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

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. :)

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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 ✌🏽

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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

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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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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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, 
Jonathan

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!