Storytelling to Remember…to CONNECT

“Good stories surprise us. They have compelling characters. They make us think, make us feel. They stick in our minds to help us remember ideas and concepts and expose us to places and people we may not have otherwise known of. Good stories are the stories that bind human beings together, they give meaning and purpose to those things that would otherwise be meaningless. ” – From Mythic Journeys Documentary

HUMAN KNOWLEDGE IS BASED ON STORIES AND THE HUMAN BRAIN CONSISTS OF COGNITIVE MACHINERY NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND, REMEMBER, AND TELL STORIES. HUMANS ARE STORYTELLING ORGANISMS THAT BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND SOCIALLY, LEAD STORIED LIVES. STORIES TEND TO BE BASED ON EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING, BUT LEARNING FROM AN EXPERIENCE IS NOT AUTOMATIC. OFTEN A PERSON NEEDS TO ATTEMPT TO TELL THE STORY OF THAT EXPERIENCE BEFORE REALIZING ITS VALUE. IN THIS CASE, IT IS NOT ONLY THE LISTENER WHO LEARNS, BUT THE TELLER WHO ALSO BECOMES AWARE OF HIS OR HER OWN UNIQUE EXPERIENCES AND BACKGROUND. THIS PROCESS OF STORYTELLING IS EMPOWERING AS THE TELLER EFFECTIVELY CONVEYS IDEAS AND, WITH PRACTICE, IS ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THE POTENTIAL OF HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT. STORYTELLING TAPS INTO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE AND CREATES BRIDGES BOTH CULTURALLY AND MOTIVATIONALLY TOWARD A SOLUTION. – F. Michael Connelly & D. Jane Clandinin, Stories of Experience & Narrative Inquiry

Commonlink Productions

  I believe stories are a reservoir of human wisdom. A code, encoded in a way that works in tandem with the mind.  It is through story that we are able to see ourselves as a link in an incredible chain.  We are able to see our reflection within the whole, to recognize our purpose and our place.

When I say “a storyteller of today’s world “~ who do you think of first? …

Next, consider the mediums through which you hear the daily story of the individual, society, and the world at large…

Media Wheel

What are the influences that affect your journey?

How do you write your daily story?

We are both tellers and receivers of Story. Story shapes us and the world around us. Simply by being alive, we are contributing the greater story at large. Every day we walk through the story of our lives, receiving both directly and indirectly stories from people, places, and things that may or may not be our own.  Consequently, how you speak, how you share, your creations, your insights, your shortcomings, EVERYTHING about you can transform the world. The time has come to accept responsibility for the stories we live and the stories we tell. By taking ownership of our experiences and how we choose to process and share them with others, one steps into a level of personal empowerment. Personal empowerment serves as the foundation for true conscious creation – what do we WANT to see, feel & experience in the world around us?

Anything is possible.

Yet we all know, transforming negative inputs into thriving outputs can be a tricky one to master and is most certainly not without its challenge.

The more we step into our story, the more we can impact the change we wish to see.  By speaking, writing, and sharing both ourselves and our time, we begin to etch our existence into the broader story of life. We begin to learn how to tune ourselves, and ultimately express ourselves as better instruments of change and positive impact upon this world.

Human experience is the basis of any story.  The way in which we live our lives comes to shape the stories we choose to tell. We are the embodiment of our stories. Why are “we” here is perhaps the most compelling story of all – but more importantly, why are YOU here?

 And what is our potential?

How can we pursue the quest of becoming better experiencers of story so we can become better storytellers?

What things need to change in our larger world so we can usher in a better story of life…for all human beings?

On both a personal and collective level, people must absorb things that, at times, produce suffering in their lives.  From the loss of a family member to learning about war and injustice not our own, it is natural to undergo some degree of suffering simply by learning of another person’s struggle.  We are naturally and intrinsically linked as humans. 
Therefore, one of the true arts of storytelling arises from our ability to turn those shared stories of suffering and loss into outputs of thriving and living.  As receiver’s we may not understand the origins of our woes, but as conscious transformers we are able to influence outcomes by tuning our Power of Choice and consequently guiding experience, perception, and action. Our perceptions of our experiences are vital elements in our personal story and they trickle into the stories we share with the greater society.

