View from the Mountains
Seasonal Newsletter of The Mountain Spirit Institute
#3: Spring Issue, 2008
Message from the President
Vernal Equinox, 2008
The Tao of Mountain Spirit
On behalf of the Board of Directors, welcome to the Spring, 2008 edition of our Newsletter. We greet you with an open invitation to enjoy our website, learn more about us, explore our program offerings, and, if you're so inspired, to join us in sharing our dream. We hope you'll enjoy this way keeping you up-to-date on the latest at Mountain Spirit Institute.
A Moment of Balance
As I write, Earth is approaching the equinox, bringing Spring to the Northern Hemisphere. The equinox is a moment of balance in the cycle of the seasons which occurs only twice a year. At this time, the northern and southern hemispheres are equally tilted toward the Sun, and day and night are nearly perfectly balanced throughout the world.
The balance of the equinox can remind us to reflect on balance in our own lives, as individuals, members of families and communities, citizens of our countries, and residents on our planet Earth. We may be prompted to consider what is in light within ourselves and our communities, and what is in darkness. We may ask, what is happening within me, and how is that reflected in what is occurring in my life? We may pause to notice what is increasing in our lives, and what is receding. We may contemplate what is manifest, and what is yet unborn. And after such reflection, we may ask: What actions do I want to take to adjust the balance in any area of my life, or to encourage the creation of what I value?
Our work at Mountain Spirit is guided by questions like these. We encourage balance between the inner self and the outer world, and between interior reflection and outer action. We promote centeredness, self-reliance, and compassion by facilitating various opportunities for people to explore and expand their connections to themselves. We stimulate service and community-building by providing venues where people can come together and explore their connections to each other in a variety of ways. We encourage stewardship of Earth by providing experiential group or solo adventures in backcountry, where people can explore themselves and experience inter-connectedness in the natural world.
Mountain Spirit Institute is stepping forward now with these specific areas of focus:
- Wilderness and backcountry programs, including solos, wilderness experience and mountain adventures;
- USA/Peru Music Program, including a fall concert tour in New England of the Peruvian group Chimu's;
- The Sunapee SunFest '08, the third annual natural living and sustainability festival in Sunapee, NH;
- Further workshops with Peruvian shaman Theo Paredes, Ph.D.
- The Sustainable Communities Program directed by Brenda Dowst, MS, ABT
- Board development, including recruitment, fund-raising, and role definition
- Ramping up the website with addtional information, feedback and registration donation form capability
Please visit us at www.mtnspirit.org for more information about these programs, as well as a wealth of articles, links, resources, photos, and commentary.
Staying in Balance
Balance for Mountain Spirit also depends on support from individuals, corporations, grants, and annual fund-raising events. Please watch our website and Newsletters for information about various ways to contribute. At this time, we are requesting support for our Annual Fund, which helps us with organizational expenses such as wilderness permits and the necessary insurances. If you share our vision and would like to contribute, please see the article in this Newsletter on supporting MSI, or visit our support page at www.mtnspirit.org/support.html .
You'll also find ways to contact us at the end of this newsletter and on our website. Your support makes it possible for us to continue to offer the high-quality programs that have been so popular, such as The Art of Living, the solo wilderness experiences, and the Sunapee SunFest. Thank you for your support.
Mountain Spirit's founder Randy Richards says, "We help people feel at peace with themselves in the wilderness." This is what Mountain Spirit offers to you: helping you find peace in the wilderness of Earth, the wilderness of your community, the wilderness of your mind, your soul, yourself. When people find this peace, this love, spaciousness, acceptance and joy, this connection to their true hearts, a shift occurs, and transformation happens. The new and transformative energy then flows from the individual into his or her relationships with friends, family, and community, and, ultimately, to the world.
We are working to promote inner and outer balance in the world, and we offer an opportunity to connect with others on this path. We sincerely invite you to join us.
With Warm Regards,
Elizabeth Sofish, Ph.D.
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President, Mountain Spirit Institute
Grantham, New Hampshire, USA
Where and When
Sunday Sept 21, 2008
Mt. Sunapee, NH
Sunapee SunFest Webpage
The 3nd Annual Sunapee SunFest on Holistic Health & Sustainable Living!
