Posts Tagged ‘Fort Lewis College’

Mountain Spirit and Simple Living


by Bob Stremba, PhD
MSI Board Member

TV- Not all it's cracked up to be

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled onto the Simple Living Network and was reminded about what’s important in life. I don’t think it’s Thanksgiving day football games on a bazillion inch widescreen flatscreen high def LCD 1080p 120 megahertz TiVo Wifi iPod-enabled TV. What’s important, I’m convinced, is authentic connections to self, others and the environment, and that happens to be what Mountain Spirit Institute (MSI) is all about.

The Simple Living Network has its roots in a movement, which began in the 1970’s with publication of the book, Voluntary Simplicity, by Duane Elgin and Arnold Mitchell. Simple living, according to their website, is about living an examined life—one in which you have determined what is important, or “enough,” for you, discarding or minimizing the rest. Living in a way that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich. So I recently cleaned out some closets, donated more clothes to the local thrift shop, and got rid of more clutter. More stuff brings more stress.

Weaving in Willoc, Peru

It struck me that Mountain Spirit Institute is doing today what voluntary simplicity launched over 30 years ago. The values at the heart of a simpler way of life are…

1.    Material simplicity: Owning and buying things that promote activity, self-reliance, and involvement, rather than items that induce passivity and dependence.
2.    Human scale: A preference for human-sized living and working environments, rather than institutions and living environments that are anonymous, incomprehensible, and artificial.
3.    Self-Determination: Less dependence upon large, complex institutions whether in the private sector (the economy) or public sector (the political processes); a desire to assume greater control over one’s personal destiny and not lead a life so tied to installment payments, maintenance costs and the expectations of others.

Field/Lake near Chinchero, Peru

4.    Ecological Awareness: The interconnectedness and interdependence of people and resources. This awareness often seems to extend beyond a concern for purely physical resources to include other human beings as well. A preference for living where there is ready access to nature.
5.    Personal Growth: For many persons taking up a materially simple way of life, the primary reason is to clear away external clutter so as to be freer to explore the “inner life.” (more…)

Outdoor Kids Bill of Rights

MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI Board Member Attends “Kids Outdoors” Conference

Mountain Spirit Institute board member Bob Stremba of Fort Lewis College’s Outdoor Pursuits, Durango, Colorado, recently attended a conference aimed at addressing initiatives of getting children outside more in the natural world.  This  “No Child Left Indoors” initiative has a strong advocate with Colorado Lt. Governor O’Brien who is currently soliciting suggestions in writing Colorado KidsOutdoor Bill of Rights.

Stremba shared his findings at this week’s Mountain Institute staff meeting and asked what others in MSI thought about developing curriculum that can be replicated and offered throughout the USA to schools, summer camps and community recreation programs. Said Stremba, “Colorado residents in communities throughout the state are giving feedback on this exciting intiative. He added, “There are about 8 to 10 sites in Colorado working on this, and there will likely be partial government funding for such programs.” Those at the meeting agreed this direction is a good fit for Mountain Spirit.

Revenge of Gaia
Revenge of Gaia

Founder Randy Richards said Mountain Spirit’s core values focus on body mind and spirit, spiritual experiential education, (or a term coined here “espiriential” education), learning from indigenous wisdom, environmental education, sustainability, social responsibility and service.  He added, MSI was founded on just the values for which the  ‘Kids in the Woods’  iniative is striving.”

Sustainable Communities Programs Director and MSI board member Brenda Dowst mentioned that she has noticed programs “popping up all over”  her region in Nova Scotia,  and said that including the Indian nation people to teach about giving back, the earth, about appreciation and understanding of the earth would be vital to such education.

She also refered to James Lovelock’s book,  Revenge of Gaia, where he warns of the perils of ignoring nature and that our survival of a species, in its present numbers, is in question. She added her reason for bringing up the book in the meeting was that it could serve as a touchstone for moving such programs forward.

Sustainable Communities Director, Brenda Dowst
Brenda Dowst

Colorado Kids Outdoors‘ statement of purpose states it  “is a collaboration among organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors for whom the shared goal is increasing outdoor activity for children. The purpose of this effort is to create a comprehensive framework within the State of Colorado to support efforts of many diverse organizations to provide opportunities, environments and infrastructure for children throughout the State to spend significant quality time in the outdoors. The elements of this framework must include:

  • Development and adoption of public policies at the state and local levels that reflects a very high priority for the goal of ensuring that all Colorado’s children, in particular minority and underserved children, have access to safe and healthy, structured and unstructured, outdoor experiences;      (see resources below and.. (more…)