We are being called at this time to arise as storytellers – to share our expressions and experiences with others to make new meaning in this world. Soon the layers of storied meanings begin to emerge and we see our potential – a calling to contribute to a vision of a peaceful & thriving world. To live our authentic expression transform into that which we truly dream it to be.

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MapMaking

MapMaking is built on an Understanding…
Everyone is the creator of his or her own world.  Thus it is our perception of our world that creates our expressions in that world: Our Maps.  MapMakers consciously own their expressions understanding they are simply a product of their perception.  This awareness or consciousness allows them to craft thoughtful, advancing contributions for the collective and be: MapMakers.

World View

Your experience of reality is an extension of how you choose to percieve reality.

Worldview shapes daily life.

 

One way to expand consciousness is to explore the world you inhabit.
Take the tool of curiosity and apply it to everything! Question the conventional.
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Travel is a way to expand your consciousness.
Reading is a way to expand your consciousness.
Exchanging ideas builds consciousness.
Creating Connections is Consciousness.

As we EVOLVE into more conscious beings we create our perception of who we are and how we fit into the whole scheme of “life”and “existence.”

 In order to become a MapMaker one must first begin the journey.

The MapMaker is a dichotomy in many aspects.

Always skeptical of declaring anything “absolute” this Unconventional Traveler holds many contradicting views simultaneously – consequently, their beliefs about reality are in constant development.

Both serious and casual, the MapMaker is a truth seeker and is many times uncertain where his or her searching may lead to. This search is often long and challenging – they feel themselves to be suddenly “separate” from the matrix of everyday life and become immersed in a sovereign reality, where they must travel between various states of their own identity. Through time, the mind is trained to travel through these various states of “self” – the state of the percieved external world reflects this unfolding process.
Alignment with authenticity brings the MapMaker towards an inner understanding about what it is they are currently seeking.  This Explorer longs to understand his/her place in the universe. The abandonment of fear-based beliefs creates new neural pathways in the brain that allowing this MapMaker to uncover other dimensions of their latent potential energy.  Energy synchronizes with reality, bringing new dimension to the picture of “Purpose”.
Successful MapMakers must be proficient at making friends and allies in difficult situations. They understand that relationships are paramount to survival, that human beings are interdependent and work best in large numbers of co-operation. Modern day MapMakers constantly sharpen their social skills, psychological and spiritual skills, along with their own inner workings of self knowledge.

A mature MapMaker has shifted focus from individual exploration to the active embodiment of those mysteries in a life of service to community.

They have traveled beyond convention and have returned with new ideas. 

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MapMakers are expert navigators of the multiple dimensions of travel.
Creation is paramount to them.  Through their explorations, MapMaker’s have learned valuable lessons that they now integrate into the collective.

Linking

The MapMaker is doing the work of cultivating the sensibilities, and values that support their intentional contributions.
MapMakers know that everything is connected and that when aligned with their highest purpose, they too are connected.  The artful MapMaker is capable of percieving a reality of purpose, manifestation and experience.

 

“…But yield who will to their seperation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal sakes,
is the deed ever really done
For heaven and future sakes.”

Forest of Plenty

Oregon is home to some of the last remaining old-growth and ancient forest ecosystems in the United States.  Yet the State still plans to continue logging these unique and endangered places.  In 2015 the state is considering logging multiple ancient forest ecosystems to fulfill the world’s insatiable hunger for timber.

saveourforests

These temperate rain forests play a vital role in our global ecosystem.  Healthy temperate rain forests along the coast of northern California all the way up to Alaska contribute to the patterns of weather and rain we see all across the world.  They produce fresh drinking water – naturally – and utilize intricate systems and relationships (knowing each for over 1,000 years – no big deal) to create evolutionary species of plants and animals.

