Ecovillage Design Education Course Facilitators


Gaia bio photo horizontalGaia Ma

Gaia Ma is co-founder and co-director of InanItah, an ecovillage on Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua where she is the driving force behind Ecovillage Design Implementation.

Gaia discovered and began working with the EDE model in 2006 while pioneering community development at the Avalon Springs in California, a developing hot springs retreat and intentional community.

At InanItah, Gaia is the director of curriculum development, volunteer coordination and learning opportunities, as well as business planning and office management. She founded InanItah’s Giving Program, a group of projects to benefit the local community, including the Intercultural Massage Program, which provides education and employment for Nicaraguan residents, the InanItah micro-savings and loan program which provides micro-credit and savings services for InanItah employees, as well as other social programs that provide for children’s education, healthcare needs and water system improvements. Gaia has also developed two unique curriculums offered at InanItah: The Tantric Way and The Tantra of Permaculture.

Like many ecovillage founders, Gaia is a generalist – having worked in diverse disciplines including economics and finance, professional dancing, conventional construction, construction management, NGO capacity building and grant reviewing, community building and social services, Tantra and Shamanic workshop facilitation. Gaia consequently possesses knowledge of many different subjects stemming from her diverse life path.

Gaia is best known internationally for her Tantra work. Through it, Gaia discovered a way to bridge multiple interests: integrating body with awareness, sex with spirit, feminine with masculine, and shadow with light. She has been facilitating transformational Tantra workshops and retreats around the world since 2004. She is both a certified OSHO Therapist and certified Sky dancing Tantra teacher. Gaia is also a devoted yogini and in addition to facilitating Tantra workshops, she teaches regular yoga and meditation classes at InanItah and is a guest yoga teacher at The Sanctuary Thailand where she also offers Transformation Tantra workshops.

Gaia received her first degree in Economics from New York University (NYU) and as a young woman she explored a career in business, working in finance, office management, marketing and information technologies for five years. Unfulfilled by the corporate world, Gaia decided to follow her love for dance and moved on to a 10 year career as a professional dancer.

During her career as a dancer, Gaia took odd jobs as a laborer in conventional construction, including landscaping, asphalt roof installation, indoor and outdoor home painting and drywall repair. Gaia also served as the general contractor, overseeing construction outcomes, negotiating with local officials and managing up to 40 employees, for the commercial remodels for two LGBT business start-ups including the first women’s sports bar in the US.

Gaia’s lifelong passion has been to build bridges across the gender divide led her to earn a second degree in Gender and Sexuality Studies from NYU. Directly after earning her second degree Gaia worked for the RAINBO organization in women’s reproductive health rights reviewing grant applications and coordinating and offering capacity building conferences for NGOs in Africa. Later she worked for ACORN organization creating, coordinating and facilitating after school programs on reproductive health and rights at ACORN schools in collaboration with Planned Parenthood.

Gaia is an accomplished natural builder and experienced natural building instructor and is Certified in Permaculture Design.

Paul Mai

Paul Mai is the co-founder and co-director of InanItah, a developing eco-village in Nicaragua. Originally from a small rural village in Germany, Paul grew up in community and deeply appreciates both the gifts and the challenges of community living. He developed community building skills while co-facilitating alternative community based travel adventures and retreats as a part of his family’s business. He has also experienced community living in diverse settings, including Thailand, Costa Rica, and California. Paul gained experience pioneering water and land management development for three years at the community-based Avalon Springs Eco-Resort.

Paul is an experienced and enthusiastic natural builder. He was raised in a German ‘Fachwerkhaus’, a timber-framed earthen natural building, and thus began repairing natural buildings in his childhood. To build upon his experiential studies of natural building, Paul pursued formal studies in natural building and natural building management with teachers from the Emerald Earth Sanctuary in 2006 He currently manages and directs the natural building projects and volunteer learning opportunities for InanItah.

Paul has several years of experience working with renewable energy and gravity based water systems. He studied mechanical engineering and renewable energy systems in University. Later at Avalon Springs, Paul spearheaded the maintenance of a gravity-powered water-system and the revival of a system of multiple hot and cold pools during which time he was under the personal tutelage of renowned water system developer, Art Ludwig of Oasis Designs. Paul recently designed, engineered and managed the installation of a 5km long gravity-powered water system that provides fresh spring water to 23 families and numerous farms in rural Nicaragua.

As the land manager at InanItah, Paul oversees the development of a 22 acre permaculture project, where in a short 2.5 year time span, hundreds of fruit trees have been planted and the vast majority of vegetable needs are met by on site production. Paul is also instrumental in trading and negotiating with local Nicaraguan farmers to ensure that 95%+ of InanItah’s food needs come from within a 5 mile radius. Paul learned Permaculture Design while working alongside renowned Permaculture designer and teacher Doug Bullock, of the Bullock Homestead. Paul has a perceptive and intuitive knowledge of organic gardening and Permaculture principles.

