The IPC Update
August 18th, 2022
! 365 Days !
Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go... it has been a busy year! We have been laying the foundation, the essential groundwork, to get this community off the ground.
The tribe putting up some new solar panels on the base camp house
In brief: Another 120 plus fruit trees are in the ground and those planted earlier that have survived the leaf cutter ant onslaught have been maintained. We began building some new infrastructure. We are getting known locally as individuals and as a collective. We make and sell some really good quality products but probably most importantly we have experienced the island and now understand our locality better, experimented lots in businesses and agriculture and even tried on new members with positive results! And to adjust for the new reality and in order to align with the true vision and ‘fair for all' principle, we have revamped the IPC Membership Contract.
Bocas has a rich history of pirate lore, and true to the anarchist and cooperative nature of pirating in general the idea with the International Permaculture Project has always been to share in the management and to equally distribute the power and reduce hierarchy in the tribe, with each person responsible for their actions. At the helm, I have been steering this project the best I could with a limited budget, limited knowledge and some experience and am delighted that there is interest in such undertakings. But I run a tight ship, I can be blunt in my criticisms and at this stage ‘the Skipper’ Jessie and I have realized we need to give people more direction until they themselves are able to act of their own volition in the direction that this pioneering stage mandates.
Basilisk poised in garden
The trial period helps us to filter the wheat from the chaff. Usually it is pretty clear within a week if someone is ready to be here and if we are able to live and work well with them, however some times its less obvious. First, common sense and communication are vital. People who have a clear sense of themselves and know how to take care of their needs, express themselves and know when to ask for help, all contribute to a smooth transition into the tribe. Living together has its challenges and attention to detail or general cleanliness have been big issues with some people that have come through. We do not want to babysit anyone.
Our youngest helper
Along similar lines, we dropped the Work Away platform, as most requests by young travelers were not worth our time because they were more concerned about having internet access, partying or beach going than learning and working with us. Recently though we decided to try out the Wwoof (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) platform and we have had our first couple come stay for 3 weeks. They were much more independent, interested in learning and doing a good job and we still had a chance to go out and enjoy the island. Thank you Jess and Lison! So far, so good, we will continue to receive such volunteers while we have the space and money available.
Lison and Jess helping build Teyas sandbox
Potential tribe members have come to us by way of travel, word of mouth, by way of the Intentional Communities website (where we have a listing) and our own website. We have in fact done little to attract more serious members. With all this in mind and to better match the IPC with possible interested people we are launching a publicity campaign to reach persons who have specific skill sets that will help us thrive as a community. There are many people out there looking for a different lifestyle, wanting to be part of the solutions and some of them have never even heard of eco-villages or intentional communities, so we will advertise through different blogs specifically under the skill sets we are looking for. Please see our new Tribe To Be page. We could use your help to spread the word about what we are looking for through on line groups that we may not know about. It won’t matter if there are some repeats… repetition in marketing is good! We will continue to accept those who resonate with our vision while at the same time outreaching to a wider audience.
Testing more natural methods to reduce the impact of the leaf cutter ants ... here using a neem moat ... this particular test was material intensive and had inconclusive results due to newly fallen leaf litter
Statistically and historically speaking and similar to new business venture stats, around 10% of intentional communities really take off and stand the test of time. The other 90% implode from human relationship issues or explode due to financial pressures within the first 5 years. With the former we are evolving strongly. For example we have strengthened our personal relationships by working together, playing together and participating in Sharing Circles which makes us stronger as a group as does our vision and membership contract clarity.
A game day at Corinas
The financial side has been more elusive since the beginning. I am committed to the IPC’s creation and the last 34 months have thrown many obstacles our way; supply chain problems (already problematic in degrees from our distance to the capital, being on the islands, further exasperated by landslides on the mainland and the Co-Vid financial crises reality. The good news for many islanders is that tourism has returned. This does not change much for us here as tourism is volatile and seasonal anyway and we are not geared for that market. However low season does affect us and product sales are down.
We have kept the project alive with very little cash (see the project indicators for the actual numbers on the footer of most of our website pages). Due to this financial stress we have decided to solicit help from the outside at this time to infuse capital to develop to our full potential, make the IPC economically viable, and more importantly secure the land. We are launching a campaign to find investors and are seeking to raise $150,000 USD. Any help is more than welcome. Please check out our investment options and spread it to people who may be interested in supporting us financially.
