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How to Create an Off-The-Grid Community from Scratch

Creating a community from scratch isn’t exactly a walk up a volcano…or, wait.

Author John Early at Momentom Collective artist residency on Guatemala Lake Atitlan Arco Isis Sanctuary  San Marcos del laguna

We've all seen and admired the new age community from the movie The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio. The freedom, connection, adventure and struggle of having a tight knit collective living together in paradise - like it's all happened in a serendipitous stroke of fate.

On paper, it's perfect.

In photos, it's surreal.

From word of mouth, can this exist?

The concepts always sound too good to be true.

...and no. These communities don't just pop up magically.

So in all reality (or at least this current reality) this last month has been one of the most challenging, and in turn rewarding, times of my life. From leaving our Momentom Collective residency in Indonesia, 3 overnight flights and 4 days of travel to show up wet, cold, and sick to our venue in a remote location in a developing country, still under construction, rain delays, canvass tents stuck in customs and 6 days to build, furnish, decorate, stock and create and manage systems for the kitchen, transport, accommodation, café, promotions, sales, accounting and weekly workshop schedule to be open to a thriving artist residency…Wow. What a journey. Here are some photos of the days just before and after opening our 2nd Momentom Artist Residency at Arco Isis on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala:

Some of our incredible local Mayan Quetzical workers. Some of the strongest and hardest working people I've met. Everything was brought by foot and all sites dug by hand.

The view of the three volcanos of Atitlan, framed by the dorm constructed under the Temple of Arco Isis. (Photo by Mateo)

Constructing, planning and getting supplies up for our kitchen and cafe lounge. With the results below.

Building and assessing how to best use an open hollow room as a cozy 12 person dorm and workspace. Results below.

Below: Our classroom 'Nest' at the top of our Arco Isis treehouse. The perfect space for our 3pm Momentom Talks which can cover anything from Mayan Astrology and Ego VS the Soul Debates to Digital Marketing and rapé ceremonies.

And to think this is only one of four international residencies we’ve been planning and running this season (hola Nicaragua in February and Colombia in March!) alongside other retreats, festivals, coaching services and magazine advertorials and features... Qué loco!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hit a few walls playing with the limits of my output of energy. But it’s when I take the time to step back and see the magic that’s manifesting daily that I’m reminded why we’re doing what we’re doing. The broken system of a take-mentality society is in our face more than ever. Being able to lead a community based on sustainable co-creation and helping each other step into our highest self makes me feel like I’m being the change I’m wishing to see in the world. And that makes me smile. This season in Guatemala is already MAGIC - and the season is just ramping up! Vamos! So much love for my crazy ambitious partners Gaby and Therese, (as they hold down the Indonesia Residency in Sumbawa with Jeff and Lisa of Impassioned Play) as well as my opening operators here (Vero and Taylor of High Vibe Acro), and Matthew of Arco Isis. So many incredible people and locals I’ve been so fortunate to share the gift of conscious community with, gracias!

Jonny Karroll leading morning meditation and yoga in the Arco Isis Temple

Aerial and acro yoga jams happening between classes.

Momentom Collective Workshop schedule for Guatemala Arco Isis Sanctuary - November 2018

Our ever-evolving weekly schedule of in house Momentom workshops

(Week of Nov 12, 2018)

The Momentom Residency familia opening week (Nov 2018)

The big community circle during the Sunday San Marcos Ecstatic Dance hosted by Momentom at Arco Isis (every 2 weeks).

The Momentom Residency: Part summit | Part Festival | Part Retreat

...the ecstatic dance is definitely in the middle part of that :)


In other exciting news, we've also officially announced our partnership with Envision Festival in Costa Rica! Momentom is teaming up with High Vibe Acro to run an Acro Yoga retreat on site and then a Circus Theme Camp throughout the festival!

It's so wild to think that my first Envision 4 years ago - bringing down a funky bunch bus of people from Nicaragua - was where I met Gaby and now my 5th year returning to this amazing festival will be as facilitator of a retreat and theme camp for our international company we've cofounded! Life sure can flow when you follow the feel good!


And to close out this wild book, Tales of the Modern Nomad - Monks, Mushrooms & Other Misadventures has officially turned TWO! Contact me directly to get 20% off for a unique Christmas present for fellow travelers, nomads and psychedelic journeyers with a personal note from me :) ( *I'm able to ship across North America. If you've already read it, it would mean the world to have you drop a 2 sentence review on Amazon HERE.

My first bookstand and retail sale in Saskatoon, SK Nov 28, 2016

So cheers to continuing to live a life worth I feel I've already lived a few books worth these last few weeks and we're still only on Chapter 1! Big hugs from the Mayan Highlands of Lake Atitlan Tu amigo, -John


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What do a monk, a stripper and LSD have in common?     My New Book.

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