People sometimes ask me, “Why, of all the things you could be doing, are you working on Las Catalinas?” (I suspect this is because of the vastly lower prestige associated with being a real estate developer vs. being a technology entrepreneur.) Here is my answer.
I believe that the people of the world desperately need a new vision of what “the good life” is all about. The vision of the last few decades of “more and more stuff, more and more isolated” isn’t working. Ecologically it is a disaster. It isn’t measuring up so well in terms of human health and happiness either, leaving us socially fragmented and personally disconnected.
This new vision of the good life needs to be ecologically sustainable. It needs to be healthier – enjoying our physical selves, being physically active. It needs to be more connected – connected to nature and connected to other people. It should celebrate and revel in beauty. Well, it turns out that this kind of vision of the good life is intimately dependent on the design and function of the places where we live. Las Catalinas is meant to be a place where this vision can flower, spectacularly.
I believe that there is something magic about coming out of your front door and finding yourself in an engaging place where you can socialize, take care of your daily business, and recreate, all under your own power. I believe there is something magic about having unspoiled nature right there at the edge of town, connecting you to its rhythms and energy. I believe there is something magic about being surrounded by beauty. I want more people to experience this magic.
So, that’s why I’m working on Las Catalinas. In addition I am very eager to have Las Catalinas as a place for me and my own family to enjoy. Part of my motivation is as a frustrated consumer – the right beach vacation place for us just didn’t seem to exist. Also I have a huge affinity for this kind of work, and just find it intrinsically fascinating. And finally I do believe that the creation of Las Catalinas will be a good business venture as well. But the main reason I’m doing this is that I think it is really important.
PS – Being a resort town (rather than some other kind of place) is good and helps us achieve our purpose in at least a couple of ways. First, we are freed up from some of the constraints of normal work-a-day life, and can pursue our vision with little compromise. Second, our impact is magnified because many people from around the world will visit Las Catalinas and take inspirations and lessons back to their home communities.
PPS – My thoughts on what this new vision of the good life might look like are spelled out more poetically and in more detail in this speech I made in 2009.