Back on track in July with a boat load of news & content

Alright, back on track for a beginning of the month release!  I am still feeling that post-vipassana peace and glow from exactly a month ago. Grounded.  

Here's what I've got in store for you lovely patrons in this July newsletter:

  • 1 year of patreon + Season 4 wrap-up

  • Good news you probably didn't hear about *new*

  • The latest #subtledream scoop

  • Future travels and work, updated (already)

  • Inspiring podcast

  • Motivating video

  • Pictures!

Celebrating 1 year of patreon + Conscious Impact Season 4 wrap-up

I wanna start to our season 4 wrap-up, a blog post written by Conscious Impact co-founder Orion Haas, whose dad's home in Sebastopol, California is currently where I am typing this from. Conscious Impact has had another incredible year, arguably our best yet in a number of metrics, and even qualitatively speaking. We have lowered our spending but produced about the same amount of earth bricks. We have been able to provide a humble stipend to long-term volunteers while continuing as always to pay all of our Nepali women and men fair wages for the work they do for their own community as well for us foreigners. The number of homes and other buildings being rebuilt continues to climb, the engagement with the youth and farmers via our empowerment and agriculture programs remain vivid and rewarding, and we continue to have a diversity of global volunteers of all backgrounds come dedicate their time, energy, and expertise to keep our projects running and evolving. We've also seen a number of returning volunteers from season 1-3 get their hands dirty again. All in all, it was another 9 months of service and immersion for the books. I am incredibly proud of the team and community, and also joyed to have been able to be a part of the first several weeks, thanks to YOU!

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When I launched the Patreon page a year ago, I had a vision of returning to Nepal once more to be of service while continuing to improve my storytelling craft, expand my global knowledge, and live simply in a tent for some months. As many of you know, my mother's health situation altered that course a bit, but nonetheless, I had a solid 6-week run with the team to move bricks, plant trees, eat countless plates of daal bhat (the traditional go-to meal of Nepal), and of course, document + film as much as we could to have quality content for the rest of the year (and beyond). My time back in California/North America has been enlightening too, to say the least, despite the emotional rollercoaster and slump I had experienced. Through the tougher moments do we have the ability to expand and grow more than ever. I trust that all of that was a necessary set of lessons in life for me to become a better version of myself. 

In this past year, a high majority of you have stayed on as patrons, pitching in $1-64 month after month. That has provided me so, so much more than financial support. It has shown me that my friends and network not only watch what I do/post/create, but value it so that they would tip me time and time again to keep me moving forward. 

I remember feeling a bit down by the lack of interactions here on the patreon platform, but the truth is as I hear back from a number of you via direct messages, most of you are simply glad to be able to support ME. That. Is. Immense. That trust you've instilled in me goes far beyond the $250-300 USD I get each month. You are the ones who I feel understands exchange in a deeper manner that transcends simply the monetary amount, but the value generated, the ripple effects our actions have, and especially when paired and amplified with other purpose-driven organizations, businesses, and individuals with a wider reach and impact. While I cannot give you all back a ROI (return on investment) that is quantifiable besides the discount off my prints, I do believe that we've shown ourselves some of the infinite ways to exchange out of value and impact for one another. 

I want to keep this going and grow it steadily. I am in it for the long haul, and hope that you'll keep hanging on for the ride alongside me and so many others as well. As with before and always, if you have a question, drop me a line/comment anytime! Also, if your financial situation has changed and you no longer than pitch in X dollars, please please unsubscribe and take care of your own self first. Absolutely no hard feelings. 

PS: I thought about getting all fancy and filming a heartfelt video and editing it all together, but the truth is, 24 hours in a day isn't enough and I seriously have a full plate to tackle with already. This paragraph comes with gratitude straight from my heart. <3  

Good news you probably didn't hear about 

Future Crunch is one of a handful of newsletters I happily subscribe to. I love that they exist. I actually enjoy AND look forward to receiving these fortnightly packages of good news and incredible happenings from around the world that really inspire me and I would otherwise not hear or learn about. There is a lot noise and negativity out there, and I know for a fact that I sometimes too get inundated by the enormity and heaviness of domestic and global happenings. This is the opposite. Not even kidding, it's one of the only newsletter I'd recommend that you subscribe to. I just became their patron on patreon, too. We're putting money in the hands of the good folks. 

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I thought it'd be of value to include their internet findings onto my monthly newsletter: 

  • The UK's astonishing coal free run continues - 13 days and counting. The National Grid says the country has not switched on its coal plants since 18th of May.

  • Algeria and Argentina have officially eliminated malaria. That means there are now 38 countries free from one of humanity's most devastating killers. CNN

  • The AIHW says that more people are surviving cancer in Australia than ever before. Since 1989, the mortality rate has dropped by 32% for men and by 21% for women.

