Project One Process Reflection


  1. Project report title: Project One: The Origin Story



  1. Summarize how and why you organized this Project Output as presented (Reflect on your design, process, method and purpose):  I first wrote up my life review as the first step, and then assessed needs that I had from there (articulating goals, figuring out my skills, seeing what patterns are most useful) and made mind maps by hand. I also wrote up a lot of things, like the index and this review process, directly on WordPress.


  1. How did this process go? Holy greg! Well, it was definitely chaotic. From the time I started the project until now, I’ve changed countries, driven from Pennsylvania to North New York and back several times, taken a Training of Trainers course, attended a 5 Day Herbal Intensive at the Maine Primitive Skills School, volunteered at a local farm, maintained a job on Saturdays as a rental property caretaker, and attended a National Occupation in Philadelphia for a visioneering process. So.. it’s been hectic. Actually I’m impressed with how much I managed to get done. It was definitely an erratic process, groping in the dark, half looking at diploma guidelines but not getting much explained to me. Mostly it was about getting this website up and running and presentable.
  1. What did you learn? I learned I have a lot going on! And it’s going to be a challenge to fold in this idea of design to the non-stop action and engagement that I have going on. I learned I need more pictures on my website, and I learned nothing I do will be perfect. I learned that details are helpful. I learned that I really like making mind maps on paper. I learned that my “learning journal” is just the moleskine book(s) I’ve been keeping since I was 17, I’m about to finish book 38, and I’m a little uncomfortable sharing my most intimate journal on the internet and wouldn’t even know where to begin really, there’s so much here.


  1. What tools did you use (An explanation of the technical side of creating this project report.  What software did you use? What digital literacy was required to put this together)? My mind maps were fun and enjoyable, and just took a big piece of paper, a sharpie and some highlighters. I used WordPress for my website, under the subdomain of my colleague Theron. WordPress is pretty simple, but it took some time to navigate the creation of menus, pages, posts, categories, etc. I’m still getting the hang of it. I’ve also started to use SEO software and that’s pretty awesome. Again, still getting the hang of it, and learning to accept things as not perfect.


  1. Did you find any people or tutorials particularly useful in creating this project report? In the final bringing together of all the elements, I searched around for others doing a permaculture diploma and found it very useful to see what others are doing. Also the peer check-ins with Chow and Theron were nice just to have support and motivation to do a good job.


  1. How much time did you spend in creating this project report? Wow I really have no idea. At least 30 hours.


  1. How well have did you showcase your learnings in this project report? Would you consider this project report satisfactory if it was prepared by another person? My strongest point is definitely the mind maps. I found it challenged to disseminate information, this has definitely been a challenge of mine, I know what I’m talking about, but how do I explain that to you.


9.    Any final reflections on your pathway integration and development? Though it’s challenging, I’m finding a lot of value in this process and it’s helping me focus, and also share this mysterious mission I’ve been on since graduating college. I’m excited to jump onto Project Two!!!

Action Learning Pathway




The two questions cut off at the bottom are “What do I want to contribute?” and “What am I going to do about it?” Followed by this website:

This Action Learning Pathway was an exercise that really challenged my whirlwind lifestyle. Anyone who knows me knows I’m constantly on the go, from coast to coast, and occasionally overseas. While I have general migration patterns, there are also plenty of spontaneous missions in between.

Coming back to the United States with permaculture on the brain made me wonder how to fold in the ethics and principles with my superhero-esque lifestyle. Throughout this Project 1 it’s been a cobble of figuring out how to meet the standard criteria set by the British Permaculture Association, which offers this diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, and how to continue growing in love and service.

I have now committed to these substantial 10-week chunks of time to produce detailed, quality projects to sharpen my skill as a designer and as a productive member of the permaculture network. I’ve also learned my preferred role in a group is that of supporter. I enjoy being able to jump into a project, and morph to whatever the needs of the project are.

My primary challenge was the unknown of where I’m going to be over the next two years. There are a LOT of variables.

My solution was to design themes of projects 2,3 and 4. When I’m not sure where I’ll be, I can fit these themes wherever I am. Project 2 was inspired by my smashing success with We The Trees in funding the repair of my bike for the superhero bike tour. Project 3 involves working with the Food is Free Project to learn how to build wicking beds out of recycled materials. Hopefully this knowledge will support later projects. Project 4 is delving into my blossoming enthusiasm for teaching.

Projects 5, 6, and 7 will be done in Chestertown, NY, where my mother’s side of the family originally comes from. I’ve spent the last three summers in Chestertown  and plan to spend summer 2013 supporting its initiative as a transition town. This year Chestertown launched its own farmer’s market, and I’ve just met some folks who have production gardens all over the area. I’m definitely looking forward to working with them. Project 8 is the 10 weeks leading up to my 26th birthday, when my health insurance runs out. Project 8 is dedicated to finding an alternate method of coverage, which may mean finding a “real job” or some other creative way of making sure if I get sick, I’ll have a way to heal that won’t put me in debt.

