In 1950, nine Quaker families from Fairhope, Alabama left the U.S. for Costa Rica, a country that had just abolished its army. Four of the young men – the “Fairhope Four” – had served federal prison sentences for resisting the military draft during the buildup to the Korean War.
Their actions were based on the Religious Society of Friends testimonies of anti-racism, community building, equality, integrity, love, optimism, environmental stewardship, peacemaking and social justice.
They created the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve beginning with just 500 acres. Today the reserve protects more than 26,000 acres of one of the world’s most biodiverse and delicate ecosystems. Every year, some 70,000 tourists visit the Reserve, but few leave with an understanding of how it came to be.
In 1948, just as Costa Rica abolished its army, the US cranked up the machinery of war to prepare for Korea. Costa Rica had committed to a peaceable economy. "More teachers than soldiers” was a motto that appealed mightily to the Quakers.
Monteverde residents joined the worldwide Climate Strike on September 27, 2019 to demand action to address climate change. In the film, Monteverde Friends School students talk about their concerns and hopes for their community.
Mildred, Marvin, Mary and Lucky are four Monteverde founders who chronicle their motivations and the decision to emigrate. With humor and reflection, they detail the struggles and challenges along the journey.
"Sweet Home Monteverde is a great film that shares a fascinating story of young people who are so committed to their moral standards that they are willing to pick up and move to Costa Rica. It provides an inspiring view of what it was like to create a community in a new land and of how that community continues to have a lasting impact. The message of peace and harmony is a breath of fresh air in these divisive and violent times."
- Michelle Carpenter, High School Educator
"It's totally intriguing to watch these Quakers from Alabama moving to Central America. More profoundly, it'll challenge students and anyone else who watches it to live the philosophy they profess."
- Thomas Smith, St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs
"I encourage you to watch Sweet Home Monteverde, show it to children in First-day school, and learn what love has been able to do in motivating the 1950s Quakers to emigrate and present-day Quakers to accomplish in community, education, and conservation in Monteverde."
- Karie Firoozmand, Friends Journal
"The Quakers taught me in a smart and peaceful way how to stand up for what you believe in and what you think is right.” — Juan Pablo Porras Suárez, 2019