  • The WHO has officially decided to remove 'gender identity disorder' from its list of mental illnesses. Welcome to the 21st century folks. CBS

  • A majority in Brazil's Supreme Court has voted in favour of criminalising homophobia and transphobia, making them the equivalent of racism. BBC

  • New research says US states that legalised marijuana have experienced a remarkable decline in serious injury from domestic violence. C'mon 'Straya. Green State

  • Staggering numbers of whales are being sighted off the shores of New York. Cleaner waters have caused a 540% increase in numbers in just eight years. Newsweek

  • The United Kingdom has become the first major G7 economy to commit to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. BBC

  • Germany produced 47% of its electricity from clean sources in the first five months of 2019, putting it well ahead of its 2025 targets. Renew Economy

  • The number of people killed in wars around the world has reached it lowest level in seven years, and battle fatalities have fallen by 43% since 2014. PRIO

  • In a landmark victory for Africa's LGBTQI+ activists, Botswana's High Court has decriminalized homesexuality, overturning a colonial-era law. Independent

  • In Rwanda, 95% of babies are now receiving vaccinations for rubella, measles and polio, and it's also on track to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer. CNN

  • Inspired by the EU, Canada has announced it will phase out harmful single use plastics, such as water bottles, plastic bags and straws, by 2021. HuffPo

  • Vietnamese authorities have banned herbicides containing glyphosate after it was discovered that the substance causes cancer. Asia Times

  • Canada has banned whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity, as well as the trade, possession, capture and breeding of cetaceans. NPR

  • An area nearly twice the size of England will become a 'blue belt' of protected waters after the government created 41 new marine conservation zones. Guardian

I acknowledge there are still countless atrocities happening around the world, but this - all of this - helps me to stay balanced on what is GOOD and well on our beautiful planet. There is much, much work to be done folks. We're just getting started. 

The latest #subtledream scoop

Been posting much more to Stories rather than posts, as many things happening of late are fun to share for the moment and temporarily. 

Since the last (solstice) post, I've traveled to the lovely town of Sebastopol in northern California where I reunited with a number of lovely faces and humans of Conscious Impact and had a round of meaningful discussions about our ongoing work and future of the organization and community. I also got to see sights all around the region with new and old friends, deepening my familiarity of my home state and appreciation for its immense natural beauty in all lights and forms. 

Off to a rolling start is a week and a half to (finally) be mostly stationary to work and manifest plans, travels, and projects in the coming months. What a blessing to have my friend's home to live and work out of! 

I have 3 major ongoing projects currently - 1.) Conscious Impact (our big video + social media support), 2.) my friends Yushin & Andy's wedding video, and also 3.) a video for Illumination Learning Studio in Seattle. I am constantly learning to better prioritize and time manage, and I most certainly am correlating my ability to concentrate by staying put at a homebase rather than setting up and packing again every couple of days. These remaining 6 days will be pivotal in testing and challenging my ability to deliver well and more efficiently than ever. 

Future travels and work, revamped (of course)

Remember that semi-chaotic schedule of summer and autumn happenings? This past week or so has seen a massive revamp and additions. 

Here's the notable projects (already) coming down the pipe:

See those aerial shots above a garden? That's the Beacon Food Forest that I've written about on my main patreon page. They are 2 of the very first high-resolution aerial shots of the community-powered project right outside downtown Seattle. Beacon Food Forest is essentially my Conscious Impact-equivalent in the Pacific Northwest region. The humans involved in it are incredible, we grow food, and we want everyone (and other living beings) to take part, eat out of it, and enjoy its harvest as well as other benefits. I shot a whole album of photos which can be seen here. I'll be shooting even more stills and will be able to participate in a few events of this permaculture-inspired, open-harvest community garden in the next couple months! Your support is making this possible. Love. 

Perhaps even more importantly - there has been serious discussions with Orion about my return to Nepal for Conscious Impact's season 5. Much like last year's vision of kickstarting season 4 with the crew, I would go back in a similar time frame with the financial support of you all and be able to shoot/edit/cook/serve/build/play to keep the every flowing stream of content going. I feel strongly supported by you all and many friends + clients who have hired or booked me for recent and future work in allowing me to take volunteer work like this. Together, you have really made me a photo and videographer for good, and damn am I feeling ultra-blessed right this moment typing it out on the laptop you crowdfunded for me too. Shall keep you all posted as soon as I have more clarity. 

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Inspiring podcasts

Got 2 podcasts all this month. I've gotten some sweet feedback on my podcast and video recs so I definitely wish to keep sharing. 

Both of these really speak to me, and hope they would with you, too. Give them a proper listen when you are walking, driving, sitting, being still, have the ability to listen and soak in great wisdom as well as transformative perspectives from these lovely humans. 

