About GWI


GWI envisions a world in which all people – present and future – have the opportunity to thrive. Thriving means having holistic wellbeing: the ability to satisfy basic needs for physical and mental health; to pursue engaging and meaningful work, relationships, and leisure activities; and to do so in communities and environments that nurture and sustain us. All told, when we thrive, we have the ability to create a life of value – a Good Life, however we define it.

GWI’s mission is to empower change agents to create wellbeing so we can all live well on this small planet.

GWI is a 501c(3) public benefit corporation registered in California. 


Good Life for All – Wellbeing Research

We all want a Good Life, but how to achieve it remains elusive for many. GWI synthesizes interdisciplinary wellbeing research and conducts ethnographic studies of intentional communities to tease out what’s essential for human thriving and illuminate solutions for living well on this small planet. This research serves as the foundation for all of GWI’s initiatives.***Ethnographic research on hold due to Covid-19 considerations.

INTENT 365 – Global Citizen Action Campaign

INTENT 365 aims to expand change agents’ understanding of wellbeing and offer inspiration for action. INTENT is a framework that represents wellbeing as interdependent and multi-dimensional, covering a person’s mental/physical, social, material, and existential (life satisfaction) wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of our communities and environment. Targeting a new wellbeing value each month, INTENT 365 expands on lessons learned at an intentional Buddhist community in Thailand, with a year’s worth of daily tips on how to adapt and practice those lessons in our everyday lives.

Regener8 – Public Education

Regenerative agriculture and land management is quickly becoming a key response to climate change – one that not only mitigates effects, but also produces wellbeing for people and the planet. GWI’s Regener8 initiative advocates 8 simple practices for food growers and landscapers alike: plant more, diversify, build soil, compost, reduce petrochemicals, go native, attract beneficial bugs, and water right. By committing to Regener8, we accelerate progress toward 8 sustainable development targets: ecological resiliency, climate change mitigation, food security, human health, sustainable livelihoods, clean air and water, community wellbeing, and economic transition. GWI parters with the University of California Master Gardeners Program to generate life in Orange County, CA and beyond.

LOCAL Food – Public Policy

“Local food” typically refers to food grown within 200 miles, but GWI’s LOCAL Food initiative is much more. By linking to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, LOCAL food provides a framework for more just and sustainable food systems. LOCAL stands for Life-giving (Goal 2: Zero Hunger), Open (Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities), Circular (Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production), Adaptive (Goal 13: Climate Action), and Lush (Goal 15: Life on Land). This year, look for a position paper at COP26 and a LOCAL Food Guide.


Juliana Essen: Founder + Executive Director

Dr. Juliana Essen is a public anthropologist whose work advances the most promising solutions to global wellbeing.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, Juliana worked with farmers to promote sustainable agriculture and with women to create community-based micro enterprises. As an academic, Juliana conducted ethnographic research in an intentional Buddhist community in Thailand, mentored global citizens at Soka University in Southern California, and published on ethical development and economics. In 2018, Juliana launched Global Wellbeing Institute to turn ideas into impact.  


GWI does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, or other protected class.