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Zac Barton on building community in a foreign country

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Today is the last episode of the series on building community. Though there remains so much to say on this subject, I wanted to wrap up this endlessly complex and nuanced topic with a discussion about the challenges and learning of integrating into a foreign community. I have a lot of my own thoughts and stories on this, but I also immediately thought to check back in with a friend of mine who’s been on this show before in a previous series on homesteading, and who’s had similar experiences which he’s developed much much further than I ever have.

Zac Barton is a permaculture designer, activist and teacher who has been living in Nepal since 2003. In 2005, he founded the Kamala Foundation—an organization committed to bringing the principles of permaculture to life and providing community-based programming to cultivate resilience and revitalize traditional and ecological ways of being.

He established Almost Heaven Farm in 2013, where he researches, demonstrates and trains local farmers and international visitors in permaculture design, earth-based building and ecological restoration. Specializing in program design and implementation, Zachary has worked in communities across Nepal and was instrumental in co-founding the Resilience Through Recovery Project, which employed permaculture techniques to help villages recover from the devastating earthquakes of 2015.

He is currently working to develop a network of communities committed to regenerative development across the Himalayan bioregion.

In this conversation, Zac and I focused on our shared experiences working to integrate ourselves into the foreign communities where we’ve settled. We talk about the challenges and even hilarious failures we’ve faced in the process and many of the learnings that have come out of it.

I work with many people who are moving to foreign parts of the world and are working to establish land and community based projects. For a lot of reasons, my guidance always centers around putting their efforts into the personal growth and learning required to become a part of the culture and social space they’re hoping to live and work in.

Zac particularly is one of my favorite examples to point to of a westerner who’s found an important place for himself where he lives that he’s cultivated through humility, deep listening, patience, and a priority on respect for the people around him.

This turned into a really fun conversation with admissions of both of our embarrassing learning curves as well as honest admissions of the fact that we’re both still very much growing and evolving in this space.

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Links:

https://permaculturenepal.com/ 

http://kamalafoundation.org/

https://www.instagram.com/almostheavenfarms/

https://www.facebook.com/AlmostHeavenFarms/

https://www.facebook.com/zachary.barton.75

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMczBdb0Weqt1YpnKHi6I3g https://www.linkedin.com/in/zachary-barton/

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