Frequently Asked Questions
- What is permaculture?
- Whats important or special about this community?
- Where does my donation go?
- How will you know what trees to keep or cut, what to plant and what to protect?
- What does it cost to join the Tribe or become a Participant?
- Are you open to other forms of collaboration?
- Are there any maps of the land(s) to look at?
- Why Panama?
- Is there a community education plan?
- Why is there a Steward Land fee?
- Can you make a decent living in the community?
- Can we visit the land/community?
- Can I own land in the community?
- Can I own a home in the community?
- Can I be a part of your community without having to live there all year round?
*If you have any other questions, please contact us.
What is permaculture?
The name comes from a fusion of two words - permanent and culture. According to us, it is a philosophy and methodology of design principles, a modern age 'systems thinking' tool which has at its core the notion of sustainable interaction between all elements. It is most often used in agriculture but it can apply to any system and will hopefully be used more often as humans take their rightful place as stewards of the earth. You can read about Bill Mollisons 10 original Permaculture Principles here.
Whats important or special about this community?
Many people long for profound connections, communication, experience, personal satisfaction, security and appreciation. We want to live in such a community and offer a place for like minded souls to Be themselves.
The IPC would be an affordable way for creative, conscious, ecologically aware, free spirits to come together, work together and live close by, with-in a community setting. A place for people of all ages to live, grow, learn, experiment and make discoveries.
An International Permaculture Community offers hope and exploration of alternative lifestyles and modes of interaction between people and their environments. A state of comfortable sustainability is more easily attained when numerous people are working, living and sharing together. Many people working together in freedom, will enhance the biodiversity, productivity and resilience of the community and protect the ecology around them. In this modern age, there is a plethora of hard working people, who have the pertinent knowledge and skills, who are ready to work in fairness and equality on something worthwhile for themselves and others. Bringing them together is the challenge.
There is no such place in Panama with this kind of 'container' and it is still actually rare the world over. Lastly the founders want to live in such a place and give others that opportunity.
Where does my donation go?
All monies go to paying off the leased to own land and help finance village infrastructure.
How will you know what trees to keep or cut, what to plant and what to protect?
The founders have already talked to INAN, an environmental arm of the Panamanian government about our project and they are willing to provide us some expertise and any native trees we may need to reforest certain parts of the land.
Furthermore, the core team has learned much about forestry and agro-forestry in the tropics and we hope to attract at least one local botanist/tree specialist to our core team to do an assessment of species. So far we only cut the species we know and which are part of secondary growth from the pastures that were once prevelant here.
What does it cost to join the Tribe or become a Participant?
All the information can be found in the Membership Contract in detail however here is an overview for curious applicants: Once a Participant (each adult) has gone through the Application Process which is free, they will eventually have two fees to pay. The Try Out Period Fee/Membership Fee and the Steward Land Fee. These will vary according to what stage a person joins the community but in general both fees together will total anywhere between $5000 USD to $10,000 USD. This includes a plot of land to build and call home. These are the only formal costs to joining the Tribe and although prefered, it is not always necessary to have all the fees paid for before embarking on this journey with us. This of course does not include costs such as transport, food, tools or building materials for ones own home. The founders have made it affordable because we want to be inclusive to anyone who has the drive to participate in such an experiment.
Note that as time goes by there will also be maintenance costs that may be incured & decided by the community. Such costs will be split evenly amongst all Participants.
Are you open to other forms of collaboration?
Absolutely. We will entertain any proposal by an individual or group to us and see if we are able to help and if that is what we can and want to do. All such proposals will be discussed through our democratic model. (We) here means anyone who is a tribe member of the IPC.
Are there any maps of the land(s) to look at?
Mapping is a luxury at this time and anyone wanting to take this task on is more than welcome to come and help us. The terrain is mostly wooded hills in one form or another and has some very steep areas and streams. We have begun mapping only the area in which the village proper will be but we could use the help especially with the time or technology it takes to do it precise enough.
After several years of travel, research and integration within Central America, we believe that Panama & Nicaragua are the two countries best suited for the IPC to blossom. Both countries have vibrant cultures with various climates and differing vibes within each country.
Most of our research and time thus far, has been dedicated to finding place in Panama, and for the rest of this page we will discuss the Panama option only.
The natural wealth in Panama is astounding. It has a subtropical climate, with year round agreeable warmth. With all manner of natural landscapes it boasts a large concentration of flora and fauna in one small place like its neighbours Costa Rica to the North and Columbia to the South. The coast line is dotted with beaches and there are a few national parks. Rolling pastures, the jungle, the ocean and a view of distant mountain ranges are the daily visages. The rainy season is from May to November and consists of approximately 5 hours of rain per day, with clouds and sun coming out for the remainder. The dry season is from December to April, hot and often windy but this also depends where you are in the country, with cooler temperatures in the inner mountain range and wetter in the North.
Panama is central in world affairs due to the canal and its isthmus connecting the South and North American continents. Panamas political situation is stable and Panamanians are friendly to most foreigners. It is also relatively easy to visit, stay and until recently (2022) gain residency if so desired. The Panamanian Government gives tax incentives for certain project undertakings and the community or foundation may be able to benefit in a number of ways from these. There may also be some reforestation incentives especially when it comes to Visas for participants.
