The Opportunity

The Vision

Creating more re-localized economies - returning to a model that worked for hundreds of hundreds of years - is an essential part of stopping the destruction & creating the new societies that we want & need, able to live in harmony with Nature.  Our vision for this project is therefore:

An intentional rural community where the values and ideals of

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community, respect, peace, and living an “on-purpose” life will be rediscovered by those who choose to join the community

The Eco Community will provide a socio-cultural support structure as well as a healthy atmosphere for living and working. For community members, fair work, cooperation, and an abundance mentality will replace the materialism, competition and scarcity mentality prevalent in today's world.

The Organization

  • The Land was bought by Rebecca, to demonstrate her commitment to this project.
  • Later we'll create a Foundation, Association, or Cooperative which will be the legal owner of the land. Community members  will be issued transferable shares which give them the right to live on site as part of the 8thLife Panama community, & corresponding stewardship responsibilities.   
  • We expect all founding members to participate fully in writing up the Share-Holders' Agreement. This is part of the entrance process - you'll be sent the draft and asked to investigate and contribute to this important document.

How to Participate

There are several ways to participate in this project:

·   Founding Villagers help in writing the community's by-laws and statutes.  After the community is founded, they're the first to be able to build their houses and/or design and run projects.  

·    Benefactors are those people who believe in and support the project.  Maybe they visit every once in a while and stay in the Guest House or, once we've built on the land, at the EcoVillage.  Someday they may become Member Villagers.

·   Member Villagers have the same rights as Founding Villagers except the development of the foundational documents, since they arrive after the community has been founded. 

·  Villagers are people who live in the EcoVillage or the Guest House but haven't completed their initial share yet.  This category allows us to increase the diversity of the EcoVillage since not everyone can pay the their initial share all at once. This way, they can become part of the community while working on paying their initial share.

·  We also welcome Interns & Volunteers, who generally want to learn what it's like to live in an intentional community, and stay for several months, as well as Visitors, who come for a short time, normally as tourists or participants in a training course or workshop. 

All levels of participation have benefits for both the participant and for the community.

The Investment

  • Founding Villagers: Our target is to find 8 co-founders. The initial (2017) share value is USD $20,000.  This share provides you:
  • opportunity to develop the initial agreements and participate in the decision about the legal structure (foundation, association, cooperative or ?)
  • responsibility to participate in the integral permaculture course described in these pages.
  • use of a parcel of land to build your home and the responsibility to begin building within a period determined by the group
  • voice and vote in general assemblies and community council meetings
  • use of common areas and the responsibility to comply with agreements regarding work hours and fees for maintaining them
  • use of common areas for productive projects (Eco-Businesses) with prior approval from the community council
  • Benefactors: Donations are always welcome, since these contributions help in the formation of the community.  A list of priority projects will be developed (water, energy, and irrigation systems are 3 big ones) for which benefactors will be sought, and this way you'll be able to follow-up on your contribution over time.  Depending on the amount, you'll also be recognized, for instance, with free nights at Villa Astoria Guest House or eventually at the EcoCommunity itself. 
  • Members: As with founders, members will invest in their share (initial investment) which, over time, will increase in value as the improvements made at the EcoCommunity increase its value.  Members have the same rights and responsibilities as Founders except developing the initial agreements and deciding about the legal structure since these things will already be decided. Another distinction among members is: 
    • Member Villagers: live in the Community (or Guest House) permanently and have the voice and vote in general assemblies and community council meetings.
    • Collaborative Members: don't live permanently in the Community but rather come once in a while and have voice but not voting rights at general assemblies and community councils.  However, if the member has built their home at the Community and someone lives there who complies with all of the requirements, even though this person hasn't invested money, he or she will have the rights of voice and vote at the community council meetings. 
  • Villagers: there will be people who, for economic reasons can't afford the initial share value.  In this case, if the person complies with the application process and is accepted, they'll be able to live in the Community, for instance in the house of a Collaborative Member or at the Guest House.  He or she will be able to work on projects that benefit the Community and in that way save up 'capital' until completing the initial share value. The Community will issue 'IOUs' for the value of the work - and the value of each project will be agreed in advance. While the initial share value hasn't been completed, the Villager has the following rights and responsibilities:
    • responsibility to participate in the integral permaculture course described in these pages.
    • voice and vote in community council meetings once the trial period is completed
    • use of common areas and the responsibility to comply with agreements regarding work hours and fees for maintaining them
    • use of common areas for productive projects (Eco-Businesses) with prior approval from the community council
  • Volunteers/Interns/Practicums: invest their time and cost of living, they have the responsibility to participate in the integral permaculture course described in these pages (since volunteers are preferred for a month or longer), right to use the common areas and responsibility to comply with agreements regarding work hours.  We hope they'll become members.
  • Visitors: invest in their cost of living and in the course or event they're participating in.
  • Any participation in the project creates benefits for the participant and for the new community.

