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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