In our series "Bright Minds" we introduce you to very special people. They are people who have extraordinary ideas and make their dreams come true, driven by their wish to change, improve and shape the world. The Briton Dave Erasmus (32) is one of them.
32-year old Dave is a successful businessman and creator. The founder of givey.com - a donation platform that supports charitable projects around the world - has always been concerned with the question of the relationship between man and technology and the nature of a good life. Inspired by a trip to the Corcovado rainforest in Costa Rica, Dave started an experiment in 2016. He moved into a hut in the woods, called it Corcovado and lived an on-and off-grid life for a year. He is currently working on Corcovado II. You can follow Dave Erasmus on YouTube.
Three simple rules for life in the woods.
In September 2016, you decided to live off-grid in a shepherd's hut in rural Sussex. What lead you to make that decision?
It was a number of factors in my life that led up to this moment. When I was 21 I bought a house with a friend and promptly built a log cabin with a firepit and hottub in the back of the garden and lived there ever since. So when I went on a soul searching trip to Costa Rica, to the Corcovado Rainforest which is the most biologically diverse place in the planet, to get some inspiration, I suddenly realized that maybe living in huts is what I like and that's the way I want to live. I’d just been doing it as a small part of my life, but maybe I should make it the main part. So really it was a journey of coming into myself and learning about myself and what makes me tick. It was a natural progression on the journey I was already on.
Corcovado is more than a simple off-grid experiment. In your short film “Once around the sun”, you claim Corcovado is a “state of mind”, can you please explain this?
It is really about us understanding our place in the world. And when we are not connected to the ground, the land, the broader ecosystem, it is easy for us to believe that we are in control and that we can produce things in straight lines and not be worried about what happens when they fall off the end of that straight line. It is easy for us not to care about the environment that we are in. And frankly it doesn't lead to good choices. I wanted to learn from the only system that has proven itself over the test of time, which is ecology. When I say that Corcovado is a state of mind, I mean Corcovado represents. Wherever we see spots of Corcovado pop up around the world, hopefully they will represent a quiet natural place that allows you to reconnect to this great creative unfolding that we are all a part of, that lets you get rid of the doing and connect to the being and then hopefully inspires you to create from that place, whatever your form of creativity is. Getting into that kind of space, and creating with that state of mind, is a remedy to the overpowering world that we are in. What goes along with it is living an on- and off-grid lifestyle.
Dave Erasmus decided to live in the woods for one year.
What are the advantages of living in the natural and digital world?
The reason that I even have the time to think about how I design my lifestyle, and why I have the chance to ask this questions is because I made money through building internet businesses. But technology is all-consuming and when we are sucked into the algorhythms and agendas of different people and businesses, it doesn’t give us room to think freely and independently, and then to collaborate creatively together to come collectively to solve big problems. In the analoge we can go deeper, get more deeply inspired and connected, build up a reservoir of creativity. When we do then share it with others and extend it to the ends of the earth with everybody, only being one connection away through the internet, the impact of that inspiration can echo much further and scale much more quickly. This is a neutral thing for us, it could be good or it could be bad. But for me, the key difference is we can find space, that „Corcovado-state-of-mind“ to get back to the baselayer of reality. Hopefully the wisdom from ecology will shine through when we broadcast to each other all over the world, and hopefully that wisdom, that ecological thinking, will permeate the digital sphere that we are creating.
Building a new home - Dave inside his hut.
Corcovado grew and became a big project. Now you are working on Corcovado 2. Can you tell us what Corcovado 2 is all about?
This second year is a social project, and it is threefold. It is social because I've moved down the road and taking my huts with me to a place where I can have between six and ten people with me, we can share in this natural and simple experience together. It is social because I share on the internet, both in my YouTube-videos and because of the podcast „Around the open fire“, where I am doing a call-in show where I am listening to viewers and voices from around the world and ask them to share their stories. Thirdly it is a social experiment because we are trying to build pathways between creative naturebases, all around the world. It is about allotments, where people like Jacks Patch are experimenting with diversity and seeds, growing things like purple sweetcorn and white carrots, the diversity in seeds that we've lost through agriculture or industry. It is also about coffeeshops, as public meeting places, it is about huts in the middle of nowhere, and these big hubs like my cottage down in Sussex.
Into the wild, experiencing the wonders of nature.
What conclusions have you drawn from your time at Corcovado and how it impacted your world view?
I think essentially I went from being somebody that never had any time, to being somebody that had all the time in the world. Instead of me pushing myself onto the world and trying to cramp more and more in, I am just going to try and tiptoe around and enjoy the space and what naturally arises. I think it has just completely changed my day to day experience of life, I am willing to follow the adventure, wherever it goes. I am probably having a richer experience than ever in my life. Corcovado has slowed me down, it has made me love silence and being, and it knocked me off my egotistic pedestal a bit, of thinking that my plan is the better plan. Martin Heidegger said: „Man is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of being.“ I think through the tools that we create, the conversations that we have and the sort of collective intelligence that we create, humans are designed to be the shepherds of being. And Corcovado gives me the space to enjoy that purpose.