Yoga for Nepal - Conscious Impact

Did you know that Conscious Impact is about to run our third annual yoga retreat at the village where we've worked and live? November 6-15 -- and trust me, that's a beautiful time to be amongst the Himalayas.

Learn more and sign up via: https://www.consciousimpact.org/yoga

Special thanks to Sebastian Buffa of Redefined Films for filming and recording Dharma Shakti working her magic physically, verbally, and energetically with the land and people. Putting this video together was a breeze because of you guys' sublime work! 

Beacon Food Forest featured in MOHAI, Seattle

Several days ago, I visited MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry) in Seattle, where they have been showcasing an exhibition called "Edible City" since November last year. The Beacon Food Forest is amongst many featured in the beautiful exhibition telling stories of restaurants, chefs, farmers, and edible gardens in and around the region since the city was just a small port. The project has a special place in my heart (as mentioned in the previous post, too!) and I am very happy to have a couple of my photographs taken during my involvement with the purely community-driven, permaculture-inspired project. I can definitely recommend a visit if you live or are visiting Seattle in the near future. The "Edible City" is just one of several exhibitions at MOHAI, and it'll be on display until September 10 this year. Check out MOHAI at their site @ www.mohai.org

Published in "Forest Gardening In Practice"!

Between late 2014 and early 2016, I was actively involved with the Beacon Food Forest, an open-to-all food forest just miles from downtown Seattle. The concept behind the food forest is simple - to cultivate and maintain a food-producing urban oasis that provides nutrients for both humans and wildlife while at the same time rejuvenates local ecology and sense of community and connection to the land. After years of conception, planning, collecting public input and support, dealing with city officials to secure the available land and permits, and then of course, the conversion of grass lawn into the thriving garden of eden that it has been since 2012. Dozens upon dozens (and often 100+) of volunteers come through the Beacon Food Forest every month to help weed, trim, chop, compost, move, roll, drop, plant, and harvest and keep the abundance rolling in for anyone and everyone. Native species such as black currants are complemented by a diversity of other medicinal and sustanance-creating annual and perennial plants and trees. The food forest is currently in the process of expanding its current size (approximatley 2 acres) to double that. "Phase 2" will be the result from the input from hundreds of dedicated volunteers and invested neighborhoods over the past 2 years. Thanks in part to a grant by The Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, Phase 2 will not only have tremendous public support but financial backing as well (for the time being).

The Beacon Food Forest is arguably my favorite place in the city of Seattle (Golden Gardens and Discovery Park are runners-up). The profound benefits of a public, open-for-all-at-anytime gathering place where folks of all ages are free to come as they are and learn about plants, food, nutrient cycles, meet neighbors, and exchange knowledge are deep and enriching, to say the least. I was fortunate to have been introduced by this incredible project by a good friend and mentor from British Columbia, and captured many magical moments in this special space with many friends and neighbors. 

I started working with the author, Tomas Remiarz, on the publication of the chapter on the Beacon Food Forest about 2 years ago, and received a copy of the final product just a few months back. I am proud and joyed to have my work featured in such a beautiful book showcasing a number of amazing examples of what folks from around the globe are doing to revitalize urban and rural places to make healthier communities for all living beings. Grateful especially for friends and connections established through the food forest and now our roots are amazingly intertwined forever.

Learn more about the Beacon Food Forest through their website, www.beaconfoodforest.org and connect with their social media networks on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beaconfoodforest) and Instagram (@BeaconFoodForest or hashtag #BeaconFoodForest).

Check out the Tomas' book and read what others are saying about it:

Welcome to the new subtledream.com

Welcome! This new subtledream.com is currently on ongoing effort to redo my website and portfolio to truly showcase the photographic and videographic work that I have been doing on my own as well as with other talents and organizations I've been supporting

A project that has happily occupied most of my time in the past 2 years is Conscious Impact (www.consciousimpact.org), a non-profit dedicated to working alongside local community members to rebuild their village in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal. Check out the good work that has been done since August 2015 through their website and social media outlets - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and support us via consciousimpact.org/donate

Hilariously and ironically, Conscious Impact's website may very well be a better showcase of my work then my own website. But soon...! Keep posted, friends. Meanwhile, connect with me and see my recent work via my social media outlets - links on the bottom right.

