Jimmy Stice Explains the Vision for Kalu Yala
Jimmy Stice is an environmental businessman who has been in the public eye over the past few years for his creation of Kalu Yala. Located in the heart of Panama's never-ending forests, this village was established to demonstrate sustainability and modern construction methods. Driven by a young workforce from all over the world, Mr. Stice's project gained momentum as soon as he presented it to potential sponsors. Due to a detailed plan of action and undeniable passion, he was able to persuade large entities like Affordable Permanence and Studio Sky to help jump-start the financing. Now, after his endeavors were televised and many magazines featured his success, Stice continues to improve the village by adding many state-of-the-art tools for the locals to use.
Can you explain where the workforce for Kalu Yala comes from?
So, we do all of our marketing with full-time students and young adults in mind. The reason behind this is the fact that we are in need of people who are in their early stages of life and can take on physical labor. Everything here was built from scratch which means that the job description is going to revolve around hands-on tasks like lifting, digging, and carrying.
What is the popular opinion amongst the interns who come to work here?
The majority of them recognize what we are trying to accomplish and feel strongly about the idea. Hence why we get most of our interns through referrals and positive word of mouth.
What influence did the TV show have on your project?
Well, for the lack of a better term, it had a dual-effect. We got a lot of positive feedback while getting hit with some negative publicity at the same time. Meaning, the TV show brought awareness to what we are trying to do, and we had countless individuals rally behind us as a sign of support. Simultaneously, however, a lot of episodes had some bad edits where our mission and vision were altered and not presented accurately. So, there were instances where the public misunderstood what we are trying to accomplish.
Do you think that the construction is close to achieving the goal of a sustainable village in a rainforest?
I think that it is a lot closer than it was a month ago yet not as close as it will be a month from now! That goes to say how we are striving to improve every day and I sincerely think that it is a matter of time before we can present a sustainable village to the world.
What are some of your happy and sad memories from this project?
The nights where the management and interns get together and eat pizzas around a giant bonfire carry a lot of great memories for me. As far as any Kalu Yala bad stories, the only thing that I still hate to this day is the presence of mosquitos! You would not believe how many of them are around given the proximity of lakes and rivers in the area.
How do you explain the truth about Kalu Yala to those who do not believe in your vision?
Generally speaking, I present this project to everyone in the same way. I never misguide people by telling them that coming to work in Panama will be like a three-month vacation. Everyone who reaches out to me is left with a detailed overview of what their duties as a Kalu Yala worker will be and how the program will benefit them. Usually, being transparent is very helpful while talking to those who seem skeptical about the idea.
What are some of the plans that you are working on now?
We are trying to revamp the construction procedures to make them more streamlined. In the past, building a house took anywhere from two to four months. Now, our goal is to cut that time down to 90 days. The hope is to reduce the average time of construction and build more homes during the season.
What is your advice for those who are going to be a part of the program in the future?
Come here with an open mind and be ready to meet people from all over the world. One of the best things about our program is the ability to make life-long friends as you will be around a small group of people every day for three months. I have seen countless cases of individuals who get so close that they continue their friendship even after they leave Panama. Also, know that you will be given an opportunity to make a difference. Thus, come prepared and make your internship count!