Archive for the ‘Focus on MSI People’ Category

“Eyewitness Testimony” 1969 to Present

12/06/2022

Livestream Event, Hawea/Wanaka NZ, June 11, 2022
Watch the recorded event here
By Randall Richards, Mountain Spirit Media
I come from a state in the US that took freedom rather seriously in the past. Rather than having “Sunny Florida”, or the “Scenic Montana” or “The greatest snow on earth”, we have “Live free or die” on our license plates…See? *[I’m not lying. Here’s my license plate from NH. Which, by the way costs $40 compared to the $600 (rumour has it) charge here in New Zealand for such “vanity plates]

New Hampshire’s license plate means business – You either make it or your don’t. I used to drive around Europe in a van with this NH registered this license plate. People couldn’t get their head around it back then in the ’80’s. Wonder what the reception would be now?


I’ve been a New Zealander now, for a while, complete with citizenship, but this Yankee still can’t make a good cup of tea. Must be because my clan in New England threw those British crates of tea over the side into Boston harbor to protest the Tea Tax

The title of this is Eyewitness Testimony is Gold and starts in 1969 when I was 11 ys old. I promise I’ll finish in 7 min

My Uncle Curt was a 4-star general in the Army’s Corp of Engineers. He was a career man, graduated top of his class at Westpoint, and was in WWII, N Korea, and served as an assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.  His chopper was shot down in the Vietnam War. He survived to tell about it,  and I remember him using a portion of the helicopter blade as a coffeetable. 

He, like others in the top brass, were wary of the emerging NWO. At family Fourth-of-July picnics, he would warn us of the newly formed Council on Foreign Relations, and Trilateral  Commission.  Keep in mind this is the late ‘60s.
I remember wondering if he was a bit nuts.  Over the years, I would pop by his house and we’d discuss the latest conspiracies from his perspective. It was deep.

I don’t know if he influenced me on this, but I became a local reporter in my early teens, and in my late teens became an apprentice as a “Stringer” for United Press International as a photojournalist.
New Hampshire was the first primary state, so all the presidential candidates would file through. I was trained, by Suki Coughlin on how to make my subjects comfortable from behind the lens, and get in there for the newsworthy shot, which we’d later put up on “The Wire’ sort of a precursor to the fax machine.

So here I was, living in two worlds, one, of my Uncle’s reports, and the other, mainstream media on the national level. It led me to call up the local WMUR-TV station and ask the manager. “Hey, why don’t you cover that George Bush is in the Tri-lateral commission or Council on Foreign relations?” His reply was, “Randall, we’d love to, and I agree it should be covered, but the FCC would yank our license so fast, “the following morning” if we covered that on the nightly news.” were his exact words.
I made more phone calls, learning the Federal Reserve wasn’t really Federal, and that the IRS’s tax is based on “voluntary compliance”.

Over the years, I did the “long view research approach”. Finding and reading The Money Trust, by Rep Charles Lindbergh Sr. (his son was the famous pilot), None Dare call it conspiracy, by Gary Allen, and Creature from Jekyll Island, by Edward G. Griffin.

A side note about Griffin – When asked in a recent interview, “How do you keep so well centered? You seem at peace and well composed, after writing a such book based on nasty stuff. “
I decided a long time ago,” replied Griffin, “that I am not the material I’ve written. I have my family life, my spiritual practice and I separate the two.”

I also listened to Dave VonKleist, Alex Jones, and the late William Cooper (author of Behold a Pale Horse) and personally got to know Ed Brown a constitutional ranger also in Sullivan County New Hampshire. All of them would throw their hands up in the air, and basically say “Wake the Hell up!”

Ed, in his offensive way said to me once, before they took him away, locked him up and threw away the key said, “It’s all very good you’re interested in this conspiracy stuff, but what are you actually doing about it?” I took offence and was a bit speechless. In retrospect though, these guys, and a bit like our host here tonight, may not have been gruff enough! There’s a place for that. It’s not my style, but it needs to be said.
We’re in a full infowar.

It used to be funny saying:
“If you’re not on the fringe you’re taking up room.” And…
“It’s a free country as long as you do what they tell you.
It’s not so funny now, but I do keep my sense of humour. Because you can’t make this stuff up!
I used to call my research “a hobby”,  “a sideline”. I would treat any conspiracy as “the 3rd rail” on my blog I’ve had for 14 years. I wouldn’t touch it. 

