Jimmy Stice – Kalu Yala CEO
Kalu Yala is a sustainable city currently being built in Panama. It is one of the latest offsprings of dedication to nature and limitless creativity. Placed in the middle of a jungle, the community is only half an hour away from the airport and seconds away from beautiful designs, fresh business ideas, and a welcoming neighborhood of people from all over the world. The underlying truth about Kalu Yala is further reflected in the roots of the movement which echo with excited cheers of adventurous people who visit. Those are usually the individuals that are not afraid to replace a prestige university environment with a green surrounding of nature.
What is your hobby?
Our hobby is building a community and connecting remarkable people. Since we welcome guests from all over the world, one of the first tasks is getting past any language or cultural barriers. This is easily achieved through nights with live music, long walks, bonding around the fire, team-building exercises, and more. Hence why there has never been Kalu Yala criticism aimed to discredit our ability to turn strangers into life-long friends.
How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?
Kalu Yala was originally an idea to merge complex business concepts like economics and sustainability with beautiful nature found in Panama City. We were inspired by the need to push the limits of what others have done in these fields. At first, we had a small team of no more than a handful of individuals who shared the passion for the end goal.
Tell us what you love about it.
All of the people who decide to take up this challenge are usually in love with adventures. We are no different as we crave excitement and feed off the surprising, sometimes shocking, discoveries found in the jungle that is now our home. Also, all of us are fierce proponents of things like socialization, intercultural relationships, as well as diversity. Some individuals list the fact that they learn so much about other cultures as the primary benefit from this experience.
Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?
Given the closed-community idea we have, all of the participants are members of the large group. This helps get to know nearly everyone. Also, given that the goal of this project is designing and building something extraordinary, most of the events are organized to either brainstorm the blueprints or discuss the most efficient methods of construction.
Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.
Yes and no. Of course, we obtained some basic tools like electric drills prior to starting the project. Nevertheless, there is no state-of-the-art technology because everything is made from scratch using basic materials like wood. Some other items people tend to invest in prior to coming here are instruments while we do provide microphones and speakers that are needed for the mini-concerts.
Where do you buy most of your supplies?
We do not! Since the entire idea revolves around sustainability, we find a lot of our supplies in the nature that surrounds us. Although it sounds like a challenging notion, people do not view this as one of the Kalu Yala problems. It is because the landscape is the number one building block of the community. After all, finding ways to get around the obstacles of simple life is the primary reason why a lot of our members joined in the first place!
Are there any good books for beginners?
We generally advise those who commit to our project to learn the basics of nature survival. There are plenty of books that teach them how to make that transition from modern life to old-fashioned and simple methods. Some of them are “Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide on the Art of Wilderness Survival” by Dave Canterbury and “Camping and Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book” by Paul Tawrell. The majority of the techniques that participants learn, however, come from real-life experience once they get here.
How has this changed your life?
In more ways that we can describe. Being a part of something that is above anyone’s individual needs has taught us about selflessness and dedication. People who are successful here often speak of life-changing friendships that they formed, new knowledge that they now possess, as well as the new-found view of the world and its beauties.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
Try to overcome the beginning hardships because these stages are the most difficult ones. People are bound to be skeptical of any similar endeavor because it pushes the limits of what might be viewed as achievable. Thus, it is important to align oneself with those of similar mind and work together to come up with a failproof plan of growth.
Are there any other hobbies you have?
Anything that requires one to be creative. Some people here are great musicians, some can draw anything and everything, and others can build marvelous pieces of furniture with nothing but a small hammer and a pocket knife. The spectrum of hobbies that our members are known for is so wide that it is almost impossible to depict every single activity you are likely to see when you walk around the camp.