Before the advent of industrial logging, the United States was comprised of more than 70% old growth.  Today, less than 10% of  old-growth forest remains.   These ecosystems supply multiple services to both nature herself (each layer builds upon the other creating more & more complex systems) and humans alike.  To see forests as nothing more than trees that can be replaced by replanting efforts is an outdated concept, a generalized theory, literally living itself out across millions of acres of deforested old-growth temperate rain forest in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Great & devastating things are happening to our globe’s temperate rain forests.  The Amazon is not the only place where forests that deeply impact the entire planet are being removed at alarming rates.  In fact, Canada was just recently named the largest contributor to deforestation worldwide.  Today, temperate rain forests are actually more endangered than tropical rain forests.  Tree plantations cannot take the place of these ancient and complex ecosystems.  Only time can create that.  If we continue to destroy the last of these diverse and amazing ecosystems we will compromise everyone’s ability to discover the wisdom held by these storehouses of ancient knowledge.

Upon it’s statehood, Oregon managed over 2.5 million acres of forested landscape. Today, the state manages less than 900,000 acres.  And they are not ready to stop there.  The outdated O&C Act actually creates a mandate that the state continue to log it’s remaining timber stores. Terms like “failed” are used in reports like these to describe a region in Oregon that does not meet its timber extraction goals?!

Oregon Forest Propaganda 101 – the following video is an attempt to explain how we got to where we are today with logging and justify techniques like “clear cutting” in an attempt to imitate nature and balance out people’s needs with the needs of the forest.

I contend that even if what they say IS accurate and complete science, then haven’t we reached and even exceeded an appropriate point of balance with logging?  If the techniques used by modern logging companies are so precise, so calculated, correct, and regenerative – then why don’t they have enough timber now that they “manage” over 70% of what once was allocated as State Land in Oregon?

And how about the multiple uses of the forest?  Beyond logging trees – these forests are home to unique plants and animals, medicines, systems, relationships, FOOD, clean water, clean air…and spirit.

We haven’t even begun to see, experience, or understand the many gifts that these forests hold.  I never imagined skiing was possible in the forest without snow?  But hey, why not?!

Massive Potential for Carbon Sequestration at Risk: Elliott State Forest

beenclearcut

Roseburg OR to Coos Bay OR along the Coquille River, my oh my, what an eye opening drive!

NORTH BEND, OR, October 8 2014, public listening session with the State Land Board regarding proposed privatization of the Elliott State Forest.

A proposed plan to sell the 92,000 acre Elliott State Rainforest to the highest bidders is on the table.  Citing a 3 million dollar loss in the Common School Fund during 2013, the Board has one thing on its mind, “fiduciary responsibility”.  With more losses projected in the future, Oregon’s State Land Board is prepared to do what it does best, log.

In June 2014, over 1,400 acres within the Elliott were sold off to Scott Timber Company and Seneca Jones Timber bringing in 4.3 million dollars to the State’s Common School Fund, reversing the deficit of 2013. The board is now proposing selling off the remaining lands of Elliott State Forest (totaling around 93,000 acres) so they can continue to uphold their obligations to the School Fund.

The Common School Fund was established by an act of Congress admitting Oregon ​to the Union in 1859 and thereby granting sections 16 and 36 in every township “for the use of schools.” The provision of land for educational purposes was a practical solution for the developing nation that was “land rich, but cash poor.” In Oregon, Congress granted roughly six percent of the new state´s land-nearly 3.4 million acres-for the support of schools. Due to various circumstances, only about 700,000 acres remain in state ownership today. (Source: Department of State Lands)

The Elliott State Forest is no ordinary forest.  It is one Oregon’s last Coastal Rainforests including Douglas Fir trees over 140 years in age.  It contains more than 41,000 acres of old-growth forest and some of the most productive and pristine streams for Coho and Chinook in the Coast Range.  The forest is also home to federally listed endangered species like the Marbled Murrelet and the Spotted Owl.  It is rich in biodiversity and teaming with life.  A real contrast to the surrounding hundreds-of-thousands of acres of harvest plantations and clear-cuts owned by private timber companies.

elliottbeauty

In addition, the Elliott State Forest Ecosystem holds incredible potential for carbon sequestration.  A study preformed by Ecotrust in 2011 found that by reducing timber harvests from the Elliott by just a quarter would store enough carbon to equal the removal of 10,000 cars from U.S. highways.  With global responsibility regarding the preservation and rehabilitation of our atmosphere and our lands becoming a leading concern, rare places like the Elliott are increasing in value.

