Page 1

MAGAZINE

fall/winter TWENTY NINETEEN/twenty

Life Artistry. Deep Connection.


Welcome

H

ello and welcome. Thank you for being here. We are thrilled to have you join us. To feel, see and sense in every way what you hold in your hands. So before you begin, take a deep breath in and out, settle into your body. Give yourself permission to be here, to be fully present in this moment - now.

What do you hold in your hands? C Within Magazine is an offering and an invitation to explore and dream; to see within. To see your inner world through the outer beauty, ideas and reflection found within these pages. To see your Soul, its depth, its strength, its worthiness, its creativity, its beauty and grace. C Within is an invitation to be who you are. To be your fullest expression.

C Within is a place to connect with people who are being their fullest expression. Those who are opening up new ways to share with the world and to connect with those who are drawn to them and what they have to offer.

C Within is a place for contemplation and conversation for growth and deeper understanding of who we are, what we want, how we create, why we do what we do, and how it affects those close to us and across the globe.

C Within is a place to center within, to express and receive gifts of wisdom and beauty. C Within is an offering, an attempt to give back to the world a measure of what we take from it daily. In Gratitude,

Kristine

Kristine Wilkerson cwithin.com


Photo Credit: Martien Bakens BELIGHT.PHOTOGRAPHY


CREATORS & CONTRIBUTORS publisher / EDITOR-in-chief: Kristine Wilkerson

EDITOR-At-Large: Mark Wilkerson

CONTRIBUTING Editors: Gianna Carotenuto Emily Johansen Shannon Perry

Design & Art Direction: Kristine Wilkerson

photographers: Laurie Zeleznick, lauriezdivine.com

Front Cover Image: momentum Michele Benzamin-Miki Color inverted with permission.

Photo Editors: Kristine Wilkerson Laurie Zeleznick

MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION: Elizabeth Brown Connie Kenny Nicole Blood

Printer: Sunrise Press

contact us: C Within Magazine P O Box 567 Huntsville, UT 84317 cwithin.com kw@cwithin.com

back Cover Image: flow

Michele Benzamin-Miki Color inverted with permission.


CONTENT 86.

Juan de Dios “Kucho” — SPIRITUAL KEEPER AND MAGIC GUIDE

76.

East Forest — THE POWER OF MUSIC

72. THE UBUNTU AFRIDRILLE 68

58. 48. 44.

.

Zane Wilemon — IN SERVICE TO LOVE & LIFE

Thaine Fischer — ENTREPRENEUR AND COMMUNITY VISIONARY

Quentin Robinson — MOVEMENT THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

John Ewing CHEF OF CELEBRATION AND FUN

38.

Alberto Ruiz — PRESENCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

30.

Mike James Cox — CELEBRATING ALL OF LIFE Maria Jung — 16. Marcus LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF NATURE

08.

Sammy Brue — A WHOLE NEW BRUE


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

within this edition

Men of Distinction —The Divine Masculine BY: kristine wilkerson

T

he heart of this edition beats with balance; the balance between the divine masculine and divine feminine. As you will see, within this edition we connect with 11 remarkable men between 18 and 88 years of wisdom. We found unique perspectives, talents, ideas, gifts and forms of expression. Each one shares life experiences which provide insight into authentic presence manifesting as the fullest form of expression. Maybe you recall our last edition, “Women of Distinction”? There we explored the idea that all women are women of distinction, even though we all question whether we are ever enough. Well, it turns out that doubt is not a matter of gender. The men too were reluctant to fully embrace their accomplishments, even though they are readily and abundantly apparent. I suppose humility knows no gender, even if pride in the right doses feels refreshingly honest. Photo Credit: GILLIAN HUNTER PHOTOGRAPHY

C Within Magazine is a celebration of life; of all things art and artistry. It is a tool showing by example, article by article, and artist by artist, “the way.” The way of the brush, the way of the writer, the way of the singer, dancer, poet, sculptor, healer … the way of the fearless dreamer. C Within at its core is an invitation to explore the elements of our lives, the heartbeat of our genius, and the subtle ways in which we can tap into them. It is a call to each of us to become our fullest expression, free of judgment and fear. To dance and sing and paint and vision and in these acts of creation live a life of authenticity, liberation, artistry and ultimate joy. Read on. Play on. Live life to all of its juicy, luscious edges. CW

Here, in “Men of Distinction” what came forward was the desire for deeper connection and greater impact. How balancing the two complementary (not competing) streams of masculine and feminine energy within each of us individually brings harmony, which then expresses itself in creativity and service. And from this place of creativity, the divine ripples out to embrace every one, man, woman and all of our glorious iterations in between. Mark and I love co-creating C Within Magazine with all of our magnificent collaborators. We learn and grow with each edition. We are grateful. We hope you feel the energy of collaboration not competition; the energy of unique perspectives not judgments of right or wrong; the energy of everyone as creatives and artists. We hope you tingle with the energy of masculine and feminine that coexists in each of us; the energy of the divine. Enjoy!