Now,  I don’t care what people think.
Maybe it took the mandates, or the protest in Wellington.

Fast forward to the South Island Convoy.
We never planned to go all the way to Wellington. But after seeing those people in Ashburton, so many people on the sides of the road, the ChCh overpasses, and rolling into that paddock turned campground in ChCh, it was like Woodstock without the drugs. People hugging each other, food caravans and porta-loos popping up in the middle of a field.

Then we got the ferry to Wellington with my family, with our “antigen tests”. The lady behind the counter in Picton, looked at us, from under her glasses looked at our “tests” on the phone, back at us. The uncomfortable pause, and finally, “You can go on the boat now…” I felt like “Papers Please.”

Day 1 Wellington, I knew I had to dust off my reporting skills, (although I had been regularly doing my blog, and reporting what I’d been seeing on the South Island, I clearly saw this was going to be historic and needed to be covered) I briefly had the absurd thought to call UPI again and see if they needed me to cover this for them Then I realized the absurdity of idea – They’d only want me to cover it from the globalist point of view!

So, I decided to start a Telegram channel and get back in the saddle of breaking news coverage. Instead of a slew of cameras around my neck, I had my cell phone, lots of SD cards and battery packs. I interviewed lots of people. I must have interviewed the wrong people, I must have been over the target. Because my Telegram acct got data wiped, and my phone was remotely data locked. With effort I was able to retrieve my interviews, but it took some clever I.T. work here in Wanaka to get it back. I’m still in the process of rebuilding my own media empire. That’s a dad joke by the way.

So why is Eyewitness testimony  Gold?
Because at times, there were up to 25K people (on weekends) at Wellington, and that’s not counting the ebb and flow of those coming and going. They, all saw one thing, and then immediately saw the controlled media say another. A lot of it captured by phones,

The good news? All those people went home and told family and friends what they saw. NZ is a small enough country that once you get Kiwi’s attention, get them riled up, news travels fast. It’s not like the states.
So I’m very optimistic.
We can’t beat the media at their own game. But we can do is an end run around them.

Of that I’m sure. The truth will come out.

There are creative way’s like Warrick Stubb’s little handout cards, and collaboration, sharing stories. As I speak other freedom reporters are collecting stories and eye witness testimonies, which are gold. Thanks for listening, and…
Keep up the good work
* Ed: Added into this blog after the speech.


Robert Stremba, EdD 1947-2022

23/05/2022

It’s with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Robert H. Stremba, originally of the Philadelphia PA area. Bob was a good friend and fellow board member of Mountain Spirit Institute based in the USA. He served on the board, and as president, until his death. Bob supported the vision of Mountain Spirit through thick and thin.

Every conversation with him was always framed in the positive, from brainstorming what types of programs we could run in the USA, Peru, and in New Zealand from music exchanges to author speaking engagements to trips to Lakota Studies on the Rosebud Reservation. I met Bob when working in recruiting and marketing for Hurricane Island Outward Bound on the east coast, during a stopover at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where we has the Adventure Education Department chair. We became good friends, and I eventually asked him if he’d serve on the board of my new non-profit I was creating based on Outward Bound principles with a bit of a spiritual element. He was on board. Not long after, he asked if I’d be interested in being an adjunct professor, teaching Intro to Outdoor Education and other classes. I took him up on the offer.
Over the years, Bob supported Mountain Spirit Institute by attending and assisting with fundraisers, providing ideas on program curriculum, experiential educational ideas based on his background with the Association of Experiential Education and as an instructor with Outward Bound and he even gave generously in financial support to Mountain Spirit.

Three of my favorite interactions with Bob were: The last time I saw him in the US when my family and I stayed with him at his home. We did the normal tourist things in Durango and would come back for dinner then join him for a jaunt into his favorite trails in the mountain surrounding his home.