For three hours the auditorium was filled with testimony.  Over 60 people spoke to the proposed privatization of the forest with the majority of the testimony strongly opposing the privatization plans.   In fact, most of the testimony opposed logging of the Elliott entirely.  “We need to stop funding our schools with revenues from logging,” stated one woman during her testimony. “I am glad the Common School Fund is failing, because it gives us an opportunity to say ‘this isn’t working’, and we then have chance to rebuild it.”

 

clearcutoregon

Opinion:

There is little doubt that there needs to be a plan in place for addressing the Common School Fund. The point of contention is whether or not logging should continue be the main benefactor and beneficiary of this 100 year-old act.  Now that Oregon has sold off millions of acres and only manages a remaining 700,000 it is no surprise they are having trouble funding their responsibilities.  A blaring point of inconsistency is how selling off more state managed land would sustainably equip the department to meet the demands of the Common School Fund into the future.

Reading through the department’s claims of “facts” one would wonder why this sounds like a bad idea at all. However, taking a Sunday drive through the millions of acres in the state already owned and operated by huge timber companies, lends a little more “real-life-experience” and understanding to the case.

The Department of Forestry claims, “Oregon has always been a mixture young and old trees”. You will see this statement sprinkled throughout all of their materials. True statement, but lacking a little perspective. Before logging began in Oregon, the state was nearly 70% old-growth. Now, less than 10% of the forest is old growth and this number is decreasing with each sale.

Through half-truth’s and cryptic science Oregon has managed to keep logging on the forefront of their agendas and sold many people on the idea that what they are doing is “management” of the forest, is sustainable, is healthy, and is good for the future.

In my opinion logging is way out of balance.  Forests are more than just trees and as it stands that is all the forests in Oregon are being “managed” for – trees. Planting new trees does not replace ecosystems.  More board feet does not equate to more carbon sequestration.  A forest’s capacity to serve multiple interests is dependent upon its ability to remain in-tact over a period of time.  That means some things need to just be left alone.  Afterall, that is what I believe we can do to best serve the most important part of our schools – the children of the future.

What can you do?

 

 

 

 

Youth Social Action: Creating Change through Conscious Use of Technology

Distopia

Perhaps one of the biggest difficulties we collectively face as a global society is the pain and heartache caused by the disenfranchisement of today’s youth.  Disenfranchisement is more than just the “feeling” that one’s voice is unheard. Disenfranchisement is the anger that comes when one truly, deeply, knows that their voice is unheard.

All too often in our society (and others across the globe) – teachers, parents, friends, and leaders, have not worked with the intention to inspire and encourage youth to achieve their dreams and create a place for themselves in the world.  Rather our laws and social hierarchies prevent certain groups from voting, and through intimidation, segregation, or lack of information, keep these groups of people from being heard.  The result? A frustrating feeling of being unimportant.  The power to peaceably and effectively change policy and governance does not exist.

Education, at its best, should be a process of exploration and discovery, nurturing  individual curiosity.   It should empower and enliven the independent and collective spirit, creating opportunities for each student to find his/her special place in the world.  (click here to watch a MapMaker Video Clip on Education.) On the contrary, many of today’s youth are subjected to a system of standards they themselves have no say in.  They are shuffled from one regimented class to the next, learning a select group of facts, figures and stories that may or may not have any relevance to their current life or the life they are interested in creating.  When education becomes regimented and systematized, burdensome standards drive creative kids elsewhere.