Here are some highlights and more detailed news from the last 12 months:
Last autumn we took our first trip to David and Boquete. I had sold the rusting ‘beast’ a few months before and Jessie got a small car there. We made some new friends too. For a day of relaxation we headed to some hot springs! The water was wonderfully warm and these particular springs were close to a river to cool off in as well (photo above)!
Also, last autumn we had a German traveler stay for a few weeks. He walked around mostly barefoot and he told me that if any other person asked that we could tell them it was possible to do here. I still prefer wearing boots when working though. There are ants that bite and in some places thorns. One day he hung a hammock in the canopy and was delighted to sleep there for a couple of nights.
Ole monkey, we also have night, howler and white faced monkey visits
During the winter holidays we had a full household at basecamp. It was a wonderful time. On New Years Eve we all went down to the Drago beach and watched the stars and the far distant fireworks by the water.
Jeff and Katie were there, an American couple who have the intention to rejoin us this coming fall and become one with the tribe along with their new born.
Yvan, who joined us eventually as an Associate member and who calls the IPC his home now. He is the first person steadily living on the site of the future eco-village. He said he had his best New Years in 30 years!
Nico, who hailed from Denmark, who is a permaculture enthusiast and a flutist (the sound of that flute in the jungle was magical). He stayed for a total of 3 months of his trial period and needs to explore and work on himself further before fully being able to jump into a project like ours.
That night there was also Daniele, who is 5 months in to his trial period and who will be returning to us this winter and beginning to make a home for himself. He hails from Italy and his attitude and adventuring spirit was fun to have here. He successfully treated a few ailments with the local plants by just reading and applying the recipes and is well on his way to being a healer with a background in natural and environmental science.
Bonfires and magic nights
Many moons ago we also had Yacine visit, from Quebec / Morrocco. We shared a fabulous week of permaculture and tasks with him. He has begun a permaculture project in North Africa , a small homestead which he wants to transform from a rocky, poor soil hillside, to a lush flora, soil building environment.
Daniele and Yacine roasting some dried garden coffee
Pirate Camp was born about 9 months ago when we invested in a few carports and a water tank with catchment tarp to initiate a camp ground set up near the site of the future eco-village. Yvan and Nico made camp there.
In the beginning... there was Pirate Camp
Yvan has gone into luxury camp mode ... this is a few months back... now its even more impressive.
A communal toilet has been started and a hill top garden as well were begun with Daniele, Nico and Ivan putting in the sweat. Due to time, distance and lack of hands both projects have been on hiatus for several months. But the work will be continued and nothing lost... the garden huggles are best left to decompose more before planting in earnest begins there.
Nico building the A-frame, leveling tool
Earth works for Wishing Stone Hill Garden
We spent some time cutting and buying and moving wood for the first yoga/sleeping house near the Pirate Camp but that project has also been postponed... the wood will be dry before we get to it and the building has become less of a priority now that we have carports and tents up... it might end up being the 3rd building to rise and the longest to build after the communal toilets and temporary community kitchen (with shower spot) is done.
I am proud to have built rugged long lasting tools from 99% bamboo and/or coconut and 1% metal screws
Yvan has tested IPC boundaries in a beneficial way for the most part. He has a more conventional strategy to problems and so we but heads now and then. However, thanks to him we have a more robust solar system, a fridge and some camp improvements. My luxuries are his minimums. Thank goodness that we both agree that we need to limit our dependence on foreign goods and it is better to find long lasting, well built items to invest in - what I call planned prevalence rather than planned obsolescence.
Yvan sowing herbs
Alex, a bamboo enthusiast, came to the island for a few months and we collaborated on a few small projects. We also continue to collaborate with Wasteless World and their recycling initiative and they sometimes give us a hand too.
Big day with additional Wasteless World crew, clearing wood at Wishing Stone Hill Garden - from left to right Tom, Daniele, Miguel, Nico, Ivan.
