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My Story

After a pretty normal free range suburban 70’s childhood, with lots of nature patterning through sailing and Boy Scouts, and a pretty uninteresting college experience studying psychology and English literature, I fell off the turnip truck in the spring of 1990 and landed in the Appalachian mining town of Ivanhoe, Virginia.  In Ivanhoe, I got five years of the best education money couldn’t buy as I learned the power of community, of place, and of story.  I was volunteer firefighter for several years and really  grew to love and respect traditional lifeways and community, even if there are some shadow sides to all that as well.  I learned the history of colonialism and despoliation in Appalachia, of the perennial battles and the uneasy truces between privileged power and people power, between progress and tradition, between the Takers and the Givers, between the Go-ers and the Stay-ers.

After Ivanhoe, my former wife and I rode bicycles from Oregon to North Carolina one summer..  Afterwards, I worked in construction for a year to learn building skills and then worked as an assistant to a fantastically rich surgeon for two years to learn what life was like on the “other” side of the tracks.

In 1998, my wife and two daughters, settled on a small farm in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Virginia.  We homeschooled the girls for a decade. I gutted the old farm house, put in electrical, plumbing, a bath room, insulation, new windows and an addition.  I keep a large garden, orchard and have chickens and sometimes sheep.  For several years we had an intentional community here, but life changes have caused that to fade out for now, unfortunately.

In the last 15 years, my principal interests have been transformational education, music, homeschooling, nature connection, animal tracking, rites-of-passage, soulcraft, writing, poetry, native culture and spiritual traditions, storytelling, healing, community-based ceremony, leadership, awareness, creativity and mentoring.  I’ve won a number of teaching and advising awards at Virginia Tech over the past few years and designed and taught classes such as “The Nature of Leadership” and “The Art and Science of Tracking”  that harness the power of nature to create individual and social transformation. I’ve recently branched out into life coaching with “Natural Intelligence Coaching” and frequently guest lecture, teach, write and edit and serve as a curriculum consultant on various local and regional projects.  I have  a Master’s in Educational Psychology.  You can contact me at naturalintelligencedesigns@gmail.com.

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