In the midst of this seemingly overwhelming scene, a new story has the possibility to emerge.

utopia

Youth engagement with media is essential to the future health of the U.S. and of the world.  New technologies and a growing global consciousness has created an innovative opportunity for young people to connect locally, nationally and internationally for social action and the chance to voice their concerns and desires.   Through the innovative use of technology, young people may speak out and affect change in relation to the issues touching their lives.

The challenge is to find ways of engaging and empowering young people in community participation and social change.  To begin, we must understand the importance of the lived experience of activism: the recognition that youth activist work is grounded within the lives and realities of young people themselves.  In this way, we recognize that their are multiple parts to all activist work – the first and most primary being “the impulse” to create socio-political, economic or environmental change through a sense of belonging and responsibility.

New Connections

The time has come to re-engage young people in building a more socially, environmentally, and economically viable society.  Digital technology offers all of us the opportunity to engage young people in meaningful and relevant ways to support their participation in building a more resilient society.  Together, we need to develop young people’s talents and opportunities and equip them with the confidence, skills and motivation to address the many challenges they and future generations face.

Mushrooms to the Rescue! Stamet’s Nuclear Remediation Technique

Gomphidius glutinosus hyper-accumulates radioactive Cesium 137

Gomphidius glutinosus hyper-accumulates radioactive Cesium 137

“The enormity and unprecedented nature of this combined natural and human-made disaster will require a massive and completely novel approach to management and remediation.  And with this comes a never before seen opportunity for collaboration, research and wisdom.”

– Paul Stamets

Mycoremediation is a form of bioremediation that uses fungi to degrade or sequester contaminants in the environment. By stimulating microbial and enzyme activity, mycelium reduces toxins. Some fungi are hyperaccumulators, capable of absorbing and concentrating heavy metals in the mushroom fruit bodies.  These accumulators can then be safely disposed of.

Paul Stamets (the man that seems to have discovered a mushroom-derived solution for every situation) has released step-by-step instructions on how mushrooms that absorb and concentrate radioactive isotopes can be applied to remediate the Japanese landscape and greatly reduce the nuclear impact on the land.

You can read his proposed 8 step plan here:

http://sierrapermaculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/stamets-fallout-mycoremediation.pdf

Stamet’s work in mycoremediation has revealed numerous applications for our fungi friends when in comes to cleaning up and regenerating landscapes.  Some of his most noteworthy work has been done with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (from oil) and oyster mushrooms.

In the following radio interview you can hear Stamets talk about the vast applications for fungi, from healing our bodies to healing our environment.  1hr into the interview, Stamet’s speaks directly to the nuclear disaster in Japan and his suggestions for the clean-up effort.

New Earth Contributions – Finca de la Semilla, Sierra Nevada Colombia

It’s a serious journey to reach Finca de la Semilla, located above the pueblo of Minca in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia’s North Coast.  Yet, when you are a curious Permaculturist with strong case of Jungle Fever, you are looking for these trails that appear to lead you right off the map.

Lured by dreams of abundant fruit, and a comfortable climate where everything is eager to grow, my husband Mike and I inquisitively embarked on this trail leading deep into mountainous jungle.  At the end of our physical trail we would find an Eco-hostel integrating sustainable design principles, nature based architecture, and permaculture ideology.  Serving as another eco-minded node on an evolving map of people and places re-establishing a strong connection with the earth and it’s systems – this Finca is co-creating a new culture.

The doorstep of Finca de la Semilla

From Santa Marta, a slow two hour cab ride high into the mountains brings you to Minca. Continue onward for a steep 1.5 hour hike and you will be greeted by the charming farm and eco-hostel, Finca de la Semilla. Two stunning rivers ride the steep landscape on either side of the Finca, joining together at the base to create a beautiful cascading waterfall falling 30 meters deep into the canyon below.  Towering old growth forest surrounds, and Jungle crawls abundantly outward in all directions.  Stunningly bright flowers, birds, insects, and plants create a forest floor that is truly one of a kind. Uninterrupted by planes, automobiles, or electricity, the sounds of the Jungle sing a refreshing tune each day and night. The Finca twinkles with the night stars, radiating peace and quiet.

