"Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy" - Wislawa Szymborska
GOOD WORK INSTITUTE
“We are offering an open-ended possibility, a type of learning where one can feel part of an alienating world which separates and demonizes differences and diversity, systematically creating hierarchies where the poor suffer, animals and ecosystems are tortured, dominating so many diminishing, distracting, interrupting a real focus on the beauty which comes from life's deepest inherent relationships between all that’s diverse.” Lisa Jacobson
The Good Work Institute’s mission is to cultivate, connect, and support a network of local community members who are fostering resilience and regeneration in the Hudson Valley.
This medium post shares my personal reflections on the process and learnings over a 3+ year period co-founding the Good Work Institute and designing and leading its core curriculum.
GWI offered me the platform to deepen my relationship with the Hudson Valley and grow as a leader. It's the most meaningful professional or personal development program I've ever been a part of. - Ellie Kassner (3rd Generation Iron Worker and CEO of W.H. Kassner)
GWI is actively working to expand the network of people who can make much-needed mental, physical, and psychological shifts towards a new paradigm of healthy planet/empowered people. We can make small changes happen on the regional level and create examples for other regions. I have great hope in our country but now, I have even more hope, so thank YOU!!!!” - Caroline Fenner (Political Organizer)
Eldering and Relational Wisdom
“Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves. If it’s a piece of music or a whitewater rapid or a fluctuation in a commodity price, study its beat. If it’s a social system, watch it work. Learn its history. Ask people who’ve been around a long time to tell you what has happened.” - Donella Meadows
I believe uplifting the wisdom of elders in our communities and fields of work is essential to a living future.
The inspiration to contemplate and develop intergenerational learning communities stems from lessons taught by mother nature, through traditions passed down through my family, remembering and learning indigenous principles and traditions, and through the work and mentorship of elders Judy Wicks, Michael Jones, Donna Schaper, and Lisa Jacobsen, among many others, and what my 92 year old grandmother often professes — that history constantly patterns and repeats itself.
Last Chance is a ghost-town eighty miles east of Denver in the plains of Colorado. My father grew up in the basement of an old schoolhouse, turned cafe that my grandparents ran.
Years ago there was a brush fire in Last Chance and nearly everything burned to the ground, except for the old cafe. As a fifth generation Colorado from the plains of Eastern Colorado, I have a deep connection to the land and stories kept there. In 2017, I returned to Last Chance to uncover what remains in the decay. 'Last Chance' is play based, in part, on my family’s lonesome story running the Last Chance Cafe and what the future might hold for a place with a fleeting purpose.
The Last Chance Play’s first reading was held at Sunview luncheonette, a cooperative artist space in Greenpoint Brooklyn on March 18, 2019.
Plans are underway for an upcoming show in Last Chance, CO on July 27, 2019 - stay tuned!
“So, transform yourself first… Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind, and cross borders.” - Yuri Kochiyama
I’ve designed and facilitated workshops and learning experiences around the world, in traditional and informal settings. Each experience intends to support an ethic of love, in relationship to ourselves, each other and the earth.
As a lifelong dancer, I often embrace emergent, participatory and movement-based design. Emergent and participatory workshop design allows for maximum amount of relevant content to arise from the group — with a high degree of flexibility to optimize for unearthing individual and collective wisdom. With this in mind, I hold space for every voice to be heard and acknowledge the teacher and the student in each of us. Without an invitation into emergent participation, the educational experience and outcomes are less relevant and timely to the unique needs of each participant. In embodied learning, we bring learning and awareness back to and through the physical state of being.
Here are some examples of gatherings and workshops I’ve developed and facilitate, always collaboratively.
“No outer teaching will affect human progress as much as our common interest in learning from one another. It is now a time for us to draw from the deep pool of our collective creative energy to craft a future to which we can all belong.” - Michael Jones
When we look beyond the physical materials of a place we can observe that it’s the dialogue, interactions, exchanges, and collaborations between its people, diverse and often spontaneous, which make a place into a living ecosystem. - Community Built Futures
I work with extraordinary people and communities by shining a light on their deepest dreams and catalyzing them towards their greatest potential. By designing education and community programs, that are often very place specific, we bring a shift towards bio-diverse collaboration - the emergent outcomes of which reach beyond what we can initially conceive.
I’m part of collective of community builders, from around the world, who collaborate to advance the field of Community Building at large. We develop curriculum, and collaborate on projects that bring a deeper sense of trust between people and a sense of belonging to a place.
In 2019 I completed community eco-system project with the Barranquilla Chamber of Commerce in Colombia, along with Community Canvas designer Sascha Mombartz and chef and community builder Charles Michel. You can read our full report here and follow similar upcoming work at communitybuiltfutures.com
Working in food systems finance for the microfinance institution, Accion, I administered financial capital to hundreds of small business across the service, agricultural, manufacturing, and retail industries. I served on the board of Slow Money NY to bring about a shift to more patient capital in our food systems. As a consultant and now advisor to Bernoulli Finance, I developed ethical growth strategies and helped to catalyze investments in slow food businesses across the US.
During this time financing local food systems, I had the fortune of meeting skilled Mexican farmer, Gudelio Garcia, and teamed up with him as a dedicated volunteer. In 2015, Gudelio was cultivating a single-acre of land on one of the oldest farmsteads on Staten Island, NYC.
Through the Kickstarter campaign, we developed a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that allowed New Yorkers to pay in advance during the winter for shares of the fresh Mexican produce like pipiche, epazote, and papalo in the spring.
The Kickstarter garnered significant attention and helped to formalize El Poblano Farm, as well as bring awareness and support to immigrant farmers who are helping to feed New York City residents.
Over three years we grew the CSA to 200 members, and the El Poblano was sold at three New York City Markets over 16 weeks in the summer.