A film born out of 4 years, 5 trips, and 12 months on the ground with Conscious Impact

Here it is. This is my most important and longest project to date. 4 years, 5 trips, with nearly 12 months of being on the ground with the Conscious Impact team & community in Nepal working, planning, building, filming, and editing. This is our most complete story and showcase of our projects, community, and intentions since the beginning as well as moving forward.

Please turn your sound on (headphones or quality speakers recommended!), and try to set aside about 9 minutes without interruptions. I (we) would love, love to hear what your thoughts and reactions are after. Leave a comment right here, DM me, share it near and far!

A tremendous shoutout to Orion Haas + Allen Gula in their foundational work and connections leading us to that part of Nepal where we've made lifelong friends and connections to the land. To Beth Huggins, Mariana Jimenez Dela Nait, Greg Robinson, and Alyson Noele Sagala for all of the untold and uncountable hours of devotion, love, and courage to keep marching forward year after year since our humble beginnings. To Rose Flanigan, my office mate on the terraces then, and always in spirit. Thankful for Narayan Bhattarai, Haribol Bhattarai, Kumary Tamang Bomjan (and dozens of other Nepali community members, really) for their openness and warmth in welcoming and working alongside us for 4+ years now learning and expanding together. This video and project also wouldn't be possible if it weren't for dozens more family members, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers of a network spanning across our earth providing spiritual, financial, and physical contributions through time and space. Could not possibly tag and name all of you. Thank you.

Huggee love and gratitude to my 45 patrons (http://patreon.com/subtledream) in the last year especially in helping to sustain ME to bring this to life. Folks contributing at $4/month or higher have their names forever embedded into our video.

If you feel connected to our mission and vision, it’d be awesome to have you join our sustainer team. I have just joined it myself a couple weeks back. 🙌🏽

🎬 Please share this magic! 🎬

Become a sustainer: https://classy.org/give/117738/#!/donation/checkout
More about Conscious Impact: http://consciousimpact.org

On the waters

There's something magical about being out on the waters in a canoe. I'm actually quite new to the sensation, but I can tell you when a fiery sunset is coupled with absolute stillness on the river plus the songs of hundreds if not thousands of birds near and far, the combination is next level. It's utter awe and pure wonder. ✨

Patrons: in case you're not on Instagram at all or have been on it recently - I've added all of you who are on the platform to my 'Close Friend' list (VIP, really ;) ) and put up content exclusively for your eyes only. Yesterday I uploaded a very cool hyperlapse video taken above Stockholm, as well as this photo along with 9 others with captions. I just had the realization I could be utilizing this feature to share more exclusive content with you more frequently, and hope that you receive value in exchange for your support, and enjoy what's to come! 🙏🏽

If you're not yet a supporter on my Patreon and would like to learn more, please head to www.patreon.com/subtledream

The financial and spiritual support that I get via my closest supporters has helped me (re)connect more deeply with a number of you, gotten me back to Nepal to work and support Conscious Impact, financially give back to other individuals and organizations that in my opinion do tremendous GOOD in our world, encourage me to experiment further and constantly improve my craft, and provide discounts in ordering prints - which in itself is such a reward, seeing my captured memories on your walls! I cannot imagine where this journey will keep taking me, AND have you join in! Thank you so much for considering, and please please - you're not in the position to give at the moment, simply tuning in and engaging right here on Facebook and Instagram is already wonderful. 🙌🏽

Immense gratitude and shoutout to Luke Fernandez for recently hopping onto the highest tier on my Patreon page. I so appreciate your support and can't wait to deepen our connection stemming all the way back to Panama in 2012. Also to my sista/mero bhaini Rose Flanigan in becoming my latest supporter. Stoked to keep working with you as we explore and expand our interests and passions while supporting one another. 💪🏾✨


I'm in México. To be precise, the bottom tip of California.

This is Eliu. He picked me up from the airport. Eliu is originally from Mexico City. He liked it there quite a lot, he tells me. He spoke of the diversity of people and cultures there, of the arts, the foods, how alive everything is. He laughed and then added "if you like traffic too." Eliu left a number of years ago (exactly how many slips my memory), and thinks that it's too hot here in Baja, but ultimately believes it's a nice place to live with clean air, nice environment, relaxed vibes, a good job that pays him well and raise his 2 kids with his wife.