"The Inner Landscape of Beauty" with John O'Donohue with Krista Tippa on On Being (52:04)

"Transforming Attachment + Expectation in Relationships" with Guy Finley with David Newell on Inner Truth (55:41)

Motivating video

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"The Fear Of Being Fully Alive" by Jason Silva (4:31)

I've been following Jason Silva and his amazing productions of positivity and self-reflection and improvement for years. He is one of my 17 recipients of my monthly patreon support, because I believe he's raising our collective human awareness with many others to a level I'd like us to continue to uplift, together. 

Some stills from the past couple weeks

(1st and 2nd) From our Conscious Impact retreat and discussions

(3rd to 7th) Taking a friend visiting from Ghana around San Francisco and Sonoma county for a lot of "firsts"

(last 2) Remember my mentioning on the solstice newsletter about working out of an ocean-view mobile office that is the passenger seat of my car? These are from that very day.

With immense gratitude,

Jonathan

The patron-only version contains content that have been omitted from this public version. If you feel so inclined to check out why I do what I do and how I keep on going, feel free to check out my patreon page.

June (Solstice) Post - Spring into Summer!

Happy solstice!

This month I’ve decided to post publicly my monthly newsletter written previously only for my supporters on patreon. Patreon is a platform that gets content creators like yours truly paid with a subscription model. Since launching it last year, it has been transformative in my ability to be more bold, more consistent (something I’m still actively working on), and connect deeper with a number of my closest supporters while having a small but vital financial safety net in months I don’t take on much (if any) paid work.

I have been feeling that what I write could be of value to more people who are connected to me on social media and browse my site. If you’re curious what this patreon thing is, I invite you to spend a few minutes watching the video and reading https://patreon.com/subtledream. In becoming a supporter (patron), you get exclusive content AND discounts off prints that you can purchase on my site!

Here's what I've got for you all on this (late) newsletter: 

  • Vipassana

  • June donation

  • Featured work

  • What the coming months hold

  • Garbage pickup

  • Inspirational videos

  • Favorite podcasts

Vipassana 

Hi everyone. I'm back. Back in society for 20 days already actually. 

As many of you know, I went into a 10-day vipassana silent meditation from the end of May to early June. It was my first time. It entailed dozens upon dozens of hours sitting perfectly still, calm and perfectly quiet, feeling the bodily sensations, realizing oneself, shedding old cravings and aversions, and reprogramming the mind to think and operate more harmoniously internally and externally. Feeling. All the feels. Full spectrum. 
Some really pleasant, wonderful experiences and realizations came up, and plenty of unresolved issues and trauma from the past did, too. I sat with them, day in and day out, objectively, and trying not to judge myself nor the sensations. I came to a better understanding of myself in a way I had never felt before. The micro and macro experiences are profound, to say the very least. 

I'm hugely grateful for the time, the place, the rigid structure to form discipline (something I desperately lack in some departments), and for all the love and support I've gotten from friends coming into this session to re-emerge with a solid mental foundation in which to build my new life chapter onto. After the 10 days, I found myself quieter, slower, more appreciative of the gifts already present in my life, and being able to focus on one task (or person) better. Countless micro adjustments that have made a rather large and positive shift. One of my friends remarked in response to a voice message I had left her that I am now talking at a slower pace, less rushed, and more mindful with the words that I use. I chuckled, and wholeheartedly agree. 

Renewed, and ready to face life to make it meaningful, and beautiful. 

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(Re)donation 

At the end of my 10-day meditation at the vipassana center, all of the participants are given the opportunity to give a dāna (Pali and Sanskrit word for the virtue of generosity/charity or any form of giving). I thought that a good way to contribute for this transformative experience would be to subtract my fixed costs (mentioned in previous newsletters) from the net amount received for June. The math came out to $110.05 USD, rounding up to $111. I specifically made it out to the "pagoda fund" at the Northwest Vipassana Center. They are currently building a new structure with 41 meditation cells with a second hall underneath a beautifully-designed pagoda. I feel great about redirecting your financial support to me towards the center, as the vipassana sitting provided shelter, nourishment, care, and most importantly - tools and techniques that have since provided me mental clarity, the ability to reconcile the past, live presently, as well as to sustain my happiness to keep creating a life of meaning and purpose. Truly it has been an invaluable gift. 

In the future, my intention to continue the dāna is to be a server for a 5 or 10-day session - that is, I would be cooking, cleaning, and doing background work and preparations in holding that space for new as well as returning students as I now am. I feel that it would be a great way to give back further while be able to refresh the meditation practice and be reminded of a number of the philosophies. As with any other month, thank you, thank you, especially for those of you who contribute on my patreon. It means a whole lot to me, and know that each dollar goes to positively affect others who bring value to my life. 

