Greetings from Central America! I write this on a bus heading to Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, where my high school friend Steven’s wedding is happening this weekend.
After my extended stay in Nepal, I caught a sore throat and fever that unfortunately made the journey home quite uncomfortable. Thankfully, I spent 4 days in between the 2 journeys in quality company of old friends and housemates. My body has been restored completely now. A strong dose of nature, rest, good food, even better company, and wanderlust have been perfect cures. Right before departing Kathmandu, I finished a 8-minute film showcasing our work as volunteers and the community of Takure. It is intended to be shown to upcoming and prospective volunteers of Conscious Impact & YUWA, and of course serve as a tribute to all the incredible experiences and progress made collectively in Sept and Oct. I am proud to show this to all the supporters and donors to my fundraiser. Definitely worth noting that all 3 songs were sung and recorded in Takure, and 2 of the songs are original pieces inspired by our time in the village. Turn the sound up!
Upon returning to the U.S. later in Nov, I will continue to organize, edit, and publish content captured in Takure & Nepal. Orion and Juliette have been posting many of my photographs on their personal Facebook profiles as well the Conscious Impact FB page. Luke + Sebastian from Redefined Films were great to work with, and they too will be producing content in the coming weeks/months. One of their videos will showcase Dheeraj, the co-founder of YUWA Unity Nepal and a resident of Takure. It’s looking to be really good. I will keep you all posted with links. I had some sincere, heartfelt conversations with Orion and Allen while in Nepal, and the current intention is for me to return Feb 2016 to pick things up once more. By that time the brick press(es) will be set and producing compressed stabilized earth blocks daily, and thus the reconstruction of the school(s) ought to be well under way. I am so looking forward to it! Attached are some favorites from my last 2 weeks in Nepal. For folks who have selected a print or photo book as perks, we shall be in touch later in November in regards to making all the happen. With much gratitude for your support, in whatever quantity and manner, to have made this journey and project, for myself and for so many others I have crossed paths with, not only possible but truly, deeply enriching.
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The volunteer camp in the village of Takure in the district of Sindhupalchok has been my home for nearly the past 6 weeks. I have lived out of a small tent, waking up early to the sun everyday to learn, work, and live alongside dozens of volunteers from across the globe. In some weeks there have been only about 15-25 of us. Others 40-55+. We eat a vegetarian, plant-based diet. We drink, shower, and clean with water from a spring further up the hill. Natural resources such as bamboo, wood, sand, clay, and stone are collected from around the community, and if needed, purchased from nearby stores to support local businesses. The diversity of the characters this camp and project has attracted here is truly immense. Equally immense is the hospitality and warmth of the Nepalis, specifically the community members of Takure. We’ve been welcomed into a number of families’ homes and served tea, milk, and sometimes even fresh harvests such as cucumbers with chili salt. Their stories, openness, and humility humble us each and everyday. Describing the essence thus far with any one or even combination of adjectives doesn’t even begin to articulate the full spectrum of humbling and enlightening human experiences I (we) have had.
Today we bid farewell to the 10-day October rebuild volunteers. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when you have worked, laughed, sang, cooked, sweated, learned, and shared experiences with around the clock day after day. We share the collective vision for global learning and understanding. We seek connections beyond geographical and political boundaries. We are drawn closer by our similarities rather than being divided by our differences in beliefs, genders, and interests. We celebrate the unique journeys and skill sets which we are all on and have. It makes for quite the special bonds. I have certainly made a number of friends for life.
In the following several days, we will be completing the main structure of the training center. The training center is going to be where community members of Takure and folks from all around the region can come and learn about an alternative building material which will be produced on-site. Compressed earth blocks, or CEB for short, is the main product. These blocks are to be made from nearly all local materials, are ecologically and financially sustainable, and very importantly, earthquake-proof. The CEB will first be utilized in rebuilding the 2 local schools, a project which both Conscious Impact and YUWA Unity Nepal are fully committed to and foresee starting later in November. The vision is to have this training center to be a knowledge-sharing space and marketplace run by villagers of Takure to offer lessons, discussions, and have the earth blocks for sale at a significantly lower cost (as well as ecological footprint) compared to conventional building materials and methods.
