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Leveraging the power of Music to practice people care

Updated: May 27



Earlier this month we organized a 2 day music festival here at our hotel in Monteverde, Costa Rica. It was called “Festival Cultivando Música” and we’re really happy to announce and tell our readers that it was a total success on many levels! which is giving everybody here a sweet aftertaste and a sense of pride since this was the first edition, so you might want to be here next year when it happens again! Keep reading to find out more about what happened! Monteverde Event Summary Things started rolling in the afternoon of May 4th with live music presentations from local solo musicians like John O'Neil and Marco Molina with his nature infused songs. Later Zanate, a local trio, turned it up a few notches by blasting out their innovative sound and giving everybody in town something to talk about for days to come! Their performance was surely among the highlights of the festival.



Costa Rican jazz legends from San Jose INSAX took the stage afterwards and displayed their crazy saxophone skills for everyone to witness. To top it all up the first day of the festival was finished off with a live electronic music set by local DJ DATURA, who got everybody moving and shaking off their burdens in the dance floor, as she usually does! Next day started at 10am when Escalas Infantiles facilitated a free musical initiation workshop for kids, a crowd of children and teens of all ages (from toddlers to 15 year olds) with their accompanying parents came from all sides of the mountain and enthusiastically participated in developing their music skills by engaging in the joyful act of playing music together. Music is for everybody to play with and experience, and this workshop was all about that.


Various families stayed for lunch and played around on our plaza until the afternoon as the following phase of the event unfolded when the screen printing workshop started and the local marching band made the whole place vibrate with their booming drums, followed by a group of children from Melodies Studio music academy who impressed the attendees with their talent.

Later the stage was taken by locals Andres Ramirez, playing traditional Guanacaste music and some popular songs, and then Pablo Hellmund with his entrancing soundscapes. Gilberth Espinoza’s Band followed and shook up the vibe with some reggae which got the crowd dancing again! And finally Bosque Electrico played the closing set of the festival with their locally praised rock and roll, tightly played and great vocals, always a delight! What was the motivation behind it?

More than just a live music event for the sake of rocking out, this celebration was fueled by a social cause. By the end of the weekend we raised $5000 that will be used to support musical education opportunities for kids in economic disadvantage around the local vicinity of Monteverde. We’ve hosted live music here before on several occasions, but this was the first full blown festival organized by AVER, our non-profit sister organization. AVER is an acronym for Association Valle Escondido for Regeneration, as the name states it the entire purpose of this entity is to support and fuel regenerative projects and processes in our community and beyond. From a permaculture perspective regeneration is something that can be addressed from diverse angles, ranging from the ecological (earth care), the social (people care) and the economical (fair share). When we are able to integrate these three ethics and perspectives together we arrive at a holistic approach that can have very meaningful impact and long lasting results. So this event was a huge effort on AVER’s part to expand it’s reach into new horizons of how we enact that mission of driving regeneration. When asked about the motivations behind it, Dunia Espinoza (main organizer and board member of AVER) said:

“we’ve been doing important work in terms of earth care, supporting the ecosystems and environmental education, but we are aware that there hasn’t been enough impact from our part on the social side of permaculture, people care. We figured there had to be more effective ways of reaching out to the community, specially since not everyone here is necessarily interested in learning about designing vegetable gardens or food forests, it’s not everyone’s niche or passion.”



In that search for a more effective approach to achieving regeneration on a social level, Jonah Chaffee and Dunia Espinoza found themselves brainstorming and later knocking doors at local public schools to ask questions in order to find out what their unmet needs were, and they found the inspiration to create this event:

 

“we know for a fact that kids always bring this community together in mutual support, so we set ourselves to the task of finding out about the situation in the surrounding public schools and it was very clear from the start that most of these had no music lessons, little to no instruments and the very few music teachers who are around have been working ad honorem.We were looking to explore other ways of social permaculture that could spark more engagement with the community and it’s children”     - Dunia Espinoza

How did we manage?


It is very expensive to host an event of this kind, you have to cover costs in sound equipment, staff payments, food and beverages, paying some of the bands, we even made T-shirts and rented extra parking space from a neighboring property.

 

And you might wonder how it's possible to front all those costs when all the money coming in through the entry, food and donations is being directly allocated to a social cause?

 

The answer is regenerative tourism, it's true our non-profit AVER was in charge of all the logistics, but the infrastructure and the buying power to set it all up was provided by the Hotel.

And that's when the whole deal of running a hospitality business starts making more sense, when you get to choose regenerative ways in which that incoming money can be spent and re-invested into the local community.

 

From a conventional standpoint you could see the accounting of what happened during those 2 days as if the company had some loss, but instead we choose to see it as a joyful spending that transformed the money into building a stronger and more solidarity based social fabric on this mountain we inhabit. What we do is tourism not for the sake of profit, but for the sake of catching that energy that comes in the form of money, and then making sure we are using it to sow seeds of change into the future. We’d like to quote Ulster University’s website on this subject since their perspective highly resonates with what we are striving for:

”Regenerative hospitality reaches far beyond established commitments to sustainability. It puts the active revival of biodiversity, the empowerment of under-represented people, the protection of distinctive cultures and the vitality of rural and urban locations at its core.”

Our entire project is designed within the ethics and principles of permaculture in a way that allows us to leverage tourism as a driving force that can bring positive impact, both locally and globally. This event is an example of one way in which we are doing it on the local level, on a following post we will elaborate on how we are able to generate impact on the global level just as well. Inclusive economics:

Part of the magical thing is that we raised that much of money in 2 days on nothing but voluntary contributions and donations, and this is powerful because it speaks of the natural bounty that comes through when you allow people to openly participate regardless of buying power, while at the same time inviting them to give however much feels right in their own unique economic circumstances. So It was an inclusive event for the locals who got to experience high quality live music with amazing sound engineering (shout out to ACME sound company) at a price they could set for themselves. And on the back end it creates inclusion for all the kids of low income families who will benefit from the music scholarships that are to be created with the funds that were raised. It’s amazing how fair share is an ethic that is not that hard to follow when you get creative with the possibilities of how conventional economics can be tweaked and played with, or hacked, to fit an empathy based value system. Next Time Around


Still navigating the aftermath of it all, AVER is making sure the funds are being spent in the smartest & most efficient way possible for the purpose at hand.


While at the same time much excitement and ideas are building up for next year’s edition of the festival, we expect to keep hosting this as a yearly event that will bring in more and more people in support of disadvantaged children and their divine right to be playful and express their gifts through music and the arts! Hope to see you there!

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