Featured work 

Back when I was living and working in New Zealand, one of my favorite collaborations and projects was with Food Resilience Network/Edible Canterbury, who's mission is to create a regenerative food future for all, and together with their Community Manager Michael Reynolds, who is also a dear friend sharing many similar values and motivations of permaculture, community, and collaboration, we made this organizational video happen - in part thanks to your support in the very first couple months of my patreon launching. Their newly-done site features photos that I took between 2017 and 2018, and check it out here: https://ediblecanterbury.org.nz/

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What the coming months hold 

In a nutshell: 

  • Conscious Impact annual retreat

  • Conscious Impact video work

  • Road trip back to the PNW

  • Weddings

  • New Patreon video, and other new content

  • Search of a new home and community (or at least plant the seeds)

At the time of my finishing this post in the passenger seat of my little car overlooking the ocean in the Presidio in San Francisco, the odometer reads 3182 miles (5120 km) since I departed Los Angeles 6 weeks back on May 8th. Last weekend was my high school friend's wedding at a beautiful setting in the coastal hills. I thoroughly enjoyed capturing the special day on film (vs. stills) while seeing several high school connections, some I haven't seen since we graduated. I've got 2 more weddings booked for later this year - Sep 1 and Oct 5 - and they will both be in the Seattle region. The focus now is shifted to organizing and begin editing for the wedding that just and also for the school I filmed for in Seattle a couple weeks ago. It's a busy time on the road, but I am incredibly happy to be able to take this creative work with me while on the road and be able to explore old and new spots and see some dear friends. I've packed in my car a work desk, a large monitor for editing, and as a number of you already know too a solar panel and electric generator to charge and power all of my devices with renewable energy. Woohoo! 

So, tomorrow afternoon is the start of our Conscious Impact annual retreat. 6 of us will converge just north of the Bay Area, while a few will call in from various locations to tune in and provide their input throughout our multi-day discussions. I am hugely excited by this. The amount of work and progress made since I left Nepal in November last year has been monumental, and I cannot wait to hear more directly from the core team, discuss what went well and what could be improved going forward, and also lay some ground work for season (year) 5 and beyond. After the retreat and discussions, I will stay with Orion, one of the co-founders, to continue working on video projects together. We've both been anticipating this since earlier this year, and now that I am in a significantly better headspace and feeling healthy inside and out, I have confidence we'll make this time really productive. More to come. 

At some point in July, I will return to the Pacific Northwest for most of summer. I intend on staying with friends or helping them (and really, myself) housesit while they are out of town and work out of Seattle and my car if out in the woods (recall: solar panels, desk, and camping gear!) while spending much-welcomed time in the wild places all around the beautiful region. I will continue live frugally off what I have and will earn with recent and upcoming photo and video gigs along with the support I get from all of you. Many hours will be spent for Conscious Impact work, and I foresee myself investing some time once more with the Beacon Food Forest to shoot and create some content too. It's pretty amazing to make this a reality when just a little over a year I wrote down and published the original vision back in Australia at the time of the patreon launch. Live simply, support the value and community-driven organizations dear to my heart with my craft, and amplify our reach and positive impact together. 

While in Scandinavia and more recently on this new chapter of life, I've been jazzed up by so many great ideas that I feel almost overwhelmed! There are so many stories and topics I wish to write about, and countless video ideas I want to execute. Where to begin? This will require some consolidation followed by action. This much is clear though - a new patreon video is in order. The launch video has served its purpose in getting my platform off the ground and for all of you to watch and understand who I am and what I stand for. The narrative has evolved - I feel that I am leaving the scarcity mindset behind steadily and embracing a brighter paradigm that has already manifested in countless ways in my life. Conversations with a number of you have also helped me pivot and consider moving forward. I do apologize for the late delivery on the postcards as well as other perks that haven't been (fully) fulfilled. As mentioned in the patreon writeup, this is an experimental platform and the hope is that we are all learning from the progress while not being attached to certain outcomes. I feel responsible for anyone feeling they aren't getting their monetary support, and if that's the case (and as always), I welcome feedback from you, whether positive or negative. On the flip side, I hope a number of you have been seeing patron-only Stories on Instagram, and remember that they can all be viewed via the Highlights bubble on my profile available only to you. 

I recall very clearly as I returned to the Pacific Northwest mid-May the feeling of coming home. The lush greens, the precipitation, elements, dense forests, snow-capped peaks that sharply contrasts with the blue or moody skies, glacier-fed rivers, wild foraging, less humans and pollution, closer access to trails and wild places, and the prevalent culture of local + seasonal foods - all of that and so much more. As I walked silently along the forested-trail at the vipassana center on day 2 or 3, I said in my mind and later in a whisper, "it feels so good to be home." Perhaps this is the year I dedicate time and energy into finding a new home for me there. A homebase, one where I invest into and could return year after year to grow and cultivate it along with others who share deep values with. We shall see. The travels, the curiosity, and the exploration, locally and globally, won't stop - oh no, certainly not. 

What will life look like this autumn and beyond? A few ideas are circling in my head, and I am alright not being attached to any one of them, or even others I haven't considered. I will welcome what I consciously create in the present moment and whatever comes of it simply is. 

