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"We weren't a commune, We were a corporation"

How a group of friends bought land together, built a sailboat and toured around the world, constructed a hotel in Nepal, started an art gallery on London, created Biosphere 2, butted heads with Steve Bannon and lived to tell the tale.


When I was a little kid, I remember laying in bed lamenting that the whole globe had already been discovered. Outer space seemed too far off, but the human mind seemed like something that we didn't fully understand yet. Thirty years later, and I'm back on my bullshit, acting like a renegade explorer, out to find wisdom in America.


When planning this cross-country road trip, I remembered that an old college buddy Jacob lived on a small retreat center in New Mexico. So I looked him up. A few weeks later I was pitching a tent next to his house at Synergia Ranch. I was expecting your run-of-the-mill venue for basic bitch yoga retreats. But the ranch turned out to be just the first many badass projects developed by an enterprising group of Boomers in their heyday.




On that first night at the ranch, Jacob sat me down to watch a documentary called "Spaceship Earth." It gives the back story of the group of friends who left San Francisco in 1969 and built the ranch. That was "too successful" so they kept raising the bar with each endeavor. Within 15 minutes, I was crying. These guys were doing it! The key point is that it is a group of friends who join their lives together, and approach life as a creative project. This scientific, entrepreneurial group of friends followed their dreams with a mix of practicality, creativity and bravado.


Any one of their projects would be impressive and inspiring, but as a portfolio, it's a remarkable testament to a group of people marrying their fates together, joining their careers and pooling their talents to squeeze every drop of adventure and impact from life. Although they joke that they were structured as a corporation, I would argue that the power of the group is that they are a true community, a chosen family of friends that have made a commitment to one another at the human level.


The group created Biosphere 2, an experimental self-contained ecosystem

At community dinner the next night, I asked Freddie, one of the originals, how they had carved out the time and money to make this all happen. He said that yes, they were entrepreneurial and had started multiple businesses, but that they also seized a rare window in time when this was possible. (They also had a billionaire friend backing their investments)


I don't want that window to be over. I want to do stuff like this! Perhaps their window is closed, but a new one is open, with a different shape. In ancient Greece, the notion of kairos is about the finesse of good timing. It's a sense of seizing the right moment, like the moment between breaths when an archer lets go of the arrow. What is today's window of opportunity for adventurous action?


After I left Santa Fe, I did some journaling one morning. Well, drawing. Well, diagramming.

This set of complementary projects was obvious to me, and now I can't shake them.



Last night I had dinner with my mom and stepdad after my mom forced me to re-watch the Spaceship Earth documentary. We talked about the abysmal state of the world, and my mom goes "Well now you have to rally your friends together to create the next chapter of these kinds of projects!" We had both caught the bug, and agreed that SOMEBODY's GOTTA DO IT.


Tomorrow I drive up to Vermont to start a month at a monastery. I'm excited to go into monk mode and explore the depths of the human psyche. Back on my bullshit.


The group built this ship in Oakland's 5th Ave Marina. It has sailed around the world twice.

This group of humans organize their work under the Institute of Ecotechnics. The Heraclitus ship is currently undergoing repairs, so if you'd like to see the adventure continue from your armchair, you can donate money to the repair effort!


PS, Fun detail: I recently learned that they had a conservation property in Western Australia in the same Kimberly region where I did a 75-day wilderness expedition in my twenties.




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love this !!!!

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