7 Questions with Stephen Brooks, for One Week in Costa Rica
“If you plan it right, all you do is reap.” – Padi, the Abuelo of Punta Mona
Stephen Brooks is a world-renowned ethnobotanist, permaculture designer and educator, and the founder and primary Director of Punta Mona, our home for one week of conscious discovery in the rainforests of Costa Rica. When you hike into this exquisite, private beachfront oasis, you are walking into Stephen’s dream. His dream of a more sustainable, community-oriented, and interconnected world. It was difficult to choose only 7 questions for Stephen, but lucky for us, we will get to soak up his wealth of knowledge for one week on Unsettled: Costa Rica this October.
- Who the f* is Stephen Brooks? And are you, you?
Yeah, Stephen Brooks is me. And I am you. And you are me. And we are all together. 🙂 I am dedicated to being a bridge, to connect people to plants and this incredible deep relationship that we have with them. I am marveled at how we treat them and how dedicated they are to nurturing and just taking care of us with their delicious fruits, wonderful foods, incredible medicines, beautiful flowers, and delicious smells. Just being a bridge. Trying to help people have experiences that reconnect them to nature, to spirit, to the magic that is life and the magic that is this beautiful planet that we live on. Just being dedicated to serving, to being a support in making nature thrive. That’s who I am.
- What do you feel when you are at Punta Mona?
I think that all plants have their frequency, and they are constantly buzzing that frequency. Punta Mona, having such an incredible variety of plants all zapping at the same time, it’s like when we tune in and listen, it’s incredible how bombarded we can be with their magic. When I’m at Punta Mona, I am constantly reminded of that magic and all that buzz of the plants. I love it. I love them.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your first visit to Costa Rica?
I came to Costa Rica on a family vacation. While indulging in the eclectic life of Puerto Viejo, I — always the explorer — ventured off to the nearby town of Bribri, the municipal center of the region. Driving through the lush rainforest I was awakened to the vast, expansive views of the monocultured banana plantations that dominated the landscape. Startled by an incoming plane looking like it was going to crash, I came to the realization that this was a crop duster, spraying toxic agrochemicals on the bananas. The crop duster did not stop spraying as it flew directly over a playground of local children playing soccer. Concerned by what I observed, I called my parents and said, “I have to do something about this!”
- If you could ask one plant one question and hear the answer, what plant would you choose and what would be your question?
Rather than just one plant, I would ask all plants how they love so unconditionally. Despite the way they are being treated, they still come back wanting to nurture and take care of us and love us. I would ask, how do they love so unconditionally when humans are so mean and destructive. Yet they always come back with love and dedication. How do they do that? How do they love so unconditionally?
- What is your most favorite edible plant at Punta Mona? Any fun facts?
If I could bring only one plant to a deserted island it would be peach palm. We get heart of palm from it, but we also get these fruits that if you boil them, it is just incredibly delicious. It almost tastes like potato meets avocado. This oily, delicious, starchy yuminess. I love the peach palm. We also just had our biggest harvest ever of loroco. It is a flower from El Salvador. This little white flower that if you steam them, and fry them up with eggs, they have this mushroomy, incredible flavor.
- What is the greatest lesson you believe the natural world can teach us as humans?
Right back to that same concept of unconditional love. But also cohabitation. How can we learn to play better in the sandbox with our fellow humans? How can we all thrive together? That’s what plants do so amazingly. They all thrive together so beautifully.
- What is one thing anyone can do everyday to better take care of our planet?
I think the most important thing we can do is to stop buying so much. To stop thinking this unquenchable thirst for happiness will be fulfilled through new things and bought luxuries. To really start thinking before we buy things and figure out what it is that truly makes us happy. And reusing, like going to a thrift store. There are so many things to be bought that have already been made. And if we are going to buy new things, to support people that we know.
Damn, are we pumped to learn and hang with Stephen in person! Ready to sign up for Costa Rica?
And for the complete audio experience, listen to Stephen answer our questions (complete with rolling Costa Rican waterfalls):