Festival Review: Envision

Attending Envision is like stepping into a dream. 10/10, would 100 percent go again.

Nestled in a beach-side jungle, Envision hosts not only awe-inspiring nature scenes among its 9,000~ guests, but various native animals as well. One would think the critters of the landscape would be frightened away by the sounds & lights, until you meet a sloth at the port-a-potties. No kidding!

Despite being in such a sensitive environment, the animals were not entirely scared off, & I was impressed to learn the significant sustainable practices the festival implements to thoroughly protect each critter & their homes. Volunteering with the Eco Team gave me first-hand insight into their diligent systems, ensuring that not only the “Leave No Trace” policy was upheld, but the land was also left better than before.

57038352_505024540033381_2571830149171380224_nEnvision’s guiding mission is centered by “Eight Pillars“: Permaculture, Spirituality, Movement, Art, Music, Community, Health & Eco-Building. These core values are manifested throughout the entire festival culture.

At dawn, the cicadas would sing to the rising sun like an orchestrated opera– ringing louder than passerby’s voices as we entered into each new day. As I joined the Eco Team in picking up stray litter across the festival grounds, I was impressed to find nearly none at all. Searching alongside scurrying iguanas served curious inquiries along the way, but for the most part, we only uncovered small bits of MOOP (Matter Out Of Place). Compared to many other festivals where trash is layered like confetti, needless to say, I was happily surprised. In all honesty, I spent more time dancing than needing to clean up. Even more so, participants seemed relatively more interested & enthusiastic to properly recycle their items.

I learned an immeasurable amount about proper recycling from not only their diligent system, but I was inspired by the amount of recyclable items were already planned to be re-purposed. Clean, soft plastic was to be compressed into bricks to build local roads & homes. Coconut shells were set aside for a local builder to create buildings with. All leftover goods were to be donated to families in the nearby communities.

56641429_1205301062971813_7121291926954835968_nEven better, Envision has planted over 3,000 trees on the property alone. My friends & I were honored to participate in planting two trees– what a gift it was! It was easy to feel emotional giving back to the land that not only hosts our celebrations, but helps to provide our entire planet with clean air.

Even the stage design & infrastructure was built using local bamboo & wood. This maintains the natural order of the local ecosystem while remaining in compliance with Costa Rica’s sustainable practices. Not only this, but the stage design was more stunning than many other festival stages I’ve witnessed before. Detailed artistic designs layered with fire blowing totems– it was quite the sight.

Within the festival, all single-use plastic items are banned. In fact, Costa Rica as a country is aiming to be the first country to ban single-use plastics by 2021. The food vendors supply reusable utensils & compostable plates (or even banana leaves). All the food is locally sourced, many of which is organic, as well.

Needless to say, their international Top Sustainable Festival awards automatically places Envision as a premier festival overall! Festivals can be incredibly hazardous to the local environments, & it is critical organizers & participants prepare & clean-up as diligently as possible.

As for the party & production– Envision still takes the cake. To break it down easy:

  • Crowd: 9/10
    • Everyone I engaged with was friendly, open-minded, fun-loving, & seemed conscientious of others + the planet.
      • There was a high amount of theft, which was counter-intuitive based on all the potent “good vibes” of the community. I had friends lose cameras & phones to find them safe at the Lost & Found or have them handed back with a smile. At the same time, many more folks had their tents, Air BnB’s, even back-stage safes broken into. Perhaps that’s one of the realities to consider when people of privilege party in a less-wealthy country.

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  • Music Line-up: 8.5/10
    • Of course is a subjective rating, but I enjoyed the general diversity in the electronic & world music there. I listened to an incredible celloist, local indigenous shamans chant their traditional songs, danced my heart out at Clozee‘s famous annual set, caught a glimpse of Trevor Hall, & grooved to plenty of house music along the way.
      • Perhaps I would’ve enjoyed a little bit more house :p Regardless, I was always dancing!
  • Workshops: 10/10
    • Incredible offerings! I spent nearly all of Saturday afternoon in the Red Tent, filling pages in my notebooks of fresh insights & connecting with the participants around me.
      • I enjoyed the atmosphere the workshops were in, including the types included, marginally more so than those offered at Lucidity (a festival known for its workshops). Perhaps that’s also subjective as well, though.
  • Atmosphere: 10/10
    • Beach, jungle– what more could you want? Amazing light production & integration with the land.
  • Art: 10/10
    • My first time buying prints at a festival– I couldn’t say no! Stunning artists, including the live painting muralists.

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As you can see, Envision has earned top scores in my book. If you can afford the travel, it is 100 percent worth it. Best believe, I’ll be sure to return again!