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 ✌🏽

49314164_788751779955_7050651818153476096_o.jpg

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!

99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2018

Actually, there are 100. Thanks Future Crunch for bringing light to these wonderful things that happened this year (and we still have 2 weeks left!). Our world is an amazing place, despite the negativity and noise that seems to be omnipresent.

https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-good-news-stories-you-probably-didnt-hear-about-in-2018-cc3c65f8ebd0?fbclid=IwAR1K0xFS02Os9fSS5AWfSWyq-78MSXQq1bpcmuPfDExejRipPP8AGdpJ2Us

Lately...

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

IMG_9144.jpg

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 ✨

IMG_8297.jpg

... 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 

46520312_2341753039199750_5820258019878895616_n.jpg

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.

43059038_2042927805737444_3596573706358358016_o.jpg

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.

IMG_9381_(2).jpg

#foodisfree

As I was packing up and before I left my parents' house this evening, I decided to do once more something no one really does in our neighborhood - I would pick dozens of sweet grapefruits from our backyard and encourage folks walking by to take as much or little as they fancy.

The concept isn't new to me. The @foodisfree project is one that I've followed and admired for years. It's one of thousands of wonderful ideas, if done and implemented at a widespread level, would and could move us to a real sharing economy, and as Shareable calls it - "sharing cities." That's the type of future I want to live and take part in. 

But where my parents live in suburbia Los Angeles ain't like parts of Portland, Berlin, Amsterdam, Seattle, or even the various small towns and rural communities I'd been a part of where neighbors know one another, spend time in their front pouches/yards, openly share resources and support one another, etc. No, this is one where there's not even a dedicated sidewalk, one where ornamental and non-native grasses dominate the manicured landscape, where the sounds of internal combustion engines from vehicles and mowers along with water-wasting sprinklers are the main sources of sounds throughout any day. 

This is the unsustainable American dream that so many people have bought into without realizing the disconnection it has brought forth from natural cycles and one another. 
The concept of food being free and the fair share of abundance (e.g. food) with everyone can be viewed as a socialist nightmare for many in the US. But I don't see it that way. I see possibilities where others see a pipe dream. I see the hungry and homeless having sustenance and shelter by the dissolving of greed and scarcity. I see these possibilities becoming a norm where we regenerate ourselves, each other, and our earth instead of extracting it as if it contains infinite resources. I see little acts like this - the simple sharing of fruits - a rebellion against a system so ingrained, so utterly off-sync with our true natural selves of compassion and empathy, that perhaps that is all it would take for someone to wake up from their trance. I'm ready to meet you there. 🙌🏽

40684042_780833857535_9218663421258498048_n.jpg

Presenting you...

What a fun and joyous day that was this newly wed couple! A little teaser before I go offline for a couple days. Gonna go recharge amongst the Sequoias.

It's been a few years since I've spent considerable time in the Sierras. I adore those mountains and the beautiful landscape and ecology. They are my kind of sanctuary. 🌲

IMG_8670.jpg