I am so proud of my friends’ work in this beautiful, special place. I am filled with awe at the progress we have made in the past month and a half. When you first walk around this village, you may only see physical devastation. Yet as all of us have discovered and experienced, the people living in the temporary structures rebuilt from scrap materials from their fallen homes are more often filled with resilience, joy, and hope. Amazingly, despite having had all but one structure collapse from the earthquakes in April and May, there is not one human casualty in Takure. Rupak, one of the local young men who has been working with us as well as serve as our interpreter, remarked that this is such a special place that Shiva himself has protected the village. This resonates well with the spirit we have felt through the visits to homes and schools. The community members are thankful for this life and are ready to rebuild better and stronger than before.
The dwindling internet access here at camp has made uploading content and staying connected limited and difficult at best. I apologize for the lack of updates especially these past couple weeks as our internet access went from limited to barely existent. As I (reluctantly) emerge out of the woods from this special place, I will undoubtedly be adding content to this fundraising campaign and on social media. There is so, so much to be shared.
Due to the complex and escalated political and social issues in Nepal these past few weeks, many resources including petro has been a rare commodity throughout the country. Many flights out of Kathmandu have been canceled, including my own. After several days of uncertainty (and some frustration), my departure date has been postponed to October 23 — 6 days later than originally scheduled. This delay allows much-welcomed downtime, further envisioning with Allen and Orion for what the next year holds for us, in addition to the films we will be able to produce with Luke and Sebastian, the good folks behind Redefined Films.
There is 2 and a half days left in the fundraiser. We are so close to the goal. I am overwhelmed by the incredible support from friends and family across over 5 different time zones. I hope you find or have found value in the work that not only I have been doing here in Takure, but we collectively as a conscious movement doing what we all feel is morally and socially the right thing to do. The impact we have made, will continue to here in Nepal and far beyond throughout our lives and those we touch shall spread like ripples on a tranquil pond. I have no doubt this is only the beginning of the greater good we are able to co-create within ourselves and those we touch.
With love and gratitude from Takure,
Teej festival in Takure, Sindupalchok district.
Photos and captions by Hannah Markoff.Share it via:
My second photo story in working with Conscious Impact and YUWA Unity Nepal in the village of Takure in Sindupalchok district. A few of us joined Dheeraj, one of the co-directors of YUWA Unity Nepal, for a walk around the village to see the edible crops grown here, how food is managed and harvested, and how we can work towards creating an ag site near the volunteer camp to provide local nutrition.
Photos by yours truly. Captions by Erin and I.
I am currently running a fundraiser for my work with these great organizations, and you would be able to support all of our work and get prints of my photographs in Nepal through it. Please check out https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rebuilding-learning-and-storytelling-in-nepal/ to find out.Share it via:
Learn more about the work that I, Conscious Impact, and YUWA Unity Nepal are doing:
Also on Facebook “Conscious Impact” and “YUWA Unity Nepal” and Instagram (@consciousimpact, @subtledream).
I am currently running a fundraiser for my work with these great organizations, and you would be able to support all of our work and get prints of my photographs in Nepal through it. Please check out https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rebuilding-learning-and-storytelling-in-nepal/ to find out.
Hello directly from the village of Takure! I’ve been here for 5 days. We are currently about 20 people from the US, Australia, Britain, Bulgaria, Italy, and New Zealand. We have architects, builders, botanists, logistics experts, educators, university students, and many more with various skills and passions in the group. Everyone is working together with YUWA Unity Nepal plus members from the community of Takure to create and improve our volunteer camp and the foundations of the future training center (and later, the school). The training center is going to serve as a hub for villagers as well as visitors to learn, co-create, and develop ideas to build and maintain structures with compressed earth blocks and other environmentally sustainable and economically viable methods.
In a couple days, 5-6 more volunteers will join us, while from September 16-25, there will be another 12 or so volunteers converging to really get the momentum going on the training center. It is a very exciting time to be here learning, collaborating, and regenerating the spirit of the people and the structures in the years to come.