Garbage pickup

Every month I've been picking up dozens of pieces of garbage from beaches, parks, urban streets, rivers, and everywhere else humans have sadly made our mark on the environment. Inorganic, non-biodegradable waste causes not only an eyesore, but has deep, negative effects on the ecology and in particular to birds and sea creatures. We are ALL responsible for the state of our oceans and beaches, as we are the very consumers and we vote with our dollars everyday. Do you want the oceans to have more plastics than fish? I know my answer well. 

I have seen bays and ports in several regions where the floating garbage is so dense that the surface of the water cannot be seen, and although it pains me to know this truth, it is from this very appalling phenomenon that I somehow draw inspiration - that because we caused it out of ignorance, we can also reverse it out of awareness. I am but one person, and truly a few dozen every month for the rest of my life isn't gonna make a dent on the macro level. I do this on Patreon and social media blatantly because at least for my humble little audience on the internet it comes into the foreground of peoples' minds, even if it's for 10 seconds. It allows for there to be a space for commentary and discussion. You guys aren't literally hiring me to do garbage pickup, but as a gesture of gratitude and also because it is simply the right thing to do - the $2/month makes it an exchange that I feel at least is more fun. 

I've been posting pics of garbage pickup on Instagram stories - it's less time-consuming for me and as mentioned, that way more people can see it. 

Favorite inspirational videos

If there is just one or two things you'll watch or listen to, make it the Carl Sagan and/or Matt D'avella videos. 

Favorite podcasts 

I could easily share 10 more, but for your sake as well as mine I had to keep this list shorter, haha. Like recent months, I've been hard on the podcast game. I have found it is one of the best ways to fill the gaps of time to keep my brain not only stimulated but expanding on philosophies, new ideas, and knowledge by wise people with much to offer and share. With all the recent hours driving, this has been absolutely transformative in upgrading my brain while being able to stay awake and enjoy the journey even more. They are a bit on the long side, but trust me, they are worth the listen. 

Huge huge once more thanks to my 45 supporters who contribute monthly to make my pro-bono work and support possible for organizations and individuals who place people and planet before profits first. Read more about that here and see if you’d be keen to pitch in, too. You can get (massive) discounts off prints off my site if you do!

Jonathan

PS: the patreon-published version contains exclusive photos and some announcements not found anywhere else. Hey, I’ve gotta hook up my patrons first and foremost, alright?

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Podcast feat. Allen Gula, co-founder of Conscious Impact

I just got a heads up this morning of this wonderful interview featuring Allen Gula, a good friend, brother, and co-founder of Conscious Impact. It was recorded by Emil Walker, a filmmaker and creative from the UK who hosts the podcast series "Inside the Ride" and was recently a volunteer at Conscious Impact. Being in the states now, I didn't get a chance to meet Emil, but thanks to Allen and the team on the ground in Nepal, I recently got connected with him to collaborate on a short film that Emil is putting together for our project and community. I most certainly will share the film with you all once he releases it online. 

I feel reinvigorated by Allen's words and strong sense of purpose and commitment in this great conversation. Allen has been a friend since 2012 and he's one of the main reasons I moved to Seattle in 2014 and got involved with Conscious Impact and going to Nepal multiple times since 2015. I'll always have him to thank for my profound experiences, lessons, and tremendous growth internally and externally as a result of our friendship and the magnetism he has provided me and many others in bettering ourselves, being of service to one another and to the world.  

You can tune into this 46-minute podcast via your favorite apps, and here are some direct links: 

Feature on LA Yoga

I've got a little golden nugget of a read for you all :)

"This was a conversation with Jonathan Lee, longtime volunteer and media coordinator extraordinaire at Conscious Impact. Conscious Impact is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to sustainable development in Sindhupalchok, Nepal. And it is where I was heading just a month following my training.

This conversation was before we had even met in person, when we were connected only through the social sphere prior to my arrival at camp. His words woke me up, not only because he was so nonchalant with something I was hesitant to share so early in a friendship, but because I knew it meant he had experienced life to be that same kind of magic. The kind that inspires people to live with more intention and purpose, knowing we’re all interconnected."

Full piece here.

Grateful for Andy Vantrease in beautifully articulating her experiences and words along with my photos from our time in Nepal to an audience on LA YOGA Magazine that I wouldn't otherwise have the ability to reach.

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Gathering for a meal

Gathering for a meal. A human phenomenon that all of us, no matter our language, our religion, social status, dietary preferences, gender associations, rich or poor, inherently share.

To be invited into someone's home for a meal can be an extraordinary experience.

I've been going through the Nepal archives lately. It's part of the process of picking myself back up from the slump that a number of you have read about and seen. I'm most thankful for those who have dropped some love and phoned me directly. I promise I am significantly better now. I've got a lot to look forward to, and a good chunk of that is seeing/catching up with/venturing with some of you.