El Rio from AboveThis incredibly powerful land holds the mission of being a “Nature Reserve” and place for travelers and      nature lovers from across the globe to come and connect with the magical landscape and fascinating ecosystem.  It’s a place of sharing, one of many, creating an international culture of gathering and exchanging insight, knowledge and inspiration.

For 9 days, Mike and I humbly shared our permaculture skills to the young, developing project known in English as, “Farm of the Seed.”  We were tasked with creating compost, and what Colombian’s call “Abono” (an organic fertilizer for the plants).  To add a little variety during our stay we contributed to a natural building project, picked coffee and planted Mango Trees.

 

Inspired

 

Coffee

Finca de la Semilla is utilizing the tenants of Permaculture in its plans – taking into account people, place, and the future.  Without a doubt, this is a very healthy place to BE.  Here you are nurtured by the quality water in the mountain streams, the rich fresh food, and shared vision of co-creating places to reconnect and grow with the earth in community.

However, this Finca is not without it’s challenges.  Building high in these mountains where no motor transport is able to carry up supplies requires suave planning and plenty of patience.  Effectively managing waste, and growing needed food on the land are important priorities for the Finca.  The long-term sustainability of this project relies upon its ability to incorporate design systems that accommodate these basic human needs.

Numerous fruit trees, coffee plants and corn share their delicious gifts with the co-inhabitants of the land; however, growing other vegetables has proven to be more difficult.  Clay soil nurtures the Jungle greens and packs a high nutrient base – but keeps many vegetable’s root systems from extending far into the soil to create a sound foundation for growth.  Thus, in order to grow “preferred” vegetables, it is not a matter of climate but one of soil type.

To help create soil capable of nurturing the growth of healthy, vibrant vegetables – Mike and I committed to establishing an experimental compost project during our stay.  Creating earth obviously takes time, so this would be a matter of designing a system that is easily modifiable and incorporates the contributions of future volunteers.

After several days of observation, and conversation with the stewards of the land – we came to learn a bit more about the sheer abundance of the surrounding Jungle landscape. As my eyes attempted to sort out the overwhelming layers of flora and fauna, I came to realize that it was not about sorting, but allowing. This twisted and contorted jumble of LIFE carries with it amazing gifts!

Hongos

All across the forest floor Mychoriza connects trees, plants, and flowers to a web of vital nutrients and regenerated goodness; recently turned up volcanic material litters steep canyon sides bringing calcium and other minerals to the surface in convenient outcroppings; nearby livestock offers abundant inputs, and the rain is determined to give it’s renewing properties each and every day.  Beneath the trees of the densely populated forest, decaying leaves and plants reveal an abundance of earthworms, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to turn organic matter into organic soil.

These would soon become the inputs for our compost, yet we could not ignore few existing systems: the hens and the pounding rain.

Using bamboo that had been knocked over in a recent flood, and strong vines growing with trees, we fashioned together a fence capable of keeping out Mamma Hen, and creating an attractive and easily accessible space for experimentation.

Our first round of experimental compost layers consisted of organic green matter that had been cleared from around young fruit trees, kitchen waste, mineral rich volcanic soil, decaying bark with webs of mychoriza extending throughout, and earth worm inhabited brown soil from beneath the cacao plants.  A layer of sand from the bank of one of the nearby rivers was added at the base to help delineate the thick layer of clay the compost would be resting upon.  To cut back on the impact of the rain until a roof can be fashioned, Banana leaves were placed all across the top of the heap.

Also within the fenced region, we created a space for Abono, a nutrient rich supplement for the plants.  This concoction was a bit different – incorporating mostly brown inputs and packing the mixture with all the best the land had to offer, including our time and love.  This Colombian inspired plant food was made from dry leaves, sand, mule and cow manure, volcanic material, decaying bark, mychoriza, and nutrient rich forest floor soil.  Again we covered the heap with Banana leaves but this time fashioned a piece of bamboo into the center, allowing the pile to aireate.