One of my roles has been to help out with various physical tasks, such as leveling the ground to build a composting latrine and garden space, gathering stones from a collapsed roof of a nearby house to be reused for other projects. It’s noteworthy that 245 out of 245 houses in Takure sustained minor or major damage.
The other task has been to become familiarized with the local environment and culture while documenting the cross-cultural collaboration as we move forward. The physical damages are very apparent even nearly 5 months after the initial shake, but the spirit of the people here and all around Nepal appear to be strong and hopeful. Rice continues to thrive in the rice paddy fields, goats keep munching on foliage, while day to day business rolls on and kids play on the streets.
I am feeling extremely grateful to BE here surrounded by such eagerness, positivity, and diversity of folks to have this synergistic experience. With over a month left in the fundraiser and less than half way to the goal, I have no doubt that we will reach it and beyond. Thank YOU for every contribution and effort to bring this into reality for myself and so many others here in Takure, and more. I am (we are) so, so appreciative of your support in any form.
In the meantime, please enjoy the attached photos since landing in Nepal.
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In 26 days, I will land in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I will be greeted by the beautiful faces of 3 friends who have been there since the multiple earthquakes that completely changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nepalis. I will be greeted by destruction on scales I will not be able to articulate with words. Many lost their lives and loved ones, and even more are still deeply affected by the natural disaster that has been off the radar of mainstream media as well as the minds of most people.
I feel so fortunate in this life. My day-to-day personal and first world problems do not even come close to the immense obstacles that my global family members in that region face. To be absolutely honest, I felt helpless and terrible in not being able to financially contribute to the urgent disaster relief. I felt guilty for the multiple pleasure-driven adventures in the woods, for that extra 6-pack I’d buy at the store, and those pieces of outdoor gear I’ve been wanting. It’s so easy to justify those instant gratifications that temporarily satisfy the self instead of truly, genuinely thinking and acting globally.
The check-in with my friends after the earthquake quickly transformed that guilt into boundless motivation. What I’ve lacked in financial contributions, I realized I am capable of contributing through my physically being there to listen, learn, and do. It is an honor to have this opportunity to partner with the magical dream team that makes up Conscious Impact plus the dozens of volunteers who will be converging from all over the map to rebuild not only the damaged structures but also the human spirit of a global community. My friends and I recently connected with a team of videographers and have begun brainstorming ideas on a series of impactful videos and media to be published across our networks.
I deeply encourage you to look deeper into the current state of happenings by following the work of Conscious Impact through their site/Facebook/Instagram, and that of yours truly in the months to follow.
I personally believe that monetary numbers usually have little to no bearing on the true value of something. I believe in social capital, such as time and knowledge exchange, that transcends beyond this artificial system we have become desperately dependent on. That said, this journey is entirely self-funded and will put me off my paying job. I would be foolish to say that this is going to be self-sustaining. Thus, in the coming week or so, I plan to launch a personal fundraiser and sincerely hope you will take part in. And yes, especially for those who partook in the funding of my bicycle and farm trek in 2013, this will look and feel very similar.
This Thursday, August 13, I will be presenting at the beloved Beacon Food Forest the latest updates from my friends working on the ground in Nepal and a vision for the collective conscious impact we can create together. Event link: http://www.facebook.com/events/371114873098695/
For those of you interested in volunteering, please take a look at the available projects and opportunities in the coming months on http://www.consciousimpact.org/#!volunteer/citr
As my brother comrade Ryan who will be joining the collective efforts in Nepal this September and October, “my life is radical.”
It truly is.
Stay tuned, my friends.Share it via:
My short bicycle tour with friends over the weekend reminded me how much I adore the life journey on 2 wheels. It represents freedom and exploration in a pure, self-powered, self-empowering manner that no other activity I’ve done has replicated (backpacking comes close).
It has been over a year and a half since my life-changing trek from Canada to Mexico came to an end. I long for another long bike journey in the near future.
And this brings me to the main dish of this post…
This magical video articulates and visualizes the beauty and enlightenment I have gained through bike touring. It speaks to the soul. Truly another level. See for yourself.
