How Envision Festival Worked To Create A World-Class Celebration of Ecotourism

Editorial Director, Life
02.05.19

Jess Bernstein

If you run in certain circles, you hear about Envision Festival — coming up at the end of this month in Uvita, Costa Rica — spoken about in sort of mythic tones. It’s something that vagabonds and adventurers whisper about at hostels, the place where two or more “beautiful souls” united before hitting the road together, and where higher level values are always on full display. The traveler whisper network dubs the festival our generation’s yearly Woodstock, to a much larger degree than even Burning Man.

It’s also a Utopian fever dream of sorts: A bunch of people in the jungles and beaches of Central America, communing with nature and one another. In what world would that not sound shockingly enticing?

Having not been to Envision, but feeling connected to its mission after visiting similar festivals, I jumped on the phone with the festival’s CEO Reuben Walker and its co-founder/ head of production Josh Wendel. What could have been a lazy conversation meant to plug a fest quickly turned into a deeper conversation about ecology (the fest won the FestX prize last year for “Oustanding Green Event“) and the big-picture ideals that Envision hopes to embody.

Envision Festival

Right to left: Josh Wendel and Reuben Walker.

Let’s start with the fact that we all know and love Costa Rica. The three of us are in the same boat there. So when you’re thinking of throwing — I know everyone hates that word transformational festival — but when you’re thinking of throwing a festival that is going to operate on a number of different levels and be a little more holistic than just music, what made Costa Rica the fit for that?

Josh Wendel: Basically the festival started by… well it was just pretty synchronistic — I moved to Costa Rica to start a sustainable community, and live off the land, but also came from Colorado where I was really into music and natural food industry. So I came down here with all of that background and that intention, and I fell in love with Costa Rica and I just felt the things that I saw that were really missing was the good life — diverse music and art, and then, of course, healthy food and natural building.

There were about six or seven of us that all synchronistically came together and that’s what started it, but I think obviously it all came out of a passion and desire to be in Costa Rica and live sustainably.

There must be a ton of barriers to entry to doing something at the scale that you guys are doing it. Was it difficult to get off the ground? Was it something that took a lot of investment? Or was it something that was just a shoestring event the first year or two?

Josh Wendel: We all came from a different background that played an integral part into forming Envision, but frankly we didn’t know what we were doing or getting into, we didn’t know if it was gonna be a larger festival with big headliners or a small private party and we landed somewhere in the middle and it felt special, so we continued it. We really never imagined what it was gonna turn into, but it was all good from that first year.

It definitely had a similar feel to the current version of the fest.

Eric Allen

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