For years Panama has been the number one retirement haven according to International Living's Global Retirement Index. The influx of retirees to the area means that there are opportunities to provide Westerners with amenities that they have come to enjoy in their countries of origin and the IPC can provide some of those needs, such as organic foods, fermented delights, alternative healers and places to undertake activities to enjoy themselves such as a spa, yoga classes etc... . It is our hope that we can also tailor to local interests and provide beneficial services to the communities around us.
In June of 2019, we chose a land of 70 hectares on an island in the North of the country at a reasonable price and we began leasing to own it. The location is good for our community to prosper from within and without. If for whatever reason this purchase does not pan out there are adjecent lands and also the possibility to move the tribe to the South of Panama. The weather here stays at a balmy 25 to 30 degrees year round and there is more rain here with 2 small dry periods of about a month each. From experience so far, there is about 1/3 raining times, 1/3 cloudy times and 1/3 sunny times.
Is there a community education plan?
No. Each parent chooses what is best for their child. The majority of current interested members practice an unschooling approach where the children are free to do what they would like, learn what they would like, when they would like. This form of education is based on a childs interest first and specific activities, classes, experiments and explorations are geared to the child. It is much easier for such families to live in community as the entire community becomes a facilitator (including the children themselves), so that teaching and sharing of knowledge, skills and interests can come from any member of the community, visitors, or the world at large. Each participant can help ensure safety and guide children towards areas they wish to explore. Perhaps when the community is expanding someone would like to start up a free school where there would be more of a structure. Local public schools will also be an option for those parents who wish a more structured set up as well as some private schools in the nearby town which cater to the expat community.
Why is there a Steward Land fee?
The reality of the situation today is that we are all born into and living in a price system / capitalist model and our ancestors have been disfranchised from lands where ever in the world they were. This leaves us the choice of playing the system against itself or revolting. We figure that we will be able to play the system against itself and therefore have decided to start by divvying up the costs to protect the land in the future and get the community off to a solid start. This is where the concept of the stewarded land and the fee thereof is necessary today and the fee is kept low to encourage even those without financial means to participate.
Initially this is important so that the community can become debt free as soon as possible. The fee helps the International Permaculture Community acquire the land to be able to have an ecovillage then build upon it and for future members after the land is purchased to also add to the infrastructure of a dynamic eco-village. In the best of circumstances, stewarded land would not have to have a monetary value (fee) on it at all. Our intention is to eventually take the land out of the speculation game/open market system. This is why the stewarded lots can not be bought or sold... you have the right to use them as a steward as you see fit as long as you respect the ecological charter of the community.
Consult our Steward Land Fee in our Membership contract - Land Steward section for more details.
Can you make a decent living in the community?
Absolutely! It begins and depends on your involvement in the things, cooperatives or services you like to render that you gravitate toward. The Shawoho framework allows us to share in wealth beyond a financial sum and those services and goods that you recieve within the community are manifestations of this. I like to say that 'the only thing that ever has created real wealth (goods made, services rendered, innovations that are worthwhile) has been peoples effort over time'. If your food and lodging are mostly taken care of, as well as many other social needs, then does it really matter if the financial renumeration may be smaller than what people living out of such communities are used to?
Can we visit the land/community?
Yes. Potentially interested future participants are welcome to visit as paying guests to get a feel for the community before applying and/or entering into a Participant Trial Period, but it is not mandatory. They could either come to camp (a planned $10 per spot per night) to observe and to enjoy the community atmosphere and lands without engaging in the community responsibilities, or come to work exchange (25 hours per week for food and lodging) to be immersed in the community rhythms and dynamics. Just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what your intentions are and we will work out an arrangement.
Can I own land in the community?
No. A Participants stewarded lot is considered thier private space and they have many freedoms to do what they like with those spaces however the land is owned collectively through our corporation. We have specifically structured the community to get away from any form of speculation and land price speculation is one of the biggest forms of fake wealth generation in the modern world. We prefer to build our wealth from our efforts over time. The equation: effort x time = real created wealth. Instead of ownership each tribe member will choose an equal sized plot of land to Steward and build a home on if they so wish. This not only puts speculation, a form of slavery to rest, but also makes it more affordable for lower income people and families to join the community. See our Private Stewardship in our Membership contract - Land Steward section for full details.
Can I own a home in the community?
Yes, a home that is for all intents and purposes owned by the Steward can be built and be your private space. However, as we want to limit speculation as an owner of a house you should not expect to get the market price for selling the home. A successor steward would be the buyer in most instances and they must first be accepted into the community. The price for the home will depend on a formula evaluation tool that would help determine that price of transfer. This tool will be developed early on so that there is no misunderstanding or speculation/usery/slavery built into the price of the home. Information such as the cost of the materials of the home accrued from the outside the community, with money or by other means, the state the home is in at the time of transfer, the age of the home, the time invested and how much of that time and resources came from shawoho and the land will all be factored in. Your home will still be your castle while you live in it. For more details see Private Home Agreement in our Membership contract - Land Steward section.
Can I be a part of your community without having to live there all year round?
Yes. There are several options however for the flow and feeling of a thriving eco-village, it is in the best interest of the project to have more committed Permanent Residents who are doing Shawoho hours on a regular basis. There are Tribe members, Part-time Tribe members, Vacation Investors and visitors which are all distinct options with different degrees of participation. The community at this point is limiting the amount of Part-Time Residents to not more than 80, 10 of which can be Vacation Investor Members. To see all the participation possibilities check out Participants on our Community Structure page.