Archive for March, 2010

Good Communication & EcoChallenge Wins


Robert Nagle,  Eco-Challenge Multi-Winner: “Teamwork and Communication, Some Major Keys to Wins
By D.R. Richards

I recently met Robert Nagle at a Professional Ski Instructors of America Telemark Spring Rally, and when he mentioned that a particular piece of clothing he was wearing was great for “desert runs”, it got my attention. “Desert runs?” I asked,

“Yeah,” he responded, “I was a professional competitor for a number of years, and did a Sahara Desert Run, where we had to carry everything on our back, except water.”

“What?” I replied. I’d never heard of such a race.  He added, “Yes, I also used to compete in the EcoChallenge,” adding humbly, “We won it a number of times.”

Below, Robert shares what was were keys to his team’s success.

MSI Updates Fair Trade Webpage


Boots from Peru

Handmade Peruvian boots and textiles have been added to Mountain Spirit Institute’s Fair Trade Webpage.  In addition,  easy-to-use checkout and “Add to Cart” buttons have been added. This webpage and sales are a fundraiser for this non-profit organization.

Handmade Peruvian Textiles

MSI has lowered the prices of all smaller sized boots to $80.00, and custom-made boots will be the same price as generic except for the cost-share of shipping from Peru by DHL.

All of Mountain Spirit Institute’s  products are sold with the original producers in mind, and are purchased and sold with fair trade practices.

From Ocean to Plate, a Posthumous Migration


An interesting account of the fate of Atlantic Salmon caught off the coast of Norway

Salmon, after a long trip

By Sarah Murray
Orion Magazine
For ordinary humans, the extraordinary migration of salmon is difficult to imagine. Take Chinook salmon. Some of these fish swim from the Columbia River up to Canada and beyond, covering up to sixteen miles a day. Calculated as body lengths per second, that would be the equivalent of a human swimming more than 160 miles a day—fast enough to circumnavigate the equator in 150 days. Migrating fish also cover vast distances. In its trans-Pacific migration, a tagged bluefin tuna was found to have covered an amazing twenty-five thousand miles—a distance greater than the Earth’s circumference.

If the mileage clocked by these fish sounds impressive, it is nothing compared to the journeys some of them take after their death.  Read the rest of this article.

MSI at International Festival


MSI at Colby Sawyer College International Festival
New London, NH, USA

R. Richards tells about MSI's programs, B. Dowst in background

Mountain Spirit Institute had a booth  at Colby Sawyer College’s International Festival in New London NH, USA yesterday on Thursday March 25th. Foreign students and college staff were dressed in their traditional national clothing and served food from their country.  The Peruvian band Inka Wasi, from Boston, taught audience members how to play the zampoña, then percussion instruments. Later, the trio later played traditional folklore songs from the Andes countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina.  Mountain Spirit Institute’s director R. Richards, spoke with one of the band members about the band Chimu Inka from Cusco. MSI sponsored Chimu Inka in the fall of 2008. The two discussed about some possible collaboration with the two bands in the future, when Chimu Inka returns to the U.S.

Inka Wasi director teaching Zampoña

Many local residents came out see this popular event which has been running a number of years here in this New England college town.  MSI board members Brenda Dowst and Amanda Richards, and Randy Richards manned the booth.

The Carrolls visit at MSI's booth

Local author Dave Carroll and his wife Laurett stopped by the booth to say hi as did other Sunapee and New London residents.  Both the Carrolls were not only fans but supporters of the Chimu Inka 2008 Peruvian/USA Music Exchange tour.

New Book on Amantani Island, Peru


Book on Amantani, Peru

Amantani en el Titikaka by native Amantani islander Marcelino Yucra Pacompia is available in local bookstores in Puno, Peru, and on the island of Amantani, Lake Titicaca, and possibly via the publisher’s website.

This first book available to the public on Amantani Island, is published in Spanish. It covers the geography, attractions, history, culture and customs, natural history plus social and political aspects of the island. Is also includes an important piece on the concept of Ayni or reciprocity, key the sense of community on the island.