The SunFest grows into its third year. Last year proved popular with vendors and visitors alike. Held at beautiful Mt. Sunapee, 2008 will have more vendors, speakers and music than last year. Our goal is to seek out national-wide vendors and speakers who are making a difference in both holistic health and sustainability. Expect more from this event, including more fun.
The event serves not only to educate and inform, but also to aids in Mountain Spirit's efforts to further its program goals and mission statement. MSI was approached in 2005 to be on of two or three sponsors for the new event. When no others organizations stepped forward, MSI decided to sponsor the event. We are glad we did. While it was intended to be fundraiser for our Annual Fund, it is turning out to be a MSI program first, and a fundraiser second. Says founder R. Richards, "While there are more efficient was of fundraising, there may not be more fun ways.
The SunFest has a lot of new energy in the leadership department. Co-coordinators Jessica Hunt and Marcy Mikutowicz, both of Concord will lead the effort in creating a larger and even more fun event this year.
For more information on the Sunapee SunFest, to volunteer, be a vendor or see about Mountain Spirit Institute's programs by visiting their website at www.mtnspirit.org or call 603-763-2668
Read New Hampshire's Governor Lynch/SunFest 2007 Welcome Letter
To be a vendor at our Sunapee SunFest stay tuned for both the PDF download or online registration form at the website.
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Where and When
Central NH, Utah and Peru
Back to our roots - Wilderness and Mountains
As Mountain Spirit builds a solid foundation by strengthening the board roles, fundraising and advertising, we also have decided to focus about that which we are passionate.
Stay tuned for the continuation of the popular Kearsarge Wilderness Program and a new Utah Wilderness Connection. MSI is in the process of either securing special use permits or dovetailing with current permit holders in beautiful areas of the US. Of course we plan on continuing to offer the Peru backcountry as a tantalizing growth experience, culturally and spiritually.
Please check MSI's program page for the newly added Programs at-a-Glance feature.
Image: Wasatch Backcountry, Utah
Where and When
Utah, then Central NH,VT.
Chimu's Web Page
Peru/USA Music Program Scheduled for Fall 2008
Mario Montalvo, Guillermo Seminario, and Augusto Taype, (pictured front row at right) of the band Chimu's will be arriving in New Hampshire for their first visit to the US ever to perform and educate about traditional Peruvian Folklore music.
They will be in the US under sponsorship and invitation of MSI. Says Randy Richards, " The US
has approved their performer's permit. All that remains is their visa approvals "
Guillermo Seminario is the musical director of the band and plans on doing as much teaching about their Peruvian instruments as playing them. They are currently scheduled for a wide variety of venues ranging from an opera house to a large holistic health expo in Massachusetts and of course the Sunapee SunFest in New Hampshire. For a full schedule of Chimu's projected itinerary, see their webpage at www.mtnspirit.org/Quechua.html
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What and Where
Background on our board members at:
New Board Members Add New Energy and Focus
MSI's founder Randy Richards states of the three new board members, "I'm very excited about Elizabeth Sofish, PhD, and Craig Cimmons and Brenda Dowst, joining our board. Each brings diverse and solid talents as well as a wealth of experience to MSI." He added "We're clearly ramping up the pace with solid guidance from our board.
Betsy Sofish, PhD, has assumed the role of president, and has already helped with long range planning, board development, the running of meetings and interviews for the SunFest coordinator Position. She comes with extensive background in administration and has served as an executive director in in the non-profit sector.
Craig Cimmons will be focusing on developing new programs in the Northeast. He comes with a strong outdoor programs administrative background, plus has lots of guiding experience as well.
Brenda Dowst, MS, (ABT) has extensive experience in delivering communication tools for corporations and communities, plus a background in non-profit administration and fundraising.
Bob Stremba, PhD, Vice president of Mountain Spirit, has been a board member and consistent support since the organization's official start, and continues to offer invaluable direction and guidance. Bob runs the Adventure Education department at Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado.
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Where and When
By Contracting with MSI
Sustainable Communities Webpage
Sustainable Communites Program:
Healthy Communication Tools used in The North Country
By Brenda Dowst,
Sustainable Communities Program Director,
MSI Board Member
On December 31, 2007, the last paper mill in Groveton, N.H Wausau Papers, closed its doors for good, putting another 300 employees out of work. The paper machines had operated 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and many employees had worked 20, 30 and even 40 years in the mills, devoting their entire adult lives to papermaking. Consequently, an entire community has been disconnected from its long term, primary economic resource.