Bob Stremba at Lake Sunapee
New Hampshire

One of the best courses I ever had the opportunity to run, was with Bob called H.A.W.K or Healing Adventure for Teens We had a small group of teens that had in common, some recent loss of a loved one in their lives. Our job was to provide a safe space in nature with experiential activities that allowed them to better process their loss, within a peer group. It was an amazing course and I cherish the time I had planning and working the course with Bob.
One last adventure we had was when he came to visit us in New Zealand. We picked him up at the airport, took him to the campervan rental desk, only to discover he had left his driver’s license in stateside. We headed back to Kingston, where we lived at the time to regroup and come up with a driverless vacation for Bob. The original plan was for him to spend time adventuring with us, and to spend some time traveling on his own. After numerous phone calls stateside and here in NZ, it was clear, Bob wasn’t going anywhere without me. Hence we rented a Juicy van, with a roof tent above, and headed off for parts unknown. I’m glad he left his license in the states.

Bob retired as Chair of the Fort Lewis College Adventure Education Department in 2017, after serving 11 years developing and teaching in the Adventure Education Bachelor’s degree program. His areas of focus include teaching how theory, research, and conceptual models inform practice, and vice versa; the connections between nature and mindfulness; project-based learning; and adventure processing and facilitation to promote social-emotional development. He co-wrote the graduate text and faculty resource book about how to teach theory experientially, Teaching Adventure Education Theory: Best Practices (2009), and wrote the instructor guide chapter on outdoor leadership for the college text, Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming (2018).

He has instructed for Outward Bound in Colorado and Northwest Outward Bound in Washington state, including courses for adolescent grief and loss, adult life-career renewal, and young adult leadership.

Bob also developed bachelor’s degree programs in adventure education and outdoor leadership at Plymouth (NH) State University, and New Mexico Highlands University. He developed and implemented new student outdoor orientation programs at two universities, and served as Director of Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services at the University of Puget Sound for 17 years. Bob even did a short stint creating and leading outdoor programs for REI, an outdoor cooperative retailer based in Washington.

Over the years, and continuing until his death, Bob served with the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) as a lead reviewer of outdoor education and therapeutic wilderness programs internationally, traveling to far flung and remote locations. He also served on AEE regional and international conference planning committees, including convening two AEE regional conferences at Fort Lewis College in recent years. Bob also served on the Board of Directors of Durango Nature Studies.
Most recently Bob was Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Experience Collaborative with Jay Zarr and Andrea Parrish. EC’s mission is “Enhancing your strengths through experiential consulting and training.
Bob leaves many friends in the professional outdoor educator’s world. There are many who could share a good story or two, of learning, and outdoor adventures with Bob. If you have any, feel free to post them in the comment section below.
There will be service, both live and online, celebrating the life of Bob on the 25th of September 2022. Please get in touch if you would like more info.
We miss you Bob!
Randall

Randall Richards, Director/Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute
Mountain Spirit Ltd, NZ

Eyewitness Testimony is Gold

20/05/2022

By Randall Richards
Mountain Spirit Media
It’s one thing to read the newspaper, or watch the evening news, or listen to national radio (or NPR in the U.S.) and to think that this is “the news”, that “this is reality”. I’m here to say, – No it’s not. One learns to crack the hard shell of that paradigm once one considers, possibly, just maybe, that these sources are not “the whole truth” or, are not “All Things Considered” as they claim. You learn to break the trance once you realize that there’s much more that they’re actually omitting. Check out the Hegelian Dialectic, (or this link ): where public debate is confined to a range of issues between limits of right and left, but not beyond those defined boundaries.
Here in New Zealand, (and worldwide) it’s becoming glaringly clear that the media establishment is panicking because its citizens, and even some of its reporters, are fed up with being told what to think and what to say on air. It’s also obvious that creators of the news cycle promote an agenda akin to selling an old used car. They roll out talking points and subjects like an old merchant selling wares that nobody wants.
For example, take the recent rollout of the hit pieces regarding New Zealand’s alternative media, (which is a collection of citizen reporters), who did their best to cover what happened during the Wellington protest. They didn’t do a perfect job, but damn close. Were they unbiased? No, most of them were there because they cared about removing unjust mandates and restoring some common sense and freedom. But they were truthful in reporting of what they saw. How do I know? I was one of them, and I saw others doing good work. In the age of the internet, the truth will come out, eventually. The New Zealand official Mainstream media’s clumsy attempts at the protest, and these recent days to produce absurd hit pieces on those reporting accurately, do nothing more than erode their own credibility. Their actions are nothing more than temper tantrums from a cornered and wounded animal, – Oh sorry , a dinosaur.
Take for example Marcus Lush’s comment on IHeart Radio. “The amount of traffic on Facebook misinformation pages even eclipsed that of pages operated my NZ MSM outlets combined – receiving 357,089 and 247,620 interactions respectfully on March 2, 2022”
One of my fellow open-minded friends adds, “And that’s just comparing FB to FB, there are other platforms as well.”
Eyewitness testimony is gold. Each day at the Parliament grounds in Wellington, thousands saw one thing, only to be shown a completely dishonest accounting on the evening news and other media. Not only that, but events were clearly staged, such as “The car squealing into a crowd” event, which was a set-up. The media were invited to be present for the show. More on that from personal interviews I’ve conducted with people that were right at the car, and saw the whole thing. Can’t argue with that one.
More on these latest feeble attempts:
“NZ’s “Disinformation Dozen” drove 3/4 of fake news chatter.” (Another friend in the alt media thinks it’s time we adopt “The Dirty Dozen” moniker)
The video clip in this piece, of some official-looking talking head news anchors, makes me nauseous.
Their featured pundit in the piece is Kate Hannah of The New Zealand Disinformation Project. I feel like contacting her and asking, “Do you actually believe what you’re saying, or are you being paid?” Well, part of the answer appears to be the latter, as Planet B Media reports “The Project received $4 million from the Governments Tertiary Education Commission and $4.2 million funding from the Marsden Fund.”
Sorry to repeat but, let me put it more simply, If you’re in MSM and doing this sort of reporting, you’re either being played or being paid.

