Longo Mai translates to “Long Life” from the Provençal language. The Longo Mai movement was founded in Switzerland in 1973 by young people of “Generation 68,” the 1968 student movement made up of youth from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and France who were looking for a better future than what postwar society offered. Today there are ten intentional communities of Longo Mai in Europe and one for refugees in Costa Rica. Longo Mai communities promote living together with agricultural self-sufficiency and self-administration.
Longo Mai in Costa Rica was founded in 1979, with the support of the United Nations, as a project to assist a region torn by civil wars. Initially, it was a refuge for those looking to escape war in Nicaragua. Later, as the national liberation movement won the war in Nicaragua, the conflict in El Salvador worsened. Within a year, most Nicaraguans returned home and more El Salvadoran refugees arrived, looking to escape violence that threatened their lives. The early families to come to Longo Mai relied on farming to survive, and ate mostly subsistence crops like cassava, beans, corn, rice, squashes, plantains and bananas.
Eventually, Longo Mai residents became self-sustaining enough to be able to plant cash crops of coffee and sugar cane. As their capacity increased, they were able to trade with other communities and become influential in the southern zone of Costa Rica. Visitors have always been a part of the community, with the first being those who had lived in European Longo Mai communities, and eventually the Costa Rican Longo Mai community began receiving visitors from all over the world.
Many who came stayed for up to a year to conduct research, volunteer, or simply to share and learn about a different, communitarian way of life. In 2004, Longo Mai was proud to win the TO DO Award for Socially Responsible Tourism, a human rights tourism award for tourism projects which significantly contribute to social and economic well-being of host communities while raising the awareness of guests. Today,