The Tico Times (San José, Costa Rica) – May 10, 2002 / Learning to live together


Project Description

Learning to live together A Swiss film crew was recently in Costa Rica, hoping to capture the spirit of a multicultural cooperative that´s been successful for more than 30 years. In the mid-1970s, groups of Europeans started choosing communitarian lifestyles, banding together and forming completely self-sufficient cooperatives to live apart from society. While 11 of these communities were scattered across Switzerland, Spain, Austria and France, one single advebturous group of Europeans chose Costa Rica as the site of its new home, inaugurating it as „Longo Mai” in 1978. Almost 25 years later, Longo Mai (which means „long life” in Proven*al French), is living up to its name. It is still a thriving community with a strong sugar cane and coffee trade, and recenly a Swiss production company chose it as the focus of a documentary on multicultural communities, with the help of Costa Rica´s Centro Cine. Although the founding members of Longo Mai were mainly Swiss, Ticos were immediately welcome into the community, which is 34 kilometers from San Isidro de El General. Shortly after, with the help of the United Nations, Longo Mai became a refuge for families from war-torn Nicaragua and Salvador. „These immigrant families were offered the chance to live somewehre safe, in a cooperative manner, with these European families,” said Julio Acuña, a producer with Centro Cine. „Now, however, of the 50 families that live there, 90 percent are Central American.” Acuña said the community has continues to grow, with 400 people living and working on 400 hectares of land. All residents work inside Longo Mai, involved in a cooperative farming process to help bring in the shared income. Altough residents can move out of Longo Mai whenever they wish, while they are there, they do not own private property. „They live in individual houses with their immediate families, and have access to all public spaces, such as schools, sports centers, a church, and a community center.” Acuña said. „It´s just like a basic Costa Rican pueblo with a European presence, except that nothing is privately owned.” This European precense is mainly seen in Longo Mai´s advanced agricultural techniques and environmental protection projects, which include work in the surrounding forest reserves and on the Río Convento. „There is European support to change some traditional styles of life and work, such as assistance in farming organic produce and more ecologically sound manufacturing processes,” Acuña said. Although the community is family oriented, in recent years young, single Europeans have come to spend a few years living and working in Longo Mai for community service, in place of otherwise mandatory military service. Often students, they are employed teching English to local children or running other service programms. Swiss televisions decided to make the documentary with a Costa Rican production team for help with logistic support, distribution an exhibition of th efilm. „We´re hoping to market it here too, for educational purposes and with universities,” Acuña said. „In about a month we will start getting copies here in Costa Rica.” For more information, see the Website or e-mail

Project Details

  • Date 16. June 2016
  • Tags Pressearchiv 2002

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