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‘Pura Vida’ Changed My Life

Envision Fest logoEnvision Festival Co-Founder, Sarah Wu

Why does one decide to up and leave their life? To place distance between yourself and your blood family or to leave the place you were born? I imagine some do it to find new roots, while others do it to seize a chance to grow them. For others, it’s about creating the life that we think we should have, but the business class rigmarole and Whole Foods style marketing have got our heads spinning around about who we are in the world. Constantly questioning what niche do we fill or what value we have. When I lived in America, I frequently wondered how human potential might be stymied under the weight of our own expectations of who we should be. Costa Rica, on the other hand, has business casual, organic food, cultural expectations and hardship, but it also has an untouched rawness, a unifying element that draws people in and holds them to place. It isn’t a country for wanderers. Costa Rica is a place for migrators, for unique species and the naturally weird. It’s a place where integration and co-evolution are a part of the culture. For many, the Pure Life of Costa Rica is sort of beacon. A siren calling you home.

When I first heard the song and came to Costa Rica in 2001, studying Tropical Ecology and Environmentalism in my sophomore year in college, I was seeking to see beyond the default options and expectations I grew up with and Costa Rica offered me redirection, a lifestyle close to nature, a lifestyle that’s… Pura Vida. From the mists of Monteverde to the warm Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica had my heart the moment I touched her soil. As the years passed, I met more people, picked up more Spanish and ‘Pura Vida’ sprouted like a seed in my heart and my roots in Costa Rica grew deeper.

Envision fest luna stageEven before I knew my way around the country, Costa Rica has always felt like home. It’s a true social democracy, with years of carbon neutral history, increasing forests, and elevated organic standards. It’s a country that doesn’t support the petroleum fueled war machine. While certainly not without its flaws, Costa Rica regards and values life. The people here are kind. The air is clean. I feel almost as proud to be a legal resident of Costa Rica, as I am when locals refer to me as a “gringa-tica”.

Costa Rica has shown me such open acceptance and remarkable resilience that it only seemed natural that it would also be the home of Envision Festival. I am one of the co-founders and co-producers and it isn’t a light load to bear. We receive criticism and praise. We have tight community and phenomenal production. Some at first complain we are too expensive, but then return every year. From local Costa Ricans to expats, those that return quickly find their way into our community. For those living in Costa Rica, Envision is an opportunity to let freaky flags fly. Now headed into its ninth year, we still want Envision to be a chance for people to express themselves, to experience open thinking, wellness, art, creativity, progressive politics and low waste innovation.

Envision fest yoga tentWe ban single use plastics and have a robust recycling program to lessen our carbon footprint, but our goal at Envision has always been to leave the space better than it was when we arrived. That’s why we go a step further with programs like our collaboration with Costas Verdes, where more than 10,000 trees have been planted along the coasts and the grounds of Envision, offering lush respite from the Southern Pacific summers. Where it used to be barren dirt, vegetation and animals are now abundance year-round. For those who have experienced monkeys at sunrise at the Luna Stage, you know Mother Nature can be our biggest fan.

With continued eco-initiatives around the festival, the hope is that a fresh approach can invite further innovation toward eco-friendlier models. As we tip the scales and more events employ celebration as a way to nourish body and planet in Costa Rica and throughout the world.

Maybe it’s just a dream that the paradigm is shifting. But, then again, maybe that’s what ‘Pura Vida’ is all about.


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