I joked with him that 2 is plenty, as they are quite expensive. He laughed and agreed. We then laughed about his uncle who's lived in Los Angeles for 40 years and still speaks not a word of English because he lives in a neighborhood where everyone speaks Spanish. When I asked him if he has an interest in visiting him, Eliu said no. He seems content with his life here.

We talked nearly continuously for most of the drive to the town center. My brain got to exercise a part of its memory that hasn't been activated in a while. Speaking a language you haven't yet mastered requires a heightened level of focus that also puts me into a state of appreciation. In this case, I most definitely appreciated Eliu's slowing down his speech and using simple words to convey his thoughts. I appreciate the ability to connect with another human who's doing what he can to create comfort and happiness for him and his family. I appreciate that he's the first Mexican in Mexico that I got to chat with, because I gotta say - the narrative that much of society in the U.S. paints is not a relatable, working young father like Eliu.

I was really struck by these mountains when we drove out of the airport. Gorgeous ridge lines. I'm glad I caught the moment Eliu pointed at them to tell me about them. I didn't take this with a fancy camera. If you've gotten this far, it's because the story held your attention. And for me, this photo will always jog my memory to that car ride towards the late afternoon sun, realizing again how much us humans have in common rather than different.

Stories like this are made possible thanks to my patrons-supporters on Patreon, a platform that allows content creators like me to get financially supported. You get more perks than simply ensuring that content like this continue to be made and shows up on your newsfeed - head to www.patreon.com/subtledream to find out more. :)


Well, this is a helluva new year present.

In June of 2018, after months of considerations, brainstorming, writing, revisions, feedback-seeking, and video recordings, I launched my Patreon page. Patreon is, simply put, a subscription-based platform that gets artists and content creations paid.

After years of taking my craft as a professional hobby rather than truly owning it as a service provider and small business owner, and years of providing free or way-too-cheaply-compensated gigs (which I don't regret, just a fact), this is one of the steps in which I am intentionally taking to shift my scarcity mindset towards money and bringing in abundance in multiple forms in my life.

I realized while in New Zealand this mental conditioning that has perpetuated for much of my life is partially the reason I almost feel allergic to money, and that I consciously and subconsciously have been molded to believe that money IS the root of many evils, and somehow if I were to become financially successful, that status would somehow negatively alter my being and bend my moral values. I think it's safe to say most if not all of us have seen examples in the media pointing to how money taints politics, businesses and personal decisions, and that someone "changes" when they become "rich and famous." There is something extraordinary about these messages and their underlying tone about and/or subliminal jab at being well-off.

So without deviating too far from the point of this post, in my opinion and perhaps still far too simply put - there's a deeply rooted connection in the psychology of capital(ism) to our instinctive, primal selves, along with the commodification of basic needs as well as desires in modern economic systems that have brought us here. Money has become our ledger, backed by our mutual trust of value for one another, and we've forgotten that in the end it's made for one simple action: exchange.

OK, what I am getting at is this: I wanna radically transform the way in which I perceive, utilize, and leverage money. I (we) can't fully be immune to it, and it certainly isn't going away anytime soon. I wrote this on my Patreon page and touched on it in the video, but the past 6 months have made it more clear than ever - the abundant life I wish to attract and uphold requires capital - social, environmental, AND economic capital - and this tripod isn't gonna stand very well with just 2 strong legs. In recent years I've strengthened the social and environmental pillars quite well, and now it's time to put more conscious effort into that 3rd leg.

It's gonna take some time. Undoing 32+ years of mental conditioning and perception is difficult, and thank you Pachamama I've had some solid mentors and resources to help me out recently.

And really it starts with this. This Patreon page has been instrumental. I've had 45 people hop onboard to co-create with me a more beautiful perspective, a more beautiful window to the world world we know deep inside is possible through stories, art, and media through my eyes and mind as well as those I collaborate with. I've had these people put enough trust in me to willingly put their hard-earned capital and say, 'yes Jonathan, take this value to recreate more value out of it.' They've made me feel like a bloody alchemist!

