According to the Simon Sinek TED Talk, we should always “Start with Why”. And so I shall. Why did my husband and I leave L.A., the music industry, and friends behind us to embark on a journey to become eco-village pioneers? Politics aside, we wanted to continue to exude a lifestyle worthy of example for sustainable living, which is a path our changing values had led us on many years prior.
When I met my husband, I had already started my non-profit Green Wave though at the time of meeting him I had little else than a head full of ideas, paperwork in process, and a slogan of “living examples for a sustainable future”. Of course after I I moved in with him, he immediately became my most supportive member of the non-profit. In 2008, after throwing our version of an Earthdance event at our 3500 square foot home in the hills, we officially began our journey together into the realm of “green living”.
We immediately switched all cleaning products to eco-friendly alternatives, started attending our local farmers market when we were in town, participating in community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, only cooking vegetarian at home, and patronizing green or ethically minded businesses. Within a year he would sell his paid off Range Rover for a new electric SUV. Within two years we were offsetting all of our power from the massive 70 “solar panel plant” we had installed on the flat roof of our mid-century modern home (that we debuted at a holiday party Green Wave produced alongside TheGreenGirls.com). Over the years we would continue to refine our green living methods (like reusable bag placement strategies, and policies on bringing our own napkins, straws, and to-go boxes) and challenge ourselves to question our daily consumer choices. We could have stayed at that beautiful, Dwell-worthy showcase home, but it would have been a life-long project to upgrade the house to reach its sustainability potential I believed it had. As much as I loved the house, questions had started to arise.
You see, through the years we had changed. In the end we could not justify a large house for two people, especially since early on we had decided we would prefer world travel over children. Why not downsize, build a show worthy eco-home from the ground up, reduce work, and start checking off boxes on a bucket list?
So in 2014 we sold our home to temporarily rent a scenic-view flat in a beautiful high rise in the Arts District of North Hollywood while we figured out our next steps. There we would continue our exploration of the “green path” by starting a patio urban garden with potted plants of tomatoes, kale, and various kitchen herbs. During this time period I would also get involved in local politics by serving on my local neighborhood council as a board member.
In early 2015 on one of our fairly frequent trips to Costa Rica, we were introduced by a long time friend to his new project, a permacultural eco-village. Geoff McCabe was known for his vision in turning his home into a world-class yoga resort, Anamaya. As part of an effort to ensure Anamaya retreat guests received high-quality organic food, Geoff had bought a farm in the near-by vicinity. After years of success of healing the old cow pastures by restoring the soil for farming, Geoff and his wife Yasmin decided they should expand the experiment and create an intentional community. Becoming the first builders in the future Rancho Delicioso eco-village was very intriguing.
So here we are today in Costa Rica, eco-village pioneers, working every day to complete our house which will double as an environmental education center for the community. At the advice of Geoff, we had started a food forest during the year long period of major construction. Already we are starting to see the fruits of our labor. From one of our young trees, we were astounded recently by the production of a current world record contending guanabana (soursop). We were 1/16th of an oz off of the current record but I think it’s better as winning might have thrown us prematurely back into the spotlight and out of alignment with our intentions. Bigger is not always better in the farm world. Often it is the smaller fruits that wield the most satisfying flavor. It is this point that we hope to demonstrate in the continuation of our work as living our lives as an example for a sustainable future.