Nepal has been such an immense part of my life since 2015. When I say Nepal, I refer to the whole experience - the land, oh that sweet, sweet chiseled mountainous terrain we call the Himalayas, the elements, the people, the generosity, the chaos, smells, sounds, textures, the juxtaposition of life and death, deep ancient traditions with modern influences, and the squat toilets.

The meals, too, of course. The shared meals with the locals are something else.

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Some words as 2018 wraps up.

Every now and then I'd get a notification from Google Photos or Facebook showing me a moment from X years ago, and more often than not it's a (hugely) pleasant surprise. They represent so much more than simply the where/who/what. They also bring back memories, emotions, sensations not depicted in the pixels. It's one of the reasons why I love my work so much. I get to observe, (sometimes facilitate), capture, and preserve these memories that could last forever.

2018 has been a tremendous year once more for me. One of incredible growth and expansion. I spent much time being in and exploring a few new places, made some really radical new friends, made peace with people I had disagreements with, made mistakes, failed and rebounded, made and rescued quite a lot of food, discovered and tried new things, had very little diarrhea, and rekindled a number of old connections as well as reconnecting with family.

Sometime in mid 2017 I committed myself to take photography and videography full-on and sustain myself with my craft. I had spent the summer doing a complete makeover of my website, and putting it out there that here I am, a poor artist with bright eyes, able hands, and open mind, ready to attract more than just a financial means of livelihood. Not long after I had finished revamping the site, I landed in New Zealand.

Just over a year ago at a solstice/holidays gathering in Christchurch, I remember being surrounded by a group of friends and stating my intention to continue to attract the good work and financial abundance for the incoming year. I wanted to not only have the passion, but capital too. There's been this mindset of scarcity that I feel has kept me from reaching my full potential. I welcomed the challenges that come with the commitment. I've devoted myself to my craft, and am happy to say that though there are slumps and unmotivated days, each week overall I DO feel closer to my vision of what a life of abundance could look and feel like.

New Zealand was in countless ways multiple lessons that keep teaching, a land that has kept giving, an incubator for new ideas to be born and explored, and a meeting point for all the teachers I came across. While I don't believe I had taken full advantage of my time there, but that in itself is a lesson that will keep paying dividends. Aotearoa-New Zealand, you are truly a wonderful place. I long to return.

I am grateful for many things, but most importantly are the humans. I have gratitude for Peter in getting me down under in the first place, Erica and Preston in their friendship and immense drive that made me run harder faster stronger while remembering to slow down and have fun, Kit for your openness and hospitality in your home, the whole Ministry of Awesome team in putting up with me at your coworking space, Michael Reynolds in being an all-star human, friend, and collaborator, Franca for your beauty, patience, and honesty, AJ & Allison in being absolute gems of humans and deep discussions that really move me cosmically, the Guido-Henry-Milena trio for our short but truly memorable time together AND in rescuing me in the final hours in NZ. Rieki in his visionary projections on what our future could be, and acting upon it.

I am forever grateful to Sue & Tony Angles for their love and hospitality in Sydney, for the Enspiral and Digital Storytellers team to have showed me what immense power we hold when we run for-purpose instead of for-profit. For Zana and her family in hosting me in Byron Bay, Ibaia on the Gold Coast, all whilst I was working on the launch of my Patreon.

Gratitude also to Utsav in being a teacher, friend, and host in Kolkata, Kristine who put me up (and put up with me) throughout Vietnam, Carina in traveling with me in Sikkim, and my friends-"clients" Elizabeth & Anup, Christina & Kevin for your truly wonderful weddings that brought me (back) to places I really enjoy to do what I really like - capturing moments while making a living out of it. It's pretty rad.

Beyond grateful for Conscious Impact, and every human that's taken part in its creation and ongoing devotions to the land and one another. Returning to the Himalayas this year was invigorating for deeper parts of my soul. A piece of my heart is always there, awaiting its missing pieces for a reunion.

Deeply thankful for friends and communities back on the west coast of the US & Canada. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, thank you for (re)inviting me back and welcoming me always. I feel at home here.

And especially for the Seattle/Beacon Food Forest crew - wow. Nothing but love. Michael Guenther, Caroline, Allen, Steph, y'all are just wonderful.

And to my father, my sisters, their spouses, nephews, and of course, my mother - oh my brave, strong mother - here I am, because of them, typing this unexpectedly in California while looking out the window of the last morning of yet another momentous year.

Onwards!

I'm back in California!

I'm back and ready to take your photograph, video, or tell your story!

I recently returned to California from my 5th trip to Nepal. This time I spent 7 weeks in the Himalayan country, and all but 3 days were with the Conscious Impact community continuing our natural building, agriculture, and youth empowerment projects.

This community that I've mentioned so often encompasses the locals it serves, locals who work alongside us, the volunteers - both Nepali & foreigners, and our supporters spanning the globe. To date, we've had about 500 volunteers representing ~40 countries from every continent except Antarctica. It's extraordinary.

