Archive for the ‘Focus on MSI People’ Category

Back Writing Again..& Upcoming Programs and Special Events

06/07/2012

Holistic Outdoor Connections
Since 1998

Although I’ve had a backlog of ideas and material for MSI’s blog, and have even shot some footage for video posts (stay tuned), our family has been busy with a major move of late. Nevertheless, it’s time to start writing again.  Plus, we have some upcoming programs that may be of interest!:

  • Adventure Educator’s Symposium July 22: Share,learn and apply best practices of processing & facilitation. Open to students, teachers and outdoor educators. No charge.
  • Reconnecting with Nature Hike July 24: Hike to a mountain-top, relax with a short meditation and a powerful reading.
  • Getting Outside! Nature Deficit Disorder July 25, 7pm: How do you view nature? Do you find it hard to get nature time? Technology got ya?
  • Solo July 28: 1 day retreat in a beautiful setting to unplug.
  • Solo Overnight Aug 25/6: Saturday morning head out to a private spot, supervised retreat, minimal gear.
  • Mindfulness in the Mountains Oct 13/14: Co-sponsored with Natural Dharma Fellowship, come explore the adventure within through Rock Climbing / Hike / Kayak.
  • Rock Climbing as Metaphor for Life: By appt. For families up to four.

Stay tuned for more info or to contact us,  and please visit us at mtnspirit.org
Cheers,

R. Richards

Ken Wylie Named to MSI Board

24/03/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute names Ken Wylie to Board of Directors

Ken Wylie

Ken Wylie, a veteran certified mountain guide from Cochrane Alberta, Canada with years as an experiential educator and program manager at Canadian universities as well as Outward Bound Canada and the Outward Bound USA, has recently been named to the board of directors at Mountain Spirit Institute based in the U.S. and New Zealand.  In addition to helping guide the U.S. organization, Wylie has plans to launch a  Mountain Spirit Institute Canada where he will create mountain programs based on the mission statement. Mr. Wylie and founder Randall Richards along with fellow board members are in discussions about also collaborating on mountain programs in the U.S,  New Zealand and possibly the Alps.

Says Wylie, “I am drawn to Mountain Spirit Institute because of the organization’s vision. MSI has the vision for the 21st century in my estimation, and is what I have been searching for in my career.” Adds Wylie, “The mountains are an experience that can change people’s lives, but are more often than not just another consumable, another peak to check off the list. What people need now more than ever,  is to connect and MSI helps them do that.” (more…)

Spring Skiing in New Zealand’s Backcountry

16/10/2011

The View of Kingston/Lake Wakatipu From Above

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Walt Whitman

The other day, as the spring corn was coming onto the scene, I finally decided to investigate the moderate ridgetops of our valley here in the Wakatipu Basin in Kingston, New Zealand. The skiing wasn’t the steepest, and the “peaks” aren’t the sharpest in the Southern Alps, but the snow was damn perfect. After all, the first ski hut in New Zealand was just down the road on the Nevis Road. There must have been a reason for that being the first NZ ski field.

What I found after a two hour hike to snowline, were broad snowfields of cornsnow with some minor peaks along the ridge. Evidently this is where a snowmobile/heli-ski operation brought people up last season. I could see them lifting off, just across the road, and thought, “If they’re headed up there, must be something to it.” We live in Kingston, a sleepy little town, home of spectacular scenery, rock climbing, dramatic walks, a long pebble beach at the south end of the second largest lake in New Zealand, and home to an eclectic community that hasn’t been discovered by Queenstown yet. Oh I almost forgot to I mention the Kingston Flyer steam train,  which is now up and running, after a number of years in receivership. Look closely at the image on right, the clouds of smoke are from the steam train’s maiden test run, and from the fires it started along side the tracks.

A long, fun day. Rising at 4:40 I  hit the DOC trailhead by 5:30, and got back to the car around 18:30 I was a little tired, but jazzed. Fortunately there were freezing temperature up high, so by 10am, there was perfect corn on the northern aspects.  I took some pix and video, so decided just to blend them into a movie for the day…Enjoy.

