This is a summary document for a training program we are creating at Rancho Margot in northern Costa Rica -- as part of a global effort to birth "bioregional learning centers" for the spread of regenerative practices.
Training Program for
Restoring Planetary Health
Rancho Margot :: A Regenerative Campus for the 21st Century
Evolving Our future
How We Restore Planetary Health
Our Collective Intent
Humanity is currently living through the most profound period of planetary
change in the history of our species. We have altered or disrupted every major
ecological system of the Earth to the point of overshoot-and-collapse. The only
way to safeguard our future is to regenerate landscapes while cultivating
community health and resilience at regional scales.
Our vision is to create a world-class learning center for regenerative design that
enables entire regions to guide their own evolution toward greater health and
harmony with nature.
Rancho Margot is a living university that currently functions as an eco-hotel and1
self-sufﬁcient farm. It is 440 acres of regenerated landscape in the Agua y Paz
Bioreserve of northern Costa Rica. Thousands of students come here each year2
for immersion programs in sustainable living and as volunteers in work-study
The next evolutionary step is to become a regenerative campus that trains and
certiﬁes regenerative design practitioners to work with entire communities around
the world. Our core focus is on Latin America where biodiversity hotspots are
threatened and existing land-use practices continue to degrade the environment at
large scales. We have many organizational partners to work with and an emerging
global network of bioregional projects spread across North, Central, and South
Here in Costa Rica we have Universidad para la Cooperacion International (UCI)3
as one of our primary collaborators. UCI has a 25 year track record of project-
based education in sustainable and regenerative development. They have prepared
a generation of leaders who helped set up and manage conservation land, shaped
policy formulation for sustainable development, and inﬂuenced the cultural
contexts in which people now prepare for a turbulent future.
UCI is in the process of restructuring its educational programs around regenerative
development for projects, communities, regions, and nations. They are currently
situated on a small campus in the heart of San José with a media center and faculty
who excel at hybrid online/immersion teaching. Rancho Margot has been a
longtime ally with their students and faculty.
Rancho Margot currently has a dormitory to house 40 students at a time and
bungalows for its hotel guests. It needs to expand its capacities for the immediate
work of partnering with UCI to deliver a robust 6-month training program for
regenerating entire bioregions.
The Training Program
There now exist many thousands of landscape restoration projects around the
world. Networks with global reach include Transition Towns, the Global
EcoVillage Network, Ecosystem Restoration Camps, and more that could be
named. In each case the focus is on individual projects or communities. You might
ﬁnd reforestation efforts or a farm converted from traditional to regenerative
agriculture; neighborhood revitalization with green spaces or cleanup of pollution
from a waterway; and other valuable projects for local improvements.
What you won’t ﬁnd at present is cogent tapestries of collaboration across entire
regions at the level of mountain ranges, coastal estuaries, and watersheds.
Bioregional efforts have been underway for decades in some places—like the ANAI
Project in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica or the Cascadia Independence4
Project of the Paciﬁc Northwest—but they lack the capacities for truly systemic5
transformation that would enable them to scale and replicate across the planet.
One absent capacity is the lack of properly trained regenerative designers who
know how to enter a community and begin to work with its existing assets to guide
such a transformational process. We have been working closely with the
Regenerative Communities Network and the Capital Institute to identify the best6 7
practices in bioregional design where there are already regional-scale collaborations
These include efforts like Niagara Share that work to remove all toxins from8
manufacturing in their local supply chains in partnership with material science
researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York. And also the work of
Regenerate Costa Rica to help the ﬁrst country on Earth get within the “doughnut9
economics” targets for societal and ecological health at a national scale.
Our goal is to launch a 6-month training program in regenerative design that
prepares its graduates to map entire social and ecological systems; guide and
facilitate multi-stakeholder collaborative processes; and implement circular
economy principles for towns and regions where they work.
This will include four months of online training so the students can join from
anywhere in the world while keeping the program affordable enough to gain
adoption. There is also a two month immersion period where the students come to
Rancho Margot and employ what they are learning in real-world regenerative
projects that address regional challenges for the Agua y Paz Bioreserve.
Upon completion of this training period, they receive a certiﬁcate that they are
ready to deploy into another region of their choice. A full diploma will be issued
1-2 years later after measurable social impacts are achieved in their future work.
Workshops and alumni meetings will be organized for continued learning as part of
their professional development after completing the initial training period.