Kristine 6


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

LIFE ARTISTRY Performance Art

Art Exhibits

Live Music

Poetry

Workshops

Dance

Artist Gathering

Celebration

Artist Discussions

Spoken Word

Feb 29 - March 1, 2020 The Monarch Ogden, UT

Creativity springs from the yearning to be the fullness of who you are. - Ram Dass

cwithin.com/events

7


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

A Whole New Brue BY: Mark Wilkerson

Busk

[bʌsk VERB]

To entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place.

T

his defines my view of Sammy Brue. He is a busker, in the most positive sense. He has the courage to step up onto a dirty sidewalk. To pull out his six string. To clear his poignantly plaintive tenor throat and go for it. Go for it to one person, or five, or five thousand. Sammy Brue goes for it. He puts it all out there. All the joy-angst-frustration-yearning that is life in the USA as we enter the 2020s.

After receiving an acoustic guitar from his father for Christmas, he quickly embraced the instrument and began learning the songs of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. He wrote his first song, a finger-picked, autobiographical tune titled “The Woody Guthrie Song” at the age of 11:

Young boy and his first guitar Dreams of being a rock and roll star Six strings and an empty bedroom Is where his journey starts So he plays He plays the greats like Cash and Dylan Dreams of making a record someday Head full of hope and a heart full of songs Takes him down these lonesome highways Like Hank Williams he rambled and he roamed He lives his life like a Woody Guthrie song

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

8


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

SAMmy BRUE 9


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Pause for just a second.

my eyes. I loved observing. I loved looking at things and then writing about those things happening.

Did you read that? Sammy Brue wrote that at age eleven. After his débutante ball as a young teen, Sammy had several pretty cool options. Ultimately he signed with New West records, the label whose catalog includes Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and Jason Isbell. “It had all the people that I look up to on it,” Brue says. OK then. What can one say after no less than Rolling Stone says “American Prodigy” and American Songwriter writes “Wunderkind”? Well, one interviews Sammy at the ripe old age of 18 and introduces you to perhaps the most genuine article since Woody Guthrie. This is mostly in Sammy’s own words. As it should be. Mark: I thought I should start with the abbreviated version of you. Where were you born? Where were you brought up? How did you come to be doing this? Sammy: I was born in Beaverton, Oregon, 20 minutes from Portland. For the first 10 years of my life, it was a lot of just video games and hanging out. A lot of just family time. We lived with my grandma, so all of my family would roll through. We got to hang out with family a lot, which I’m very grateful for. When I was about 10, we moved to Utah, because my dad really felt like my mom’s sister was going through something that she really needed help with. So we moved to Ogden. A couple years earlier, I had asked for a guitar for Christmas. But my dad gave me an electric. After I started playing it, I was like, “Well, I guess music just isn’t my thing.” I put it down, and thought, “No, I guess I just have to find something else.” Now, living in Ogden and starting fresh, well, this time I asked for an acoustic guitar. We went to Guitar Center and got ... Well, he let me play one, and he asked, “Is that something you would like?” I started strumming and thought, “This is nice. I could see myself doing this.” I taught myself a couple chords, and I couldn’t wait for this guitar to come in. When it came in on Christmas, it was all over. I wanted to start playing songs and writing my own stuff. Once I started writing songs for myself, I was really like, “Ooh, lyrics are really fun.” You can put on this other personality or persona, even play a different character. I started writing about stuff that wasn’t really through

