilla, closer to the country’s capital. Ecovilla is a 45-acre community made up of of 45 families from 25 countries, and has since become a world model for sustainable living. Its roads are made from recycled plastic, it features “Living Systems” waste disposal, alternative energies, and permaculture, with large communal gardens and orchards that feed the residents.

Individual residents own plots of land surrounding a community center, and Ecovilla’s own alternative school. Up the street, Stephen co-founded Tacotal Eco-Village, in the hopes of helping lower income Costa Ricans and others who could not afford to live at La Ecovilla, which is a permaculture based community co-owned by 33 families homesteading on 70 acres . His most recent addition is Alegria, which neighbors La Ecovilla and is 170 acres and will include 100 more lots, an elder village, an event space as well as high school being created by a group from The Green School in Bali. Stephen’s passion lies in seeking more sustainable ways to live our daily lives without compromising quality of life.

We are so grateful and excited to speak with Stephen this week! In this rich, highly practical, and inspiring conversation, we plan to discuss the following:

  • What’s wrong with the way we live now in our society, in relation to one another, our food and power sources, and the Earth? How did we come to live this way?
  • Why are more and more people making the move to live in sustainable communities now, or feeling drawn to this way of living? Why is this so important, and why will ecologically-based communities be so critical to the rebuilding of our society?
  • What is a planned or intentional community? What are the first considerations a person should ask him/herself when considering moving into or starting their own community? How did Stephen get started? What are the first steps to take?
  • What can we learn from Stephen’s experiments with building communities in Costa Rica? What are common mistakes we can avoid? What are the greatest lessons in dreaming, creation, and abundance?
  • As the Earth accelerates, are we ready as a humanity to step into community with one another? What needs to be healed first in society and among us as individuals? How has Stephen experienced co-creation, governance, conflict, resolution, and healing within his communities?
  • How do we, who have been so disconnected from nature, take our first steps toward rebuilding a relationship with the land and the Earth? What are the fruits of this experience, for our bodies and spirits? What has Stephen learned from living so close to the Earth and among the rich biodiversity of Costa Rican fruit forests?
  • What are the next steps for our society in terms of building and expanding eco-communities? How can we each contribute our part?

As always, this “Our Bright Future” talk is a “pay what you wish” event. Half of all funds collected will go directly to Stephen, to support his work, and the other half will support Ownstream, and conversations like this one. You can watch live or watch the replay at a later time. Sign up to join below!

To Join Us

Along the lines of exploring a new way of exchanging value, we are piloting a new payment process with this series – specifically, allowing you to pay whatever you want for this conversation. We are very excited for this, as it feels like a congruent method for us both to keep our platform open to all who are drawn to the information shared without the classic payment wall, and also honor our, and our guest’s, time and energy given in devotion of the truth and sharing that with as many as possible.

All of the monies received for this conversation will be split 50/50 with our guest – which is our policy for all co-creations in this new series. Once you register, you will be taken to a page containing the YouTube link where the live conversation (and replay) will be held.

Thank you, and we hope you will join us!

  • Please bookmark the YouTube link where the broadcast will be held live (this will be shared with you once your registration is complete). If you have any questions or problems with this, please contact us right away.
  • If you cannot attend live, you will still be able to watch after the fact via the live link (which becomes the rewatch link after).
  • Please confirm your time zone beforehand – this conversation will take place at 10:00a pacific/1:00p eastern time on Friday, January 8th (click here to convert to your local time zone).

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