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!

Food Resilience in Ōtautahi Christchurch

In continuing my invitation to attract awesome people and work in my life, here's a collaborative project I've had the utmost pleasure of being a small part of earlier this year, in New Zealand.

This is a story of resilience in Ōtautahi Christchurch. This is a story of community. A story of people coming together. Of co-creating spaces that serve not only our bodies, mind, and spirit, but also of the greater invisible bonds that bind us together, as well as for the greater good of the ecosystems that nourish us and other living beings. Fundamentally, food connects all of us, and in getting to know these wonderful people in the local community all around Ōtautahi, I got to hear and learn about their why and how, their inspirations and greater vision especially coming out of the traumatic earthquakes that rocked the city over 7 years ago now. The destruction led to tremendous loss and sadness, however it has henceforth provided immense opportunities to come together and rebuild a city that better serve us and all living beings. My invitation down under last year stemmed out of these new sprouts, and I am personally very thankful for the time spent and connections made whilst in Aotearoa New Zealand, and for this piece to be story that we co-created and tell all around Canterbury and beyond. May inspirations spark and seeds be sowed in the minds and the earth for months, years, and decades to come.

Please share the aroha far and wide! 

Directing: Jonathan H. LeeSubtledream Photography
Production: Michael Reynolds and Jonathan H. Lee
Videography, editing, sound mixing: Jonathan H. Lee
Additional video: Jonny KnoppPeanut Productions Photography
Video and sound assistance: Milena Pascuzzi
Music: Scott Nice of Jumpsuit Records, used with permission via Bandcamp membership

Special gratitude: 
Peter WellsOtakaro Orchard 
Michael ReynoldsFood Resilience Network Canterbury
Hayley GugliettaRichmond Community Garden
Catherine O'NeillNew Brighton Community Gardens
Alex DaviesGatherings
Ashvin GoburdhoneCultivate Christchurch
Kit HindinKit Hindin Activation
Marian JohnsonMinistry of Awesome
Erica Austin-KnoppTe Pūtahi - Christchurch centre for architecture and city-making

Enspiral

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

'Seeds: Talking Purpose' Podcast with Steven Moe

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

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

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

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2017 End of Year Time-Lapse Reel

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

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

Interview with Upstream Daily

Major gratitude to Alex & Fraser of Upstream Daily for doing what they do -- recording and spreading inspiration for me and so many others who tune in all around New Zealand and beyond. This was a memorable moment for me as it was just my 4th day in the country but yet I had already felt so welcome and supported by a thriving community of do-good-ers at the Social Enterprise World Forum. In this short interview, I talk about Conscious Impact - its founding, what our global and local team has accomplished together in the past 2 and a half years in Nepal, and also some personal inspiration and advice in being a creative professional.

PechaKucha Night Christchurch

What a special treat to find that PechaKucha named my presentation to be "Presentation of the Day" on their blog! It was my first time speaking and presenting in front of a group of 500+ and must say it was a bit daunting and I felt underprepared to deliver my best. 
Regardless, a heartfelt thanks to the Pecha Kucha Night Christchurch team, especially Erica Austin-Knopp, in putting together an amazing event and making this a reality for me. Also shoutout to Peter Wells, A.J. Kennedy, and Allison Zetts for supporting me and being there that evening! 
Check out my talk and the 20 images I chose at: http://www.pechakucha.org/presentations/finding-purpose-through-travel-service-and-photography

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