If you’re anything like me, then you will find Rancho Mastatal to be a place of incredible beauty, endless inspiration, and powerful community. Even if we have very little in common, you will certainly find it to be unique. Among ecovillages and permaculture communities, over the years Rancho Mastatal has developed a reputation for its intricate systems, well organized educational programs, and gorgeous natural buildings that sprinkle the 300 + acre Ranch.
Over the years of natural building at Rancho Mastatal my feelings on the process have gone through many stages. From the initial excitement of- wow, how cool you can build a house from the materials on your land, and all it takes is time, practice, and anyone can do this! To over time, after building many walls, an understanding of how long it takes to build a natural home and all the work that it entails.
Developing the physical infrastructure of our campus gets me up every morning. I don't need coffee nor an alarm clock; I'm just excited to keep building. Building the orchards and earthworks, furniture for my home, a better feeder for our chickens; these are the projects that rev my permaculture engine. They are concrete, you can see the results of your physical labor immediately, and they are often the first projects of burgeoning permaculture sites. It requires little effort to dedicate the time, space, resources and money to these projects. Yet their impact on the success of a project, despite all this dedication, pales in comparison to another type of infrastructure; the invisible infrastructure.
"Everyone is looking at my feet," I say to my dad.
"No they're not," he scoffs back. Sure enough, he glances sideways at a group of teenage girls eying my dirty toes clad in Chacos.
We are not in the jungle any more. It's December in New York City, I am traveling on the subway with a large backpack, and five layers of sweatshirts, never having worn more than one at a time in the tropics. Fresh off the airplane, here I am with my exposed feet and disheveled appearance-- "Is she homeless?" the girls snicker.
Workshops, one of many forms of education, are expensive to organize, risky to run, and an immense amount of work to pull off and host well. They can also be transformational and inspirational for the participants and provide them with an amazing educational experience. We have been offering life-changing courses and classes in a vast array of areas related to sustainability for over 15 years