Patreon: Impact storytelling, crowdfunded

Friends, sisters, brothers, family, 

As an artist and fellow human who has chosen to walk an unconventional path of life, I've infused creativity into balancing the bills (responsibilities) and the hills (challenges, adventure). Yeah, that's about all the rhythm you'll get out of me. 😉

As a number of you know, I have traveled and taken work and play with me beyond the geopolitical boundaries that separate us. Some of you have also followed the journey via social media and/or kept a line of contact, both of which I appreciate and cherish immensely. If I could attempt to condense these years of travel, learning, and photography, it's this: We humans absolutely have the capacity, and much more in common than we currently believe to co-create a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible. That food and stories bring people together. And everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher. 

We live in a bizarrely inspirational yet despairing time in human and earth history. It's perhaps easier than ever to spiral downwards with the myriad of attention-grabbing and tragic headlines in the mainstream channels, and forget the prevailing forces of good, resilience, and beauty that surround us even more often. In recent years, photography to me has evolved to not simply be about immortalizing moments in time, but a medium and channel through which beauty and humanizing, vital stories can be told and reshared. 

In 2013, my organic farm and bicycle journey brought me into a mind-expanding, hands-on look at our local and global food systems, and also into the presence of the Shishalh First Nations in coastal British Columbia, where I witnessed reconciliation and healing through confessions and drumming. The words and songs shared forever echo in my mind and heart. 

2014 took me across the Pacific to SE Asia, where I crossed paths while hitchhiking in Northern Thailand with several indigenous hill tribe young women who quickly became friends and later revealed the traumatizing history of physical and/or sexual abuse in their lives as well as many they know. This led to my first video piece telling the story of my friend Faa and the children she has helped nurture through the organization co-founded with her sister. 

Through the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle from 2015-2016, I took part in and documented this urban regeneration community project that has propagated seeds in the earth as well as in the minds of people of all backgrounds and ages. Many of you also know that from mid-2015, Conscious Impact, Nepal, and the Himalayas entered into my life, and haven't exactly left. 

An invitation from my friend Peter Wells to New Zealand brought me for the past 8 months to live and work down under to further develop my craft as a photo/videographer while further tap into the global mycelial network of earth stewards and do-gooders who don't see economics, business, communities, and nature to be mutually exclusive, but intrinsically interwoven and co-dependent. Shoutouts to the Otakaro Orchard/Food Resilience Network, Ministry of Awesome, Erica Austin, the XCHC team, the Enspiral network, and so many more to have added such deep, invaluable knowledge and connections to my world. 

Travel, service, and photography have helped me discover my purpose, and that purpose at this moment is to not only engage and take active part in seed-planting, light-reflecting, earth and mind-healing projects and initiatives, but also fill the role of storytelling alongside countless others who have been upholding this craft for generations upon generations. I will continue to capture, write up, and create content on stories passed onto me or of personal experiences gathered from wherever life brings me (back) to next. 

Here's my dilemma: all the content I've posted and published have been free, but the creation process of this content isn't free. The gear, the travel, planning, accommodation, food, phone plans, work spaces/internet, writing, editing, hiring talents and services cost money, time, and more. I have countless individuals to thank for their shared resources to have accomplished what I have, especially in recent years. I am wealthy in connections, friendships, have an abundance in joy, quality food, and opportunities. The only major bottleneck is in the finances. I want to remove this bottleneck because that will allow me to make less compromises, and focus more on content creation and collaborations with those who share this vision. 

I value my time and contributions to others and to the world in a monetized society that marginalizes independent artists like myself, and I am determined to be innovative in creating a residual income. I also wish to revisit projects such as Conscious Impact in Nepal, rebuilding, sharing, and documenting our progress and the stories of the incredible people who take part. Along the same note, I want to continue to offer discounted or pro-bono work for individuals and organizations that may not have a budget, yet their stories are equally important, if not more so. 

That's where Patreon comes in. Instead of a one-time contribution on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon is set up for reoccurring contributions to sustain my livelihood and creations - and a small trickle from you, and dozens, or even hundreds of supporters to keep the stream flowing and allowing me to keep doing what I am good at and love. In order for me to continue to be of service for others, I need to take care of myself first.

If my work and time has added value to your life, past, recent, present, whether through photos that you've enjoyed, through resonating words, camera and shooting advice, please consider pitching in and ride this train of life with me and many people I'll be sharing this journey with. There are also various rewards that may captivate your interest, so be sure to check out what you'd get in exchange for your monthly contributions. 

