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

Many of us are focused right now on building community, and more specifically, on how local community resilience will be key to our survival and thriving as centralized systems come apart, and the world shifts to one that is more local, rooted in bonds of affection, and aligned with nature.

How do we rebuild our society at the local level? What designs for ecologically sound and sustainable communities do we have to learn from? What will help us make the transition, and what can we learn from the community-building trailblazers who have come before us?

We begin this conversation in the Our Bright Future series with Stephen Brooks the remarkable founder of La Ecovilla and the Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design & Botanical Studies, both located in Costa Rica.

OS65: Gerry Powell – Recovering His Soul & Healing Addiction with Plant Medicine

Gerard Armond Powell (“Gerry”) has always been an all-or-nothing kind of guy. To say he had an addictive personality is a gross understatement. Drugs, women, alcohol, money….you name it. Every vice known to man has written a chapter in his colorful life story. And for many years, each of these chapters had a very dark – and often catastrophic – ending. That is, until he found plant medicine. During his first ceremony, he had a chat with…the moon (of course). The moon – perhaps a vehicle for his higher self – laid out an entirely new vision for Gerry’s life, and how specifically he was to help others recover from addiction using plant medicine and other powerful healing modalities. Most importantly, as Gerry describes it, that night he was reconnected with his soul. The gap between he and his true Self that he had tried so hard to fill with drugs, women, alcohol and anything else he could get his hands on, had been closed and healed. He emerged reborn. Incredibly, the guidance he received during this first ceremony played out mostly to the letter. He has since founded and runs the Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica helping hundreds of others to close the gap, reconnect with their soul and find peace, healing and recovery on the other side. In this interview, learn all about Gerry’s story, including the specifics on what happened during his first experience with plant medicine, his epic encounter with the moon, his transformative healing work at Rythmia and his vision for how plants can change the world. His dramatic transformation and utter authenticity are certain to inspire anyone seeking the truth about life and our relationship with God and the natural world. Enjoy!

OS57: Abel McClennen – Envisioning a New School for a New Society in Costa Rica

Perhaps no other category of our society is in more desperate need of idealism than education. For many students, the schooling experience is one of severe anxiety and worry, of toxic and constant comparisons to others (via “grades”), the digestion and regurgitation of facts that seem far from being truly relevant to real life in our world today. Does this traditional system honor the innate gifts in a child, expressed as his or her excitement? Are we fostering innovation and inspiration, or are we building a dour workforce distanced from the truest sparks within? Envisioning then a new sort of school which allows a child to choose whatever path excites him or her seems to be of paramount importance. Along with a handful of friends, Abel McClennen helped found the La Paz Community School in Brasilito, Costa Rica some 11 years ago. Was there a way to bring foreign-born and local kids together, under the same roof, and build a school that prepared all of them for the rapidly changing world? Could this endeavor help the very diverse community come together? Could a school become akin to a community center, where all were welcome and encouraged to gather and realize their inherent sameness? Thus far, the experiment is working. What emerged in this conversation with Abel is not only a visionary, who is serving the world by helping to create an entirely new format for educating young people, but also a man on a mission, following his own excitement and passion. The combination is riveting. As you will see in this interview, Abel’s love for his path pours into his every word. His excitement is palpable. Perhaps then what we are witnessing within the microcosm of La Paz is the true answer to the challenges of the world. Follow your excitement, what calls to you, and witness what creates itself via this simple axiom. After speaking with Abel, and experiencing the wondrous co-creation that he leads, it’s clear that embodying this and passing this along to young people is an event worth celebrating. In fact, it could be the most important work happening on earth today. We are deeply honored to feature Abel’s story, and his important work, in our series. Enjoy!

OS56: Freyja Inanna – Reclaiming Her Voice, True Power & Purpose

Born into a fundamentalist Mormon family in rural Canada, Freyja (then, Catherine) was taught to keep her head down and not raise her voice. At age 15, she entered into an arranged marriage as the second wife of a 25-year-old polygamist man, and joined his community. She spent the next 28 years raising 12 children in this marriage, and abiding by the repressive rules set for women, wives and mothers in the community. One day, she attended a training to grow herself and her work, and something awakened inside of her – she got a taste of what the full power of God really felt like and the vast freedom, possibility, and Power she had within. Returning back to her marriage and community, she couldn’t put away what she had experienced. She was permanently changed, and could no longer believe that she and her life were supposed to be so small. So, she did the unthinkable: she left. From that point on, as she followed her own truth and power, everything changed, and her life was set ablaze with magic. Having spent years in a loveless, sexless marriage, she began writing with purpose and passion about the relationship she wanted and deserved. Two weeks later, she met her new husband, life partner, and partner in life purpose, Michael. Having long been called to be a healer, Freyja discovered a modality for which she was uniquely and divinely suited to share with others – Integrative Orgasmic Healing. IOH applies deep sustained bodywork to specific pressure points that store physical, mental, energetic and emotional trauma to release adopted identity limitations and create space for a new reality to emerge. The results are transformative. For Freyja, where once existed a quiet, fearful, obedient wife, has risen a powerful, soulful woman, purpose-driven healer, loving and sensual partner, and abundantly joyful mother. She prioritizes joy, pleasure and purpose as her divine birthrights, and as the gateways to living her calling on this planet. At a time when women are coming forth to bare their repression to the world, and at a time when it is becoming obvious to most that this repression is, in fact, universal, the transformative power of this work for individual women and for our collective is immeasurable. We are deeply honored to share Freyja’s story with you on this week’s Ownstream Podcast. Enjoy!

