Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Small VT School Uses Debriefs to Foster Classroom Wellbeing

10/08/2012

Article on Bullying and Communication

Thanks to Laura Jean Whitcomb, publisher of Kid Stuff for letting us reprint this article about a ground-breaking move by a small school in central Vermont,  The Willow School. One look at the their website almost has me rethinking our departure for New Zealand this fall, and instead,  having our young son attend the school!

Outward Bound mandatory for all young people?

Like legendary Headmaster Dave Fowler at  Proctor Academy in Andover, NH where he pioneered incorporating Outward Bound principles of experiential education and community building into the school’s fabric in 1971,  it sure looks like the founders of the Willow School are doing the same thing for younger students. The article below covers what will hopefully be incorporated in many schools across the U.S. and abroad.   In New Zealand as well, (where we’ve been living), bullying appears to be a problem.

Proctor’s experiential model

I’m reprinting this article in hopes that it will fall into the right hands of school teachers and administrators.  During my 15-plus teaching years at Outward Bound, the debrief and reflection were key to a successful outcome for the students, and helped insure some strong “takeaways” that they could use as life skills.  In fact, Outward Bound Professional Development courses also incorporate these basic techniques (more…)

NZ Alpine Club’s Nice Cover Shot

10/08/2012

New Zealand Alpine Club‘s Climber magazine, sports John Taficuk climbing the Temple Buttress at Temple Basin on the South Island at Arthur’s Pass.  What do you think?

Mixed (?) climbing on New Zealand’s South Island

Mountain Spirit Inst. Offers Programs/Events

12/07/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute Offers Upcoming Programs and Special Events

Mountain Spirit Institute of the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region and Queenstown New Zealand area, is offering programs this summer and fall in New Hampshire, based on its mission to “help people reconnect with the environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self”.

The first program, on July 22nd ,  is an Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium open to teachers, students and outdoor educators who would like to share, learn and apply best practices of group processing and facilitation, especially with a holistic approach. There is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

Mountain Spirit will also be offering a Reconnection with Nature Hike on July 24th where there will be hiking to a local mountaintop, and participants will have a chance to relax with a short meditation and powerful nature reading. Again, there is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

On July 28th there will be a one-day Solo retreat starting at eight in the morning with a basic orientation and safety talk. Participants will then be shown their own “solo spot” where they will spend the day with minimal gear and distractions. There is a nominal program fee for this event.  There will also be an Overnight Solo on August 24th and 25th  where participants spend the night under a tarp in a beautiful local setting.  The goal for Solo’s are to reconnect, unplug, contemplate and be present in nature with few distractions with the safety net of experienced facilitators and guides. Solos will also be offered as an on-demand basis.

Lama Miller

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with Lama Willa Miller of the Wonderwell Refuge, in Springfield NH on an outdoor adventure program called Mindfulness in the Mountains. The Natural Dharma Fellowship has a retreat center, where the program will be based for the weekend of Oct 12-14th.

MSI will offer again its MSI Film Series, one of which will be Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This remarkable film follows two men, one an Australian and other an American truck driver, on their amazing path to recovering their health through juicing and healthy lifestyle choices . There will be some testimonials and discussion after the film. They do what their website calls a “reboot of your body”.

Rock Climbing will be offered to parent/children pairs, as well as families up to four, on the local crags in the region by appointment.

Mountain Spirit Institute is an insured non-profit educational organization started in 1998. Their first program was a cultural immersion trip to Peru. All of the summer and fall programs will be facilitated and managed by internationally recognized guides and facilitators. For more information on any of these programs or on Mountain Spirit Institute,  visit their website at www.mtnspirit.org or call 603-763-2668

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…)

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!

The Stoic Male – Is it Time to Move On?

06/01/2012

Cultural shackles?

I’m in the middle of a book called A Man’s Country? The image of the Pakeha Male by Jock Phillips. It’s a well-known fact that the New Zealand male, and Aussie as well, has a “She’ll be right” attitude. All is well and good, but what happens when things go wrong, or life events happen that one didn’t plan for, doesn’t want and has no intention of participating in. Is “opening up” an idea who’s time has come?

A Man’s Country? From the back cover:
” A rugged practical bloke – fixes anything, strong and touch, keeps his emotions to himself, usually scornful of women. Yet at heart a decent bloke, loyal to his mates, provides well for the wife and kids…
Few Pakeha (white) men grow up in New Zealand without a strong sense of the Kiwi bloke they are expected to become. Jock Phillips’ book is a penetrating, provocative history of that stereotype.
Where did that stereotype come from? How has it changed? What truths does it hide? At what costs? The book begins with the Pakeha colonial society of the nineteenth century – the absence of women, the harsh physical conditions, the growth of an exclusively male ethic. It then examines in detail the image of the Pakeha male, as booze, as rugby player, as soldier, as family man, in the 1980’s, says Phillips, the stereotype has been well and truly exposed as a role model. We now know the costs we have paid as both men and women.  After reading this book, no New Zealand man will quite be the same.
Published by Penguin
For another take, see my post on the movie The Men’s Group

11/11 in New Zealand

11/11/2011

We had 11/11 a bit earlier than most of the planet (if you’re going by clock-time). We decided to kick ours off with a picnic, a short sage ceremony, and finished it off with an evening rainbow. Welcome – The Age of Aquarius.

11 min after 11AM on 11/11

The Author, another tailgate picnic in Roberts Canyon, NZ

Evening Rainbow with Mtn Shadow Cutting In

Double Rainbow on 11/11 New Zealand

 

Along the Road to Milford Sound, NZ

01/11/2011

Nothing to see here, keep moving..

Milford Sound is renowned for its world class beauty, its fjords, hikes, and waterfalls, wildlife and dramatic alpine terrain. It’s something to put on your “must do” list, despite its popularity with so many that come to New Zealand. However, the drive through (and under) the mountains,  on NZ Highway 97 and its  the 1270 meter Homer Tunnel also got my attention. I’m looking forward to getting out into the Darran Mountains soon, where there’s granite and lots alpine adventure to be had.

A sense of perspective and vertical relief from our sunroof

A sense of perspective and vertical relief from our sunroof

We took a day off, and drove over to Milford last month, and thought we’d share a few images.

Heading back to Kingston, we caught a glimpse of the wind farm, which is somewhat controversial in this area, and stopped to take an image of the huge blades above the fields of sheep.

Yep, we did get out of the car, these are just some images taken along the road. More on the backcountry and Milford Sound in another post.

Windmills in New Zealand

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.

Here’s an Idea: Shweeb

29/09/2011

The Shweeb: Where's the passing lane? Aside from that, sign us up!

Shweeb’s bike-powered 200 meter monorail, pitched as an adrenalin-fueled sky cycling adventure in Rotorua, New Zealand, may be headed for bigger tracks. Google, who found out about it a few years ago,  has been so enamored with the system, in which users are suspended form the track in transparent pods to cycle around the landscape a t speeds of up to 45 km per hour, they’ve invested 1.05 million in developing the technology. I t could be the future for alternative transportation, so Google claims.  What one would do about traffic jams is something to ponder, but that’s a minor speed-bump compared to running fossil fuels till we’re extinct.