In November of 2007, in anticipation of the mill's closing and the negative impact of that and other associated losses within the community, our Sustainable Communities program was contacted by Groveton Regional Economic Action Team (GREAT) . We responded immediately. After consulting with GREAT's President and its Board of Directors, our Sustainable Communities program director, I, worked directly within the community for about a week culminating my efforts with a community forum that allowed residents to come together to voice their concerns, and share their hopes and dreams for the survival of the community they all love and value.
Subsequently, taped portions of the meeting were shared with several state agencies and aired on Political Chowder ( http://www.politicalchowder.com/eps/2008/ep021008.phpe ) We also received significant coverage in all the local and regional newspapers, and I appeared on Political Chowder's weekly broadcast in February. Two residents of Groveton directly affected by the recent layoffs also appeared on the show. I have continued to consult with GREAT, offering guidance and strategies for ways to continue engaging the community, building stronger connections between state, regional and local groups, and raising awareness of environmental issues as they arise in the search for ways to make the community more sustainable over time.
We have since offered a proposal to do follow-up training with GREAT's board to improve their person to person interactions, and their relationship with the community. As questions and opportunities present themselves MSI's Sustainable Communities Program is prepared to offer its growing expertise and experience to any community, small or large, which is seeking to establish, improve, and/or preserve its value for current and future generations.
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Where and When
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20-25, 2008 Phase I
September 19-24 2008, Phase I
November 5-9, 2008, Phase II
The Awakening Webpage
Gary Acevedo, M.S.W., and His Awakening
By Mary Margaret Palmer
She was no more than 12. Her honey colored hair was tied back falling straight down the length of her back. She stood confidently, this Alice in wonderland look-alike, before the audience of 100. Speaking from the heart, she focused on her family in the front row. I felt a tear run down my cheek as she acknowledged the love and gratitude she felt for each of them. She was graduating from a seminar called The Awakening.
The Awakening is a week-long personal empowerment retreat for all ages that just may be the most effective non-confrontive program available. The creation of Gary Acevedo , a facilitator, Gestalt therapist, and motivational speaker from Salt Lake City, The Awakening uses technologies developed by Gary and others to create an atmosphere of subconscious safety where the deepest kinds of revelations can occur. Through The Awakening, Gary teaches "compassion as a technology."
On an invitation from one of Gary's staff, I attend an Awakening graduation as an observer and found the three-hour process of acknowledgement and healing among both participants and audience members to be one of the most powerful and moving experiences I have ever witnessed. At times it was almost magical. I watched as siblings, divorced couples, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, friends and lovers were brought together in an atmosphere of love, forgiveness, acceptance, and thankfulness. It started with one graduate acknowledging another and progressed until audience members, people who had never attended a seminar, began acknowledging graduates and each other. I have paid money to attend weekend seminars that didn't move me, emotionally or spiritually, as much as this one graduation. As I watched and experienced the loving energy filling that room, I couldn't help but wonder, "If this is the graduation, what must the seminar be like?
I ran up to Gary right after the graduation to tell him how impressed I had been by what I had experienced and was surprised when he told me that this graduation had been fairly tame in comparison to others. "I've seen some almost mystical homecomings," he replied smiling wistfully. "What's your favorite graduation story?" I asked. And, Gary told me about a young man in his late twenties who had been estranged from his father most of his life. At 14, the boy had run away from home and even though both he and his father lived in New York, they had only seen each other once when the father had broken his leg and needed help getting to the hospital. Essentially there was no relationship.
Gary continued, "On the first day of the Awakening I tell everybody if you want certain people at your graduation or homecoming (Gary's name for the graduation), you need to put it out there 100 percent". "Then," he added, "if they don't show up, you can feel completed and resolved". So Randy called up his father and left three different messages telling him how important it was for him to attend-really hitting the mark. Of course he didn't expect his father to show. When Randy got to the homecoming his dad was there. And, when the time came, Randy stood up, put out his arms, and said, 'Dad, I guess you've probably never known that for my whole life you were my hero.' Well, his father ran up front and gave him a big hug as they cried. It was incredible. The next Awakening his dad signed up. During one process the participants get to re-experience the peak experiences of their life. When Randy's father shared his peak experience with his group he shouted loudly that the best moment of his life was when he got his son back.