Paul is also a healer and a man of spirit regularly leading meditation sessions at InanItah. While spending years traveling through Europe, India, Thailand and Southeast Asia, Paul was introduced to many types of meditation and healing arts practices. He practices Thai and Ayurvedic yoga massage, Water Dance and Watsu, and Ashtanga and Hatha yoga. He has also completed the Sky dancing Tantra Love and Ecstasy training and the OSHO Artist training.

Photo of VinodVinod

Vinod’s life took a unique path when he became aware that his projected future was one that he wanted no part in. “Dropping out” of college later freed him to enter into a personal journey of inspiration and education with everything from extensive psycho-nautical exploration to nearly eight years living, working, and travelling on land and on the sea, through Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Nepal, the U.S.A., Spain, and the Canary Islands.
Through the course of the realizations from the trip, his path took him back to his homeland to seek training in Shamanic Healing techniques. Upon completion of this three-year process, he spenr four months in Osho’s community in Poona meditating, dancing, celebrating. He spent the next four years in Israel and mostly in India, including six months in the Himalayas and several more six-month visits to Poona, During which time he completed The Path of the Mystic training and assisted in the group Tantric Pulsation.

Afterwards, he started practicing the Shamanic Healing techniques in Koh Phangan, Thailand, where he stayed for eleven and a half years. It was here he decided to start sharing his learning in the form of an eight day Shamanic Healing Training. It was on one of these that he met Gaia, whom he immediately recognized as a powerful motivated sister of integrity. During his decade in Thailand he learned much, mostly from his ‘students’ and including the powerful traditional Hawaiian Lomi-lomi massage and completing a course in Ayurvedic Yoga Massage. He also during this time started to practice Toltec Magical Passes, finding in them an essential physical counterpart and discipline with which to travel into the unknown. Always having a keen sense of the worth of ritual and ceremony through the celebration of the cycles of Nature, he met his Maestro on the ceremonial medicine path in 2008, and absorbed and integrated the wisdom he imparted through many medicine ceremonies over the next few years.

From 2008-09 he lived and worked in Mantak Chia’s Tao Garden Health resort in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, in 2009 becoming a certified Universal Healing Tao instructor.

David CaseyDavid Casey

David Casey is founder of Project Nuevo Mundo, a network of individuals dedicated to the development of our planet and the life it sustains it by connecting individuals to project centers, creating and promoting educational workshops and events, and supporting the growth of centers worldwide. David is passionate about networking and sharing ideas, resources, and information with others, and has initiated this project to make it easier for communities and projects to collaborate. The goal that Project Nuevo Mundo is working towards is the creation of demonstration sustainable living & learning centers that harness the networks of the digital communities. These networks are currently being employed to connect volunteers and seeds to specific project sites, including ecovillages, social projects, retreat centers, and organic farms. The first Guatemala center, which is currently being planned, will focus on the development of low cost, simple solutions to food production, water collection and filtration, construction, energy generation, and waste disposal. The solutions will draw heavily on the ethics of permaculture and appropriate technology.

David Casey has spent the past four years in Guatemala and other areas of the Central American isthmus catalyzing Project Nuevo Mundo. His work includes involvement with local cooperatives, property development/ecovillage design, coordination of a WWOOF volunteer program, and event production. Project Nuevo Mundo has been behind the production of seed exchanges, tree plantings, community trash cleanups, Mayan ceremonies, and cultural festivals such as the Cosmic Convergence Festival. His work with Project Nuevo Mundo includes contributing towards building a native and exotic seed bank in Guatemala. David managed a coffee farm and coordinated an incoming stream of volunteers from all over the world for two years, and connected volunteers to local projects in the surrounding communities. David currently works with Global Justa Designs, a Guatemala-based fair trade project that works directly with Mayan women artisans and families to support social entrepreneurship and self-sustaining development.

David received his BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies with a concentration in Global Poverty & Practice from UC California – Berkeley in 2008. He has been invited to share his work at UC Berkeley, Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico (Mexico City), Instituto Tecnologico de San Salvador, Boom Festival in Portugal, Entheon Village and Fractal Nation @ Burning Man, and EDE-certified Ecovillage Design courses in Central America. David speaks on Ecological Eco-nomics and the role of appropriate technology, Digital Networks & Communities and the emerg-ing Sharing Economy, and village-scale economic development.