And this lovely attempt at truth:
“Alt-Right and Conspiracy Theories have ‘Grown in the Shadows'”
Really? I’ve had unbelievable reactions from friends in the US that think we must all be Trump supporters and all right-wing racists. On a personal note, while I do agree, Trump has done some obviously good things, he’s still pushing the “vaccine” though. You you know a man by his enemies – so time will tell in the end. My point is, many of us who agree with what he has done don’t fit the stereotype imagined by my friends who have drunk the mainstream Kool-Aid. Again, anyone who was actually at Parliament grounds saw that there were good people there, a cross section of NZ humanity, fathers, mothers, whole families, young and old, farmers, Maori, and lawyers, hippies, and yes, there were even meditators (see image below), yoga practitioners and musicians. One thing they all had in common was, they simply wanted the government to come out and speak to them about the mandates, and they wanted it all to remain peaceful. The guy behind this article above actually has a title, “Disinformation Researcher.”
And this just came out in yesterday’s The Press, from Christchurch, NZ:

Really, a guy in a tinfoil hat as evidence of our craziness? Don’t you think you might want to get some context to this image?

Back to the Disinformation Project: It turns out they have been watching us through foggy-colored glasses: This, from their home page:
“The Disinformation Project is pleased to release a new working paper discussing the occupation of Parliament grounds from February 2022 – March 2022. Download it here. ” I can’t wait.
The good news is there are critical thinking reports like this from The Looking Glass. Their title: Meet the new thought police: the ‘Orwellian’ researchers working to pathologise dissent. I like that.
More from that report:
“The propaganda war is heating up, and we need to respond with coherence by unravelling their disinformation with good argument and proof, even though the elites are not listening ….The public is. We need to treat the public with respect and as adults who can think for themselves, something the government and media is not doing. So just check the card is not belittling. Here are a couple of good responses to the Disinfo Elitist view that we should all share ONE narrative (their one) to wash your brain out.”
And this recent piece by Ian Wishart entitled: Your right to be wrong: how far does it go?

I was a “stringer”, a photojournalist, for United Press International in New Hampshire, (US) where all the presidential candidates would rifle through on their whistle-stop tour on their hopeful way to the US Presidency. I had a fleeting thought on the first day of the protest when my family and I arrived by ferry from Picton on New Zealand’s South Island. It briefly occurred to me, I should contact UPI again, and see about reporting for them, what I knew would be an important event. Then it dawned on me of course, that they would never accept what I would report. So I started a Telegram channel instead. More on the take-down of my content on that channel in a later post.
And why is eyewitness testimony gold? Because all those who were at Wellington, who saw what they saw, and then, saw “The News” report a completely unrealistic, (sorry, untrue) version of what happened, headed back to their homes throughout New Zealand, and told their friends and family what they actually saw. That is game over.
They say it only takes a fraction of the populace to affect change for the good. Evidently US independence from the crown was started by only by a handful of the colonists before a shift in critical mass happened that changed history.

