Archive for the ‘Inspirational People’ Category

Buying From the Farm Stand via the River

11/07/2012

Cedar Circle Farm, view “not from the riverside”

Yesterday we had an interesting and serendipitous discovery of Cedar Circle Farms in East Thetford, Vermont.  We had planned to stop by the Lebanon Coop after a spontaneous ride in our little Boston Whaler where we put in just south of Lyme, NH and headed north to where we didn’t know on Connecticut River. It was a hot afternoon, and after putting along we decided to give the 25hp Merc all she’d do, and skimmed along the calm waters.  Never having been on the river before, we thought we’d do a little exploring, complete with our 1-yr old on board.
After about ten miles, we happened upon a boat landing on the Vermont side of the river, and decided to hop out and find out where we were. We met someone in the little village who told us we were in North Thetford. We happened to mention we were starting a juicing fast, and had to get back to Hanover, NH before the Coop closed.  She responded with, “ Hey, why don’t just get back in your boat and head south again a few minutes  to Cedar Circle Farm. They have a small boat landing and (more…)

One Hell of a Paddle

30/04/2012

Expedition 2012: From  Vermont to James Bay by Canoe
Paddling Forward, Giving Back

Expedition 2012's Route

By R.Richards
Family friend, Tom Bloch is one of ten crew members of Expedition 2012, an epic 1,200 mile canoe trip from Lake Dunmore Vermont to James Bay in Northern Canada, which is underway as we post this.

The expedition is an effort to support the Keewaydin Foundation in its ongoing mission to preserve “the Keewaydin Way”, and extend its benefits to an ever-greater range of today’s youth. The Foundation has three summer camps: Keewaydin Temagami (Ontario, Canada), Keewaydin Dunmore (Salisbury, Vermont), and Songadeewin of Keewaydin (Salisbury, Vermont).

To accomplish their goal, Expedition 2012 is committed to establish a new scholarship endowment for the Foundation. Expedition 2012 is using the extended wilderness canoe trip, which is a tradition at Keewaydin’s as a fundraising platform,  . They are paddling the long route over the course of 65 days in wood and canvas boats hand-crafted by the expedition members. During the course of this project, expedition members are additionally dedicated to environmental advocacy towards the preservation of the wilderness we hold dear. To learn more about the progress of the expedition, and to follow the the paddlers go here, or head over to  their blog

Keewaydin states on their website, “To live for a summer in a world largely unstructured and shaped only by nature itself… this is an adventure few are privileged to know.” and adds, “Through these programs, Keewaydin builds strong, independent character while exposing young men and women to a bygone lifestyle. Since 1893, Keewaydin has withstood the temptation of change, holding firm to what is dear of the past and leaving it untouched. Keewaydin’s simplicity and special link to the undisturbed wilderness set our programs apart from traditional camp experiences. This is the Keewaydin Way.” To learn more about the camp, visit their website.

The map, drawn up by Johnny Clore, shows the full itinerary of Expedition 2012 from Lake Dunmore down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain, then down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  From Montreal, we’ll head upstream on the Ottawa River for over three hundred miles and cut west for our resupply at Temagami by following the fabled “Trip In.”  From there the route leads over a swift succession of smaller lakes and rivers to the Abitibi River, where we will restock and head for the bay at Moosonee. Resupply locations are indicated with yellow stars. Click the “Itinerary” tab on the left to get a more detailed look at our itinerary.

Tom Bloch, On Expedition 2012

Tom Bloch has written a personal mission statement and essay, as have the other members of the team), which starts out…”I never went to summer camp.  Instead of big canvas tents and shiny green canoes, my childhood summers were filled with soccer camps and family hiking trips.  Now, here’s the shocker: I turned out just fine.  As of my college graduation last May, I was a reasonably well-adjusted, mild-mannered young man with sensible career aspirations and even a few healthy hobbies.  The world is rife with friendly, successful people who have never paddled a canoe.  In light of this, what is the value of Keewaydin?  Why this grand expedition? Read the rest of Tom’s entry here..

Buddhism & Mindfulness in the Mountains

01/04/2012

Lama Willa Miller, the spiritual leader of a Natural Dharma Fellowship branch in Massachusetts, talks about a new refuge center, and the importance of mindfulness in the mountains. Part 1

Lama Willa Miller

By R. Richards
Mountain Spirit Institute
The Dartmouth Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire, USA has the good fortune of seeing a new Tibetan Buddhist Refuge open in the tiny town of Springfield. After a recent open house, we learned about what Lama Willa Miller, the leader of the  Cambridge Mass based branch of The Natural Dharma Fellowship, has in mind for the new retreat center called Wonderwell, as well as the link between Buddhism and the mountains. Learn more, check out this first in series of interviews we conducted on location. See Part II

The Power of Vulnerability

27/03/2012

Brené Brown:TED Talk

Vulnerability and Connecting, A TED Talk with Brené Brown
Mountain Spirit Institute’s newest board member Ken Wylie has been expressing the vital requirement of vulnerability in which to build a foundation of compassion and connection (which is our mission) to the natural world, each other and a deeper connection to ourselves.  It appears that like great minds think alike –  Brené Brown states in her TED talk: The power of vulnerability.
Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TED in Houston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. See Brene’s talk here or click on the image at right.

Special thanks to Lindy Roberts in Auckland, NZ for sending this our way.

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…)

The Man Who Quit Money

19/02/2012

What? Quit Using Fed Notes??

What Money Is & What Money Is Not – Living Without Money
A Walden for the 21st century, the true story of a man who has radically reinvented “the good life”.

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a new-found sense of freedom and security-ever since.