Projects 9 and 10 I’m leaving up to the mystery. I think they will rely heavily on what happens in Project 8, whether I get a job or go back to Asia or … I’ve had this idea in my mind that I’ll be in Brazil for 2014…

Cultural Context – Life Review FollowUp

Here are my attempts to directly answer Richard Perkins’ essential questions, after completing my Life Review assignment.




The story of my life is embedded in the cultural context of suburban America, a distillation of the once distinct Irish Catholic ethnic that peppers the stories of my ancestors.


I remember my mother telling us to stay out of the woods. There were ticks. And homeless people. I relished any time spent in nature, and was always looking for ways to get into the trees and the pond and the rivers. Spending time in the Adirondacks with my extended family, I could finally be in the woods without worrying. Our annual walk to the cave was a highlight in my year.


I was raised Catholic. My parents subscribed until we outgrew Sunday school, which I believe was mostly under pressure from my grandmother. I went every Sunday and I believed in God because I talked to a power greater than myself whenever I got sick or felt bad. I began to reject the stricter conventional notions of religion as I got older. I have since to respect the great force that moves through us all, and am wholly convinced of the divine nature of existence. I am still looking for was to broaden and deepen my own spiritual practice.


I have a crooked spine, but other than that, no longterm health problems, no allergies, I broke a few bones as a kid but I’ve mostly been healthy and energetic. Once in a while I get mysterious pains or am suddenly stricken with a dis-ease, but I’ve come to suspect that has less to do with my body than my mind. And it’s a humbling reminder that so many live with discomfort in their everyday lives, I’m so grateful to have an abundance of energy and wellness. I don’t even need coffee in the morning.


My parents started off as average middle class, and through decades of dedication to The Company, my parents are now in the top % of wage earners in this country. I’ve pretty much always had everything I needed, or at least that’s my impression. And this might sound insensitive and bold, but I am a pretty white female, so I don’t come across discrimination directed at me very often. I remember attending the Vagina Monologues in college, which finally helped me put being a woman into proper perspective, and that was an attitude of pride, not inadequency.


I told my story, without prompting, as a series of events that I hadn’t even considered the context, other than the astrological one. I am a child of the 1%. I am privileged. I have never been abused and the only once was in a situation in college that could have turned very ugly, but didn’t.


I was homeschooled, and lately I have a suspicion that this has placed me outside of many cultural norms. The people I grew up alongside were shapeshifters and lady knights, superheroes and gods and goddesses, flawed and beautiful people with strong voices that carried over centuries. Most of my best friends were in my head from pages and pages and chapters and volumes of reading.


When you ask about the most meaningful or valuable experience in life, the first things that comes to mind was my time with the Ojibwe. Not only did they shatter my expectations of indigenous life on this continent (and by extension, other continents), but they showed me the true essence of a culture built on the foundations of respect for environment, community, and self. Sweating in a lodge knocked me to the most core of my being, of humility, sadness, and a desperate passion to be alive.


It was with these values attached to my core that I have gone on these adventures through Texas and California and Thailand, partially for curiosity, partially for the mission of making life better for everyone in general. I have done everything I have ever done out of love, in some form or another.


I learned myself, and I unlearn myself. My homeschool experience taught me to be self-taught. And so I am. So I teach myself. And I unteach myself. And the cycle continues.


The pattern in the learning / unlearning is through my travels. Space affects how I think of things. So when I travel, it is a new reflection upon an old pattern. And when I return to a place after having traveled other places, through awareness I can see the differences and similarities to the me that was there previously.


The biggest, silliest pattern I’ve made to get me where I am today is usually wherever I go, I am following the impression of blossoming that seems to happen when I fall in love. The choices don’t necessarily lead me to being with my figure of affection, romantically or otherwise, but I am inspired by the essence of that person, which shapes me to make the choices I do, to move to a farm or to Texas or to pick up a ukelele.


My life is unfolding to my satisfaction because I feel relieved that I finally have something of value to offer to my community and the people around me. I have skills, insight, curiosity, energy, creativity, and joy.


Potentially some of the next best career directions will be in teaching. It seems like there is a need and an interest in living more holistic, fulfilling lives and I have several areas that I feel might enrich many folks’ daily paradigm were they to be made aware of the frame.


The sacred question that I live by is How? The Why reveals something about the asker, but the How reveals a truth in the universal truth of cycles. How can I make myself a better role model? How can I best contribute to my community? How am I living my ideals?