Mamma Hen

Feeling wholesomely nurtured by the landscape, we allowed the trail to carry us back to the road at the end of 9 days.  Equipped with just a little more insight we returned to Babylon with news of another alternative node – exploring new ground and laying a rich foundation for an evolving culture.

back to the road again

The Sustainability of Self

Two years in the making & the time is now.

Road Less Traveled

When this feature length documentary film project started in 2010, my husband Mike & I had no idea that we would be following a story about finding answers by searching within.  Yet that is exactly what happened.  In order for sustainable design, holistic education, permaculture, or any notable alternative model to work – the people who create these systems must also have developed a sense of what it means to embody these traits.

The film begins in Ethiopia where Mike & I had a wide-eyed vision of documenting a story about successful alternative, grass-roots organizations who were combating poverty and creating true hope for communities through the use of sustainable ideology.  With over 93 million inhabitants, and a reputation for being one of the birthplaces of mankind; we were attracted to the potential to see a piece of where we are headed by visiting where we have been.  We were hopeful that in this country that receives more foreign aid than anywhere else, we would see truly evolutionary models for creating systems of longevity for future generations.

Montessori School in Ethiopia

In this film we visit a variety of grassroots organizations and meet with numerous inspired individuals across Ethiopia who have come to see that real change must originate from within.  In a place where everywhere you turn you are faced the harsh reality of poverty, it was refreshing and inspiring to meet people who had empowered themselves to create sustainable alternatives for others through tools of internal transformation.  Getting back to the basics of what it means to create potential for personal long-term well being, before attempting to create larger systems of sustainable endurance with others…we began to see a template for large-scale global change.

Home Sweet Home

One cannot return to the same place he/she left.  And we certainly did not.  When we came back to the United States and were tasked with production, we felt the film was still not complete – our personal story was still unfolding. It seems that once you have begun the process of seeking long-term well being, illusions begin to dissolve and you are left with truly looking at the things that mean the most to life.  We left the city and decided to hit the road, this time searching for places in the Pacific Northwest where individuals can educate and empower themselves and thus become living models for self sustainability.

Follow us to Ethiopia and back, as we interview and visit inspirational individuals and organizations co-creating sustainable alternatives by starting at ground zero – with themselves.

Permaculture Design Course: Starhawk at O.U.R. Ecovillage

One United Resource, (O.U.R.) Eco Village in Shawnigan Lake, BC hosts a wide range of events and workshops centered around permaculture and sustainable ideology.  This summer Mike & I traveled to this incredible community governed project to attend a permaculture design course lead by author, activist, and permaculturist – Starhawk.

O.U.R. Ecovillage is a sustainable learning community and demonstration site committed to a path of resiliency, compassionate action, and healthy interdependence.  This is a place for learning a new way to live with one another that honors the earth, personal and community development, inclusiveness, balance, and prosperity.

O.U.R. Ecovillage hosts the onsite ecological education school called TOPIA where they offer training in green/natural building, Permaculture design certification, sustainable food production, eco-psychology, and council/community-building.  Contrary to conventional schools, the courses at O.U.R. often overlap and share common space and ideology.  Experiential learning is key. Themes of interdependency and community bridge gaps – as natural builders, permaculturists, biodynamic gardeners, outdoor leaders, and communitarians all unite to co-design, co-build and co-manage a dynamic and diverse demonstration site intended to serve generations to come.

Shawnigan Lake, BC

Shawnigan Lake, BC

Incorporating Starhawk’s Earth Activist PDC was a sure fit for this beautiful and inspiring Village at Shawnigan Lake.  Starhawk’s curriculum focuses on earth based spirituality, organization, and action.  During her course we were led in regular ceremonies honoring the earth and our contributions to it.  We combined logic with creativity, explored possibilities, and modeled the relationships and actions necessary for building truly resilient systems.  We learned tangible skills in soil science, waste-water management, urban design/architecture, animal systems, natural building, horticulture/gardening, organization, activism (among other things)…..but perhaps most important was wrapping our mind around a whole-systems way of thinking.