OS53: Amy Schrift – The Power of Nature to Transform a Life

How many people talk about spending more time in nature? Yearn for time outside, in the ocean, forest, mountains? When we lived in NYC, talk of getting into nature was practically a mantra on the street. The thing is, while most people feel a call to nature, few end up spending much time there. Not so for Amy Schrift. After a heavy dinner out in the city, Amy felt a call to feed her body more naturally. That week, she discovered a living foods diet, and began eating only raw fruits and vegetables–a lifestyle she maintained for 8 years. Step by step, she reshaped her life in NYC to live as naturally as possible. She spent as much time as she could in the parks; learned where to forage fruit in upper Manhattan; shut the lights off at sunset; even slept on the floor of her high-rise studio apartment to ground herself. As she experienced it, something far beyond her was calling—she was being drawn forward by a deep force within and without, toward a more vibrant, awake, and powerful life than she had ever known. Through her, a new vision for her life emerged into being. Within two years, she was led to a parcel of wild, undomesticated land in Costa Rica. On the land, Amy lived for many years alone–or as she says “all one”–with nature. She slept under the stars without cover; planted and ate from the land; worked the fields naked in the sun; and co-created a farm and home together with her land, water, and air. Thirteen years later, the effect that this way of living has had on Amy is palpable immediately upon coming into her space. She brings a presence, awareness and clarity that are extremely rare today in our busy times. She is clearly at home and has become one with nature, its pace and rhythms. Imagine who you could be and how you might live if you heeded the call inside of you. There could be an entirely new person and a wild, open, expansive life awaiting you on the other side of that call. If you have ever felt a call to nature, and wondered how it might change you or your life, you will be riveted by this interview. Enjoy!

OS51: Stephen & Theresa – Following Our Dreams, One Breadcrumb At A Time

We’re three weeks into our Costa Rica adventure, exploring and enjoying this gorgeous country. And, quite consciously, we’re considering this special place as a future home for our family. We’ve felt called here, through various channels. In many ways, it feels right and true to be here. Much feels aligned to who we are and our values. But, as far as a specific place to be (i.e. city or town), we’ve yet to find it. What we find interesting is how clearly we have been led to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and how, after being here awhile, it’s clearly not the place for us. What it is is another breadcrumb along the path, leading us somewhere – a “where” that isn’t exactly clear yet. And so, we are here in Costa Rica, actively looking and exploring and have yet to find a spot that really rings the bell. Sure, there is plenty more travel to come – Dominical/Uvita, Samara/Nosara, Tamarindo. But, we felt it would be valuable to drop into this space with you and share about how the quest of pursuing your dreams looks like after you’ve departed and…before you’ve arrived. We present here a very candid and true portrait – in real time – of a young, western family adapting to life in another country on the hunt for a place we can truly call home. All the challenges and conditions that naturally emerge when you go for it, but aren’t there yet. For people who long for another way of life, but who might be hesitant – we hope to share here a behind the scenes view of what it actually looks like. Our aim is to encourage you to go for it, but to also know what to fully expect as you depart the old for the new. Enjoy!

OS49: Marvin Rockwell – Spreading Peace & Creating Paradise in Costa Rica

There are 1410 miles between Fairhope, AL and Monteverde, Costa Rica. We know this because while interviewing this week’s guest, Marvin Rockwell at his home in Monteverde, describing his epic journey there from Alabama in 1948, we pulled it up on Google maps. Of course, the internet wasn’t at the disposal of Marvin and the small community of Quakers heading south from Alabama in 1948 on their way to Costa Rica. Nor were fully completed roads. Marvin and three other men had just completed a year and a day sentence for evading the American draft, recently implemented to staff up the Korean War. Deeply against killing another, the group sought more peaceful pastures, and was drawn to Costa Rica given its warm, welcoming climate and recent decision to ban their military…entirely. In this episode, Marvin shares his remarkable story. He also talks about how Costa Rica has changed over the years, and how it hasn’t (it still has no military and a strong commitment to peace, for example). We learn about how he and others started the Quaker community in Monteverde, how they learned to farm and make a living there, how they tried (and failed) to construct an airstrip, the various adventures he has had since and the one key element that has allowed him to do so many different things over the years following his own, unique path. Marvin Rockwell quite literally blazed his own path in the world and his story will inspire you to do the same. Enjoy!

OS46: Nadine Pisani – Finding Connection, Creativity & True Happiness in Costa Rica

Many dream of it, but very few actually do it: sell it all and move to paradise. For Nadine Pisani, it took her husband being hospitalized for 10 days for her to realize that their way of life as chiropractors in Pennsylvania wasn’t working. A short time later, they walked off a plane in Costa Rica and knew immediately they had done the right thing. Since that time, they have stopped working so much, fostered all sorts of other creative interests and have fallen back in love with life and each other. In this episode, we talk specifically about her transition from living in the US to a full-timer in Costa Rica. Included in this is how her writing career took off (she has now authored 4 books), how they built their own B&B near Tamarindo and their daily coffee dance (something about fresh, Costa Rican coffee…). What surprises or challenges awaited them? What was it like transitioning to an entirely different (and slower) way of life? What is it actually like now some years later – was it all worth it? If you have ever dreamed of leaving it all behind and moving to paradise, you will love this episode. Nadine Pisani and her husband Rob did it and found a flourishing, vibrant and joyful life awaiting them in paradise. It wasn’t always a straight path, but it has definitely been worth it. Enjoy!