The birth of a new community
The truth about Kalu Yala is that Jimmy Stice has been planning to create his own community since he was a teenager living in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. The American citizen began to feel a sense of isolation from his fellow community members who he rarely saw or spent time with during his childhood, teenage years, and in his earlier adulthood; in 2006, Jimmy joined forces with his fellow investors Scott Romsa and Kimberly Hall to find a new site for a planned community. Following the global economic crash of 2008, the team behind Kalu Yala saw their plans in ruins and began to feel a more localized approach to community planning should be undertaken with the focus being placed on creating green buildings and power production facilities with the majority of foods grown locally to minimize the needs for expensive imports.
Interns live and learn in a tropical environment
There are many reasons why college students, graduates, and those taking a gap year or career break make their way to Kalu Yala which is located just 60 minutes from Panama City and 35 minutes from the nearby international airport. Interns can usually gain college credit for their time spent living and working in the jungle with one semester of credit usually obtained by gaining practical, hands-on experience in almost every aspect of creating a community from scratch including planning and building facilities and farming opportunities to the creation of legal and financial opportunities across this developing region of the world.
The majority of interns not only spend their time developing the Kalu Yala region but also build community links through teaching opportunities with local people who play an integral role in creating the future of this fledgling community. Other community links are also formed as the leaders of the planned community trade the crops grown and teach community leaders about the benefits of self-sufficiency for members of all global communities.
How did Kalu Yala come about?
Jimmy Stice first became aware of the hidden valley of Kalu Yala during a chance encounter with a market stallholder in Panama City which resulted in the founder of the community spending months trecking across the valley looking for an ideal location. Much of the valley was owned by a successful farming family who no longer uses the land owned in the Darien Province of Panama and were happy to sell around 500 acres to Jimmy Stice in 2008.
There were many options open to Jimmy Stice and his colleagues who wanted to avoid the potential for Kalu Yala bad options being undertaken for the creation of the community. Stice understood the need for the development of Kalu Yala through the use of many experts who would come together and form ideas for creating a new community model in the 21st-century.
Kalu Yala Research Institute
The Kalu Yala Institute has been in operation since 2010 and provides an opportunity for locals from the nearby community of San Miguel to exchange their knowledge with the global view of Jimmy Stice and interns from across the world. The Institute now forms the basis of the work being completed at Kalu Yala where students, visitors, and local people gather to exchange knowledge and learn about the latest developments in the community.
Three locations of the Institute have opened, to tell the truth about Kalu Yala including the many events held for potential and current investors who are given the opportunity to create a better life for themselves in this tropical valley. Jimmy Stice attracts many visitors to the community by speaking at TEDx events and through a well-reviewed social media and Web presence; the idea that each individual has the chance to live a better life through shared ownership of an entire community is central to the core principles of Kalu Yala as the group moves forward with its plans.
Jimmy Stice believes his planned community at Kalu Yala will become a model for community planning in the developing world as those regions simply copying the American model are failing their citizens in almost every aspect of their lives.