Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

A Reminder from the Universe

30/06/2021
From the Pacific Crest Outward Bound* Book of Readings
(*Now called Northwest Outward Bound)

I love it when spirit nudges us. Our family does an evening reading at our dinner table every night before eating. Without looking at the bookshelf behind me last night, I pulled a random book off the shelf. Then I opened to a random page, then I looked at a random quote.

It’s one of my favorite quotes:
“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Kenneth Grahame.

This quote arrives just when we’ve put our Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters business “on pause” due to New Zealand border closures. The lack of tourists is “forcing us to live our dreams” and as we consider and possibly prepare to use the yachts in more of an educational role, for experiential adventures on Lake Wanaka. This is my first love anyway. As every passenger that’s gone out on the lake with me attests, they got more than they bargained for, regarding an experiential sailing experience. Once they get out there, my job, and mission, is to light up their eyes and soul by helping them connect to the wind, the water, the place and themselves, and of course have fun.

Here at Mountain Spirit NZ, we’ve been hooked on the “AirBnB drug” prior to our Covid lockdown, and now we’re advertising for domestic visitors to stay with us with a purpose in mind, whether to just have a digital detox, record some music in our piano studio, or take some yin yoga classes with Amanda in the yurt. We’re stepping out into our own possibilities.

Although I’ve run Mountain Spirit Institute in the U.S. where we’ve done tons of different programs ranging from experiential immersion on the Rosebud Reservation to a powerful New England tour of Peruvian folk music, creating our own space here in New Zealand, and inviting people to come stay with us is uncharted territory. But we’re enjoying the ride, with all its ups and downs.

The trick to being fulfilled and successful, (however you personally define success), is stepping out of the way, allowing the Universe/Spirit/God to help out, and importantly, look for those reminder signs when they pop up and recognise them as such, then of course, take action.

I just attended a powerful presentation yesterday here in Wanaka, New Zealand, by Lake Wanaka Tourism They’re our local tourism association. As you can imagine, like many of us in tourism here in New Zealand, they’ve been in on a path or re-inventing themselves. They’ve been working on a new branding program. I’ll write more on that in later in a separate post, as it deserves more time. But I have to mention here, about the power of timing, being at the right place at the right time, taking action when a crisis/opportunity presents itself and listening to spirit. Lake Wanaka Tourism is taking the bold steps to create a wonderful vision of post-covid “tourism” for operators, the land, community and visitors alike.

Here’s just a snapshot of some of the Lake Wanaka tenets going forward:
The Vision:
“Our aspiration is for the visitor industry to enrich this place, as well as the lives of the local community both now and into the future. To create mutual value for Whanau/whanui (which includes our families , our community, our visitors), and our whenua (our place and natural resources) and our economy.

“Values:
Guardianship for our people, our place and our plant; Inclusive and respectful; Living with a sense of balance; bold and free thinking.”

There are plans being put into place with a whole re-adjustment of what it means to be in tourism here in Wanaka, and fortunately, the leadership and staff at Lake Wanaka Tourism are taking on the challenge with heart and purpose. The future looks bright because there’s a proactive approach. I look forward to sharing more about LWT’s and the community’s plans going forward in future posts. I would say LWT is following their spirit course.

Back to the reading about messing about on boats. I can’t wait for the next sign to come down the road, and hit me with a spiritual 2×4. But for now, I thought I’d share this little nudge from Spirit.

Don’t do it! Don’t Go Back to Normal

24/05/2020

This wonderful statement by Sony Renee Taylor has been circulating around lately, and it’s surely a wake up call –

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
You can find out more at the Facebook page Over Grow the System

And from Brenna Quinlan on her Facebook page….

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The first step towards creating something is imagining it. We imagine the smell of fresh bread as we tend our sourdough starter. We imagine the taste of ripe tomatoes as we plant out our seedlings. When we lay down the first stone, we imagine laughter and stories from future meals shared in our new home. The ability to create, in our minds, a possible future, is what gives that possibility a chance of being realised.

If all we imagine is business as usual, then that is the world we will create. But if we draw on our curiosity and creativity, we can hold in our minds something much greater than the world we are in. And once that happens, we can begin to act. Find out more about Brennan here.

Learn the Real Reasons of the Bolivian Coup of President Morales

17/11/2019

Bolivia CrossTalk RT“The pattern” continues, now in Bolivia, as explained by these well-informed international experts on a show called CrossTalk. For a different take from the MSM, check out this interview. Although I’ve not yet heard any comment from Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man author John Perkins on the subject of Morales’ departure, I think he’s working on something so keep an eye out.