Life Review – The Essential Questions

Here are the essential life review questions from Richard Perkins which I of course did not read before embarking on my Life Review assignment.

Asking the right questions

Reflect on the context of your story before beginning this task

  • How is the story of your life embedded in a cultural context? What is that context?
  • How has your ecological context or lack of one shaped who you are? And who you are becoming?
  • What was your spiritual upbringing and what role did/does it play in your life?
  • How do you define your health and sense of wellbeing? How was/is that shaped?
  • What role have ism’s played in your life (sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, etc…)?
  • How might thinking contextually change how you tell your life story?
  • How can you share with others your major outcomes and (un)learnings in your own unique voice.



What are some of the essential questions the Life Review needs to answer:

  • What have been your most meaningful and powerful experiences in life?
  • How have they helped shape you?
  • How did you learn and unlearn?
  • Do you recognize any patterns in your un/learnings? What are they?
  • What decisions have you made in life to lead you to where you are today?
  • In what ways is your life unfolding to your satisfaction?
  • What might be some of your best next (career) directions, and why?
  • What are your questions? Do you have any (sacred) questions that you live by?

Story of My Life (Part 9) – Up Til Now

Up Til Now

And the past 12 months have been no less of a whirlwind. I spent the summer in Chestertown as a waitress at the high-class restaurant at the bottom of the hill. I made good money, shopped at the farmer’s market, taught myself guitar, practiced humility and patience, and started keeping a dream journal and practicing yoga.

I stayed through the end of September, and then joined my family for the first wedding of our generation, my cousin Thomas. My sister flew in from California, the first time she’d been back in several years. My grandmother cried when she saw her. The wedding itself was simple and beautiful, and we danced late into the night.

I flew back to California with my sister and helped her move into an apartment, before joining my soul-sister in Northern California for a few months. We had many adventures in the mountains and redwoods, but the vortex grew too strong, and I separated myself as emotional exhaustion set in. I spent two weeks by myself, then flew back to Austin on the first of December.

I remember vividly my first night back after all that had taken place. I was excited by an artifact that had told me itself, “You have no idea how to use this tool.” I hitchhiked to Awesome Hollow from the airport for their weekly Creation Flame ceremony. I was several hours early, and after depositing my artifact on the mantelpiece, spent some time meditating, stretching, hooping.

The other guests arrived, and meditation began, and ended with a profound and prolonged OHM. As Kirtan singing began, a fellow next to me offered a shoulder massage. As he touched me, and the music overwhelmed my heart, for the second time in a long time, I wept. As after the sweat lodge, all the tension and sadness flowed out of me, and I let my tears take them. I felt such a sense of relief and joy afterwards that I barely registered when, as I was leaving, my artifact, a glass pyramid from Mount Shasta, fell to the ground and shattered.

I spent three weeks in Austin in the bubble of bliss and merriment. Joy at seeing my friends, meeting new people, seeing how far the energy of the SHIRE had reached even in its dissolution, and the constantcy of activity and life and evolution filled my days, though I was puzzled and slightly disturbed by the unfolding of the Austin Occupy.

At this point, I have become aware of how little time I have spent describing my romantic engagements. This might be strange, as during the first draft of this life story I noticed the pattern that many of my major life choices were made because I had been, well, inspired is too weak of a word, but yes, inspired, by a handful of powerful, beautiful men. Soulfully intoxicated might be more appropriate. Over the years, with each soul friend, I was propelled to new heights of possibility and devotion and would undertake newer and grander adventures. My time in Austin again saw this pattern play out.

I’m not sure how much more I can say, because I’m not sure how much more I understand. I am still sorting through the many emotional memories that, on one hand, have given me a greater understanding of my own emotional spectrum, but on the other, have closed me off to any further romances. For fear? For shame? For attempting to establish my moral basis without compromising my basic human needs? I’m still not sure.

In January I flew to Thailand. I spent 5 months on a permaculture project in rural Isaan, taking my Permaculture Design Course, and spending time atoning for my previous community experience. This time was, thankfully, mundane. Cooking meals, attending meetings, digging trenches, washing dishes, all took on a quiet satisfaction. I was alone in myself, given time to think and not think, to play music and keep playing, to smile without expecting anything. I read books, doodled the flower of life, and designed a logo. I threw coins asking the I Ching various questions and inevitably it would always tell me to “Keep Still.”

I flew back to America at the end of May, satisfied, still, and wholly appreciative of the lessons of character and practicality I learned from the managers and fellow interns.

I’ve been home for a month now, I just threw Mom a 50th birthday party and paid off the rest of my student loans.

August 10th 2012 in Columbiaville, Michigan is the date and place for the next superhero ride.

I plan to be there.


