#025 Ian-Michael Hébert: Ecovillage Design with Reciprocity at Heart (HOLOS)

Sep 25, 2023

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Holos is a budding ecovillage in the Diamante Valley offering private retreats and residential home sites

In this episode, we speak with Ian-Michael Hebert, one of the founders of Holos, a private retreat center and community specializing in holistic living and transformational experiences. 

In our conversation, he discusses the genesis of Holos, their vision for a sustainable and resilient community, and the importance of focusing on reciprocity and honoring the indigenous people of the land. Ian-Michael also emphasizes the importance of preserving the natural beauty of the Diamante Valley and their commitment to stewardship.


Conservation & Cultural Bridge Building are Key


Among other details of the community’s infrastructure, he describes their design for conserving a quarter of the property in addition to reforesting most of the already denatured zones. They also have plans for a macaw reintroduction initiative.

Ian-Michael reflects on challenges they’ve faced in getting set up with elements such as water management, communication breakdowns with the municipality, and bridging the gap between foreigners and locals. 

As we discuss the importance of supporting the local community, paying fair wages, and engaging with local service providers, Ian-Michael affirms Holos’s goal to continue reassessing their programming to focus more on community relations and neighborhood development.

Other topics we touched on include developing a clear vision, team building, project financing, and embracing the wisdom of not knowing.

It Always Looks Different From the Outside

I appreciate the degree to which Holos works to cultivate reciprocity with surrounding humans and the natural world. As important as it is, it can be challenging to keep such delicate subtleties at the forefront while in the development phase and when juggling the needs of investors and push-back from the municipality, but it’s the path worth walking.

Setting space aside to develop housing and other infrastructure for the Costa Rican and indigenous Boruca people, who compile much of their labor force, is a significant investment. I’ve been happy to see this practice implemented among some of the other ecovillage projects I’ve been investigating, as well. It’s a valuable step in honoring the needs of their workforce while holding space for the local culture and providing stability for the project. 

Another element I’ve found attractive among the ecovillages I’ve been looking into is the effort to lay out a portion of the community infrastructure kept open for the use of the regional community, which is also represented in Holos’s design.

Something that echoed strongly for me in this interview is that it can be difficult to handle people’s projections when operating a project of this size. Gossip can be plentiful, and the most altruistically intending projects are often the easiest targets for it by those who are doing less, feeling like a project of that size should be able to do it all. I’m glad that Ian-Miachael plans to hold more events to bring the local community in to see more of what’s happening there.


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


Another detail that stuck out for me was Ian-Michael’s comments around finding the right team. This topic often comes up with other landowners and entrepreneurs I work with. When looking for your team, it’s essential to identify your strengths, clearly describe your needs, make a humble ask out to your community, and have patience as it all comes together.


Before letting you go, I’d like to address a housekeeping detail regarding working with a team. About 2/3rds into the interview, there’s a moment where I described my efforts to help with a road repair fundraiser a couple of years ago, in the Diamante Valley. Relistening to it, I recognize I used a lot of “I” languaging. 


I feel it important to clarify that I wasn’t the only member of the Diamante Bridge Collective who went to the Association meeting to learn about the pueblo’s needs, nor was I the only person behind the fundraiser. I might have been the one who initiated it, but raising that much money was a multicultural community effort and a testament to the power of cooperation.

I hope your life unfolds in a continuous stream of miracles. Remember to design reciprocity in all that you create. 

One way to reciprocate any value you’ve been getting from the show is to subscribe to the podcast, rate us on Apple, comment on a YouTube video, donate to our Ko-fi.com fund, or share an episode with a fellow ecovillage enthusiast.

Until next time, 

Keep it connected!

To learn more about HOLOS:

Special thanks to Albán Corrales, Mantas Šaltis, and Eduardo Sant Anna for editing this episode!
Music: Rite of Passage by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4291-rite-of-passage
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Bamboo Architectural Design with Biomimicry in Mind

The video explores Holos’s bamboo architectural design, focusing on the process of building bamboo structures and enhancing the durability of the design for earthquakes. Ian-Michael explains how they were inspired by bees’ honeycombs, leading to the decision to build six-sided structures.

They used local materials and various types of bamboo, including Guadua and Phyllostachys, to create geometric shapes. The strength and flexibility of bamboo as a building material are highlighted, as well as the importance of treating it properly. He describes the construction techniques, including framing, weaving, and bending.

The video also showcases some of their glamping tents and a peak into their outdoor shower design.

Special thanks to Mantas Šaltis for editing this video!

Music: Rite of Passage by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4291-rite-of-passage
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ 


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