"There's been lots of surprises like that when the person didn't really expect someone and then the person just shows up." According to Gary, people have come from as far away as Germany and South America to attend an Awakening graduation.
What, I asked Gary, is behind the phenomenon of loving and healing that takes place at an Awakening? Gary explained, "I now know and understand the science and the structure of group energy and group atmosphere. In other words, I know how to make people subconsciously feel so safe they start to participate and to love and accept each other and to take risks at a pace nobody can touch."
Years ago, Gary had the realization that what most people consider hang-ups are really blocked strengths that have been repressed. "I saw that there are no such things as hang-ups that all they are is disguised or misdirected strengths, that people are absolutely perfect, that there is nothing wrong with them. This basically is my main message."
Gary continued, "There is no other workshop in the country that I've ever been to that can take a group of strangers from zero to the place I get them to by the end of the first day of the Awakening. By the end of that first day, they are as high or higher than they have every been in their whole life. They're literally in a state of awe. Their jaws are dropped."
Where and how did this remarkable facilitator and expert on subconscious safety get started. Initially Gary's training began at the Cedu Foundation under the tutelage of Mel Wasserman. Of Wasserman, Gary says, "He was about 20 years ahead of this time. He was inventing things about which wouldn't even be written in books until years later, things like Neurolinguistic programming."
Top Image: Participants Randy Richards and Martin Fox take part in an exercise at the Awakening facilitated by Gary Acevedo, Megan Oberer and others.
Bottom Image: R. Richards and other participants at The Awakening
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Mountain Spirit Signs up with Additional Associations
Although we have been members of our local Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce, Worldwide Outfitters and Guides Association, and the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, for some time, we have recently become members of some new associations. We're now members of Sustainable Travel International, Utah Non-Profits Association and South American Explorers.
help keep us up-to-date on everything from best practices in fundraising to safe wilderness leadership and reporting procedures. Being a member of the Chamber helps keep us in touch with the local community.
Sustainable Travel International membership is invaluable keeping us up to date in supporting and practicing low impact travel and guiding practices in sensitive areas of the Andes.
We're excited to be new members of the Utah Nonprofits Association. Through the
of Martin Fox at Center for Global Leadership, it seemed like a good suggestion. The UNA has regular mailings and seminars on everything from fundraising to nonprofit management and board development.
The Mountain Guide's Half Hour
By MSI Founder Dexter R. Richards
In mountain guiding, the term "Guide's half-hour" is the short time the guide takes for himself at the end of a long day, after the clients have been cared for, their meals cooked, equipment is organized, and the assistants are briefed for the next day. It's a time to unwind, go bouldering, do a short climb or to sit under the stars. Here' the founder's half-hour of editorial:
I just had my fiftieth here in Park City. Oddly enough, we had quite a contingent of Sunapeeites. It was a great time, and when called to make a speech, the first thing that came to mind , which I blurted out, was "The older I become, the less I know". The room fell silent. To my rescue came Vanessa Laurella piping out, "I know what he means, I feel that way too!" After some quick nods, the conversation din returned. Thanks for the help Vanessa!
As I learn more "at the deep end of the pool" about running a nonprofit organization, I find the need for balance becoming more essential. Work, family, play, exercise, oh, there's rest and eating too. But the bottom line, with the time I have left is to make sure I'm living every moment, because, as Dave McGuire says, "daylight's burning" . Being present, in a state of aliveness, acceptance, and joy in the empty mind, is my minute by minute practice.
Here's what Eckhart Tolle says about being in the present, in nature:
"When you perceive nature only through the mind, through thinking, you cannot sense its aliveness, its beingness. You see the form only and are unaware of the life within the form - The sacred mystery. Thought reduces nature to a commodity to be used in the pursuit of profit or knowledge or some other utilitarian purpose. The ancient forest becomes timber, the bird a research project, the mountain something to be mined or conquered.
When you perceive nature, let there be spaces of no thought, no mind. When you approach nature in this way, it will respond to you and participate in the evolution of human and planetary consciousness."
This is a good summation of what we're up to at Mountain Spirit - presence.
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Published by R. Richards, Founder,
Mountain Spirit Institute
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Awakening images: DreamMakers Academy photographer
All other Images : Randy Richards
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