Building a Sustainability School & Retreat at Poncha Pass
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

April 9, 2018

As we flow through life, it is in our experiences we live, the people we meet, as well as the nature we grow within that shapes our lives and perspectives thereof. Maintaining a passion for biology, I was pushed towards conservation and sustainability in an effort to save that which is at greatest risk of disappearance. That perspective took me from fundamental marine biology to renewable energy. Through that process, our team worked and works to this day to treat a societal symptom of a disease; an addiction to fossil fuels, single use materials, and excessive resource extraction. Within that larger effort, I have cycled through New Mexico working EMS as a trade over the years and find myself treating symptoms on an individual level, patients in their most dire moments. Again, we react to treat the symptom but far too often, not the core of the issue.

Increasingly, I have learned that education is and will always be the foundation towards realizing a fundamental shift in our world from an extractive “consumer” based system towards one where we live with sustainable intention; one I would define as living as a “citizen”. In the world of mass media, you tube hits, and the scrolling meme, our lives are saturated with pointing fingers. Do this, do that, but don’t do THAT. While each of us have passions unique to our lives, we are all increasingly expected to live up to ever growing number of demands from our fellow citizens. That is a good thing as we become more educated and aware, yet I see many of my peers and those around me becoming divided in opinions, pointing the finger at each other and talking about what should be done.

I always thought that living by example was the greatest challenge, and yet also the most effective. As far back as 2011, I began to ponder the idea of building a school / retreat. In striving to walk that line while making meaningful headway towards educating others in sustainable living, I set out last year following the 2016 election to bring this plan out of the dream among the clouds into tangible action after writing a letter to America.

The beginning of that effort took me to Taos New Mexico where I participated in the Earthship Academy, learning how to use trash, mainly tires, to build beautiful off grid housing. I am infatuated with the simplicity of design, low cost, and feasibility to build autonomous housing for the masses. I set out to find a suitable location for this school and after months of searching, found a location in Southern Colorado just outside of Salida that might suite the build. The idea would be simple. Start with a few yurts and then build a community of Earthships. Plant fruit trees, plant lots of trees. Build green houses and develop horticulture. Invite people from near and far to participate in a unique program aimed at inspiring them towards self-empowerment and walking the line. From sustainable housing, to food, personal health, financial independence, round table discussions, to sitting under the stars at peace, this place will be designed to enable our generation.

After months of negotiations, I found myself closing on the land this past February. It is a surreal feeling to see this dream start to take shape. It is still so young and yet, there will never be a time like the present. It has begun and I am sure it will turn into a life’s work. Next week I will go and stay on the land for the first time. I will start with a tent, some tools, and my hands. I hope for a week long trip each month until the first yurts have risen.

I write this today to tell you that you are invited, from this day forward. You are invited to visit, to sit by a pond and relax, to watch the deer in the early morning and to see the stars rise in the late evening. Come share stories of your life and if you’d like, hear mine, plant a tree if you’d like, learn about a solar field or grey water system and share the experiences and ideas that together take us from being one, to now being two. I look forward to seeing you at Poncha Pass.

Related Articles

A Brave New World – The arrival of AI through flow of logic

A Brave New World – The arrival of AI through flow of logic

A Brave New World was written by Aldous Huxley and discusses just how a technological future might look like for earthlings. It sits atop a list of other noted books including 1984 (George Orwell) and The Foundation Series (Isaac Asimov) which eerily predict the...

Sphere of influence – the expanding/collapsible bubble

Sphere of influence – the expanding/collapsible bubble

Those who have known me for a while have heard occasionally about efforts to bring to market ocean wave driven pumps. Since 2009, I have been involved in the development of sustainable wave energy in some form or another. I still consult on the projects from time to...

The Ecosystem Engineer

The Ecosystem Engineer

Earlier this summer I went on a camping trip with my family. We drove up from New Mexico to Silverton Colorado and took the steam train down towards Durango. A ways down the canyon on the Animas River, we got off and spent two days camping along the river. It was...

Stay Up to Date by Following Us on Instagram

Follow Us

Be the first to see what’s new, workshop announcements, and yurt life on Poncha Pass.

Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Summer 2023 flyer earthship workshop
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Spring 2023 Workshop group eating out


Come stay if you are looking for a peaceful and comfortable place to hang your hat while relaxing and adventuring around in nature. And after adventuring don’t forget to regenerate at a cellular level with our wood-burning sauna and cold plunge tub, immersed in good old fashioned nature therapy.