The Christchurch Earthquake

26/02/2011

When the Earth Shakes, and We Humans on it.
Make a *donation directly to NZ Red Cross Christchurch Fund

Epicenter: Lyttelton from above our house, a day before the quake

Amanda and I escaped. We were in Christchurch about 19 hours before the earthquake hit, just in front of the main church , which is now collapsed,  in the square dropping off my passport and work visa application at New Zealand immigration, We also ran some errands, and split up in the afternoon, Amanda stopping by a store, and I picking up our van at the bus depot.

When the earthquake did hit we were both at home. I was in the hallway, and all of sudden, I was being thrown about. I was disoriented for a few seconds, then ran down the hallway to grab my pregnant wife’s hand. She looked as confused as I, as we ran for the door. We had just experienced the earthquake 1km from the epicenter. Our rental home is just across the Lyttelton Inlet in Diamond Harbor’s Charteris Bay.  As I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we ran out of the back door of  the steel-framed house, I thought, “This isn’t good for Christchurch.”

Little did I know how bad it was.  Just over the crest of Port Hills, 20 min away, it was Hell. (more…)

Hello. We’re back… but not in U.S.

27/12/2010

Greetings from Australia, Mate.
By R. Richards

Caution in Australia...

Sorry we’ve been a bit out of touch. We’ve been busy packing up our New Hampshire home, updating our programs’ webpages and heading to the Southern Hemisphere for a while. We’ve been on the eastern coast of Australia for the Holidays, and will be headed to New Zealand on January 10th.

We’ve got an exciting  drumming program in Jamaica with master drumming instructor Bob Bloom, and a Personal Sustainability program called Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle in Vermont this spring in the northern hemisphere.

This is my first time in AU, and my first impressions are that the people are very generous, sincere and welcoming. the power of the continent is overwhelming. My first time sitting down to meditate, I clearly heard the words, “It’s about time you showed up.” I take this to mean, not only arriving in Australia but taking the time to sit down since my arrival and sit quietly with the place. More on this in an upcoming post.

Anyway, expect to see posts more regularly from here on out. We’ll be posting from New Zealand of course. Rumors have it that board member Bob Stremba might even come down for a visit and recon some program areas with me.

Sydney Stopover

We had a stopover in Sydney for a week seeing Amanda’s friends, (my newly found friends), before heading north to stay with family for the holidays. A very expensive city but such generous people with a welcoming attitude. It’s Amanda’s ol’ stomping ground, and she still has to show me around a bit, when we head back there on our way to New Zealand.  We happened to arrive just as Oprah Winfrey was shooting a week-long segment of her show here. As it turned out, she was welcomed with opened arms, along with 300 of her audience members. I mention her because of some of the good work she’s doing, such as bringing Eckhart Tolle’s message to a broader audience, and encouraging more conscious living. The people and government of Australia were happy to have her here. The coverage will be invaluable for Australia’s tourism exposure.

The continent is proving itself to be powerful and beautiful. Although I’ve only seen a portion of it, I can feel its power taking hold.

“Your Food Supply” Blog Series

18/07/2010

Coming soon: New series of blog posts  will open your eyes.
Keep an eye out for a new series of video and text posts starting here in a few days. We think you’ll like it.
We’ve just traveled across the U.S.A,  listening to an Omnivore’s Dilemma by Micheal Pollan. It was experiential education at its best, and a sobering experience.

What’s more it led to some great footage and interviews here in Durango, CO with local farmers and restaurateurs.
Stay tuned for this informative series of blog posts on your food supply.

Why No Posts for 14 Days?

01/05/2010

Iceland Ash, NASA

You may have noticed we’ve not been been posting for almost 14 days. We were stuck in Paris. Tough duty but someone had to do it. Due to Iceland’s volcanic ash event, what had meant to be a 5-day trip, turned into a 13+day one.  I hadn’t brought my computer, and if you know anything about Paris, everything including computer time is expensive, (and not readily available).

My wife headed over to support her twin sister who was running the Paris Marathon. (Congrats to Lindy Roberts by the way for completing the marathon in good style!) I caught a later flight (thanks Priceline) to support Lindy as well, and spend a few days there with Amanda. Since there was an apartment anyway, I couldn’t miss the opportunity.

I’ve also been delayed on postings because,  right before I left, I mistakenly re-formatted a portable drive which contained all my images. No big worries though, I had other back-ups of almost everything, but I’m still shuffling files around since my delayed return stateside.