-Jonathan

Conscious Impact's main page - background photo features the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School

Conscious Impact's main page - background photo features the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School

Photoshoot with Emerson

I had wanted to meet Emerson well before he was even named. Mike and Caroline are close friends from Seattle and I missed them both dearly after departing from the Pacific Northwest. Emerson came into their lives late last year and I have had such a lovely time with the whole family since returning a couple weeks back. Here are several captures from our time at the park recently while testing out the (new to me) Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. What a gem! Perfect for close to semi-close portraits. I am a huge fan of prime lenses and have been using them primarily for photoshoots and special events for several years. This Sigma has already landed in the "top shelf" in my book. Behind-the-scene shots by Caroline. ;)

Everest Basecamp & 3 Passes Trek

Everest Basecamp + 3 Passes Trek in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal

Dates: 21 March - 16 April 2017 (27 days total)
Start: Shivalaya, ~1,800 m
End: Phaplu/Salleri, ~2,300 m
Lowest elevation: ~1,500 m, at Dhudu Kosi River crossing near Nuthala
Highest elevation: 5,643 m (18,514 ft), at Kala Patthar
Transport: Bus + legs only! :)

Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

Trekking Map (incomplete)

Gear

A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

  • 50L backpack
  • 2L water bladder
  • 1L water bottle
  • 0.5L thermest - amazing for hot drinks
  • water purifier (Steripen Ultra)
  • water filter/pouch (Sawyer mini water filter)
  • sunglasses - so very crucial
  • regional trekking map - also rec'd: offline maps
  • Kindle (Paperwhite)
  • Down sleeping bag rated for -7C/19F (REI Igneo)
  • mini first-aid, sunblock, moisturizer, mini towel

Clothing & Footwear

Clothing/gear note: The retail $ damage on these things would be nuts, and the only reason I was able to afford them is because I had worked in the outdoor industry and got everything heavily discounted while under their payroll (and the occasional thrift store gems!). There are many low-priced outdoor gear shops in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and other trekking towns that carry replicas of North Face/Marmot/Mountain Hardwear/etc. base layers, jackets, pants, and accessories for just 10-40% the branded retail cost, and many (though certainly not all) of these products function very well, or even just as well as the real thing. That said, I've seen porters/guides/other trekkers hit the trail with simple shirts, jeans, flip flops, and everything in between. I don't believe there is a "correct way," but I'm fortunate to have solid gear and, much more importantly, that has kept me safe, warm, dry, and will last a long time. A water filter/purifer is highly recommended to minimize the chance of catching water-borne illnesses and eliminate the need for single-use plastic water bottles. 

The trail-runners were great and I wore them for most of the trek. Even with temperatures dipping below freezing at high altitude and/or early mornings, with medium-weight wool socks and as long as I kept moving my feet stayed happy. The mid-top boots were welcomed at higher altitudes (4000+ meters), stream crossings, and trekking over ice/snow, and for some additional lateral support, but I am blessed with strong ankles and therefore didn't absolutely need them for this reason. Another benefit with wearing ventilated shoes - MUCH less stink. ;) It's more weight to carry 2 pairs but I felt prepared for the hugely varied and at times unpredictable conditions from 1500 - 5500+ meters.

I think gaiters and microspikes are optional depending on the time of the year and snowfall from previous season. My friends and I started in late March, which is considered early in the trekking season. Folks do trek all year in the Khumbu region, though with the winter cold between Dec-Mar, much fewer people, including lodge/guesthouse owners, are at higher altitudes. We luckily had friends who had just returned from the region and told us that traction device and gaiters would be useful as they had gotten snowed-in at Gokyo (a seasonal town at 4790 m) for 2-3 days in the 2nd/3rd week of March. I would imagine later in April and May these 2 pieces of gear can be omitted to save space and weight. There's always Namche Bazaar - the hub of the Everest/Khumbu region - to get the latest word on trail conditions and weather and to pick up supplies.