About Shares

  • One of the most important jobs we need to do to change paradigms is to 'liberate' land.  The idea of humans 'owning' land is incomprehensible to native peoples and one of the roots of our collective psychosis in the west.   With this shares structure (shares correspond to living rights / stewardship duties but not 'ownership' of land) what we are doing is putting the land in trust with a Foundation (or other legal structure to be determined) which ensures it will be safeguarded by permaculture ethics, principles & objectives in perpetuity.  We think this change of mind regarding ownership is essential to bring a saner understanding & practice in our relationship to the land for the future, so we are busy designing for that as well.
  • This is a way of enjoying a whole farm for a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy one on your own, while multiplying many times its quality & fertility.  
  • You can cash-in your investment when you wish to move on, always provided you have contributed positively to the project.   This would increase simply with time under industrial conditions, but should increase a lot more (in real value if not cash value) as an increasingly productive rural land with our work on it, and particularly as a unit of a wider synergistic whole (the EcoCommunity).  
  • You will be surrounded by other independent entrepreneurs which you can cooperate with to maximize the benefits of all activities
  • In the case you need to create a job, here you can do so without running the high risks usually found in terms of making this lifestyle viable (economically, socially, personally) especially if it is new to you
  • Organic living is wildly productive if done in a sensible way, not in isolation (as many couples or nuclear families try to make it work) and with the right set of knowledge, experience, skills, local contacts and especially with the solid on-site long-term observation and testing.   We can supply all of those, on site, as well as the tangible resources that are needed to start, already in place.
  • You can have the best of both worlds: the independence of your own piece of land & own eco-business, with the companionship & support as well as the safety-net of other entrepreneurs around you who are mostly busy with very complimentary businesses of their own
  • Great synergies are possible (but not obligatory) in this set-up.
  • In the case of you already having a transportable own business, here you can find a perfect home to run it from: high speed internet connection combined with simple healthy living in a most beautiful natural place

How we got to this point

The idea of the EcoCommunity has been percolating since 2005 when Rebecca came to Panama for the first time to do some consulting work in the Darien Province.  Working with the municipalities and the local people she realized that the solutions to most of the problems confronting the world today can be resolved with local solutions. 

Over the next few years she kept working with local communities in Panama, studied sustainable development, permaculture and many other topics and she joined an international consulting firm where she was lucky enough to work with local communities around the world. All this time she was figuring out how to get the land for an Ecological Work-Life Initiative that, in addition to being a healthy place to live and create community, would become a model to replicate and a laboratory for ideas to ease the acceptance of new practices and techniques by the people living nearby.

She also realized that there are many people who also want to take the step of moving to a simpler rural lifestyle, but who don't have the resources, support, information or contacts to do it successfully on their own.  She heard about lots of people and families who took the leap only to end up returning to the city several years later having lost a bunch of money, energy an enthusiasm.

She heard of many others (and even met a few of them) spending years and decades traveling around the world, looking for the perfect project, place or community to settle down in, or hoping to accumulate enough inspiration & experience in order to 'start their own project', but that never happened.  Huge amounts of money are being spent on such 'eco-tourism' which effectively sucks resources away from permaculture projects & toward the transport multinationals: PLEASE re-think what you actually want to subsidize.

Rebecca didn't want to end up being one of these cases.  In 2011 she began to look for land and had already enrolled in the Integral Permaculture Academy and started to formalize her knowledge and practice of permaculture. It was a long search and at the time she didn't find land apt for the Initiative, but instead in 2012 she found a property that would be ideal for the Community Guest House in a rural town.  Work began almost immediately to convert the house (it was pretty run down) into a Guest House while she continued looking for the land (and working as a consultant in order to afford the house and repairs).

In 2015 Villa Astoria Guest House opened its doors and Rebecca began to learn the world of rural tourism, running the Guest House while working as a consultant and of course, still looking for the land.  In May of 2016 a piece of land strongly called her attention because of its price and location - now it's our Finca.

With this project, she hopes to help turn the big resource drain that is tourism, whether traditional, rural, green, ecological, adventure, 'digital nomads', etc., into something positive, creative & constructive, instead of another form of consumerism.

This means finding the most effective ways to accelerate the action-learning necessary to make such big changes in one's life, for people who are 'civilized' into many patterns which are very counter-productive to living sustainably or rationally.

Many experiences in forming community and in action-learning programs have informed the curriculum of the PDC+++ Course. It is now available online in two languages to help people design their own communities, without the need to travel quite so much.  The 8thLife Panama Initiative is taking advantage of this valuable resource.

It's becoming obvious that these small eco-communities are very needed as 'seeds' for changing local economies, that we need many more of them and that we need to document well their progress, so that we can help others not repeat the same mistakes.