The Man Who Quit Money is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs-for shelter, food, and warmth-but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. In retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo into this way of life, Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make, by default or by design, about how we live-and how we might live better.
Editor’s note: It sounds like we have another Outward Bound success story here. I read that Suelo has been an OB instructor. Good to see he’s living the dream, and it looks like some of the OB values rubbed off, but I’m sure he had influences from more than just Outward Bound.

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’

16/01/2012

Many of us fear death. We believe in death because we have been told we will die.
Editor’s Note:

Dannion Brinkley

For some reason, death has not been a stranger in my life. Western society is almost totally ignorant of death, it is something to be brushed under the rug, and feared. Stay tuned for a posting on “Death, The Funny Side” a talk by Dannion Brinkley, author of Saved by the Light. I heard Brinkley speak at a Whole-Life Expo in Seattle in the late ’80’s – he was promoting his book. I liked his half-hour talk so much that I bought a copy of it andeventually converted it mp3 format.  I plan on posting it here, once I have Brinkley’s permission of course. It’s a classic, that has changed my understanding of what death is, and what it means to be fully alive.  His sense of humor perspective, depth and compassion, after having died  more than once and come back to talk about it,  is remarkable, especially after having been a hit man for the U.S. government.  Ykes.
At Mountain Spirit Institute, one of our core values is addressing our “ultimate concerns”. We believe that by helping to reconnect people to the natural environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self, we can help participants start looking beyond the veil. Eckhart Tolle writes” The secret to death is to die before you die, and realize there is no death.” Hmm. Maybe he’s onto something.  Dannion Brinkley is, as well.
R. Richards

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’
From: KipNews (Open your mind, Prepare)

A case for staying no death - Biocentrism

We associate ourselves with the body, and we know that bodies die. But a new scientific theory suggests that death is not the terminal event we think.
One well-known aspect of quantum physics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a different probability.  One mainstream explanation, the “many-worlds” interpretation, states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the ‘multiverse’).

A new scientific theory – called biocentrism – refines these ideas.  There are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios.

All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling – the ‘Who am I?’- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain.  But this energy doesn’t go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?
Consider an experiment that was recently published in the journal Science showing that scientists could retroactively change something that had happened in the past.

Particles had to decide how to behave when they hit a beam splitter. Later on, the experimenter could turn a second switch on or off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle did in the past. Regardless of the choice you, the observer, make, it is you who will experience the outcomes that will result. The linkages between these various histories and universes transcend our ordinary classical ideas of space and time. Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply holo-projecting either this or that result onto a screen.  Read the rest of this story…

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

A Restored Mountain Hut Getaway with Good Energy

11/01/2012

A New Zealand Farmer Does Good by Following His Passion

Tom O'Brien of High Country Walks

Tom O’Brien, owner of Blackmore Farm and founder of High Country Walks has followed his passion by offering up a little hut on the back side of his 5000 acre farm. Called the Chinaman’s Hut, it was restored some years ago, by local volunteers, Tom and his father. The hut is situated on the rolling mountains of the Slate Range,  just south of the Remarkables Mountains, on the border of Otago and Southland. Tom took the afternoon to show me his farm, the backcountry and the Chinaman’s Hut. below is a short piece on the hut, and a chat with Tom about his philosophy and passion of sharing this part of the world with others.We’re in hopes, here at Mountain Spirit Institute of collaborating with Tom by running some programs on the Slate Range and Blackmore Farm. We chatted about providing Solo’s and other types of programs.
Thanks for the time you took to show me around Tom!
Note: I’ve met one of the volunteers who helped restore the Chinaman’s Hut, a neighbor of ours here in Kingston named Dusty, who I’ll see if I can get on tape in the next few days. He has an interesting story to tell of not only this restoration project by many others.

Project Positive

06/01/2012

Graeme Dingle, New Zealand mountaineer does good

Graeme Dingle is fast becoming one of my role models, and I’ve never met the man. I intend to though. Maybe if I’m fortunate, we may collaborate on a co-venture project helping to connect people to the mountains, who knows. The more I learn about Mr. Dingle, the more I like and respect who he is, what he stands for, and what he’s accomplished in outdoor education.
Here’s an article from the Directions Magazine
By Laura Crooks

Inspiring New Zealand teenagers to reach their potential was a plan born during a trip to the Arctic by adventurer Graeme Dingle and partner Jo-anne
Wilkinson in the early ’90s.

Why did you think New Zealand needed a specific programme to help the country’s youth?
I set  up the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) in 1972 and I thought that was my  contribution to New Zealand in terms of young people. But it was really just the start, because I learnt so much about youth development through it and I got to thinking about the business of dealing with harder kids than those we met at OPC. I felt that for kids who had low confidence and low self-esteem, a one week experience in the wilderness wasn’t enough – it needed to be a continuum of things that really built on what had been learnt in that first period. I then set out to do the first continuous circumnavigation of the Arctic and in the Arctic you get a lot of very unusual communities – they’re very isolated and they live in such extraordinary circumstances where it’s light half the year, then continuously dark the other half of the year. They have very high rates of suicide, the kids don’t have too much to look forward to, and that started us thinking. But it didn’t really hit home until we got back to New Zealand – that here we lived in paradise and yet we had one of the highest rates of youth suicide, youth incarceration, dropouts from school unplanned teenage pregnancy – the works. The main catalyst was going to see Once Were Warriors – that was the thing that finally made us say: “Let’s do something about this”. So, Jo-anne and I invented Project K. basically. The Project K Trust grew into the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) with nearly 20,000 young people in programmes each year. The FYD runs programmes for kids aged 5 – 18, and Project K is one of these. (more…)