Camera Equipment

Additional notes: The focal length range was tremendous and made for nearly every type of shot possible. The quality from those zooms with the full-frame sensor is impressive, however the weight was undoubtedly on the heavier end. I would certainly consider a lighter setup (ie: 20 or 24mm prime + 70-200 or 70-300mm zoom) or a mirrorless/micro 4/3rd's camera with an all-in-one lens. The GoPro was great fun to have, and the tripod was essential for me to do night and long exposures as well as time-lapses.

Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation.

Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation.

Thriving in the broken landscape, living in SOILdarity [TEDx talk]

Several weeks back when I was in Barcelona and feeling the weight of the issues of our world crush down on my mind, I wrote a post with some of those thoughts. A number of you read it and responded, and I was thrilled to have received a number of heartfelt replies and words of encouragement. When I was in Los Angeles briefly in June I visited a good friend Ryan Serrano and caught up with life. One of the many things mentioned was keeping up the good work admist seemingly a sea of apathy and massive consumerism. 
Ryan calls it "well-informed futility syndrome, a condition of anxiety that comes from knowing about the world's problems and wanting to fix them but feeling helpless and overwhelmed against the cultural and economic patterns that create them in the first place."
I am blessed to have walked this journey in the past several years with countless individuals who continue to lift their heads and carry the light with them as they show others the light and the joy that we all have within. 
This TEDx talk is one of the brightest beacons of light I have come across in recent times. Take the time to re-energize yourself with my brother Ryan's words and perspective. 
PLUG: if you are in southern California and in search of ecological landscaping advice, give Ryan a holla through his business via Earth Steward Ecology.

 

What do healthy societies and healthy ecosystems have in common? In his inspired TEDx Talk, Ryan Serrano shares the importance of grassroots movements in an age of globalization and the power of rooting sustainability within our cultures. Ryan Serrano is a student and practitioner of regenerative design.

#MoreThanATree Campaign

I am late to the #MoreThanATree campaign, but folks ought to know about this, so here's my post.
As the videography and editor of this piece, I can tell you this campaign really, truly is much more than just a (coffee) tree (or 10,000!). This represents Conscious Impact's original commitment and intent in the village of Takure - a long-term vision and solution that is in-line with the community members' point of view. Narayan Bhattarai, a Takure local and a walking encyclopedia of local plants and all-things agriculture (and more), is our amazing community liaison and a dear friend since the inception of the project. Together with the agriculture team, we have taken part in many conversations and plannings in working to this point - the joining of an existing coffee growing cooperative that guarantees buyers at a fixed rate. What does this mean? It signifies that farmers who are part of this co-op can sell their harvest coffee beans at a rate that would bring in considerable income for his/herself and their families. What other benefits are there, you may ask? Good question! Since coffee trees enjoy being in the shade, part of coffee planting means also planting canopy trees which will tower over the coffee. For this we will put in the ground native and other fruit/food-bearing trees that will not only provide shade, but also food for humans, birds, and other fauna will be attracted to his multi-layer habitat, just as a natural and healthy-functioning ecosystem would. Another added bonus: more trees and a restored natural habitat = less erosion, and that's definitely a good thing in these deforested hillsides battered with heavy monsoon rains every summer. 
With that said, and having watched these coffee saplings grow from sprouts 13 months ago to their height now, the evolution of the agriculture program and its potential to really make a positive impact on regional community members ecologically and financially, I am beyond pleased to have cut this together to fund a project that I believe in personally. Big, big thanks to Sunita Pandey and Alyson Noele Sagala in translating our interviews throughout the Spring season, while the ag team consisting of Bryce Geralynn TannerGreg Robinson, Narayan Bhattarai, Jose Whelan, and Renée Dyke certainly deserve a round of applause for their dedication and (ongoing) work in making this a reality. We are at 44% or so now and I don't see why we cannot hit 100% before the summer's end. Big thanks to all who have supported us so far!