David’s past experience includes volunteering in the San Francisco Bay Area with East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, working with Central American refugees seeking asylum in USA. He also participated in research on the theme of violence in Central America, with a personal focus on the case study of Nicaragua, for a study commissioned by UN Human Rights Commission. David worked with street youth and gang members in 2008 with Centro de Prevencion de la Violencia in Managua, Nicaragua. He has served as a translator liaising and coordinating between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking teams in various contexts, and taught English to primary and secondary school students in Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Ivan Sawyer GarciaIvan Sawyer Garcia

Tireless traveller, environmental activist and educator, event coordinator and curator, weaver of global change networks. Among other things, Ivan has been collaborating with various networks and NGOs for almost a decade participating in the developing of different initiatives, events and campaigns focused on environmental and cultural regeneration. He has been teaching and organizing the annual EDE-certified Eco-Habitat- Ecovillage Design Training in Huehuecoyotl Ecovillage in Mexico since 2009, and holds an EDE Certification.

Ivan is a skilled World Café and Art of Hosting groups dynamic facilitator. He is comfortable facili-tating consensus decision-making workshops and basic non-violent communication classes. Ivan is a Mexican national and has served as an English-Spanish translator in many contexts and circumstances.

Ivan is an experienced event producer. Among other things, Ivan currently participates in the organizing of the annual Consejo de Visiones Gathering in Chalmita, Mexico. He is also communications and human recourses manager for Nierika, an organization focused on the preservation of the Ceremonial use of Sacred Plants.

In his independent photography work Ivan focuses on documenting celebration and spirituality in different cultures. Through his photography work he seeks to capture the magic, sacredness and deeply transformative experiences that different festivals, neo-tribal gatherings and ancestral ceremonies represent.

Additional Facilitators

Nick Joyce headshotNick Joyce

Nick Joyce, aka N’Joy, is a systems thinker and strategist to the core. He has always had a predisposition for creating clarity out of chaos. Since entering the field of sustainable communities, he has paid particular interest to bridging the wisdom of experienced individuals and established organizations with the ingenuity of startups and enthusiasm newcomers. He lives to spread the story of interbeing across the globe and ground it in tangible ways. He hopes to not only change the world directly, through his own projects, but also to motivate others to create positive change. He attempts to innovate and express in ways that go beyond affecting surface behavior; right to the core of questioning deep-seated beliefs. He recognizes that only together, from a place of deep understanding, can the innovation necessary to ensure the future of humanity be realized.

Nick has been traveling his entire life. He has visited over two-dozen countries and lived on three continents. These experiences have broadened his cultural lens and taught him a tremendous deal about working with people. Since 2006, he has spent summers working with his aunt and uncle on their homestead in Michigan, acquiring skills in the environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability. He is an experienced builder and certified Permaculture Designer. The idea of extending the homestead model into intentional community first came to Nick while living in Togo, West Africa in early 2010 as a business management studying abroad. Driven by a new sense of purpose, he returned to the Isenberg School of Business, founded Drums For Development as an honors independent thesis project and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Management in just 3 years.

Drums For Development is a non-profit developing self-reliant & globally connected communities through the universal language of drumming. They host local events, organize ecotourism trips, and practice responsible exchange; buying and selling handcrafted drums and artwork made by indigenous artists to create a sustainable and culturally relevant source of funding for sustainable community development projects. Drums For Development has recently announced InTerraTree, a collaborative project to build a locally-owned ecovillage and cross-cultural education center run by the indigenous artists who craft their products. As a part of this announcement they have launched their Root the Tree Campaign and the InTerraTree Compilation Album and Producer Contest.

In 2012 Nick moved to Sirius Community, a well-established 34-year-old ecovillage, and began his practical learning of community living. Here he gained skills in Non-Violent Communication, Consensus Decision Making, Sociocracy, Conflict Resolution, Peer Mediation, and more. Nick was awarded a scholarship to take the Ecovillage Design Education Course in Denmark in 2012, after which he traveled to over a dozen communities throughout Denmark, Germany, and Italy. During these travels he joined the Global Ecovillage Network for a summit at ZEGG in Germany and became a member of NextGEN, the youth movement within the Global Ecovillage Network. In 2013 Nick was elected 1 of 3 International Representatives for NextGEN and sits on the GEN International Board.

Nick’s focus is now on sharing the model of integrated sustainability with the masses and he is actively doing so through various projects. He is currently bringing the NextGEN North America team together to live and work at Sirius Community and is leading an initiative to restructure the organization to leverage its highest good. Find out more at www.nextgenna.org. After initially being hired as a freelance community consultant by The Valhalla Movement, he is now their Outreach Coordinator, working towards the collective aim of using compelling digital media of on-the-ground action and online education to proliferate “freedom culture” by igniting a global passion for sustainability, self-reliance, and collaborative action. He is the founder of EvocUnity, a collective of artists and visionaries creating transformational spaces for Exploring Views Of Consciousness, creativity, community, and culture to awaken a sense of Unity within the Northeast USA and maintaining a blog-based website with the same theme.

To find out more about Nick visit his personal website at www.NicholasJoyce.com

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