Where are you from, and why there?
I’m a shaman, lawyer, executive coach from New York. I’ve lived in Boston, California, New York City, Oregon, and Brazil, and now back in New York, in the Hudson Valley, where I’m sorting out my role in this matrix-laden vortex, awakening consciousness and writing my manifesto for a better world. My Mother and Father, were born in the Bronx and Brooklyn, respectively, both of Eastern European Jewish descent. I grew up as an intuitive, nature-loving, sensitive creature always questioning the materialistic, seemingly racist environment of my youth. I had no context for what I knew to be 'truth,’ that trees speak, nature talks, dreams teach, all people are beautiful, and we live in a multidimensional reality with much more happening in the invisible. From a young age I was on a quest for truth to understand why my reality did not fit the one I was fed.
Which issues do you work on/care about, and why?
I am committed to awakening consciousness on this planet so that we may live in harmony with ourselves, each other, and nature. We as a collective, need full-stop systems-change in every area of our modern society. Yet, in the mainstream version of systems-change we find a watered-down, cherry-picked approach. The enormity of the challenge is brewed in differing worldviews. My work is to bridge worldviews through activating higher purpose.
How did you get involved?
In 1996, just out of college, I moved to California. As I was driving through the ancient redwood forest I stopped to revel in its beauty. I was perched in a magnificent old-growth grove when I literally heard a voice say, “We need your help.” I had no idea what this meant. When I pulled out onto the main road, I saw a logging truck with one chunk of an ancient tree. From the suburbs in New York, this girl did not know what a logging truck was until a few days earlier when I saw them on the ride out west. I had only seen trucks carrying hundreds of small trees, but when I saw one ancient tree chunk on a whole truck-bed I knew immediately what the message I heard meant. I followed the logging truck around a bend only to see clear cut bald mountains and swaths of bleeding earth.
Before I knew it I was sleeping in an ancient tree 380 feet off the ground so it wouldn’t be cut. I was now a treesitter. It was not some rogue stunt. There was a network of activists working together to halt the decimation of this important temperate, rainforest ecosystem, in part called Headwaters Forest. Lawyers were filing temporary restraining orders, biologists were surveying and evidencing endangered species, watershed organizations were educating local landowners, and lobbyists were doing their thing in the capital. Loggers were pitted against environmentalists and the Texas-based corporation that gained ownership of this last remaining, privately held stand of ancient redwoods in a hostile takeover, was bent on one thing: liquidation at all costs.
One cost was the life my good friend. When a logger intentionally fell a tree on his head and the case was dismissed as an accident, a group of six activists, including myself, partnered with three lawyers to form the law firm, Pacific Law, specializing in corporate responsibility and dignity for all. Pacific Law also served as a law school. In California you could become a lawyer through apprenticeship. Our schooling consisted of depositions, writing and filing motions, appearing in court, responding to interrogatories, learning about hill-slope hydrology and becoming experts at all things logging, forestry, torts and civil procedure. When non-violent protesters had their eyeballs swabbed with pepper-spray-doused Q-Tips, by default some of us became constitutional and international human rights paralegals on a case that made it to the 9th Circuit. After some time, I decided on a more formal education so I moved back to New York City to attend New York Law School. Two weeks later, 9/11 happened eight blocks away.
I became a research assistant to my constitutional law professor, Nadine Strossen, then-president of the ACLU. Her bold courage in the face of the Patriot Act had a profound and lasting impact on me. I went on to do human rights work in Brazil for the Open Society Institute. When I returned I did a stint in a corporate law firm, which was a completely out of alignment with my soul’s assignment. It was sobering to be on this side. I launched my coaching business and was mapping my exit strategy when the market tanked in 2008. I was stuck.
I ended up suffering a severe head injury which has a story of irony woven in -- which I’m writing in my book, though nothing at all could heal me. I was out of commission for two and a half years. I was suicidal in pain and was checking off my bucket list, including a journey to Ecuador. I found myself in a pristine village in the Amazon with a Shuar Shaman, Don Juan. He invited my small group to join him as he had to do a healing ceremony for sick people in his village. Somewhere in between I experienced a complete and total healing. The day we were leaving, Don Juan told us that their land had been sold to a Canadian mining company and that they would be displaced. Shortly after they were forcibly removed by the military. Some in their community were killed. That place is now a copper mine. But for indigenous wisdom, in this specific place, I may never have been healed. This fueled my passion to advocate for environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty.
What's the biggest challenge for the issue(s) today?
A challenge I'm leaning into in these times is the differing definitions of sustainability depending on worldviews. While smart cities may sound clean, how sustainable and smart is the electrification of earth? Even in the impact space there are disconnected worldviews. The opportunity is a mindfulness revolution that allows us to tap into true human potential while being open to contrary views before labeling them as conspiracy theories.
Tackling this level of challenge for me comes from a consciousness lens. Along with my coaching practice, I launched a consulting arm where I’ve had the privilege of advising companies moving toward sustainable business strategies. Delivering workshops on sustainability as a soft skill in leadership development allows for the larger mindset shift to be fully understood from a holistic perspective, as a soft skill, a way of being -- a full-on worldview. Working one-on-one with leaders of leaders, the aim is to ripple the tide of awakening consciousness.
Who are your most frequent allies? Any surprises?
My teachers are Indigenous elders and wisdomkeepers. I have had the privilege since my 20s to learn from Native Americans and Indigenous communities in Central and South America and Africa. In these times when unhealthy systems and worldviews are defended to the death, Indigenous wisdom and ancient cosmology bring sanity, clarity, and truth to my world. We are all indigenous to this earth. As a child seeking truth it was Indigenous wisdom I was looking for. I now serve on the board of a non-profit called Dream Change where we work on repatriating indigenous territory and artifacts while serving as a bridge of indigenous-wisdom teachings to the modern world as a means to transform from a death to a life economy.
What drives you?
I’m driven by a massive love for wild places, old-growth trees and helping people fall in love with nature so they fall in love with themselves. We are nature. I’m also driven by a deep knowing that I have not yet made my mark. What I was once deemed weird for is now becoming mainstream. Ten years from now, it will be the norm.
What do you want your career/advocacy to stand for?
Creating a new paradigm where truth is the real excellence. For peak wellness, higher purpose, and soul mastery – in alignment and harmony with nature. Embedded within these principles are corporate responsibility, sustainability, environmental justice, and human rights, including the human right to a clean environment, a right to quiet, unpolluted wilderness, a right to the freedom to live without being electromagnetically saturated and microwaved, and a right to health sovereignty. All of this is encoded in expanding consciousness on this planet.