Together we've (re)built 32 homes, 2 community centers, an orphanage, a school, a business building, and many micro structures on the land where we dwell, cook, live, play, and share stories, craft, and practices with one another. We've stuck to our principles of earth stewardship, natural building, and selfless service to the community by listening to and responding to their needs while holding firm on our permaculture (systems thinking and design for coexistence and abundance for all living beings and the earth) roots.

This trip back was important and special for a number of reasons, some of which I've written in recent posts and on Patreon where I share (and will continue to) more with my amazing supporters.

Meanwhile, I'd be delighted to connect for the photoshoot idea that's been on your mind, with your recently engaged friend who seeks a photo/videographer, or other documentation/visual storytelling needs that you or someone you know could benefit from. Know that all paying work allows me to sustain this livelihood to work/serve/play/explore/thrive, as it is my main source of income. Know that my income often goes right back into purchasing gear that helps me capture moments better and continue pro-bono or discounted work for individuals and organizations like Conscious Impact. Know that I always do what I can to minimize my environmental & social impact while fostering regeneration. And, as most of you are aware, I happily travel for a good gig or opportunity. Try me 😉

Jonathan H. Lee, at your service!

PS: this was from an awesome wedding where I partnered with the talented Vidu Love & Kristin Cameron to capture the very special day of Christina Leung & Kevin Sun ✨

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... I don't have words.

Everyone's alright physically.

I DO have words.

This space meant immensely to all of us. This space was a showcase of our natural building knowledge. A showcase and celebration of our work alongside the community members. We invited locals who are skilled at straw weaving to help us with the roofing. It was a collaborative effort, much like a majority of our physical projects.

This new common space was a structure we didn't know we wanted and needed to exist. We dreamed of it in season 2, well over a year and a half ago, and some of us didn't even think it'd be feasible with our meager budget and simply the sheer complexity of its design and size. But our vision shined through. I personally watched it from several thousand km's away as the team on the ground designed, planned, and began the building process throughout season 3. I was mesmerized.
To see it, work on it, photo/film it, and be in it, even if briefly, this season has been such a gift. It'll be remembered. And we'll come out of this stronger together. 

@Conscious Impact 

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Coffee Co-op Groundbreak! (Video)

Friends and fans! This is a very exciting new construction project that Conscious Impact broke ground in the past month. We've been working with and talking about coffee with local farmers for about 2 years now, and each day we bring the hub closer from conception to reality.

Personally, I am pretty darn excited to have been able to integrate my new video capturing (especially the aerial shots!), editing, and storytelling skills gained from this past year in New Zealand and Australia and infuse them into the work that we do in Nepal (and beyond).

It has been a tremendous time being back with the team here in the lower Himalayas living, working, and co-creating together. Watching the trees, kids, ideas, and our community grow and thrive is often beyond any still photograph or video can truly convey, but I'll do what I can in bringing it all to life.

As I transition back to the U.S. in a few days, keep an eye out for much more content that I've captured these past 7 weeks and get into editing/writing/production mode, and of course continue to publish them on Conscious Impact's social media outlets and here with you all.

A heartfelt shoutout to all of my patrons on Patreon in making my livelihood and this work possible. Patrons also get exclusive content, early releases, and other perks! Check it out to see my story and how you could possibly take part also.

Water Tank Project Update (Video)

Last spring, hundreds of people helped Conscious Impact raise $7,000 USD via GlobalGiving towards a new water tank for the community of Takure. Now, just 3 weeks into our new season, the tank has seen some amazing progress. Community members and volunteers have been working nearly every day, moving sand, stone, and other construction materials, to make this project a reality. In one month, upon its completion, more than 50 families will finally have access to a sufficient year-round water supply.

I used $100 USD of the funding from Patreon to donate towards this water tank project. This project came out of the community members' desires, and has been made possible because of grassroots donations and supporters like yourself, seeking out initiatives, projects, communities, and organizations such as Conscious Impact to co-create a more collaborative and equal world. I am thankful to so many friends and family supporting me on Patreon in allowing me to return to Nepal and take part, capture, and re-tell progress and stories like this to more and more people.

Check out how I am able to do this on my page: www.patreon.com/subtledream

This was taken about a week ago at @ConsciousImpact's camp where I had a few minutes to explain the power of social media and storytelling to engage, inspire, and connect the characters moving the shovels on the ground here with the folks on the other side of the screen. I have several pieces of content that have been in my head that I'm really stoked about filming, editing, and producing in the coming months and beyond. Huge, huge gratitude for my patrons on Patreon in continuing to support me in making this possible not only for me, for Conscious Impact, and all the people whose lives we touch-affect intimately, to bring these stories of the human spirit here in this little part of the Himalayas to life.

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Kick off video!

Freshest video update of our kickoff of season/year 4 of Conscious Impact's work in the village of Takure in Nepal.

We kickoff with some housekeeping, volunteer camp upgrades, and steadily move towards the continuation of our existing projects in the rebuilding and agriculture spaces as well as youth empowerment. I'm thrilled to be utilizing my craft as well as my hands to serve this project and community once more.

