THE VILLAGE        THE FARM         THE SCHOOL           THE CLINIC            THE HOSTEL

















Letter To Our Friends,

My first exposure to an ecovillage was in the big island of Hawaii . The decision was made –and I would say quite painfully- to leave my comfortable Orlando , Florida suburban lifestyle and go rough it in the jungle and learn about Hawaiian shamanism and a form of Polynesian magic tradition called Huna, in which I was vividly interested at the time and still am. An ecovillage was chosen for my stay in the island mainly for price convenience rather than genuine environmental awareness. That came later.

Why do I believe now that ecovillages, people-scale, earth-centered and technologically savvy human settlements are the answer to our current social dilemmas? Well, despite all the circumstantial glitches and shortcomings, it's the only sensical choice for me or anybody else whose sincere intention is to regain his place as the assigned steward of this wonderful creation entrusted in our hands. Ecovillages are not just horizontal expansive cultural endeavors, but they are instead, vertical higher dimensional intrusions thru the membrane of anachronistic operational social modes and into the realm of universal increased complexification and novelty.

The ecovillage movement is very necessary and the expression of a rediscovered connection to the earth and to each other. However, it finds itself on the cusp of two tectonic plates of culture, one is the mercantilistic-which is dying-, the other the communistic (not to be confused with communist)- -which is being born. Thus the state of most of this newly delivered baby creature of human consciousness is one of relative and sometimes complete dependency on the old order, its internal member interactions are riddled with contradictions, its communal disposition is defenseless against the imperative demands of a social system that is monetized to the core, and faced to the daunting task of rebuilding a meaningful existence in a cultural environment that doesn't give a hoot.

How is life in an Ecovillage? Living in an ecovillage can be the most fulfilling experience that one can ever have? Particularly, if we have the right mix of people. It is absolutely key that member filtering mechanism are implemented and that the initial foundational architecture be reinforced with a cornerstone of solid and intelligent leadership and its living structure buttressed with adequate and complementing talent. People tend to mis-define “the simple life”. This, in fact, is the most complex of lifestyles and one that demands great commitment, hard work and ingenuity from all involved. Unfortunately, ecovillages have become synonymous with garden asylums for the socially-decoupled, eternally broke, rebellious, tree-hugging, long-haired, uncouth, fashion-challenged, world-trade-summit-busting, sexually gregarious, work averse, joint-rolling and mind-altered bundles of human contradictions. As harbingers of a new mandate, we must shed that image and rise to a more adult position and truly reflect our nature, which is the glorious pioneers of the new emerging paradigm, the cornerstone of a new enlightened civilization, or brave men and women spear-heading a new living movement of change and restoration.

Our Ecovillage plans in Morocco are still in the gestation phase and we haven't exactly begun operations, but the fact is that we are still struggling for the necessary initial funds, wading our way thru the morass of paperwork and permits and still looking for an ideal location for the project. The idea of the ecovillage or the intentional community is quite new in Morocco (Penyon Bay Ecovillage is probably the first planned one in the whole country). Once we get this big bird off the ground we are hoping to assemble about 120 to 150 people within approximately 100 hectares . The residents will be a mix of permanents, paying guests and work traders.

The idea of the ecovillage started with a deep conviction that a return to the earth (both physically and emotionally) and the rethinking of the ways we live our local and planetary citizenship are absolute imperatives if sustainability and survival is what we want. Ecovillages are usually initiated at grassroots level, from the bottom up. A group of same minded and reform driven individuals join forces and resources, find land and try building better forms of community life. Penyon Bay Ecovillage follows the same line.

As I mentioned above, special attention must be paid to the quality of the initial starting group and adequate sieving mechanisms must be instituted for joining members. Leadership in an ecovillage has more to do with consensual and intelligent steering of group decisions in right directions rather that the traditional hierarchical layers of power where egos and political imperatives ultimately prevail.

The ecovillage will be comprised of a farm, a guesthouse, an artists' cove, a Waldorf school, a natural medicine clinic and we are hoping to create an environment where small social enterprise and industry is bred and grown to benefit not just our operations but the whole surrounding community.

As for self-sufficiency, we will be shooting for 80 percent, even if self-sufficiency is not our final goal, but to create trade and exchange modes that are truly wealth creating and sustainable in the community at large. It is an error to conceive of the ecovillage solely as a hiding place from the contradictions of the current economic order but the true purpose of the ecovillage is to spearhead a new revolution in social awareness and must be fully engaged in the affairs of the locality where it is embedded. As a matter of fact and as I mentioned previously, I consider Ecovillages a higher and more complex evolutionary human manifestation rather than a mere return to a simple, less complicated life.

We will do our uttermost to adopt the best, the most efficient and the cleanest modalities in the running of our operations, be it tourism, farming, construction, energy provision, waste disposal etc. The age of mindlessly going about doing business as usual is way behind us, as far as we are concerned.

We have chosen to build the frame of this project on four main pillars: ecology, economy, technology and art. Art, as the ultimate human experience, is not only vital but the only true reality in my opinion and one that transforms individual and common dreams and aspirations into forms that can be shared and enjoyed. The ecovillage will be a place of music, dance, poetry, theatre and all other outlets of human creativity will be given ample rein to roam and thrive. Once it is established, we envision PBEV becoming a true locus of economic, agricultural, cultural and artistic activity in the region, as well as an oasis of imagination, invention and creativity. We want to create viable and working models of sustainability and efficiency in farming, industry, commerce and community.

It will most likely be up to us, the degree of our commitment, how intelligent our decisions are, how much hard work we are willing to put into it. Outside hindrances are very real, such as a traditionally viscous bureaucracy and the natural cultural resistance to new ideas and new ways of doing things. But nothing can get on the way of a bull who has made up his mind. We need bovine testicular fortitude … that is what we need :)

I believe we live in very exciting and fast changing times. We all want a happy resolution to the great human experiment, but what we see on the ground is a callous disregard and a sloppy dismissal of the solutions that will, in fact, allow us to survive and even thrive. Humans don't change unless they are put between the rock and the hard place, and by what I see, they won't alter their behavior unless the fiction of monetized happiness can no longer be maintained and they are forced to seek better alternatives. I am quite pessimistic in this regard, not that the wind of time will be somehow hindered by our attitudes, but only that the epochal transition that is about to take place (we are literally moving to a higher dimension, like from mineral to plant, plant to animal, animal to homo-sapien, and now homo-sapien to Man) will not happen smoothly and gracefully and millions, even billions of people may have to suffer for the doings of a very little group of obtuse, short-sighted and self-interested individuals. Let us not hinder this great new transformational movement, let us catalyze it instead, let us create an ecovillage.

May we all find meaning in the meandering of an ant and ecstasy in a sunrise,

Truly yours,