Ready to pitch in?
Campaign fundraiser link: https://www.classy.org/campaign/more-than-a-tree/c118678

Want to know more?

Vimeo video link (to share with those not only on Facebook): https://vimeo.com/consciousimpact/morethanatree

See more on Conscious Impact's Facebook page, Instagram @ConsciousImpact #MoreThanATree, and of course our website www.consciousimpact.org

PS: Gratitude to Rebeca Segal for photographing alongside yours truly, and to the musical talents Scott HansonIftach Yaya Meir, and Chris Mains for the sublime soundtrack!

How strange it feels...

How strange it feels, to be alive and well, spending time in one of the most popular and picturesque destinations in Europe, yet be aware of the colossal amount of tragic events, ignorance, and sorrow in the world with a Trump America, a war-torn Syria with millions displaced, griefing and anger over the Manchester inicident, post and neo-colonial Africa and Latin America and with that centuries of implications, erosion of indigenous peoples' rights and voices, regions which still haven't recovered from the financial crunch of '07 and' 08, climate change-induced droughts, floods, and subsequently, the beginning of an era of climate refugees and water wars -- and here I am, enjoying the almost-summer breezes, sangria, tapas, sweets, and sunshine of Barcelona while paying a whooping €15 to see a "donation-based" cathedral that was started in the 1880s and will not be complete until 2026 (extremely magnificent structure, don't get me wrong, however I'm thinking what that quantity of money and energy could have been dedicated to instead). I find myself often surrounded by folks who will take 10+ selfies to get that one shot to look cute/cool/radical to their friends/followers whilst not particularly paying attention to where they actually are and the significance that surrounds them. I see shoppers who drop hundreds upon thousands of dollars-euros to temporarily satisfy their superficial material fix, only to return for more. As asthetically beautiful, full of history and vibrant arts, I've been reminded a number of times that I am back in this part of the western world where excess has driven and continues to drive these cities and society. I can't say I am surprised, yet I've found myself in a dilemma that I haven't felt this strongly since being in Japan back in November. I feel disgusted. I feel let down by humanity. I feel that I cannot be on the same team as these fellow humans who seemingly have little to no awareness of their actions and the happenings around our shared world, which as we go deeper and deeper into the technology and information age, ignorance to me becomes a choice rather than not. I feel the impending doom hitting as we keep riding these cruise ships on fossil fuels as the sea levels continue to rise, flooding homes and displacing people we don't know and don't care to know while we tell ourselves YOLO (You Only Live Once) so I deserve to spend and do what I earn so STFU (Shut The F Up) but hey here's $10 on Kickstarter for your non-profit phew my soul is cleansed and karma will bring me the goodies for lyfe! That same time when I got hit by this wall, this blatant culture of excess and ignorance, I started a long personal post about a related climate change dream that I had had the night prior. I never quite finished it as I got deeply concerned about humanity and my own mental well-being as the words came out. Despite being my last evening in Barcelona tonight I made the decision to stay in after picking up some fruit and empanadas from the store around dinner time. I needed this time to reflect and process it all -- how do I continue to keep my head up and fight the good fight? Where do I continue to draw motivation to move forward in these turbulent times? What is my greater contributions and what positive impact have I and am still creating? Where do I go from here as I wrap up my 14 months being away from "home"? Is what is geopolitically considered the US even home? Who can I collaborate, live, thrive, and be with to allow myself to be myself and co-create the best that I and we can be? Thank goodness for the good people that you do meet and hear about. Just earlier this afternoon I went to check out a co-working space in the middle of Barcelona where an Italian couple who has been living here for several years do a weekly donation-based luncheon for anyone and everyone with mostly rescued foods and groceries from nearby stores and markets. Apparently the food waste movement started in this city a little while ago and now there are grassroots groups dedicated to picking up what would otherwise be thrown away due to arbitrary "expiration" dates. Phew. I needed to meet them and know that. But I do wonder and think... how strange it feels to feel lonely amidst so many.