The Pongovi Experiment

True story. Many years ago there lived an old couple named Grey Wolf and Devaki who built a village in the high desert mountains of Arizona. They called this village Pongovi.

The word Pongovi comes from the language of the Hopi people. It means open circle.

This name was not taken lightly. These were people who had spent years sitting ceremony with tribal elders, sometimes hosting these gatherings onsite. They carried the stories, songs and prophesies of these elders and were living out one of those stories in an extraordinary way.

Pongovi was a beautiful place. They had built multiple tiny round houses with stone and recycled roofing materials. There were gardens everywhere. Every single space between the buildings and pathways were growing food. However it was not the beauty of Pongovi that was most striking, it was the radical way that they opened their doors to travelers from all over the world. They shared their home and and their knowledge without hesitation. Young people sometimes stayed long term as volunteers to learn how to live like they did. But even a short visit was transformational.

Grey Wolf and Devaki were ahead of their time and some might have thought that their efforts were in vain. But visions and values can be contagious. The example they lived would inspire others for years to come (long after they had passed away). The fact that you are reading this right now cannot be fully understood without accounting for their influence.

One young traveler who visited Pongovi in August of 1999 was profoundly impacted by the experience. So much so that he dedicated his life to a mission. One story from the Hopi resonated at such a level that real world action became a moral imperative.

The story was haunting yet beautiful. It contained a warning of a great reckoning and message of hope. There was a way out of this mess, and even a handful of individuals could influence the outcome if they had the courage to live a different story.

The Pongovi Experiment is a continuation of that story. In 2015 that same traveler and a small international contingent purchased land high in the rainforest mountains of the Commonwealth of Dominica and began building an off-grid farm and educational center from the ground up, utilizing a simple set of principles.

The objectives in the first phase were simple but challenging: build facilities to host 15 to 20 people and produce enough food to feed even more. The extreme nature of the location and the rugged terrain provided the perfect laboratory to put these ideas to the test.

And tested they were. The first long term volunteer arrived in the summer of 2017, right before the eye of hurricane Maria would make a direct hit. This storm registered as a cat 5, but only because this is the limit of the scale. The devastation was unprecedented.

Over the next three years hundreds of volunteers came and participated in the recovery. In the beginning it was a difficult and transformational experience. But against all odds they accomplished something incredible.

The hardships that followed the storm were to be considered a warmup. There were many painful lessons learned, and a great deal of work to be done before they would be ready for the next phase.

The publishing of this page and the release of a video in October of 2020 marked the beginning of that next phase. The date was chosen because a conflux of geopolitical and socioeconomic variables have coalesced. For those who want to make a difference it’s now or never.

The next phase of the Pongovi Experiment is an extreme proposition: come learn how to live off-grid, while participating in a mission to build food security and abundance in Dominica.

All participants will be required to conform with current quarantine protocols to enter the country, and must agree to a secondary quarantine onsite before interacting with locals. These realities make short term visits impractical. As such, visitors will need to be prepared to stay in the country for two months or more.

The challenges faced will be real, as are the stakes. Applicants will be encouraged to take stock of themselves and make sure they are up for it. For example if don’t like working in the dirt, freak out if you see an insect, or can’t live without having access to particular foods or entertainments you might go crazy up here. If on the other hand you are the type who would rather pick up a guitar in the evening than go to a concert you’ll feel right at home.

The guiding philosophy of this learning center differs significantly from that of conventional education. Rather than presenting orthodoxy in a classroom setting, real world projects provide an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

In addition to the hard skills such as construction, farming, and off-grid living, we will also have a limited number of slots open for individuals who want to learn or collaborate on audio, video and text. Skilled workers of various stripes will be given special consideration.

Terms and conditions apply. For more information we will be available (temporarily) via Telegram @Pongovi. We will hold this line of communication open as long as possible, but for those who are paying attention we’ve left enough clues for you to reach us in other ways.

This site (and the associated content) is maintained by a very small team (with very limited resources). If you see something that you feel that you could improve, contact us through our volunteer page.