Now in Bogota, Colombia, I finally have a chance to sit down and put my thoughts together concerning Envision Festival. Admittedly, I feel slightly culture-shocked and landlocked in this mountaintop metropolis after camping for three weeks on the coast of Costa Rica. The cheapest flight available sent me all the way up to Fort Lauderdale, USA to sit idly for 5 hours, which was even more shocking to the system. Surrealism at it’s finest.

481099_521718601211985_709994571_nThis magnificent event was located right on the coastline of Uvita, Costa Rica amidst mangroves, howler monkeys, lush farmland and jungle swamps. I had applied a few months prior to work on the team, and I was hired on as an Assistant to the Production Staff. I arrived 10 days before the event and set up camp in a shady grove, surrounded by palm trees, butterflies and fallen coconuts. Seeing a festival sprout from the ground up is always an incredible experience, however this festival construction was especially impressive. Led by members of Bamboo DNA, a California based design company, the crew endured extreme heat while working 10-12 hour days, spurred on by the intriguing properties of bamboo. During meal breaks, each builder was brimming with enthusiasm for their projects and couldn’t wait to get back to work. New structures appeared daily, and artistic influence was already apparent. Within the first week I found new family, comrades and community.

During the event, I continued to be amazed by the personal successes of everyone I met. There was a high level of professionalism among all of the production staff, volunteers, vendors and participating artists. The main producers of the event were leading examples of successful business owners, and their roles in the festival highlighted their personal

Photo Credit: Zac Cirivello

Photo Credit: Zac Cirivello

passions and interests. Two producers of the festival and on-site kitchen managers also run Punta Mona on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, a “family owned environmental education center, botanical collection, permaculture farm and eco-lodge, dedicated to sustainable ways of living.” Two other producers of the event created Bamboo YogaPlay in Dominical, Costa Rica, “a sanctuary for living artfully”. And yet another dynamic duo in the production team founded PastFoward, an event management group in Colorado, USA. This was all very inspiring to me as a festival junkie, trying to find balance between yearly work and festival production. These producers are dedicated to providing great services to their communities in a sustainable way, and still find time to create this high production event every year. The team wanted to “offer an opportunity for people to come together in community to share, dance, play, celebrate, love, learn, teach, co-create, co-inspire and together transform our individual and collective consciousness.”

From what I witnessed, the festival realized all of the intentions set by the creators, and fulfilled all it’s obligations to the community and the attendees. Although globalization has it’s certain downfalls, especially in regards to culture assimilation, there is an amazing counter culture that exists because of it. Envision was a living, breathing showcase of this wonderful world. Conscious people of all walks of life proudly celebrated different aspects of their culture and others, sharing knowledge, passion and beliefs. Movement classes ranged from “Egyptian Temple Dance” to “Connecting with your Inner Clown“, and workshop topics covered everything from “Making Psychedelics Into Medicines” to “Women’s Empowerment In Latin America“. Festival fashion? A kindred kaleidoscope of bright Latin American textiles, yoga Lycras, bellydance jewels, surf shorts and bikini tops, all sparkly and glistening in a fine layer of salty sweat. Music, art and performance? Spellbounding, jawdropping and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zetterstrom Performers: Annie Philo and Anthony Ward.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zetterstrom Performer: Anthony Ward. Visuals: Annie Philo

Despite working often during the event, I still found time to get lost in the magic. The night before the gates open, a full moon washed the campground in an peaceful luminescence, as if blessing the space for the week to come. Friday night, we encountered an epic rainstorm, that surprised everyone with its ferocity. Along with hundreds of others, I danced in wild abandonment to a wonderful Costa Rican ska band Un Rojo. With my feet sinking further and further into the mud I looked around to see only smiles and laughter. The crowd experienced an amazing example of energy exchange that can only be found an outdoor event. All in all, the extreme weather combined with the unforgiving tropical environment created the perfect playground in which people could push their limits, breakdown personal barriers, and forge life altering connections.

After the event? A herd of tanned, dusty, blissed-out Envisionaries moved their camp to the beach of Dominical, a laid back surfer town, a few kilometres down the road. I spent a week there, recapping the event over mango margaritas, solidifying new connections and relaxing in the pop-up beach community. It was a wonderful decompression experience, unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

Envision Festival marked the anniversary of my first year on the road. It was a great learning experience, and I am grateful to have been part of it. I look forward to seeing where all these new connections lead me in the future.



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