The good news? We were stuck in Paris. It was good be back in France. We had extra time to see the Louvre, speak my second language (of five) again, be away from the computer, (isn’t that what MSI is about anyway?) and play some guitar and sing on the streets in the evening.

I brought my guitar in order to practice for a gig back in New Hampshire, which I had to cancel because of the ash cloud. So instead of practicing for the gig, I decided to throw my guitar case open and see what I could earn to help pay for the trip. I earned a total of 2.24 Euros (about $1.75), one cigarette (I don’t smoke), one cigar in a small tin, (cigars either, but nice tin), and some flowers placed in my case by a nice fellow. I guess I’m a little rusty on my busqing skills.

Anyway, thanks for your patience. I’m back, and expect to see more postings soon, and maybe even a few images and thoughts on Paris.
R. Richards

Quebec vs. American Anxiety

26/02/2010

By D. R. Richards

Telltale signs of "joie de vive"

What is it, that makes Quebec, Canada a breath of fresh air for those of us who often escape there from the northeastern U.S.? It’s interesting to experience this question through the eyes of my wife, who’s from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. She’s new to the U.S, and to New England, and is not afraid to share her observations. I always felt more comfortable when I lived in Europe, South America and New Zealand,  but, honestly, still struggle to put into words exactly why an ex-pat life could still be my destiny. I had my “Euro-epiphany” at 21, after having a chance meeting with Erga Rehns in Portugal. It took two years to sink in, and I almost didn’t return stateside. I still have that ex-pat perspective. I still look at the U.S. with the eyes of an foreigner.
My wife just got her Green Card a few days ago, on the 22nd, and the next day we were outa here, off to Magog, Canada. Partly because my birthday was on the 23rd, and partly because she was on the wait list for a Vipassana course for which she was accepted and started the following day.

Mt. Orford with "Visitor's Center"*

As we walked the streets of the little Quebec towns, and went for a walk at Mt. Orford Provincial Park, we discussed what exactly is it that makes us feel more relaxed away from the U.S.? Here’s what our conversation yielded: For one, the people take care, and pay attention of their food and time. They are not as stressed. Immediately it’s obvious that there isn’t an anxiety in the air –  in fact, there’s a calmness. Kids are smiling, people are quietly enjoying their week-day afternoon. We also concluded it takes a lot more effort in the U.S. to relax because of the nervousness of the collective consciousness. Today’s Health Care Summit in Washington illustrates the deep crisis Americans are experiencing about such basics as going to the doctor. In other countries, people are incredulous that there’s even a debate in the U.S. about profit over people. The idea that someone could lose their house should they become sick is a foriegn concept.  It would simply not happen in France or New Zealand, or in Canada. (See the movie Sicko)

Meditation: The Ripple Effect

As I write this, my wife is sitting peacefully in the mountains of Quebec at a Vipassna retreat center. I feel the ripple effect, and I hope you do as well. Janice Vien, in her Iyengar yoga classes always closes with the phrase, “May the benefits of this practice be extended to others”. It’s clear Americans face difficult roads ahead because of the greed of the “corporatracy”. And yes, of course, one can keep their center no matter where one is, as put forth by Eckhart Tolle. But for those that are sensitive, the difference in  energy between the U.S. and Quebec is striking.

Maison Verte's B&B = Quality and Care

*The reason I put quotes around the Mt. Orford Visitor’s Center is the sense of scale in Quebec, and other countries is more realistic than in the U.S.  When one thinks of  “Visitor’s Centers”  in the U.S., usually the image of the Denali National Park, Arches National Park, or the Smithsonian most likely comes to mine. The Center is Quebec however, is a small lodge, (with fireplace, bathrooms and picnic tables), despite it being a popular national park.

An “Awakening Together” Retreat

23/02/2010

By D.R. Richards,
Learning to live with an Open Heart, Part I

Martha and Don Rosenthal

I first met Don and Martha Rosenthal about 10 years ago when I enrolled in a monthly meeting of  “Awakening Together” sessions here in New Hampshire, where couples meet to witness, listen, talk and learn vital life skills in relating to one’s partner. The group was started 18 years ago and a few of the original couples are still continuing today. Other couples have naturally come and gone. Indeed, the gathering is more about becoming a more fully realized human being, about living in the present, than how to only relate better to one’s partner. It’s about learning to love unconditionally with all who come across one’s path.  At least this has been my experience of the meetings and the work.

