Shayna Gladstone is the founder of Project Nuevo Mundo, an online platform that connects people and impact centers, encouraging resource sharing on the web and on the ground to catalyze planetary regeneration and individual transformation. In this interview with New Dream, she shares her personal journey as a member of the global village.
What does “the good life” mean to you? And how did you come to this vision?
To me, the "good life" means living to experience the true essence of myself, all people, and our relationship to one another, instead of living to “make a living." It's a life where work and play are one in the same, and where there is no difference between vacationing and being on the job.
“The good life” is actually believing that the life you want is on its way, and that all you have to do is come up with a clear vision and follow it. I came to this vision when I saw the need for a fundamental shift in the way we live, not only as a consumptive culture but also as a society completely disconnected from nature.
“The good life” is following nature, following intuition, following a clear vision, and truly believing in it. As British artist Andy Goldsworthy has observed: “We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
What’s the one thing you enjoy most about your lifestyle?
I most enjoy helping people reclaim their connection to the earth, while living in some of the most beautiful and sustainable places in the world, traveling cheaply or through non-monetary exchange, and having the opportunity to work with incredibly brilliant people and thrive in eco-communities.
Is there anything at all about your life these days that you really wish you could change or improve?
The main thing I would change is being able to include my blood family in all of these mind-expanding experiences!
Tell us a little about the work that you do.
I weave a web of eco-communities and projects that implement permaculture and regenerative living systems. I co-founded a non-profit organization called Project Nuevo Mundo that is building an online platform that connects people looking for meaningful work experiences with impact centers that are seeking supportive people.
Project Nuevo Mundo has a few different projects. We just finished a four-month eco-caravan tour with 22 permaculture and regenerative living specialists starting from San Diego and ending in Panama, implementing social and environmental projects with local communities while seeding a physical network of passionate volunteers.
We are also at the beginning stages of building a sustainability education center, organic/local restaurant, and eco-hostel on a lush and majestic piece of land in Guatemala.
I also started another project called WorldsColliding.org, which is a blog and video blog of my work visiting and working at eco-villages and on innovative eco-projects throughout South America.
Describe some ways in which you are involved in your community.
My community is global, and it is a new counterculture. It is a community of dedicated eco-warriors, travelers, and landowners who are creating a new world based on community living, permaculture, responsible celebration, and alternative currencies.
I serve this community through providing rich content, media and inspiration through social media and my blog, Worlds Colliding, about nomadic life, conscious traveling and showcasing innovative eco-projects. During my travels, I offer my consultation in social media and fundraising to each eco-project as an exchange for education and housing. I also connect people who are looking for permaculture education and transformational experience to Impact Centers that I have visited.
For many, your lifestyle is considered “outside the mainstream.” Does this present any challenges, and, if so, how do you deal with them?
The biggest challenges are personal and social. Constantly living in community forces me to adapt, transform, and look deeper into my own societal programming and to peel back the layers and walls that hold me back from becoming my most authentic self. Walking on this path has constant challenges that I am ready and willing to take on in order to evolve. I deal with these challenges by facing myself directly and being open to changing and breaking habits while constantly shedding beliefs and things that no longer serve me as a person.
Community living has its own set of challenges that ultimately force the group to work together democratically and in harmony—to find ways to work as a cohesive unit with everyone’s needs being fulfilled. Practicing techniques while living in community such as sharing circles, consensus decision-making, setting solid systems to work-flow, and implementing leadership models that work for the group help us to deal with any challenges that arise.
Please describe any new skills or hobbies that you’re really excited about or that you would love to learn if you had the time and resources.
What I am working on developing at the moment are education modules and presentations that help groups and individuals hone in their visions in order to incubate projects and bring them to the next level.
I am also excited about beginning to learn Chi Gong as a form of healing and self-mastery.
I hope to find time to take a Permaculture Design Certification Course this year. This will be important for my continued work.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is to “follow your heart and intuition and don’t worry about support and money because if you’re doing what you love, it will come."
Someone once said to me, “If you don’t do what you feel you want to do right now (because of fear), you may never do it and you’ll look back on it in 10 years and think, I wish I would have done that!”
Other words I live by include:
“Tap into and listen to your inner guidance and choose to know yourself as a first priority.”
“Really let every single moment be precious.”
“Give up attachment and expectation of the outcome.”
“First and foremost, take care of your temple (your body) and embody a full clear body, mind, and spirit.”
New Dream's "Living the Dream" series profiles folks from around the world who are living lives focused on “more of what matters.” If you or someone you know is living the New Dream, please contact us—we're looking for inspiring stories to share!