10

I started busking a lot, and I really wanted to be this musician. My parents were fully behind me. They still are to this day. I don’t know, up at Sundance I think is where it took off a bit. I got my first little boost, because I was busking illegally. If you get caught up there, it’s like five grand for a ticket. Mark: Did busking build your confidence to play in front of people, and ... Sammy: A lot, for sure. But for me, it was just the hours. My dad always told me, “It takes 10,000 hours to master something,” so I was really like, “Let’s get some hours in.” It boosted me a lot. People started telling me to come play at their stuff, because they had seen me at Mojo’s, or 25th Street in Ogden, or at Sundance. Mark: So you’re busking at Sundance, where there’s a $5,000 ticket if you get caught, and you’re 12? Sammy: Yeah. Mark: You need to write an outlaw album. Sammy: Right on! Things happened fast after that. I got a record deal and, as the song goes, we moved to Nashville. I so wanted it to be everything. But it wasn’t. Long story short, I just went up to my parents after six months and said, “I really want to move back to Ogden.” I came to realize I could make any kind of music I wanted. I had put in the time. The practice. The performing. That’s when I started to write “Down with Desperation.” It’s a song about being desperate for something more, and kind of still ... still being grounded, in a sense. I got this whole different attitude, and I was like, “All right, let’s make something different happen. I just need a change of some sorts.” So I completely changed. I think that really translates a lot in this new album, The Crash Test Kid, that’s coming out in 2020. My earlier albums, Down with Desperation and I Am Nice, have taught me a lot. But this new album is just a whole different opportunity, a whole new Brue in a sense. Mark: Tell me about the new album. Would you still call the music Americana? Sammy: Yeah, yeah. I use “Americana” very broadly as well so that accurately captures a lot of my work. But this new album I’d call it folk rock. It’s very acoustic-based. But you can dance to it, and you can go crazy to it. One time I played this new song called “Teenage Mayhem,” and people went “dance shit crazy.” That is what the new


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

album is all about. Let’s all go dance shit crazy. Let’s have some fun. Let’s be real. Let’s love each other. For the new album, I started writing with a co-writer for the first time. It was almost like a therapy session. I would just sit down and say, “Man, all this shit’s going on in my life.” He would be there with a notebook the whole time, he would ask these questions and just keep the train going, and we would go so deep into very personal, touchy subjects that I’d barely even tell people I know and hang out with. His name is Iain Archer, and ... he has basically put me through a whole year of college, just because of how long he’s done it. Just seeing him have a studio in his backyard recording the album, I’m just like, “This guy’s living such a cool life.” He’s listening to the music and going with the flow. I learned a lot from him during these writing processes. By the second time I wrote with him, he said, “What do you say about writing a whole album together?” And I was like, “Boom, done. Let’s do it.” I got up the courage to take a chance on this. And I think it’s working. Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas has bought one of the two planned singles from the album, Teenage Mayhem, for a documentary about these activist kids in Parkland, Florida who went through the shooting. I got to meet the kids, and it makes the whole experience of writing the song, having it picked up and made part of the film pretty real. Mark: I’m going to use the word “poignant” ... because that’s how I think of your voice, there is a certain poignance, a nostalgic grittiness to it. That, to me, is one of the biggest things about you: I feel like when I see you onstage, I’m getting you. Full voice. Full presence. Sammy: Thanks. I really appreciate it. Look, when I was younger, it was this two-person vibe in my life. I don’t really feel that way when I get up onstage anymore. Maybe it’s not quite together yet, these sides of me. But more and more they overlap. I have had times where it is just perfect. I am one person fully connected to the crowd. It’s like a peace-of-mind thing, I guess. As an example, the other single from the new album is called “Crash Test Kid”. I played it live for the first time in this noisy restaurant. Not the wisest choice, what with all the eating, drinking, and talking. But here’s the thing: as soon as I started playing, the whole place shut the hell up. I had my eyes closed, but I could feel this humongous bubble of just “Wow, I really feel this. I really feel this.” It was people who were young, old, and all in-between, they all felt the lyrics. Now that was perfect.

11

I really want to use The Crash Test Kid as a big unification for people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool just being a musician, but then you see people like John Lennon. It makes me think, “Don’t get all big headed, man, you’re just a fucking musician. John Lennon started a revolution. The US wouldn’t let him in because they thought he was going to start a peaceful revolution.” Me and my management, we’re trying to get The Crash Test Kid and Teenage Mayhem in the hands of Greta Thunberg’s people. Mark: Perfect. Sammy: I want to be a part of that unification of kids, of the youngest generation. To give people hope and ... I think you could call it artivism. Mark: What’s the message that you really want to amplify in the world? Sammy: I think it’s really just, we’re all taking hits. To me, “Crash Test Kid” is just my calloused version. The hits won’t stop coming. You just get stronger, and eventually the hits won’t mean anything to you. But at least try to make somebody’s day, I’d have to say, and just spreading that ... I guess it’s kind of cheesy, but just spreading that love. Mark: How do you define a person of distinction? You’ve mentioned Bob Dylan. You’ve mentioned John Lennon. Describe the person you would aspire to be? Sammy: I’ve had deep feelings about that. I want to be the folk version of Bob Marley. For sure. But as to a person of distinction, here is my best answer. I saw this guy down on 25th Street, in Ogden. This dude just came up to me and started talking about love, and energy, and how we should spread it more. I guess he says it to everybody. He’s just a homeless guy who walks the streets talking about spreading love. That is a person of distinction.


