I didn’t intend to go to the Roots Gathering in Punta Mona after the Envision Festival. I intended to go home and get back to work. But, when I heard Stephen Brooks speaking at Envision about a place where food grows plentifully from the trees, clean drinking water falls from the sky and is caught, filtered and made freely available, and energy is harvested from the sun, I knew I couldn’t go home. Stephen Brooks described the dream I’ve been dreaming of for years and it’s already built.
After scrambling to change flights, rearrange schedules for me, my partner and my producer and get my kids needs handled back home, I’ll be honest, I almost backed out.
Getting to Punta Mona isn’t easy. First, it requires a shuttle or bus across Costa Rica to the Caribbean side, then upon landing in Manzanillo (the town closest to Punta Mona), you can either hike in 8km through mud or you can take a 30-minute boat-ride through sometimes rough waters.
I’ll be honest, I was nervous. Plus, I had Monday morning meetings beginning at 10am that I could not reschedule and that required strong WiFi connection, which I knew I would have to be back in Manzanillo to facilitate.
My mind was screaming “Alexis, what are you doing going off to this remote location when you really need to be at home working?” My soul said, “Shhhhh, it’s okay. This is important.”
And it was. Oh so important.
As I got off the boat, landing on Punta Mona, I knew I was home. Fruit trees everywhere, a hearty welcome from Stephen Brooks, the mastermind behind this amazing land, and we were whisked into an orientation by Stephen’s wife, Sarah.
The first thing I noticed from the orientation was that permaculture principles are baked into the way of life at Punta Mona. While I had always thought permaculture was just about how to grow plants most effectively, I was beginning to get the idea that permaculture could be the foundation we all need to learn how to grow ourselves most effectively.
Sarah suggested a radically new way of approaching community living — ask yourself “what if everyone did what you are doing?” and when looking to see what your neighbor has that you might not have, flip it around and ask yourself “does my neighbor have enough?”
She also reminded us to “be the nicest you’ve ever been” and other than during one workshop where things got heated (and even in the way that conflict was handled) I experienced everyone doing what appeared to be just that.
One of the things I noticed right away is how deep my own conditioning runs around scarcity and not-enoughness. I couldn’t imagine how the plants from this stretch of land would be enough to feed our group of nearly 300. And yet each day and night, we had some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted, full of Jackfruit, and Breadfruit, and foods I’d never heard of, but were amazing, almost all of it picked on site.
And plenty more where that came from. My mind couldn’t believe it. Food at every turn, delicious water filtered by sand and UV rays, and all the energy we needed to have live music each night after dark, all created on site. My soul simply nodded and said “See, it’s all here. The dream is real. It’s here now.”
This dream began to become a reality 20 years ago when Stephen Brooks asked his dad to go all in with him on what would become a family business.
[Watch an interview with Stephen’s dad Norman Brooks about why he said yes to his 20 year old hippie son when he asked him to invest in his dream and get inspired to ask the elders in your life to support the dream you have of the future.]
Steven and his dad Norman showed up on Punta Mona back in 1996 looking for a place to bring students as part of the Costa Rica Adventure Tours business they started together. They wanted to show the beauty of Costa Rica, plus the devastation happening in the rain forest and then be a living example of what’s possible.
When they got to Punta Mona and met it’s one and only resident, an afro-caribbean man with a strong island accent named Padi, who was living entirely off the land and sea on beachfront property, Stephen said this is it.
He was right. And it happened because his dad said yes to helping him make it happen.
Twenty years later, Punta Mona is a place we can learn from in so many ways.
Proof of the living dream, and what it takes to create it.
Permaculture as a way of life, not just a system of agriculture.
Multi-generational investment and partnership.
My soul was drawn to the Roots Gathering so I could remember who I really am, what really matters, and that it truly is possible.
The ability to grow our own food, collect our own water, and utilize only renewable resources for all of our energy.
This is personal sovereignty at the highest level. Punta Mona is proof that we can create this future, now.
How can you contribute to creating this kind of future for yourself, your family, and your community?
- Learn to communicate with your elders, help them see and feel your vision for the future, and trust it and you.
- Get exceedingly clear about what you want to create in the world, beyond vague wishes or hopes, into the specifics of how you want to do it and what you need to make it happen.
- Ask for support, receive it when offered with grace and gratitude, and keep saying yes.
I’ll be taking my kids back to Punta Mona this summer for a permaculture design course because I’m beginning to see that permaculture isn’t just about growing plants, it’s an entire plan for the design of our lives.
More on that another time … until then, I would love to hear from you in the comments.