Sound on + full screen, most definitely.
I hope that this film is a healthy nudge for people to shake up their lives a little bit.
Jed’s radical choice to quit his job and ride his bike across the world is a perfect challenge to the rest of us to get out of the routine and make some scary decisions. If you’re afraid of a decision ahead of you, you’re probably on the right track. Choose it. !
Follow Jed’s adventures @jedidiahjenkins
My Instaspam @kennyjamez
It’s been an emotional last 24 hours.
I awakened from the dream state to the sound of birds singing in the trees paired with the rustling of leaves dancing to a gentle breeze. Clouds covered the summer sun, keeping the air around us and earth beneath us from quickly heating up, as it has been for the past several days. A welcomed break from the unusual heat and dryness this region has seen. My friend Jess and I agreed it was one of the most restful nights we’ve had recently. Sleeping out in nature almost never fails to provide this unparalleled restoration of the body and mind.
The warm sun peeked out of the clouds as we enjoyed a nutritious breakfast. After reminiscing on the great chats under the milky way (and several shooting stars) in the previous evening, we set off for a little stroll into the woods. We picked ripe blackberries along the trail and bushwhacked our way in and out of the river bank. Being a Monday morning at the state park, we were the only wanderers. We felt grateful for our non-routine work schedules and the tranquil reconnection to nature.
A swift drive filled with more good conversation and equally quality music teleported us back to the urban center we call home. I bid farewell to Jess as I returned to my mobile dwelling, and soon after, a favorite local coffee shop. Single origin, fair trade, organic coffee. This batch was from Colombia. $2.65 happily spent on ethical beans and labor. What a way to commence the afternoon.
The sun provided warmth, comfort, and Vitamin D to my skin as I Skype-call Cathie Bukowski, a PhD student at Virginia Tech who had set up a call with me to talk about the Beacon Food Forest. She is deeply interested in and has been studying food forests and community gardens around the country for over 4 years. I agreed to share my experiences and thoughts on permaculture and the food forest, a very special place to me and many others I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with.
Cathie dug deep. I can tell she has been seeking deeper answers and motivations that fundamentally drive folks to take action and make projects like the Beacon Food Forest a reality. I nearly teared after answering one of her questions. My own words (re)ignited the fire in my belly. That’s not something that happens frequently. Moments and days like this stick with you. An hour passed by. It felt sublime to feel further connected to a global community of earth stewards who are reversing the disconnection from our foods, our earth, and one another.
I spent the following several hours in a zone of my own. Recorded live sets by DJ Medicineman kept the groove going strong while photos from the big cameras were downloaded and edited in the digital darkroom. It is always a treat to relive all those moments captured on film. It is one of the greatest joys that I get to have as a documenter of this beautiful life. It felt great to have had an afternoon to do so.
I then caught up on emails and correspondences with friends and family. I lived through recent funtivities of my little nephews and their parents via our family chat group. I allow myself to somewhat mindlessly scroll through the endless news feed on Facebook for some time before mindfully shifting gears to the latest updates from my dear friends in Nepal. They have been working tirelessly with local organizations and rural villagers on the road towards the rebuilding of homes, schools, roads, and livelihoods. I got reminded of my blessings. I needed it. It is often too easy for one to fall into a spiral of trivial, first-world problems.
8:30pm. The sun was about to set in less than 30 minutes. I told myself I would dedicate the evening on an important outreach email on the crowdsourcing fundrasier for the Beacon Food Forest and brainstorming ideas as well as a timeline for the funding of my own trek to Nepal in September. I’ve been putting these 2 important things off for a number of days.
I also desired a change of scenery before refueling the system with some nourishment. I pedaled towards Golden Gardens, a nearby park with sweeping views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains silhouetted against the fiery gradient. Gorgeous. Light waves crashed against the rocky shoreline. I love that sound. I felt content and lonely at the same time. I wanted to share the moment and beauty with somebody. Somebody who shares my world views, passions, and values. I wondered, as I often have, if she is someone I know already, someone who is witnessing the same sunset, or perhaps instead a starry night sky on the other side of the globe?