I’ve spent some time in Bolivia, running a few educational programs with Mountain Spirit, and even  considered moving there at one time. It was uplifting to see what Evo Morales as doing for his country, and I was surprised to hear about the election improprieties. When I dug into the story a bit, it started to make sense. It’s all about lithium.  Also see Lee  Camp’s Redacted Tonight Episode 268 for some eye-opening facts on Bolivia’s Coup. Also see a past Mountain Spirit Blog post on Morales and Bolivia

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019

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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

 – – – –

Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

NZ Crown Jewels for Sale to the Highest Bidder

22/01/2019

Half a Million Hectares, Sold
From Stuff.co.nz
New Zealanders have paid $65m to get rid of some of our most treasured landscapes, through an obscure process critics have described as a vast wave of privatization. Wealthy foreigners are snapping up valuable land once owned by the public, who in some cases paid to dispose of it. As gated estates and manicured golf courses spread through our wild places,  Charlie Mitchell investigates for Stuff.co.nz: Who owns the high country? Read more here…

Damper Bay, Paddock and Glendu Bay

Not far from the site of a new development for the very wealthy, golf course included. Here’s a shot prior to all that.

 

Editor’s Note: A bit of disclosure – My wife is South African, and I’m a Yank, and we bought an existing house and small bit of land in Hawea. So I’m guilty by association only in that I’m American. I believe in living lightly. We have an off-the-grid home and retreat centre, with gravity fed water and a small house. The scale and rate at which foreigners are snapping up New Zealand’s high country is appalling, and appears to be changing the very values of the country, by gentrification.

What Gives You Hope?

26/07/2012

Grafton Pond, NH

“The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I started Mountain Spirit Institute in 1998 when we led our first trip to Peru, with the basic mission “to facilitate a deeper connection to the natural environment, each other and ourselves.”  Since then it has become ever more apparent how we need “nature time” more than ever. It’s good to see people out on the trail, and in kayaks these days, but National Park use is down in the U.S, and technology competes for the breath of fresh air. We just offered a presentation last night in a small town in New Hampshire called “Get Outside While You Still Can.” The piece below echoes a lot of what we covered in our presentation, and why we started MSI.

 By Eric Utne,
Founder, The Utne Reader

As I’ve said in this column before, I’m afraid it may be too late to avoid the devastating effects of global climate change. (more…)

“Get Outta Here”

20/07/2012

GET OUT! 

•    Get Out into nature that is
•    How do you view nature?
•    Find it hard to get nature time?
•    Technology Got ya?

How do you spend your time?……

Doing This?

Or Doing This?

Come and explore, with Mountain Spirit board members
Bob Stremba and Randy Richards,

Nature Deficit Disorder
&
Why we need to get outside while we still can!

GETTING OUTSIDE!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 25th , 7:00PM
Cost: Free

Lake Sunapee Bank Community Room
116 Newport Road
New London, NH, USA
For more information call 603-763-2668 or http://www.mtnspirit.org

Wildlife’s Overpasses on Today’s Highways

19/07/2012

Wildlife Bridge Overpass – Giving animals a leg up on the auto traffic

Where’s the merge lane and who has right of way when the only traffic are animals such as tigers, wallabies, possums or kangaroos? I suppose whoever is highest on the food chain gets to go first across these overpasses with no roads, and only trees and grasses.

Someone posted the aerial image at right this evening. At first glance it looked like the same bridge under which I passed two years ago on the east coast highway heading north from Sydney, Australia. I dug in my files, and found the snapshot of the bridge and include it here.

I was so taken aback by the site of the strange overpass,  which looked like a neglected highway department lapse in maintenance, that I stopped the car and took a picture. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, and after some discussion with my wife, decided it must a wildlife corridor.

Wildlife Overpass – East Coast Australia

It’s good to see there are others. The Facebook image didn’t have a caption indicating where it was, but looks like it could be another location in Australia. Anyway, “Good on ya” for building this you Aussies! Anybody got an idea how many of these wildlife overpasses there are, and who’s the traffic cop?

Death Valley’s “Sailing” Stones

17/07/2012

Sailing Stones

THE SAILING STONES, also referred to as sliding rocks or moving rocks, are a geological puzzling phenomenon found in California, Death Valley. These rocks, some as heavy as 300 Kilograms, are mysteriously transported across a virtually flat desert plain without human or animal intervention, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long. They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no-one has ever seen them in motion.. until recently..

Mystery or Mother Nature?

Deep in the heart of the California desert lies one of the natural world’s most puzzling mysteries: the moving rocks of Death Valley. These are not ordinary moving rocks that tumble down mountainsides in avalanches, are carried along riverbeds by flowing water, or are tossed aside by animals.
These rocks, some as heavy as 700 pounds, are inexplicably transported across a virtually flat desert plain, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long.

They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no one has ever seen them move.
Until now. Racetrack Playa is the seasonally dry lake (a playa) located in the northern part of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California, U.S.A. that is famous for ‘sailing stones‘.  One cold winter morning, when the snowmelt covered the playa, the solution to the puzzle was finally caught on film.

Interesting comments and opinions, both pro and con here..

Editor’s Note: We include this post simply because it’s certainly a natural curiosity of mother nature. Let’s learn more about the planet on which we live.