A huge thanks to my 42 patrons on Patreon in making this a reality, and a special shoutout to Urška Čebron, my latest patron! Big gratitude. 🙏

Patreon is a platform that allows content creators like myself to earn a sustained income from individuals like yourself to support radical projects, art, and grassroots initiatives like this. Consider pitching in if you find value in what I/we do, starting as little as just $1/month! See and learn more about me via www.patreon.com/subtledream

Video shot and edited by yours truly featuring Orion Haas, one of the co-founders of Conscious Impact, a long-time friend, and also a fellow patron/supporter.

Check out and follow along Conscious Impact's journey: 
consciousimpact.org 
instagram.com/consciousimpact 
facebook.com/consciousimpact
vimeo.com/consciousimpact

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! 

#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!

KTM - DBX

I am sitting on seat 20D surrounded by Nepalis and Indians who are also flying to Dubai, many of which I am quite certain are going to or back to the UAE for work. As I spend the last minutes in this country, thousands of memories and snippets from the past 5 months and from past visits are flashing by, but in particular I am thinking about Udav and our boys and men who have been working with us Conscious Impact for several months to since the project's beginning. These are folks who would otherwise not be regularly employed staying in their home village with their families, or would otherwise move to Kathmandu for work, or equally likely too find work aboard in the Gulf States/Malaysia/Indonesia/etc. but leave their family behind. It makes me feel good knowing that our project has not only begun the reconstruction of a local school, an orphanage, a couple community buildings, and now houses too, but also have provided these guys the ability to stay in their home village with their families while earning a livelihood. Udav's house is near completion as I type this. These very bricks that he proudly helped make, cure, move, and place into his new, socially and environmentally responsible, earthquake-safe home will be a story to be told for decades to follow. I'm proud and honored to have been a part of it as this team, this community, this family as this chapter comes to an end. To be continued - Conscious Impact Season 3! #ComeToNepal

Udav catching one of hundreds of bricks from a volunteer as we load the truck for his home.

Udav catching one of hundreds of bricks from a volunteer as we load the truck for his home.

Education Program Update Blog & Video

Always a pleasure working with the amazing Alyson Noele Sagala who I met through Conscious Impact last year. Last week I went to the local secondary school with Alyson and two other volunteers/friends, Allie Seymour and Lilly Foster, and together they facilitated a women's reproductive health class alongside Shakya Jenisha, a Teach for Nepal fellow. Photos by yours truly and words and Alyson's.
Link to blog: https://www.consciousimpact.org/new-blog/2017/5/2/education-update-252017-sexual-reproduction-and-health

Also! Fresh video update of the same day. As is the case usually, Alyson describes it best:
"Though news from across the ocean is as disheartening as ever, I am reminded of the good we are still capable of putting out in the world to counteract ugliness, no matter the context.
Last Friday we did a sexual reproductive health and menstruation education workshop for the members of the Girls Empowerment Program. I'm even more excited about the follow up meeting we had just this morning with even more girls in attendance. But for now, take a gander at this video that documents what we did last week, engaging this bright group of girls with invaluable education in a fun, supportive, and safe environment.
"
Shout out to Lilly FosterAllie Seymour, and Shakya Jenisha in making this possible, enlightening curious young minds here where we've lived and worked. I always enjoy documenting a meaningful and empowering event and cause. Thank you! #ComeToNepal

CNN.com feature!

387 days ago, I left the US to return to Nepal to work and live with the Conscious Impact team in the rural village of Takure several hours outside Kathmandu. Today is the 2-year anniversary of the 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal and claimed the lives of around 9000 Nepalis and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Last year I was also in Takure. I remember being with over 30 international volunteers working to produce locally and sustainably-produced bricks to rebuild one of the local primary schools. Now, over 70,000 bricks later -- a primary school, an orphanage, an office building for the local women's microfinance cooperative, a community center, an elder's center, and several family homes are either completed or currently in the works. 
This evening we gathered in commemorating of the earthquake that brought us together, and to celebrate how far we've come together and to fuel our journey ahead. This evening we are proud to present a feature on CNN.com, titled "Rebuilding a Nepali village, one block at a time." Deep, deep gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers and hundreds more supporters worldwide in making our rebuilding story happen and continue to unfold. I'll always have Orion Haas and Allen Gula to thank for their vision of Conscious Impact and the wonderful humans they have magnetized to this space over the years. I must also thank Alyson Noele Sagala and Sunita Pandey in helping me with the interviews and in gathering all of the information to make this article happen, and of course last but not least gratitude goes out to Phillip Ngo in connecting us to Bijan Hosseini at CNN in materializing this piece. I am absolutely humbled to have my photos and a project-community I have so much love for be featured on a major news channel. Namaste!
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/asia/nepal-earthquake-takure/index.html

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