I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, in the United States. I spent much of my childhood wandering the forests and fields near my suburban home. Some of my fondest memories involved fishing in the ponds and lakes within walking distance of my house, searching for garter snakes near a vernal wetland by the little league baseball field, and tossing grasshoppers into the large garden spider webs that were common in that region. The places these memories emerged from carried powerful medicine for me. I silently grieved as I watched the ponds and lakes go eutrophic and the forests and fields get bulldozed, one at a time, in the service of development.
These childhood memories inspire me to ask deep questions about how the human enterprise engages with the landscapes we inhabits and the many living beings we share those landscapes with, including each other. I studied ecology and evolution while an undergraduate at Purdue University, then environmental science and public affairs as a graduate student at Indiana University. I moved to Vermont in 2007 to study ecological economics at the University of Vermont, and finished my PhD in 2011. Although my formal education is done, I continue to interrogate the social and environmental drivers of colonialism and conquest, the broader implications of ancestral trauma and how to heal it, and what it means to reconnect to a place.
My interest in the colonial urge is more than an academic one. My father’s side of the family is a mix of European and indigenous lineages. They immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1947, when my father was a very young child. My grandfather was Basque, and his grandparents or perhaps great grandparents fled Spanish tyranny for a better life in Mexico in the 1800s. My grandmother was mostly indigenous, though may have had some Spanish blood owing to that region’s long colonial history. I cannot yet discern what tribal culture her ancestors were part of. My uncle, who was 12 when she died, tells me her facial features were reminiscent of the Aztecs, but of course the Aztecs were empire builders who forcibly subsumed dozens of smaller indigenous groups before Spanish conquest ended their reign.
My mother’s ancestors were primarily Irish and Scottish, most of whom immigrated to North America in the years after the Irish Potato Famine. They were, effectively, ecological refugees, fleeing their homeland when the agricultural productivity of that land betrayed them. Some came straight to the United States and eventually settled in the Midwest, while others lingered in Canada for a time before migrating south through Michigan.
These days I live in Vermont’s Champlain valley, land occupied by the Abenaki people before waves of European colonists forced most of them north into Canada years ago. I produce a range of written, audio, and video media to support those who are waking up to the many social and environmental predicaments we face. I am an educator at heart, and teach a range of online courses through this website that I offer on sliding scales to keep them as accessible as possible. I also give talks, facilitate workshops, and sometimes take on consulting projects when they pique my interest. You can learn more about all of these offerings using the menu above.
When I am not working on these projects you can often find me wandering Vermont’s forests and fields in search of edible wild plants and mushrooms, fishing, scouting for the upcoming hunting season, or just taking it all in. I also learn, practice, and teach an array of place-based living skills and martial arts.
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