Mountain Spirit Institute recommends this book as a good primer before visiting the island. We will see what we can do to have the book available on our website’s Fair Trade webpage.

Room For Improvement


Considering Civility* in the USA
Ann Coulter Speech Canceled  At University Of Ottawa

The Huffington Post, and Canada’s Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — A protest by hundreds of students led organizers to cancel a Tuesday night speech by American conservative commentator Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa.

A spokesman for the organizers said Coulter was advised against appearing after about 2,000 “threatening” students crowded the entrance to Marion Hall, posing a security threat.
Read the rest of this story

Editor’s Note: While postings such as this are usually outside our realm, due to the recent reports of physical threats to members of U.S. congress members, we thought is might be a good reminder to reflect on, from where such vitriol originates. While this editor subscribes to both online and in-print alternative press, we at MSI are reminded of the wise words of G. Edward Griffin, author of Creature from Jekyll Island, (more…)

R. Richards Onstage #2


Mountain Spirit Institute’s founder and director was on stage last month at the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse in Sunapee, NH, where he performed for an evening of solo piano, original folk songs, a bit of Zampona and Native American flute. You can learn more about his music and background at his webpage on MSI’s website. Here he sings a version of Life Imitates Art from a CD by Three Track Mind of Seattle, possibly written by Kevin Jones.

R. Richards Onstage


The InBox: Amantani Island, Peru


Sustainable Travel, Off the Beaten Track, Lake Titicaca, Peru
Dear Randall,
I hope you don’t mind my contacting you. I saw your blog post about staying on Amantani Island and I wanted to ask your advice. I had been planning to go to the island and stay with Richard Cari at Kantuta Lodge. However, having read your post I am wondering if I should be staying elsewhere in order to be a bit fairer and in the interest of sustainable tourism – such as going to stay with the islanders who don’t usually see a lot of tourists.

I felt a bit nervous not booking something in advance and am also not sure how easy it would be to organise something like this (I will only have one night and we arrive in Puno the evening before we hope to go to the island). Do you know any responsible tour agencies who give back to the islanders and could help me find somewhere to stay? Or would you recommend just turning up and hoping to find a boat / somewhere to stay on the island?

Many thanks for any help you can give.
Kind regards,
Lucy H.

Hi Lucy,

Family Mamani, Occopampa, Amantani

Thanks for your email, and for your concern about sustainable tourism on Amantani on Lake Titicaca. Here are a few suggestions.
Richard Cari and family are good friends of mine, and we do hire his launch/boat to get our clients to the island, and although we might stay one night at his lodge, the lodge has evolved into something bigger than I want my participants to experience, (semester students excluded, plus Richard will help facilitate these longer programs). So we may bypass the lodge in favor of the other families who are wanting to have guests visit them. However, depending upon your comfort zone, and interest, you would enjoy Richard’s family and small lodge in any event. But more about staying with other families:

There’s no real problem with taking one of the boats run by the community of Amantani which you can pick up (more…)

Craftman’s Love of Wood & Music


A Passionate Drum Maker

Kai Mayberger, owner of White Raven Gallery in Vermont, who makes drums, didgeridoos and Native American Flutes  has one of those personalities to which one is drawn. He’s unassuming,  passionate about life and has a good sense of humor. I’ve stopped in his Bridgewater Corners store a few times over the years, and last year, he was a vendor at Mountain Spirit’s “Sunapee SunFest“. We stopped in the other day to say hi, and this impromptu interview happened. Watch the interview below:

Mayberger continues the family tradition of creating art. After studying antique furniture repair and finish carpentry with his uncle, he attended Goddard College and studied a combination of ecology, shamanism, sculpture, and woodworking. The result of his Senior year at Goddard was the birth of White Raven Drumworks. Now he makes flutes, drums, didjeridus, and music. Kai displays his work at the White Raven Gallery on Route 4 in Bridgewater Corners, VT.  If you happen to be passing by, he recommends you give him a call (802) 672-3055 to ensure he will be there when you visit.