Yes, even $1/month. Seriously. Because $1 is able to feed this belly in several parts of the world that I tend to spend time in. And many of you know I like to eat. 😉

I've made a special video for this.
Watch and read more of my vision + what you would get in return at: www.patreon.com/subtledream

With love and gratitude, 
Jonathan

PS: I shared bits of my journey in a PechaKucha talk in New Zealand (thanks again, Erica!), and inspirations from my earlier years and more of my perspectives in this podcast called Seeds: Talking Purpose with Steven Moe (cheers to you Steven!). 

PPS: The idea of an online "tip-jar" has been on my mind for about a year now, but it wasn't until my friend Steve Tracy informed me about Patreon last year that all of this clicked - big thanks, Steve!

Enspiral

This Enspiral thing, through the vision of the magical Digital Storytellers team, in this case the venerable Mikey Leung + Peter Dowson, and also through the words by those who have taken part in this network of folks living with purpose and doing good. 
The retreat they hosted was the reason I went up to Wellington to finally check out the capital city, (re)meet some radical peoples, and to join in on this community. What a week! 
Back in the groove of things now with new energy and motivation, and without a doubt some great new connections to keep cultivating.

Moe Family Photoshoot

What an awesome time in that gorgeous late afternoon sun light last week with the Moe family. I gotta tell ya, being a solo shooter-facilitator for a 8-person family photoshoot ain't easy, but challenge accepted and completed! It was a blast getting to know the kids a bit while playing with them at the playground to start things off. I always enjoy that process leading up to capturing the genuine smiles and expressions while being in an outdoor environment where the kids (and adults!) can roam, run around, and interact with the natural surroundings. I think it makes for a very organic feel to the images. Big thanks to Steven Moe for the idea and the whole family in going with the flow while giving me their best genuine smiles possible! Here are some of the favorites from our photoshoot. 😎

9 Feb 2018 edit: Ellie just wrote and posted this review on my photography page, and it absolutely just made my heart melt. 

Another level of photography!! Ahh Jonathan what a gift you have and such a gift you gave us: Precious moments immortalised forever!!
Jonathan took family pictures for us while our dear parents were in town from overseas, which was no small task with 4 small children in an open space up way past their bedtime! Despite tears, injuries and “free spirited” kids Jonathan dodged it all and produced
a whole series of exquisite, dreamy images, bursting with life and energy.

Jonathan is just lovely to deal with. Relaxed and easy going, allowing the session to take its course but always in control. He connected with all our kids and really went the extra mile to capture each one in their element. I think we have a friend for life

He anticipated each shot, waiting for just the right moment to capture the untamed energy and joy of the 2 year old, the reluctant coy smile of the would-be rebel 8 year old , the tender affection of a Nonie and her granddaughter, and even the sweet connection of the somewhat camera-shy parents

A photo can be a freeze-frame record of a face or place on a given date, with a particular hairstyle or fashion of the time, or it can be a portal - a glimpse into the soul of a person, that shows their character and brings them to life in a way that generations to come will be able to connect with. The beauty and depth of that portal is the art of Jonathan’s craft. I find a new favourite every time I look .
— Ellie Moe

'Seeds: Talking Purpose' Podcast with Steven Moe

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Steven Moe, a corporate and commercial lawyer based in Christchurch, New Zealand, and had a solid, fun, recorded conversation on purpose and life. Steven recently published a legal handbook on social enterprises in the country and has been doing interviews with entrepreneurs and social enterprises about their journeys on his podcast named 'Seeds: Talking Purpose'. I feel honored to have been invited to be on the podcast. The growing list of humans and their truly impressive set of accomplishments and contributions to earth and society are humbling. 

Steven masterfully guided the conversation from my childhood to teenager years as an immigrant, as he waives into it his own story and aspirations, and we move into my university days and during that the exposure to the greater world, its beauty, its problems, my craft, and my finding of sometimes-often bumpy pathways that have taken me where I am currently.  As Steven articulates it even better than I can, "...In this interview we talk about his early life in Hong Kong, immigrating to the United States as a child, what formed him and gave him a sense of direction, his involvement in the Beacon Food Forest, a community-driven food-producing garden and forest in the city, work in Nepal after the earthquakes and his views about photography as a form of art and what makes capturing moments in time through photos so special."

Big thanks, Steven! The podcast can be listened to directly below or through the Seeds: Talking Purpose website.

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2017 End of Year Time-Lapse Reel

Here's a little treat I have compiled together of time-lapse highlights from 2017. They represent 4 of the countries I've had the lovely opportunity to spend time in and photograph. Everything is going to fly by quickly and there is no fancy editing except for sequence change to a few beats. Don't blink because in this short video your eyes will see tens of thousands of images representing tens of hours compressed into 85 seconds. Happy new year everyone!