Sometimes I don't know if gratitude is even enough.

But truly, I am utterly grateful, and wish to take this moment as I continue to take time to evaluate what 2018 has added to my life, and what 2019 will bring (and has already brought) to express gratitude to the following humans for making this time of transition - with much resting on the condition of my mother's health - significantly less financially-stressful while allowing me to eat and live well as I continue to work on content for Conscious Impact and for myself: 
Kelly Pi
Rieki Cordon
Luke Fernandez
Emily Barnes
Otis Skipper
Kweku Secundus
Evan Speckles
Orion Haas
Mikey Leung
Peter Dowson
Ryan Lue
Nai de Gracia
Steph Bird Parker
Steven Moe
Michael Chung
Jacky Cheung
Dora Lee
Renée Dyke
Michelle Cara Kizner
Peter Wells
Ally Carlton-Smith
Kristine Schiman
Lindsay Claverie
Kelsea Lynn
Dana S Wilson
Urška Čebron
Christine Taylor
Carina Fourmyle
Anna Else Pasternak
Aiyana Bailin
Steve Tracy
Nils Folger
Lisa Colligan
Ramona Gastl
Clare McInerney
Kelsey Yates
John Arvin Española
Reynette Busby Rhodes
Eleanor Smith
Guthrie Straw
Obakhan Jones
Tiange Zhang
Candice Young
Maggie Tan
Julie Trieu


PS: I haven't forgotten my promise to pick up garbage for y'all who are pitching in $2/month or higher. I've been doing it everywhere - India, Vietnam, British Columbia, Nepal, Washington, Oregon, California - at the beaches, on the mountains, in the forest, along the rivers, and right off the sidewalks. I've either forgotten to take pics or I keep forgetting to upload them as part of my recent posts! 🙃

PPS: www.patreon.com/subtledream to learn/see/hear more ✌🏽



Lately I've been time traveling, a lot. As I go through years of old photos, each one has lit up a different part of my memory, bringing back flashes of sensations stored in my brain and throughout my body. Truly quite the wonderful experience.

Unearthing gems like this always puts a big fat smile on my face. This was from the Avenue of the Giants where some of the tallest trees in the world reside. In my previous time there, I rode through those stunning redwoods on my bicycle. This third time was just as sensational.

But where do I even begin with this moment? Rewind a week and I'd have found myself making a last-minute purchase in Seattle of my friend's vehicle as she and her partner were swiftly preparing to go overseas for a new job. I then made a post of Craigslist to find rideshare companions, and within days departed with a packed car headed south - with Danny from Puerto Rico (left) and a black labrador who needed to be transported to his other 'parent' down the Willamette Valley. We drove into a wall of smoke as we got deeper into Oregon. Just like this year, the (wild)fires started early and raged across thousands of acres. In Northern California the visibility and air quality were so poor we weren't sure if it was even safe to be outside for more than a few minutes.

I had heard from the grapevine (Insta) that a couple old friends were camping at Mt Shasta, so we (just Danny & I now) joined them. Unexpectedly, we escaped the smoke purely by being high enough in elevation at the base of Shasta. The air was pure delight to breath again. We spent 2 mindblowingly beautiful nights just below this magical mountain (if you haven't been I strongly recommend a visit in this lifetime) with a crew of ubër chill, artistic, and musical talents - friends and their friends from all over - including Alex (right) + Kate (center).

Most of the time, we dangled out of the windows with our mouths wide open, cruising slowly down the Avenue of the Giants - so appropriately named - and it was especially delightful for me as I had the realization that it was these three's very first time being amongst the grandmother trees. 🌲 #subtledream


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 ✨


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: 

Wow. I'm astounded.

I'm humbled and invigorated by everyone's comments, reshares, and support coming out of the launch of this page. A diversity of friends from a plethora of locations and time periods/life chapters have come forth with suggestions, the sweetest and kindest of words, and further ideas to evolve and expand the vision. Love it. I can't wait to keep journeying to see where this takes me (us). 

… more on my very first Patreon post! What an incredible start.

Patreon: Impact storytelling, crowdfunded

Friends, sisters, brothers, family, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love and gratitude, 

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

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