The journey home


My name is Joel de Ross and I grew up in the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo (East Malaysia) where my mother's people the Lun Bawang are indigenous. In 2010 I returned after having been away for 20 years. Upon seeing my family, I learned that government policy is to claim the indigenous land if it is not being utilized either to live on or for farming. As work and education opportunities are in town the only option is to farm. Cash crops such as Palm Oil are the most popular. My family are custodians to 2000 acres of ancient jungle, as are many others to similar portions of land. My uncle told me that it was time to start thinking about how the land was to be divided up and used. A Palm Oil crop was recommended.

I wasn't comfortable with this, so I committed to finding an alternative. In Australia, my parents have always struggled to make ends meet for as long as I can remember. Whenever things were really tough, my mom would longingly recall the days when my people lived in abundance, and say how wonderful it was in the old days. When they had no money and everything was provided by the land. It was paradise. For the longest time, I have carried a sense of injustice at the fact that our people were forced to give that up for a model founded upon debt and value in scarcity. Where they once lived among the treetops in longhouses high on stilts, many now live in poorly constructed concrete boxes, the air thick with the smell of open sewers and so much rubbish strewn across streets you would think the towns had been built on top of landfill.   


Not too long after arriving back in Melbourne, I learned of a place called Green School in Bali. Instantly I was filled with a sense of purpose and knew exactly what I was going to do. I had found life’s calling.

Jungle cleared for palm oil plantation.


Nothing illustrates the philosophy, beliefs, and values I have held my entire life, better than this video. I hope this helps to explain why a project like this is not just important for indigenous communities, but modern society as well. 

The Mission

To merge the best qualities of modern and tribal society together to form a new borderless, cultural identity. One that can nondestructively re-inhabit traditional lands once again as part of the ecosystem, while continuing to participate in the global economy through technology. Project Concrete Exodus is a large scale urban development, that will use traditional building materials with modern architectural design, the latest sustainable energy technology and farming principles such as aquaponics, vertical farms and permaculture.

What will it look like?

Design by Ibuku

The Objectives

To establish a flourishing startup ecosystem through coworking, green technology and digital media such as music, gaming, fashion, animation and film. As long as the latest computing technology, 3D printers and high speed internet are available, there is no reason a Pixar, Apple or AAA game studio could not emerge from a jungle setting and compete with billion dollar companies based in Silicon Valley.


This project must be be repeatable by other communities around the world and adaptable to their environments. Information, insights and resources must be easily shared between communities attempting their own development. This can only be achieved with a platform such as Metavents.


Metavents is a platform designed to simplify and automate many of the processes associated with large-scale events, such as a 300,000 person music festival. Holding an event of this size is the equivalent of building an entire city in the space of a few weeks. It requires all of the same facilities, utilities and services to be transported, set up and packed down. Metavents uses a 3D design environment to create fully immersive and interactive pre-visualisations and simulations of these events. Once built, users can step inside their creation remotely and collaboratively using Virtual Reality. While Metavents has been tailored to the needs of large events, it seemlessly crosses over into construction. A custom version of the platform will be created to accommodate the needs of this sector and therefore is the perfect tool to support this project. As it will be cloud based, anyone from around the world will be able to create an account and use its features to plan their own ecovillage developments. Either for fun as part of a school assignment, or by large contractors.

Potential Stakeholders & Partners

Metavents has recently formalised an education partnership with ​SAE/Qantm College, the world's largest creative media institute, with 58 campuses across 24 countries. SAE could provide the creative media courses. 

I am currently doing a Masters in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology. Swinburne has a campus in Sarawak and could provide the entrepreneurship & innovation courses.  ​

Next Steps

  • To form a think tank of relevant stakeholders and consultants around the custom features Metavents will need to assist with such a project and others like it.

  • Produce a project plan and financials.

  • Secure necessary funds and human resources.

  • Begin modelling 3D assets and environments.

  • Create an initial proof of concept to present to my uncle in June 2019.

  • Secure suitable land for the project.