Learn more about Starhawk’s Earth Activist PDC Training, here.

Learn more about O.U.R. EcoVillage and their diverse offers, here.

Education for Sustainability

Sustainable ideology emphasizes durability, longevity and environmental respect.  Sustainable practices take the health of the future into consideration.  This idea isn’t just reserved for the physical, material world- but also applies to thought, belief, human conduct and society as a whole.  (Zeitgeist .10)

Our current education system was born out of the Industrial Revolution for the purpose of serving Industrialization.  With the needs of the labor market dictating education’s path, a left-brained approach to thought was designed, emphasized and delivered in an effort provide jobs for Americans and in turn grow the industrial economies they served.

As we collectively embark on post-industrialization, we now face a new set of challenges.  Climate change, economic turmoil, political power struggles, and health concerns litter our perceptions of the world in which we reside. “Change” is a prevalent buzz word, however tangible action is a scarce reality.

If students today are expected to endure the obstacles of the future and create new solutions to old problems, it is time we equip them with the tools to do so.

 When one compares the skills and processes taught in today’s schools with those needed for tomorrow’s problems, our current education system is falling short. 

Upcoming planetary change will directly influence and create hundreds of thousands of jobs and careers. A more “earth centric” knowledge-base drawing off of creativity and innovation is a necessity for future professionals.  Yet, instead of spending more time in nature, students spend the majority of their school hours in concrete buildings exercising the left brain.  This is not sustainable education.

Most professional sectors have embarked on a movement towards understanding and implementing “sustainability”.  From business to architecture, design, urban & rural planning, agriculture, local & state government, and even higher education – a transition in thinking is underway. Creativity and innovation are being emphasized and rewarded for their ability to usher in new ideas and help to answer problems posed by sustainability challenges. Current academic and professional research, experience, wisdom and debates across the disciplinary spectrum are all de-emphasizing practices that destabilize and threaten our future.    It is time our public education system embraces these new transitions in thinking.

Fluid social change at large can only materialize if the human value system (our understandings and beliefs) are updated and changed through education and thoughtful introspection.  Transforming education has to be at the root of everything we hope to achieve and nothing we do in the short-term will be sustainable otherwise.

 A sustainable education will develop in students the capacity to create a remarkably different future – one that brings forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security.  It must take the future health of this planet and its occupants into consideration.
This new education system will accomplish these goals by fostering and supporting creativity: the ability to form new solutions to old problems. It will require new knowledge and new ways of thinking making room for more creative play, problem-based learning, and out-of-the-box thinking by teachers and students alike.  Future thinkers will be able to analyze and synthesize information from various fields, work with others, and learn from their perspectives.  The new system will provide leadership at home and abroad to promote deeper forms of cultural understanding and cooperation. Sustainable Education will not only create intellectuals….it will create action takers.

Your MapMaker Documentary Team is on a mission to further the evolution of our public education system.  We are mapping out some of the components of a sustainable education, a school of thought based on an evolving belief system – one of mutual benefit and cooperation (rather than scarcity and competition).  By providing students with visions of opportunity, responsibility, and a sense of place and purpose, we can reverse the damage being done by disconnection and hopelessness.

We are exploring what it means to live sustainably and learn sustainably….we are documenting a transition for the purpose of spreading useful insight and sharing knowledge.

Our next documentary is a map of the understanding, beliefs, skills, and habits of the mind and heart that will enable students to fashion a sustainable world.  We are focusing on individuals and organizations that are committed to resolving core problems in education.  We are traveling to explore the “unconventional” ideas and expertise surfacing in education.

As our social, ecological, and economical futures shift towards increased interdependence and integration, the core of our ethical belief systems must also align in a way that supports cooperation in the relationships upon which this new future is built.

As our social, ecological, and economical futures shift towards increased interdependence and integration, the core of our ethical belief systems must also align in a way that supports cooperation in the relationships upon which this new future is built.