Music by the incredible The Polish Ambassador - 'Dark Between Stars'

Poem Gift

Written by a new friend and gifted to me on Christmas. What a special treat!

'Light Painting'

Your eye is
the camera.

Your heart is
the lens.

Your mind is the
focus.
Look out for the light
that sliver of time,
that fragile crystalline moment
that will reveal
a hidden dimension.
Turn a photo into portraits. Into art.

Reveal something new
like an explorer’s first map
of an unknown country.
First steps. First dawns. First light.
Showing what
was previously unknown.

Pull back layers to reveal
something about them and perhaps
more importantly,
about yourself.

So keep telling their stories.
Keep painting, with light.

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Words-thoughts through a rough patch

It's incredible how easily our emotions can get turned upside down simply by a few words from the right individual. 
I've been, for the most part, riding on a high since landing in New Zealand 46 days ago. From reuniting with old friends, speaking for the first time in front of an audience of 500, attending an immensely inspirational conference of change makers, meeting heaps of new friends and making professional contacts, living and working in a new environment, exploring the wide open spaces and all the nooks and crannies in between, to reaffirming my own purpose and value in life -- this past month and a half has been enjoyable as well as enlightening.
I don't believe many people, including my friends and family members, understand why I do what I do and the unique rewards plus challenges that this lifestyle brings. For starters, it's easy to romanticize my travels as a never-ending fairytale of wanderlust and adventure. It's easy to look at my Instagram & Facebook feed and be "so jealous." It's easy to be mesmerized by the kaleidescope of colors, textures, foods, landscape, humans, sunsets, and moments of joy that I have meticulously captured and curated to organize, edit, caption, and share with you and the world wide web. That, my friends, is not the full picture. No one's social media accounts is ever the full picture. Anyone who thinks it's anywhere close completely undermines the platter of human emotions and spirit that makes life both challenging and endearing.
Like you, I sometimes-often struggle to get out of bed. I have had mornings, afternoons, and evenings where I sit there, with both palms of my hands in my face, thinking and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my heart (e.g. just now). Everyone's been there. I don't think I've been honest enough to myself to articulate and post those moments, too.

"... follow your dreams... But I do pray that you will settle down somewhere with a job/family one day."

The 'But' negates everything prior.

"... just something to make a decent living..."

Because I don't?
Because not having 5, 6, 7 digits in my bank account says I am not successful? Because my conscious decision not to hold down a regular job while putting down a mortgage to pursuit some rotten fantasy capitalistic societal propaganda "American Dream" makes me any less valuable? Because I choose to put my own happiness and the greater good of humanity and the earth before my financial earnings prove that I am not worthy?
Don't slap your right hand with your left. Don't say "I am proud of you" when the next thing out of your mouth is "will you settle down." I can't take this contradicting bullshit. 
I've been working hard and living a decent life. I don't need $50,000+ USD/year to live "happily." Hell I don't even need $10,000 in most parts of the world. Don't and stop using the standards that have worked well for others on me. "Getting a job", "make more money", "settle down", and "have a family" are NOT things I have needed nor need at the moment. 
I was brought up to be a decent human being, and I've been living within the moral ethics that you and many teachers have instilled in me. I in turn have done what I could to spread that to more people I come across who are younger, around the same age, and even older. Isn't that enough? Why does my happiness, my lasting joy, need to conform to some guidelines of the past? Can you really believe that there is one road map in this quest of life? I am not drug dealing. I am not harming anybody. I choose work that fulfill and cultivate meaning and purpose. I choose to invest in knowledge and in learning from the world instead of financing a $60,000 vehicle. I choose to serve those in need while nurturing my evolving needs and interests. I have supportive friends who nurture my creativity and sense of curiosity. Most of them bring zero monetary value to my life, yet their presence, their lessons, and their companionship are invaluable. That is all I could really ask for. 
Do you know how hard it is to uphold this nomadic, creative life? Do you know how many moments I have to stand strong in the face of defeat, failure, and disappointments one after another while thousands of kilometers away from familiar faces and loved ones? Do you realize the difficulty and the sustained strength necessary to continue staying inspired and to inspire when the media splits out tragedy day in day out, when I am aware that the ice caps are rapidly melting, the carbon and sea levels are rising, the soil are eroding, the ecosystems are being destroyed, with species rapidly going extinct, that there is widespread injustice, fear, hunger, pain, suffering all across the world, and folks undervalue your work, never pay you, and some even ask you to work for free? Do you really know?

Don't say "proud" so casually anymore. It's like cry wolf. You say that, and say something else enough times, and I won't even believe it anymore.

Tomorrow is a new day. Onwards.