This is the Gadsden Flag, originally flown over The US’s first four naval ships in the war for US independence. It was first raised by John Paul Jones

A Chinese proverb states, “May you live in interesting times.” That we do. It’s time to walk your truth, in a peaceful way, and not care what others think of you. Good luck.
Editor’s Note:

You can find out more about Randall Richards, & Mountain Spirit Media at www.mtnspirit.nz/msm
Mountain Spirit Institute is a US 501-c-3 non-profit in the US
Mountain Spirit NZ is an off-grid retreat centre based near Wanaka, NZ

A Reminder from the Universe

30/06/2021
From the Pacific Crest Outward Bound* Book of Readings
(*Now called Northwest Outward Bound)

I love it when spirit nudges us. Our family does an evening reading at our dinner table every night before eating. Without looking at the bookshelf behind me last night, I pulled a random book off the shelf. Then I opened to a random page, then I looked at a random quote.

It’s one of my favorite quotes:
“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Kenneth Grahame.

This quote arrives just when we’ve put our Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters business “on pause” due to New Zealand border closures. The lack of tourists is “forcing us to live our dreams” and as we consider and possibly prepare to use the yachts in more of an educational role, for experiential adventures on Lake Wanaka. This is my first love anyway. As every passenger that’s gone out on the lake with me attests, they got more than they bargained for, regarding an experiential sailing experience. Once they get out there, my job, and mission, is to light up their eyes and soul by helping them connect to the wind, the water, the place and themselves, and of course have fun.

Here at Mountain Spirit NZ, we’ve been hooked on the “AirBnB drug” prior to our Covid lockdown, and now we’re advertising for domestic visitors to stay with us with a purpose in mind, whether to just have a digital detox, record some music in our piano studio, or take some yin yoga classes with Amanda in the yurt. We’re stepping out into our own possibilities.

Although I’ve run Mountain Spirit Institute in the U.S. where we’ve done tons of different programs ranging from experiential immersion on the Rosebud Reservation to a powerful New England tour of Peruvian folk music, creating our own space here in New Zealand, and inviting people to come stay with us is uncharted territory. But we’re enjoying the ride, with all its ups and downs.

The trick to being fulfilled and successful, (however you personally define success), is stepping out of the way, allowing the Universe/Spirit/God to help out, and importantly, look for those reminder signs when they pop up and recognise them as such, then of course, take action.

I just attended a powerful presentation yesterday here in Wanaka, New Zealand, by Lake Wanaka Tourism They’re our local tourism association. As you can imagine, like many of us in tourism here in New Zealand, they’ve been in on a path or re-inventing themselves. They’ve been working on a new branding program. I’ll write more on that in later in a separate post, as it deserves more time. But I have to mention here, about the power of timing, being at the right place at the right time, taking action when a crisis/opportunity presents itself and listening to spirit. Lake Wanaka Tourism is taking the bold steps to create a wonderful vision of post-covid “tourism” for operators, the land, community and visitors alike.

Here’s just a snapshot of some of the Lake Wanaka tenets going forward:
The Vision:
“Our aspiration is for the visitor industry to enrich this place, as well as the lives of the local community both now and into the future. To create mutual value for Whanau/whanui (which includes our families , our community, our visitors), and our whenua (our place and natural resources) and our economy.

“Values:
Guardianship for our people, our place and our plant; Inclusive and respectful; Living with a sense of balance; bold and free thinking.”

There are plans being put into place with a whole re-adjustment of what it means to be in tourism here in Wanaka, and fortunately, the leadership and staff at Lake Wanaka Tourism are taking on the challenge with heart and purpose. The future looks bright because there’s a proactive approach. I look forward to sharing more about LWT’s and the community’s plans going forward in future posts. I would say LWT is following their spirit course.

Back to the reading about messing about on boats. I can’t wait for the next sign to come down the road, and hit me with a spiritual 2×4. But for now, I thought I’d share this little nudge from Spirit.

