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.

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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Women's March Poem (Video)

2 years ago, I recorded my good friend Alyson's poetry / spoken word piece on the "sunset terrace" in Nepal for the Women's March in DC and women all around the world.

I've had the utmost pleasure to work alongside Alyson since 2016 within Conscious Impact as well. She's the visionary behind the Youth Empowerment program, and currently she's in the village of Takure in Nepal continuing to run the program, finding a Nepali coordinator to improve and expand the reach of our work, while also helping to build up the coffee cooperative processing center for local farmers to process and sell their organic coffee beans in the future.

I am thankful for her presence, strength of character, devotion, authenticity, and friendship.

The video can be viewed on Vimeo as well.

Check out Alyson's other work at Alyson Noele Poetry or alysonnoele.com

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

Namaste, Nepal

3 flights and 38 hours later… feels so, so good to be back in the Himalayas once more. Here’s the incredible Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

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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'

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! 

Everest Basecamp & 3 Passes Trek

Everest Basecamp + 3 Passes Trek in the Khumbu-Everest 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
Temperature range: -10 to high 20's °C
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

  • (3) pairs of quick-dry undies
  • (2) pairs of wool socks
  • wool/fleece beanie
  • (2) fleece neck warmer/gaiter
  • fleece gloves
  • synthetic short sleeve
  • convertible quick-dry shirt
  • wool long sleeve base layer
  • quick-dry hiking shorts
  • full-length synthetic tights
  • rain jacket/shell (Patagonia Torrentshell)
  • insulated jacket (Patagonia Nano Air)
  • light fleece sweater (Patagonia R1)
  • lightweight windbreaker (Patagonia Houdini)
  • quick-dry hiking pants (Patagonia Quandary)
  • soft-shell pants (Patagonia Simul Alpine)
  • trail-running shoes (Brooks Cascadia- wore these most of the time at lower elevations and on mild days. more notes below
  • mid-top waterproof boots (Salewa Firetail EVO) - too warm for low elev., primarily used them at 4000+ m. more notes below
  • full-length gaiters (REI Alpine) - see notes below
  • microspikes (by Kahtoola) - see note below

Clothing/gear note: The retail $ damage on these pieces of gear would be nuts. The 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! REI Garage Sales are awesome, too (sorry folks, they are only in the US). 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 ~20-50% the branded retail cost, and a good number (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 in the low valleys to high passes with simple shirts, jeans, flip flops, and everything in between. I don't believe there is a "correct way," though I do think there are certain materials to avoid to make the journey more comfortable and be ready for varying circumstances in weather. I'm fortunate to have solid gear that has kept me safe, warm (mostly), dry (again, mostly), and should likely last a long time. I also believe in Patagonia's environmental and social ethicacy and other companies' similar statements, and wish to support their work. 

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 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. I couldn't speak for the rest of the year. There's always Namche Bazaar - the hub of the Khumbu-Everest region - to get the latest word on trail conditions and weather and to pick up supplies of all sorts.

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. More than half my pack's weight was in camera gear and accessories. I would certainly consider a lighter setup (ie: 1 wide angle prime + 1 medium-range prime, like 85/100/135mm) or a mirrorless/micro 4/3rd's camera with an all-in-one + prime lens. The GoPro/monopod combo 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. Ascending towards the 2nd of the 3 Passes, Cho La (~5,370 m) from Zonglha, 6 April 2017.

Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation. Ascending towards the 2nd of the 3 Passes, Cho La (~5,370 m) from Zonglha, 6 April 2017.

Ama Dablam (6,812 m) rising into the sky behind tea-guesthouses in Pangboche (3,980 m) on 30 March, 2017.

Ama Dablam (6,812 m) rising into the sky behind tea-guesthouses in Pangboche (3,980 m) on 30 March, 2017.

Descending from Island Peak basecamp (~5,070 m) back to Chukhung (~4,800 m) as a wet rain/snow mixture was falling on 2 April, 2017.

Descending from Island Peak basecamp (~5,070 m) back to Chukhung (~4,800 m) as a wet rain/snow mixture was falling on 2 April, 2017.

Walking thorugh the Khumbu glacier just outside Everest Basecamp (~5,300 m) on 4 April, 2017.

Walking thorugh the Khumbu glacier just outside Everest Basecamp (~5,300 m) on 4 April, 2017.

Dawn hike up to Kala Patthar (~5,600 m)&nbsp;from Gorakshep (~5,150 m) on 5 April, 2017.

Dawn hike up to Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) from Gorakshep (~5,150 m) on 5 April, 2017.

View from Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) a minute before the sun peeks out behind Everest (dark tall peak on the right)&nbsp;iteself. 5 April, 2017.

View from Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) a minute before the sun peeks out behind Everest (dark tall peak on the right) iteself. 5 April, 2017.

One of the Gokyo lakes half way up Gokyo Ri on 8 April, 2017.

One of the Gokyo lakes half way up Gokyo Ri on 8 April, 2017.