Amanda and I just completed the Rosenthal’s  Awakening Together couples retreat” at their country farmhouse in central Vermont, as a proactive approach to building a good foundation for our marriage. We’re so glad we committed to going to the Rosenthal’s for the weekend. We are also enrolled in the once monthly group mentioned above, but the weekend was a “full on” laboratory for personal disarmament.

The Rosenthal's "Learning to Love"

Six couples of various ages and socio-economic backgrounds attended the weekend retreat.  Amanda and I were blown away not only with the wonderful format and top quality information covered, but with how both Don and Martha walk their talk, not to mention their well versed articulation and perceptions of participant’s situations. In fact, if you haven’t heard of Don Rosenthal, I expect you will as his reputation will most likely grow . His book and his way of being in the world is direct and heart felt. In short, he walks his talk.

We suggest this as one of the best, if not the best, couples workshops a couple can attend. It is mostly advertised by word of mouth, so I thought I’d post this today. I will write more about our weekend in Part II.

From their website:
Don and Martha began their 31-year journey together in Alaska, where they lived in a remote cabin and explored the quiet life together. Emerging after some years, they moved to the coast of California where they began what has now been more than two decades of counseling couples and individuals. Don received training in psychotherapy and began a career as a counselor. Martha studied mind/body/spirit connection with various teachers and developed a private healing practice. They have a son, now grown, whom they home-schooled.

Don's Second Book

In 1989 Don and Martha moved to rural northern Vermont, and shortly thereafter began offering weekend workshops for couples. Through word-of-mouth these soon expanded to a wide circle, becoming the core of their work. In addition, Martha leads meditation retreats for women and works with couples and individuals privately; Don offers consulting to individuals and couples, fundamentally as a form of spiritual guidance. Don and Martha view their own relationship, with all its trials and wonders, as the testing ground and measure of their teaching. They are co-authors of Learning to Love: From Conflict to Lasting Harmony.

For more information on their work, or the weekend workshops see their website.
Editor’s Note: Another book “The Unquiet Journey” is a book of reflections, written by Rosenthal that provides the philosophical and spiritual context for his later publications. Many readers have found it valuable.
To Be Continued in Part II

When is Enough, Enough?

13/02/2010

Keeping Land Developers in Their Box
By D.R. Richards,
I remember that particular afternoon, when a friend and I talked about trying to do something to help save Mount Sunapee from the dread of slope-side condo development. Sullivan county, New Hampshire had no history* of activism, none, zero, zip. Being a native, of a conventional, conservative county, I had to really watch my thoughts of not wanting to make waves in my home town.  I didn’t want to stand out. Besides, people I talked to said there was “nothing that could be done”, “it was already a done deal”, or they were “going to develop the mountain and what could anyone do anyway”.  That particular afternoon, the friend and I decided to call a few people, and set up a meeting at the Abbott Library in Sunapee to see what could be done. That first meeting eventually led to the formation of Friends of Mount Sunapee.  (*Current FOMS Vice President Linda Dennis was a founding member of a previous Mt. Sunapee land protection group, but  at the time we convened, it was not active).

Mt. Sunapee has Friends

Never underestimate what the efforts of a few committed people can do in the face of deep pockets and driven land developers.  Thanks to many, (too many to mention here) the word spread about the threat to our State Park, and eventually it spread to the candidate for New Hampshire governor,  John Lynch.  Lynch has been the most popular Governor New Hampshire has seen, and because of his courageous stance to defend the state lands of Mount Sunapee, the developers decided to sue him, and the state of NH, because their imaginary back-door deal wasn’t honored.  Now I read the owners  are threatening to sue again. This time they’re stomping their feet at  the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado,  for again, not getting their desires met to expand their ski area. (For more info click here)

Overdevelopment is not pretty, Okemo, VT

It makes  one wonder how some can be so incredibly out of touch with reality, out of touch with the wishes of the locals and the natural environment.  I just watched the movie Avatar, (I still have a headache from the Imax 3-D version three days later) and the Muellers’  insatiable appetite for land and profit remind me of the miners in Avatar and their lust for the precious “unobtainium” mineral at all costs.
My dad was a developer. He built one of the first “funnel developments” on Lake Sunapee called Fisher’s Bay. (more…)