Everything Starts with a Dream. Ours was creating a community life integrated with the land and its people.
DR. LAURA | CHACALA, 1979
DR. LAURA | CHACALA, 1979
Our story began in 1983 in the small fishing village of Chacala, Mexico. It was born of the dream of Dr. Laura del Valle to lead a meaningful way of life providing services and support to the local rural community. She opened a free primary care clinic and became associate professor abroad at UCSF, running a volunteer program for medical students on international rotations. Over the 25 years it was open, the clinic gave care to 11,000 families.
In 1989, Dr. Laura established the registered non-profit Convivencia Campesina, Mar de Jade A.C., which, in addition to the clinic, ran many community projects such as; a human rights chapter, a sewing co-op, a citizen education program, and helped bring Habitat for Humanity to the region.
Today we operate 5 Community Projects working in different fields such as Education, Wellness and Sustainable Farming & Micro-industry. All of these projects are sponsored by Mar de Jade, a Wellness Resort & Retreat Center in Mexico.
Mar de Jade (Sea of Jade) is a family operated Wellness Resort & Retreat Center, dedicated to creating a supportive and peaceful environment to awaken, nurture and share the best within us. This for-purpose business was founded based on a model of social sustainability; over 40% of profits are given to MDJ Community Projects.
The Mar de Jade community reaches across cultures & generations; from the founder, her daughter and grandchildren, the dedicated staff of many years, guests who have become life-long friends & retreat leaders who return yearly.
We live by the values of sustainability, spiritual awareness & service.
The surrounding communities that we are part of and serve include Chacala - a small fishing village where Mar de Jade is located; Las Varas - a large farming town where the free clinic operated; and La Cuata - a farming village where the Organic Farm & the Trade School are located.
We are situated in Nayarit, a primarily rural and underdeveloped state in Mexico, with a high index of poverty and unemployment. Yet we have seen a profound willingness in the community members to work hard to improve their lives. There is a tremendous healing energy in this land, a natural beauty that is reflected in the spirit of it's people.
Our Community Projects are shaped by the guidance, wisdom and talent of many people. Our Advisory Board are people who lend their support in many ways; through strategic planning, fundraising efforts, offering retreats & leadership training to local project staff.
DR. LAURA DEL VALLE | FOUNDER
Laura, originally from Mexico City, arrived in Chacala in 1979 with a passion for social service and a dream to create a sustainable wellness center. Informed and inspired by her Zen Buddhist practice and her medical profession, Laura knew she wanted Mar de Jade to be a serene refuge for visitors as well to address the multiple needs of the surrounding impoverished community.
She operated a free clinic for over 25 years and as an Associate Professor of UCSF School of Medicine, received volunteer medical students on international rotations.
NORMAN FISCHER | ZEN MASTER
Poet and writer Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a well-known Zen Buddhist priest and teacher from California who has been leading retreats at Mar de Jade for 23 years. He is the former abbot of the oldest Zen organization in the West, the San Francisco Zen Center, and the founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation.
GUO YAN FA SHI | CHAN MASTER
Guo Yuan Fa Shi, born in Vietnam, was a senior disciple of renowned Ch’an Master, Venerable Sheng-yen of Taiwan. He is currently the director Dharma Drum Mountain an International Ch'an Retreat Center in Taiwan, and travels yearly to Mexico to lead retreats at Mar de Jade for the local Sangha. Learn More
JOSÉ PALMA | ZEN TEACHER
Originally from Veracruz, Mexico, Shinzan Palma is a zen priest and Dharma Successor of Roshi Joan Halifax. He teaches at Upaya Institute, Mar de Jade, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education for teens and Einin-ji Temple in Rio de Janerio, Brasil. Learn More
JUDITH GASS | SOCIAL LEADER
As a Social Artist, Judith has been a leading-edge teacher, guide and innovator in the world of applied human consciousness for over 35 years. Drawing on her training and experience in psychology, spirituality, and organizational - personal effectiveness, her commitment is to help individuals and organizations develop the skills and consciousness to create values-aligned effective action in service of a just and sustainable world. Learn More
ALAN FINGER | YOGA MASTER
South African Tantric & Kriya Yoga Master. He began studying yoga at the age of 16 with his father Mani Finger, with whom he created ISHTA Yoga®. This style integrates breath-based flow yoga with alignment, meditation and healing bodywork. Before creating a home for ISHTA, Alan co-founded Yoga Zone, Be Yoga, and Yoga Works®. Alan has authored several books & travels the world to share his teachings. Learn More
SARAH PLATT | YOGA TEACHER
Sarah Platt-Finger is co-founder of ISHTA Yoga in New York City and a celebrity renowned yoga teacher who leads trainings and workshops internationally. She on the Board of Directors for Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization that teaches yoga to survivors of domestic violence. Her daughter, Satya, inspires her every day to live a life based on love and unbound potential. Learn More
GERALD SELITZER | EDUCATION DIRECTOR
Gerald Selitzer is the co-founder andGeneral Director of the American School of Puerto Vallarta since 1986. He holds a Masters degree in Educational Administration and extensive leadership experience in the field of education. He has served as President of the Association of American Schools in Mexico (ASOMEX). Learn More
TIM SHENNEN | CARPENTER DESIGNER
Tim Schennen underwent extensive training in Germany before opening a large Carpentry Workshop near Puerto Vallarta. Tim brings an easygoing nature as well as a passion for precision and excellent craftsmanship to our workshop. His work is an extension of his mindfulness practice and as such, he creates a positive learning environment.
LUKE JENSEN | SOCIAL ENTREPENEUR
Luke is the founder of Chicago's VibeUp community and a Lululemon Ambassador. VibeUp's mission is to bring people to-gather to increase consciousness through mindful, healthy, active, green, philanthropic choices. VibeUp hosts large festivals, small boutique events, and an online shop - each featuring mindful individuals & businesses. Learn More
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