I shook off the nonconstructive emotion as best as I could on the 2-wheeled journey home, and was welcomed to the sight of a still-burning barbecue by my motorhome. Mike and Caroline must have just cooked, or was about to. I was greeted by both of them soon after. To no surprise, they asked if I wanted to join for dinner. They are truly the best neighbors and friends I could ask for.
As food was about to be served, I caught sight on my phone of the flooding that’s been happening in southern California. Record rainfall for what is typically the driest month in that region. Collapsed bridges, mudslides, damages, injuries. Unprecedented drought, wildfires, diminishing water supplies, and now flooding all at the same time. Even the Pacific Northwest is witnessing the same issues. A surge of worry and anxiety rushed by. My mind raced through all the facts about our changing planet and the degradation of the environment and couldn’t help but feel defeated in this “battle” to hold back, let alone reverse, the devastation stemming from our species’ ignorance. Every action and progress made on the individual level and at a higher, global level ceased to matter. All those times protesting on the streets and in front of city halls for climate action… plugging into discussion forums, rallies, conferences, and heck, peeing into a mason jar because I cannot stand the idea of flushing 1.6 gallons of perfectly clean, potable water down the drain — poof! No longer mattered. My generation, that of my little nephews and all subsequent offspring will simply have to live with unpredictable climate in a rapidly desertifying earth. It’s too late.
It’s easy to become fatigued and jaded. This is not the first time these emotions have hit me face on, nor will it be the last. I took a deep breath in, and tried to let it all out. The thoughts still weighed heavily on my shoulders. I tried my best to stay upbeat during dinner. I didn’t bring any of it up until I was cleaning up with Caroline after. She offered much-needed support. We both have immediate family in southern California. The water issue truly hit home. “The flowers will keep blooming. We do our part,” she reassured me. I couldn’t let this emotional rollercoaster ride on without some proper release and solace. I decided to write for the first time in months, maybe even over a year.
The earth shall keep rotating. The sun will continue to rise and set as the oceans rise and inundate low-lying regions, displacing humans and other living beings from their current habitat. The fever of the planet shall subside with or without humans on a geologic time scale. This blue dot floating in space has seen far worse. We as an organism exist and operate in a timespan that is absolutely minute, yet certain minutes within our lifetime carry a life-long impact. We forget the power we potentially hold on ourselves and one another, and certainly on this rocky sphere we all call home. We are a part of the marvelous cycle of life that has taken 4.6 billion years to evolve and come to be at this very moment. Whether we choose to live in empowerment or ignorance is entirely up to us.
I have and will continue to choose to live in the light. I find with each passing day better clarity about myself and the passions I hold true and dear to my heart. I am thankful for all the comrades and friendships established as we march together, fueled by a sense of wonder with the natural world alongside the incredible stories of the collective human experience. To look away and act differently would be foolish of me. So I am going to keep riding my bicycle, keep growing food, keep taking photographs of inspirational moments and beauty all around us, and keep supporting projects as well as communities that share these common grounds.
Signing out to another restful evening in dreamland.Share it via:
Summer is undoubtedly off to an incredible start, and now I have another journey to look forward to. From early September to mid October, I will be spending time in Nepal alongside my dear friends Allen, Orion, and Juliette, the crew behind Conscious Impact (www.consciousimpact.org), to rebuild homes in villages where they have been visiting and surveying hundreds of families on their needs. My friends have also partnered up with ABARI (www.abari.org), a local organization that specializes in sustainable mud and bamboo construction and has been working to support rural villages affected by the earthquake. The road to rebuilding has been and will continue to be a rocky, complex path, but I feel optimistic in the perseverance of the human spirit and the amazing unity that has been brought forth since the devastation swept through the region. Yours truly will be documenting my entire experience there using both stills and videos, and I intend to soon launch a personal fundraiser in supporting my way there in addition to the gear and supplies needed to aid this tremendous project. Please stayed tuned for more information, and thank you in advance for your support!Share it via: