#024 Sarah Wu: Cultivating a Regenerative Envision Festival (Village Witches)

Jul 25, 2023

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The Village Witches' elixir bars and educational programs are only some of the many regenerative initiatives that Envision Festival hosts to sustain this international crowd of fun lovers
In today’s episode, we hear from Sarah Wu, a highly respected permaculturist & herbalist living and teaching in Costa Rica. I sat down with Sarah at the Envision Festival earlier this year to learn about some of the regenerative initiatives the festival has implemented as part of its mission.

Envision is a multi-day music festival with several stages and thousands of participants. By day, the focus is characterized by consciousness-raising workshops and presentations on permaculture, community-building, yoga, wellness, the embodiment of the divine masculine and feminine, and honor of indigenous ways. All this is presented with an overall theme of mindfulness and play.

By night, the arena becomes flooded by a secondary population of party-goers enjoying the many talented DJs and musicians playing on Envision’s many stages. You can find everything from electronic music to jam bands and local folk artists to ecstatic dance on the padded yoga stage. The experience can be overwhelming for some, and advice should be heeded to pace yourself, hydrate, and wash your hands frequently.


Like with all things, the festival scene is filled with dichotomies

The festival brings with it a significant impact on the local town of Uvita, both in the ways of a boosted economy as well as occasional exhausts of some of its more limited resources. Like with all things in life, there exists a dichotomy that the festival producers have worked to bring balance to over the years.

In our interview, beyond sharing details about the thousands of trees they’ve planted onsite, their extensive composting system, the no-single-use-dishware policy, and the education programs that Sarah has initiated through the Village Witches program, we touch on the reasons why Envision isn’t using compost toilets anymore and what a future solution might look like.

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when we reflect on valuing each of our different niches in humanity’s ecosystem.

Festivals of this size are here to stay, and they can prove to be a life-changing experience for many people. At the same time, many festivals can get a bad rap for the negative impact of so many people converging on an area for a short time. While the convergence has a temporary impact on the wildlife, for instance, it is worth recognizing that the food forest of this festival site was previously nothing more than a cattle pasture.


Within the Problems lie the Solutions

Their internally organized dishwashing system diverts hundreds of thousands of plastic waste products from the landfill each year. The Village Witches program has cultivated a culture of well-being amidst a party scene, bringing herbalism to the mainstream.

The festival has also done a lot to bring hundreds of jobs to the local economy before, during, and after the event. They’ve also done a lot of work over the years to harmonize the ecosystem of the festival production, staff, artists, attendees, volunteers, and other influences.

In the interview, we didn’t cover what Envision’s non-profit foundation Somos el Cambio continues to do for the neighboring region.


With the leadership of Federico Gutierez, Somos el Cambio

  • Has planted over 17,000 trees directly by Envision staff and volunteers,
  • And over 80,000 more trees with Envision’s support.
  • They’ve donated $18,000 of medical equipment to the local hospital in Ciudad Cortes for COVID relief efforts.
  • $7,800 was donated to the Uvita community food bank, a Foundation in charge of identifying and distributing food to those families in greatest need.
  • More than 4,600 trees have been planted with the local water board to protect the springs that feed water to all of Uvita.
  • Eight monkey bridges have been built through a cooperative alliance with The Electrical Institute of Costa Rica.
  • They’ve donated $17k to fund local water system upgrades.
  • And over 30 tons of trash have been recollected during clean-up activities nationwide.


Check out more of What Envision has to offer

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of some of the workshops that took place at Envision, I recorded a few of them for the Envision Festival Playlist on our YouTube Channel. Among them is a panel discussion on the challenges that can arise in Building Eco-Villages, a talk about Decolonizing Permaculture, and some other exciting bits. They’ll be released daily during the week of this episode’s release, so be sure to subscribe to the channel to stay in the loop.

If you’re new to Regeneration Nation Costa Rica, subscribe to the podcast to stay updated with future releases.

That’s what I’ve got for you this time.
Now, go out and be the change!


To follow more of Sarah’s contributions toward a regenerative world, check out:


Other recommendations from Sarah:


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Special thanks toAlbán Corrales 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/

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