Fulfilling our Mission, and Our Passion

15/08/2020

House Astro - Copy

Before lock-down, here on the South Island of New Zealand, we were quite busy renting out our accommodation to AirBnB guests from all over the world. We enjoyed meeting people from Italy to the US, from China to India. Since lock-down, we’ve been gettingIMG_8761 - Copy copy bookings from individuals and families here in New Zealand, who want a “digital detox”, or to reset their perspective on life. There’s a huge demand for going within, and reconnecting with one’s self, with others and with nature. Humbly, I think we do that well here at Mountain Spirit. We’ve been at it for a while and are excited to share our space and experience. Amanda offers wonderful and centering YinYoga classes. Randall offers re-connection through “solo’s”, sailing and other experiential activities. Randall worked with Outward Bound for many years, then a mountain guide in South America for Alpine Ascents International, leading climbers up peaks in Peru, Argentina and Ecuador and has landed in New Zealand. Amanda has studied yoga most of her life, and spent some months in India practicing and learning. She most recently has been training under Sarah Powers. Come join IMG_8794 copyus if you’re so inclined to dive into your inner world. We’re at mtnspirit.nz

 

 

 

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We’ve Lost a Good One.

24/05/2020

This post is dedicated to the late Maria Figueroa Norabuena, who I consider the heart of my Peruvian Family. The matriarch, she died recently of complications while in Lima getting medical treatment, and is survived by her husband Daniel, (pictured), a large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren mostly in Huaraz, and the surrounding villages, in Peru.  She lived in a small hamlet outside of Huaraz where she and her husband baked bread for many of the townspeople and restaurants in Huaraz. They also grew crops and had farm animals.  My condolences go out to Daniel and his family.

Daniel and Maria

Daniel, and his late wife Maria of Huaraz, Peru

I met Maria through my friend David Sanchez Figueroa, co-owner of the vegetarian Restaurant Salud y Vida, (Health and Life) when I was mountain guiding in Huaraz some years ago. I became godfather to her grandchild Joseph, and have always felt part of the family. It must be a past-life thing but we’ve all been very close over the years of visits.

With the coming of video calling, I was able to keep in close contact with the whole family, and especially with Maria while she was with her daughter in Lima undergoing treatment.  I had the opportunity to spend some screen-time with her before she died and am so grateful for that time. It reminds me, again that life is short.

I have a vivid image, (and a video), in my mind of my wife Amanda, and Maria, playing “Laugh Dancing” in the restaurant’s kitchen. Someone starts a sound track, and the object of the game is partner up with someone, and dance with a straight face. The first one to crack a smile, usually caused by the opponent’s antics, loses. Maria won, hands down. I don’t remember the exact maneuver she pulled, but it had us (all generations of the family) laughing hysterically.

When I first came to Peru as a mountain guide, Maria used to pinch my cheek with her fingers, saying “Que Pena” (“What a pity”) when she learned at my age of 40+, I still had no wife or child. (Since then I’ve been married since 2009 with an eight-year-old son, which made Maria much more happy with me) Every climbing season, when I’d come back into town, she’d give me the pinching, “Que Pena” again, when I was still in the same sorry state.

Becoming a Godfather to her grandchild, Joseph, and seeing what family can really be in Peru, changed me. I grew up as a bit of a narcissist, mountain guiding, single, and although an outdoor educator, still caught up in my seeking the perfect high. A light bulb when off in my heart when I observed what family really means in the indigenous an Latino sense. We had Peru on our short list of destinations of where we were considering having a family, precisely because of that observation.

Maria was a strong woman with a keen sense of self, sense of humour, a huge heart, and a fantastic matriarch who will be missed by her large family, and even… a gringo here in New Zealand.

Since this post, I’ve received this comment from Maria’s grandaughter, Jina (translated from Spanish):

Thank you very much Randall for this publication in tribute to my beloved Grandmother, she was just as you describe her, she left such an imprint on every corner she traveled, she was a woman very loved by all of us who now mourn her sudden departure. You are right, she was in a very delicate treatment that began in January, but on 15.05.2020 her body did not resist.  I still remember every joke she made to me, even one day before her death we joked, and she laughed out loud.  Always her take on life was all joy.
Perhaps you were motivated by her to form your own home, with her phrase, “what a shame”, because she wanted to see everyone with family, family as she had it with my grandfather, who showed that true love exists.
Their advice is recorded in my heart.

I’ll never forget my grandmother. She will always be in my memory and heart.

