What is a village? What are the core fundamental elements that make one up? What people and skills are necessary to build a village from the ground up? How do you hone in on your vision and take the steps to make it a reality? These are some of the questions that were answered during our Village Building Fundamentals Retreat.


On January 5th – January 10th on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, the Earth Odyssey presented a week long retreat called Village Building Fundamentals. The retreat was authentically organized to include a dynamic interplay of classes which encompassed a whole systems design approach to holistic/regenerative living. The attendees learned social governance techniques, natural building, permaculture, fundraising and came out with a vision and presentation of how to make their project a reality.

We began the village building workshop with a warm welcoming around the fire with all of the Earth Odyssey  econauts  and workshop participants. The introduction evening was formed by a circle of laughing, talking and sharing also reviewing a brief of what the week long village building retreat would be like.


The first morning of the workshop started with a permaculture earth inspired yoga class filled with movement, visualization of colored chakras the element of each chakra and inspiration from holistic permaculture principles, followed by an introduction to permaculture design. After that we began a bio construction workshop building a bottle brick,  bamboo, tire, cob bench, other classes on appropriate cooking technology such as rocket stoves and solar cookers, and plenty of social permaculture  collective intelligence harvesting though World Cafe .


Bryan making bottle bricks to build the bottle-brick earth bench


Local Mayan children joined our cob building workshop and had an impromptu dance party to mix the cob, so much fun!

Local Mayan children that joined our cob building workshop!

On the fourth day of our workshop we took everyone on a field trip to Atitlan Organics, an incredible permaculture farm and school developed on a hillside in Tzunana, Lake Atitlan. Shad, the founder led an all day tour and educational training on plants, water management, composting and so much more. His knowledge was vast and engaging. Shad hosts regular PDC courses at his farm and his story about how he began is very empowering. A special treat came with the field trip too! We booked a private boat to take us there from the our doc and it happened to have a roof top and a large speaker where we had a full on dance party at 8:00am on our way to Atitlan Organics.

Spontaneous dance party on our private boat to the permaculture farm!

Spontaneous dance party on our private boat to the permaculture farm!

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Field trip to Atitlan Organics, getting the download on plants, propagation and transplanting.

Field trip to Atitlan Organics, getting the download on plants, propagation and transplanting.


As a climax for the the retreat,  the participants divided into teams to envision individual projects visions and missions and they chose the most feasible projects out of the group to map out and plan ecological village building projects from the ground up including short, medium and long term goals. Each group presented their projects with the consideration of social, ecological, spiritual, and economical aspects for developing a holistic regenerative land or mobile village proposals.

Following our dreaming, we had plenty of planning, doing and celebrating. All important steps to developing ideas into reality. Students had the chance to learn, to plan and integrate the course information into a cohesive, practical, presentation. To finalize the course we had time to finally celebrate the intentional work flow of the week with a final evening of cob oven pizza party!

Hope to see you at our next village building course to receive your Ecovillage Design Cerfication in Nicaragua in March!
More info here: http://www.inanitah.com/learning/events/3rd-annual-eco-village-design-gathering/

What attendees said:

“During the Village Building Fundamentals Retreat, I was introduced to some really cool principles that directed ideas on sustainable living and permaculture practices towards traditional village building techniques. This course was so moving for me personally that it became one of the final decision making factors in my move to Guatemala. The facilitators were extremely wise and everyone has something to bring to the table. Many times I found myself lost in a sea of wisdom and not enough time to write down each individual thought. Not to mention that they have all given up a lot to come on the road and share this wisdom. Each and every one of these beautiful people are so passionate about what they do; to the degree that it really rubbed off on me. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in the workshop and be around this group of Econauts and will stop at nothing to plant they seed they planted in me and continue to better myself and the world around me.” -Mitch Mende

“For me, having the opportunity to attend the Village Building Retreat really opened my eyes and mind about what is possible. The whole learning process, the information and experience from the facilitators and the shared knowledge from everyone involved was very nurturing and inspiring. Project Nuevo Mundo is giving the opportunity to expand the knowledge and skills of every individual keen to learn and help to create a new society that’s conscious about their environment, how we treat our planet and solutions of how to live in harmony and simplify our way of living by observing the basic patterns of nature. It was a wonderful experience and I’m still in the process of learning with this amazing project.” – Alejandro Plata

It was a week for sharing some of the almost lost knowledge that can liberate us from our hamster wheel. The skills needed to live of ourselves, for each other.” – Matt Zimmick