My name is Chris Conradie. I would like to share my story and my vision for a vast tract of land in the arid semi-desert in the Karoo hinterland, which I have named ‘Place of Dreams’ – POD.

I grew up in what was then the Orange Free State in the 70s and 80s. I was raised among a wily, strong clan descended from independent cattle drovers and traders, with deep ties to the wide open spaces of the Kalahari on the far reaches of the Orange River. I inherited the pioneering spirit and restlessness of my forefathers, but my roots and passion lie firmly planted in this complicated and beautiful land.

I started an entrepreneurial career at the tender age of 9. I was constantly looking at opportunities to build a business, driven by a single-minded desire to succeed and to create independence for myself.

Over some years, I built an international agricultural company incorporating a variety of business interests and a myriad partnerships spanning the globe. Through a life crisis which included great personal loss and the breakdown of my business and marriage, I began to understand that true independence, or freedom, does not come from outside but from within. I came to realise that what mattered in life was the unfolding of one’s own consciousness and ‘self-actualisation’, one’s sense of place, and one’s acceptance that life is a solitary journey – a journey that begins with an honest and often brutal examination of oneself. Suffering and loss will often strip us of our naivete and illusions, and help us to see things as they truly are.

And so, five years ago, a new chapter in my life began, leading to the purchase of this beautiful tract of land, and the strong desire to create a community there for fellow seekers and travellers. Over the last five years, I have travelled, learned a lot, and observed the best and worst of humanity. I participated in festivals, experienced healing ceremonies and got to know and appreciate some incredible people, catching a glimpse of how beautiful life and people can be .

I participated in a particular festival in the Karoo that seemed to embody the principals of radical self-reliance and active participation in community. It really resonated with me. The gathering created a forum for the envisaging of an alternative to our consumer-driven society; it fostered the kind of environment in which people felt free to be their own authentic selves, quite unhindered by the expectations and norms of society.

But over the years, the festival seemed to change, and I became disillusioned as I witnessed a deterioration in the spirit and ethos that had so captured my imagination. My experience was that a subtle yet profound shift had occurred, creating a tipping point where the balance between the ‘builder-participant-creator’ and the ‘spectator-consumer’ had shifted to its own detriment. This change in something I so highly valued prompted a search for the spirit and ideals that I had witnessed some years earlier. I wanted to recapture the essence of that gathering; the independence, the sense of true community, the freedom and the generosity. Guided by what I can only call an unseen hand, I found this vast, beautiful piece of land in the Tankwa Karoo, about 50 minutes from Ceres on the R356, on the Sutherland Road.

In acquiring the land I had a strong vision of like-minded people gathering here to become what humanity can become – a better version of itself. Over the last twelve months I have had the great pleasure of being visited by interesting, inspiring fellow travellers and seekers, all of whom have added to and improved on my original plan and ideas. My sincerest thanks to those who have joined me on this journey so far; I hope you will keep your sage counsel coming.

Now, after a year of thought and planning, we have the embryo of a plan; a genesis for the
development and future of ‘Place of Dreams’, or POD. And we have moved some way to ushering in this vision. POD has become a hive of activity, with the implementation of the infrastructure necessary to bring a heartbeat to the place, to bring the farm to fruition and life. Together, a team of workers and friends have broken the soil, forged new spaces and created access to water and solar energy. It has been a joy to see this awakening, and extraordinary to witness the opening up of a network of roads, the reclaiming of old, forgotten pathways to all comers of this vast, beautiful, blank canvas. This is but the first step. It is the necessary start of a process that I hope will be added to by all those who seek a better way, who wish to join us and carry this vision forward.

What will Place of Dreams be? Listening to all the input so far, the following projects carry the widest and most passionate support by those who have already invested time and energy in the project.

· The canyon ampitheatre
· The Hope Pyramid
· The Spirit of Life Fort
· Maloka of spiritual journeys
· The Community village
· The Art walk


The above represents a draft manifesto for Place of Dreams, outlining something of the vision which is already taking shape. It is my sincerest hope that these ideas and projects will find traction and the necessary support to make Place of Dreams a beacon of hope in a world that seems to grow darker every day. May it be a space of hope, tolerance, understanding, respect and peace.

Most importantly, it is my hope that POD will embody love for our fellow humans and an understanding that the pressures of today’s society are untenable, unnecessary and almost impossible for many to bear.

Although the suffering and pain of life may seem overwhelming, there are already many beautiful souls giving of themselves in service to those less privileged among us. It is my hope that Place of Dreams might provide a forum for these who give so selflessly. In addition, it is my hope that it will provide the opportunity and space for others to be part of a project and a sustainable environment that embodies the principles of compassion, appreciation and respect for our planet and one another.

Ultimately, may it engender true love and understanding among those who deeply seek something better, and may not yet have found their way.

Peace and love