When Daniele arrived, we found a spot where his phone could get a decent enough signal and built a temporary hut there. We dubbed the place ‘the office’ and he often went up to work there for his digital nomad part time job. Since then there has been a feeling like the communication conundrum would be solved and recently a decent booster with the proper frequency for the best carrier we can get, arrived. We can make calls and check messages now at basecamp and we will try to improve the signal to eventually be able to stream … however this may take some more time and investment to do so. Meanwhile the office still stands waiting for Daniele's return.
Investigating the new flora
Daniele also put together and printed out a sign for the base camp tourist visitors, offering them lamp and boot rentals by donation and mentioning our products. Recently we have had more people inquire about us due to the sign and that income stream has increased a bit. If we move the plants and put a table with an umbrella out the back we may be able to offer a more sit down cafe feel as well.
Our sign near the back entrance on the pathway to the caves
The community invested in tree climbing equipment to make it safer and easier to work in the canopy and we now offer pruning and landscape services, only by word of mouth at this time, as there is so much to do on our own lands already, but appreciated work nonetheless as it brings some much needed income to our communal and personal pockets.
Clearing a patch to plant more desirable trees. Much of the land was cow pasture 15 years ago.
This year saw only one trip to Panama City and while there, we tried to market our products. Last month we got our foot in the door with our Locos Por Cocos line (Nuts for Cocos), now available through an on-line Panama City venue called the Kindly Shop. Cross our fingers that sales are good as we need to open up that bigger market to make financial sense of our Locos Por Cocos business, which saw a drastic decline in sales when low tourist season began in April.
Teya says 'Pama Pamana city'
We tried our luck at growing mushrooms - pleurotus ssp. to be exact. The spawn coming from a company in the U.S.A. however we have failed to have success so far, with only 2 flushes from one wood log. They were very tasty but if that is the only mushrooms we get from the experiment that meal would be worth over $100!! I am still hoping some of the other logs work better and we still have a window of a month to see if any other mycellium fruit.
An epic moment harvesting our first log - pleurotus pohu
Our mascot has just turned 2!! She understands, differentiates and speaks both French and English and some Spanish words! She climbs up and down the stairs on her own, likes to play in the park in town with her friends and almost always cleans up her toys after she is done. She also is practically toilet trained, letting us know before or finding what she thinks is an okay spot, usually somewhere outside the door to release her bowels! She’ll want her own space next!
Restrictions with co-vid finally evaporated last February, with only mask wearing in hospitals and public transport recommended by the ignorant authorities, although some people still wear them in other places?!? I wish I could say that the recent protests in Panama were about the past measures but they are economical in nature ... I guess at least the Panamanians will organize and fight for something! The government has given in to most of the demands. My hope is that the next plandemic will be ignored here. And what revelry if it were to be true!
Here is a video of our food forest garden near the base camp to give you an idea of how its growing and what we are aiming for, a work in progress and well on its way. Zone 1 Some of Food Forest Walk
Two weeks ago we welcomed in a new trial member who is ecstatic about the pirate camp. His bubbly energy, clear mindset and 'natural ways' is sure to prove a good match at this pioneering stage. Nadir, welcome to the tribe!
Our neighbors already call him Tarzan
And this week we have had a decent run of avocados and velvet apples – Yum! Our coconut production business is more efficient now that we have solved a way to have our dehydrators close to us. We also managed to secure a better signal at basecamp! ‘Its getting better all the time’...the Beatles.
Communication from home ... what a miracle!
A happy birthday gift - Sand Box
Whats coming? Some infrastructure and an easier way to map our land would be good. We look forward to this November when a number of friends, family and possible future tribe members converge and we will see what beauty and possibilities manifest from it.
‘To thyne own self be true’
(thanks dad ... love you forever)
Your IPC correspondent,
Here are a few other photos from this past year to enjoy:
Yvan in Bluff, 'life is good'
A forest mushroom
Swimming in a river near Boquete
Coloring can be so therapeutic
Pipa (coconut water) Time
The young pianist
Putting together the out door broom
Father daughter moments
Happy Budda Baby, Teya 6 months ago
An annual bed, June 18th, 2022
We are learning and creating a micro climates for annuals and starting to get some success with tomatoes... to be continued...
Older updates can be accessed on our Archived Updates page.