By Jacob Engels
Several months ago, one of my friends decided to flee East Orlando and go north to a communal sustainable living site called Valhalla in Montreal, Canada. I never really got a chance to discuss her motivations for the move or really even what Valhalla is. Last week, my friend (Beverly Kennedy) and the co-founder of Valhalla (Lawrence-Phillip Miglialo-Correa) joined me for conference call to discuss Valhalla.
First, lets dig a little deeper and find out what Valhalla really is. Answers provided by co-founder Lawrence-Phillip Miglialo-Correa.
What is Valhalla?
Valhalla’s mission is to make communal sustainable living *mainstream*. We strongly believe many of the worlds ills can be solved through sustainable communal living. So we’re building a network of 100% off-the-grid communities, the first of which is here in Montreal, Canada.
How has Valhalla progressed since you launched?
Valhalla officially started in April 2012 when a handful of individuals brought similar ideas together all with the same passion to change the world to be the place they wanted to live in – a place they believed was possible in their hearts. So we bought 60 acres of land, started planting trees, acquiring partnerships and sponsors and today we’re shared over the web by thousands of supporters and people who want to share this vision and see this happen.
How did you fund Valhalla?
Like any startup, the founders dug deep into their own pockets to get the project off the ground, however; we’re well on our way to making this organization float off its own cash flow. Through the use of unique powerful platform such as kickstarter, we plan to raise lump sums to fund the construction of our Community Center.
What can people expect to see from Valhalla a year from now?
We will have created the change we wish to see in the world today! The Valhalla Movement will be a network of sustainable communities learning from one another, and helping budding communities to flourish. These communities will be launchpads for social change, and inspiration for the world to believe in sustainable living and perpetuate communal living worldwide. We will continue to push the boundaries of alternative lifestyles through social and technological innovations.
We know so much but care so little about the wellbeing of our fellow humans and nature. Martin Luther King Jr. said “we have guided missiles but misguided men”. We have the technologies to communicate instantly with people from across the planet, send rovers to Mars and even build ingenious infrastructures but we tend to be working harder and harder every decade and spending less and less time following our bliss and doing the things we want with our time.
We’re starting now because we met the stage in our lives were most people need to decide on pursuing a job and acquiring commitments – which can render the job no longer a choice but a requirement for survival. We’re starting now because we believe that nothing should get in the way of allowing individuals follow their bliss. Not all of us are meant to work for corporations; it can very well be that some of us were put here for other things that provide the world with beauty!
Why did my friend leave? Former East Orlando resident and UCF student Beverly Kennedy discusses below —
What was it about Valhalla that made you want to leave East Orlando and go to Valhalla?
Fate pushed me out of Orlando and into Valhalla. I was attending UCF, and in March 2011, I managed suffered an injury that forced me to drop out of college. At the time, I heavily doubted the education system, and really all the systematic institutions of slavery that modern society binds its people by. I spent about nine more months in Orlando. As if in cue with the solar flares, my life changed in its entirety in that time. I was in massive debt from college and found myself having more fake friends than real ones. It was time for a change. I heard about Valhalla through a friend and decided it was time to shake things up.
What does Valhalla represent to you? On a personal, spiritual, mental level?
Valhalla is a part of my destiny. I hold no doubts on that. It called to me and I heard the call. During my incubation, between dropping out and Valhalla, I was lucky enough to have a friend who was willing to provide for me while I recovered in exchange for some tech work. I was able to freely study and meditate without any worry about my financial situation. While this person satiated my intellectual needs, I discovered that all the knowledge and organic food in the world can never replace the magic in real human connection. That is what Valhalla represents to me. It is a place where kind-spirited individuals with various talents and knowledge pools can mingle and create a beautiful and healthy world. We really need a shift in global consciousness to hold our Mother Earth, our brothers, our sisters, and all sentient beings in higher regard in our daily lives.
What do you do to contribute at Valhalla?
In general, I put in most of my daily energy on the computer: managing the applicant process, posting and keeping in touch with our supporters on social media sites, running my blog (bevinvalhalla.tumblr.com) to provide insight into Valhalla, shooting/editing pictures, and occasionally some web design. Outside of the digital whirlpool, I spend a lot of time meditating, doing yoga, and providing massage. Each member of Valhalla is also required to clean and cook, so I do that as well. We also have separate committees that members serve on and I am currently involved in the community affairs, mind/ body/ spirit, entertainment, and Marketing committees, soon I will be involved with the Environmental and engineering committees too.
Are there set of rules or a code people live by in Valhalla? If so, what are they?
Not exactly. Valhalla is still growing, so right now we each contribute in areas that match our current skillset. We are currently working to build a more solid “system” that provides structure in our movement while also guaranteeing that individuals have their freedom and are allowed to achieve their bliss, which is something that is very important at Valhalla.
After concluding my conversation with Beverly and Lawrence, I wanted to examine the economic side of the ideas like Valhalla. Is this type of lifestyle economically viable or beneficial? For that I consulted Dr. Benjamin Balak, an economics professor at Rollins College. Here is what he had to say —
“Investing approximately 1% of global GDP in re-tooling, infrastructure investments, de-suburbanization/re-urbanization, “green jobs”, public transportation, alternative energy research, alternative living arrangements including projects like Valhalla and other means of fixing our environmental problems would go a long way towards fixing our economic problems also.
Sadly, as with so many of our most pressing global, national, and regional issues, we do not have a government system that seems capable of doing anything other than what their corporate overlords tell them to so our policy is mostly determined by the fossil-fuel industry lobbies. Perhaps grass-roots alternatives like the Valhalla project could break through and show people how efficient and comfortable environmentally sound living can be. Continuing to NOT do anything will soon lead to the harsh non-technological poor existence that we fear, NOT the other way around.”
While most of us may not be ready to make the leap and join a sustainable communal living site like Valhalla just yet, I think we all need to reexamine how our lives are either helping or hurting the environment, and what we are doing to become self-reliant. Are corporations and institutions inhibiting our growth as human beings and hypnotizing the populace with misinformation? I plan on visiting Valhalla over the summer, so expect on update about their movement around then or sooner.
To learn more about Valhalla, click here
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it’s founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Japser, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.