Huaraz Maria Obit

Near the hamlet in which Maria lived, with the Cordillera Blanca, Peru’s highest mountain range, in the near distance (copyright 2020 Dexter R Richards)

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019

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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

 – – – –

Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

In Support of Time Out – The Kiwi Way

22/01/2019

In a busy world where taking time off is a difficult thing, it may be the most important thing.

I come from the Northeastern U.S., where there’s a strong “New England work ethic”, where if you’re not busy, you’re not amounting to anything. OK, a slight exaggeration, but there is an expectation of achieving, of going to one of the Ivy League Schools, and getting a respectable career with benefits.  Instead, I became a mountain guide. After graduating from the University of Utah, and an early career in the ski boot business I took a sharp left turn into the mountains and never returned, except for leading corporate team building programs for Outward Bound for a few years.

I’ve been living in New Zealand for over 10 years but a few exchanges on the phone last week really rocked me. I finally got an unexpected peek into Kiwi psyche about healthy priorities, of balancing work and spending quality down-time with family and friends,  taking a time out.

We’re really busy during the summer holiday season here in the Wanaka area. We run an off-the-grid Secluded Sanctuary called Mountain Spirit, which includes a BnB. We’re ramping up to run health and wellness programs on our land, and we run Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters. So the Christmas season is full-on for my wife and I and our 7yr old son as well.

We decided to block off  a couple of days right after Christmas, and take an  overnight on the charter boat to Lake Wanaka’s Paddock Bay to unplug. The inevitable happened when we got a few inquiries during that time for boat charters. When I explained we were taking some much needed time off, despite the holiday season being our busy time, without exception the callers responded with, “Good on ya, you need to pay attention to that family and take that time off. We’ll check in with you later.” (Which they did). Correct me if I’m wrong, (you Americans, from the NorthEast), if you were the caller would you not be surprised that a vendor was taking time off, and wouldn’t you think he was expected to be open and available when you call.? Instead of the “Good on ya”,  if my memory serves, the first response would not be one of support, rather: “Are you sure you can’t be available for tomorrow”? or, “Why are you not open?”

It was an eye opener. Three separate callers actually took it in stride and said “Of course you’re taking time off, have a good one.”

Not to slam Americans or anything, but it’s almost a cliche at this point – And God love Americans for all that we are, but taking a slow long holiday is not one of them. The American system is set up for a two week vacation, max. And that does not do justice to the country in which you’re visiting. It’s a bit of an insult actually. 

Time off during the busy season

Spending time with family on the boat when our To Do list is growing. Damn the torpedoes and head out anyway.

The only way to get more time off from the American workplace is to quit, or set up a longer travel itinerary between jobs, or be a CEO. So we can’t find fault with individual Americans, or can we?  I’m not sure – all I know is I was surprised to finally experience being given permission to take time off. I’ve been conditioned not to take time off.  To have someone say “it’s OK”,  is a eye opener for an American.

For those of us that made recreation our jobs, and travel came with the territory, we were lucky enough to be exposed to different perspectives in the world. It’s not just the Kiwi’s who value taking time off , more than do Americans. Most of the world does.

Write Something, Anything

24/02/2013

By R. Richards, Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute
Dateline: Auckland, New Zealand

Let them eat cake

Let them eat cake

I don’t mean write just anything of course, but get writing. For some of our regular readers, you may have noticed I haven’t been around much these past months. It’s been quite a year, what with selling the family home (a good thing), sifting through and giving away a lot of stuff, running MSI programs, and lastly, moving back here to New Zealand.

We arrived yesterday, complete with our 19-month old toddler, on my birthday. (Thanks for all the good birthday wishes by the way from folks on Facebook.) We had planned on being here months ago, but in toddler-ville, everything seemed to take longer. Not that I’m complaining, because we saw people, go for a ski or a skate, and plan the move properly.

Now that we’re here, it’s time to, among other things, put on the writing hat back on, and keep writing –  something, anything.

I’ve got a lot on my mind, and of course, I want to post an update and synopsis of our latest collaborative program with Lama Willa Miller and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire called Nordic Nirvana.  Stay tuned with some other observations and things that have come across my path, including Searching for Sugarman, (It looks like we might actually see Rodriguez in concert here in Auckland in a few weeks), and wherethehellismatt.com plus some of the random observations and news I have covered over the years.

We’re pretty tired, and we’re still geared to NH time, which makes it 4:30AM (and I’m still not in bed), but I thought I’d write something, anything.