Return to Project One

Story of My Life (Part 8) – Where Cape Meets Wheel

Where Cape Meets Wheel

Eventually, the inner emotional turmoil manifested itself in a week in April where many pieces of my physical identity left me. I lost my license, my cat disappeared, half a dozen cards from my tarot deck fell out, and my car was totaled by someone else. When Stardust invited me on the next superhero ride in June in Iowa, I was ready. I felt exhausted and helpless. I needed to leave. After Gracklefest, our major festival event, I packed my bicycle, rode to meet Stardust, and we hitchbiked a thousand miles to Superhero Headquarters: The Possibility Alliance.

It took us a week, both riding and hitching. I began to understand what was meant when hitchhikers are described as “roadside therapists.” It’s amazing how easily half of the cars we got into were willing to tell their life stories. And more than 2/3 had the same perception of danger: “What are you girls doing out here? Don’t you know that people are crazy?!”

We didn’t run into any trouble, and actually stayed at some beautiful places, camping by the river, staying in a family’s lakeside cabin, a widow’s extra bedroom, an old friend’s roommate’s floor. I wrote down the name and story of every ride we met. I was in awe of Stardust’s ability to connect to every person we got in a car with, without judgement, just a genuine curiosity. I told her that as we pried a can of beans open in the alcove of a college town, pressed up against the brick to stay out of the rain. I felt proud of myself for being able to express such a simple and direct sentiment.

We reached the Possibility Alliance, and I met the Zing, his wife Tigerlily, their daughter Butterfly Girl, Infinity Man, and several of the interns, some of whom planned to join us on the ride. We only stayed for the night, but the brief glimpse I saw of the electricity and petroleum free farm enlivened me to possibilities beyond technology. There are very few things that actually limit our imagination.

When I became a superhero, it was like finding an anchor to the true world. Like I had been living in a cabin of imagination, watching my life through the window, but having no way to activate or engage. When I stepped into the life of a superhero, I did it because it fit my paradigm of a magical world, and I loved comic books. What I found gave me a what I needed most: connection.

My cape was my bridge back to a shared world from the isolated shroud of sadness and shadow.

I spent two weeks riding with a dozen other heroes around Iowa. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. The superhero strivings suggested a way to live in line with compassion, acceptable, and vulnerability.

At the end, I became vulnerable in the worst way. I crashed my bike, and over the course of several days, the injury became worse until I was in debilitating pain. I took a Greyhound bus home the next day. As I called to tell Mom I was coming home, she had called in tears to tell me my sister was in the hospital because her boyfriend had tried to strangle her. And when I arrived home, my Dad told me he had been diagnosed that day with Type 1 Diabetes. Zing told me as I left, “A hero’s journey begins at home.” It felt like I had arrived just in time.

The end of June 2011. That was a year ago today.


Story of My Life – Part 9

Story of My Life (Part 7) – The Wood

The Wood

The Hundred Acre Wood was the site of the SHIRE experiment, and things did not go as expected. I quickly learned I had no real experience in project management and was coming up against many challenges that I had little support in solving. Everything from chores to tasks to projects felt difficult or uncomfortable. I remember specifically voting against emotional check-ins, which I now realize was probably the worst possible thing I could do. I wanted professionalism, I wanted results, and I wasn’t willing to face the human side of emotions and needs that my friends and collegues all had.

Despite the difficulties, we managed to put on a several workshops, ranging from mycoremediation, to biofuels, to natural building. One of our members organized an entire Monsanto protest in front of the capital. We held events and hosted volunteers from around the country. For how angry and helpless I felt in my personal life, the project was moving forward. Whatever we did, it kept growing and inspiring more people.

In December due to a freak occurrence, I was stuck at home in the Northeast. During that time I got a call from the Wood.

“Superheroes arrived.”


“Yeah, people in capes and costumes showed up on bikes and they’ve been doing all this work. Fixing our breaker box, clearing trails, digging holes. It’s awesome.”

A group called the Haul of Justice, costumed superheroes on bicycles riding around doing spontaneous service work, had shown up at the Wood to being their month-long spontaneous service ride across Texas. After their ride, Stardust, Raccoon, Wild Yeast, and Infinity Man rode back to Austin and stuck around to do some volunteer work on various farms as well as enjoy the amazingness of Austin. They changed my definition of possible.

I wasn’t working outside the Wood. All the money and energy I was expending was going directly to the SHIRE project. I took the lead on organizing one of our biggest outreach projects was a booth at the Pecan Street Festival, one of Austin’s oldest and largest downtown festivals. With help, I sold vendor space, organized our booth and workshops, and handed out themed “Eco-Steve” cards with little paradigm-raising messages on them like “Eco-Steve knows where his water comes from” and “Eco-Steve bikes to work.”




Story of My Life – Part 8