This is an essential feature of the program. Being trained and certiﬁed is only the
beginning. The real proof of student capabilities will be determined by how well
their efforts store and capture carbon, regenerate soils, clean up waterways, and
preserve biodiversity (on the ecological side) while building robust circulation and
healthy lifestyles in the economy of a local community (on the social side).
Our goal is not to certify people, but rather to regenerate landscapes through the
deployment of certiﬁed people. This difference is vital and gets to the core of what
a regenerative campus is all about. Students will learn-by-doing in a regenerative
environment—in this case Rancho Margot and the Agua y Paz Bioreserve—and
then will demonstrate-by-doing in a community project after receiving their
Perhaps the clearest analogue to this education model is martial arts training. A
student who studies Karate, for example, must demonstrate skill with techniques
and movement forms in order to receive a black belt. This is considered to be the
transition from beginner to advanced practice. Upon receiving the black belt, the
student must continue learning by teaching and training others if they want to
improve. They move to higher levels of certiﬁcation by demonstrating their ability
to serve their communities using what they have learned.
We will apply this distinct aspect of practitioner-based learning to the preparation
of regenerative designers who deploy into real communities where landscapes have
been degraded and local economies are insufﬁcient for the livelihoods of people
living within them. They will receive certiﬁcation that they are ready for the
transition into advanced practice at the completion of our program. Then they
must serve a community to gain further certiﬁcation and demonstrate their skills.
This enables us to generate cumulative learning with students who go out into the
world and continue their training. They will maintain active relationships with our
organizational partners, educational faculty, and fellow students as we all learn
together how to regenerate people and planet.
Scale and Budget
We envision this program running in three rotations per year—such that each
cohort of students coming to Rancho Margot for mentorship on projects arrives
two months later than the previous cohort. With an enrollment of 30 students in
each rotation, we can train 90 students per year.
This will require intensive mentorship during the immersion period. Each student
will have a faculty team comprised of three mentors who oversee their individual
project with one mentor in the principal role to offer in-depth personal support on
the student’s individualized learning journey.
Having a minimum of six mentorship faculty will enable each mentor to take on
ﬁve students at a time while providing oversight and counseling to the cohort as a
whole. We will draw upon many areas of expertise for these faculty—including
permaculture instructors, architects and urban planners, business managers and
entrepreneurs, yoga and martial arts instructors for body-based practice, and
researchers who monitor and evaluate ecosystems.
Students will continue active engagement with the program for a minimum of two
years with an invitation to return to Rancho Margot for ongoing learning among
their peers. Instead of having alumni events in the traditional sense, we will host
several meetings per year where former students can come for workshops and
meetings to share what they have learned and increase each other’s knowledge
based on real-world experiences. These events will have a nominal fee associated
with them to cover operating costs and provide opportunities for the ﬁeld of
regenerative design to grow into a mature domain of professional practice.
We anticipate that students will come from a variety of backgrounds—including as
existing staff for nonproﬁts and social impact businesses where their employers
cover the cost of tuition to grow their own organizational capacities. Philanthropic
organizations may ﬁnd it desirable to provide scholarships as a way to invest in
nonproﬁts they already support as a way to improve the impacts of their donations
with staff training as a way to increase organizational impact.
Next Action Steps
It is time to launch this program. We have identiﬁed the training ground as Rancho
Margot and the biosphere reserve it resides within. Our education partner at UCI
has all of the curriculum pieces for a robust training program.
What we still need are seed funds to make core infrastructure improvements at the
ranch—expanding upon the 40 dormitory bunks, a library, working farm,
community programs, and eco-tourism hotel that are in place—so that we can
house the faculty and additional students who come for the immersion phase of
A unique style of housing has been prototyped for rapid modular construction at
low cost, using materials from the local grounds where reforestation has been
underway for 15 years. Architectural plans have been drafted for the layout of the
campus and community around it. The curriculum is coming together and will be
ready for students by the summer of this year.
Now is the time to begin construction of expanded facilities and start promoting
our program to potential students. We are seeking a combination of impact
investors, philanthropists, and community partners to bring $1.5 million together so
that the expansion of housing capacity is delivered in time for students to arrive by
the end of 2019.
The details for this investment package can be discussed during site visits or by
scheduling a meeting with members of our leadership team. I look forward to
hearing from you and creating this together in the coming months!
Capacity Cultivator for Regenerative Communities Network, Executive
Director of the Center for Applied Cultural Evolution, and Resident at