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

I want to be a part of that unification of kids, of the youngest generation. To give people hope ... I think you could call it artivism.

“

SAMmy BRUE PLAYIN

12


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

13


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

After the interview, I invited Sammy along for pizza that evening. Two hours later I got a polite voicemail saying, “ Hey, sorry, I can’t make it tonight. I just have to go busking.” Sammy Brue is the real deal. Download his music. Go to his concerts. Or if you are really lucky, catch him on an evening he “just has to go busking.” As John Fogerty says in his busking anthem, “Down on the Corner:”

You don’t need a penny, just to hang around. But if you’ve got a nickel won’t you lay your money down Over on the corner, there’s a happy noise People come from all around to watch the magic boy.

CW

sammybrue.com

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

THE REAL DEAL SAMmy BRUE 14


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

The snowcapped peaks of Snowbasin Ski Resort reflect in Pineview Reservoir- Ogden Valley, Utah

l o ca l k n o w led ge ... globa l re ach Let m e a ssist you wit h yo ur real estate needs anyw here i n the w orl d

LISA KARAM Luxury Property Specialist

801.791.8801 lisakaram.com

15


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Marcus Maria Jung — Learning the Language of Nature BY: MARCUS maria JUNG

M

in which nature becomes a collaborative partner and a co-creative force.

y creative work is deeply influenced by nature, earth elements, and the non-human world that we live in and are surrounded by. I express myself through different materials, mediums and elements. I create primarily in sculpture and photography, while weaving in elements of site-specific installations, performances, and rituals

I was born and raised in a small town in Germany where I studied carpentry and became a furniture designer and sculptor. I feel blessed to have been born into a family lineage of skilled craftsmen and apprenticed with accomplished master craftsmen and artists. As a founding member of a theater group, I learned to love theater as a way of expressing ideas. The unique experience of being involved in rehearsals and performances and the process of creating original plays as a collective gave me an appreciation for the power of performance to shape conscious community. In my late 20s, I moved to Los Angeles to explore my passion for acting, theater, and film. I first became involved as a student and later as a teacher, co-founding a school for film actors and artists. The creative and collaborative medium of performance art helped me tremendously to develop as an artist, to connect to my emotions and my inherent need to express myself from a place of vulnerability. After spending many years predominantly in the city, in what I call the “urban jungle,” I felt called to connect more and deeper with nature. I moved to Northern California to access areas of wilderness. Much of my co-creative process with the natural world emerged in this time. In the natural world, I find deep inspiration, a spaciousness that allows my creativity to flow. The mountains, the trees, the meadows, the sky connect me to my German roots and give me a sense of belonging to this earth.

Photo Credit: Vigen Yaghszian Photography Studioviggo.com

16


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Vigen Yaghszian Photography Studioviggo.com

“ T h e f i e ld of c onne c te d n e s s wit h nat ur e is co nt inua l ly o pe ning” 17


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

redwood circle These elements show up as the guides and key players in my creative journey, offering unlimited resources with which to express my artistic vision. Nature becomes my canvas and studio.

and received its wisdom. I now express that earth wisdom through my art and in my life.

Looking back on that chapter of my life, I realize I was led to the natural world to find ways to express myself from a deeper place; that my role as an artist was inside of me, and my path was to create and to collaborate with the natural world and elements.

During my times in nature, I discovered a deeper connection on an embodied level to who I am as a human, a man, and an artist. This was the authentic source of inspiration that I had been seeking. It was as if I had to learn or remember “the language of nature� to deepen my creative and spiritual path.

In 2010, I started to spend much of my time alone in nature. I learned to listen and recognize its voice. The creeks and streams speak to me. The birds, the trees, the stones. I deepened my relationship to these primal signs and voices, walking the land, collecting materials and ideas for my work. These extended excursions were a form of vision quest where I became one with the natural world

18

Making art has always been part of my life, but somehow this felt different.

The vibrancy and aliveness I feel in nature allows insights to arise with ease. From this I access my creative practice by working with the found materials or the photographic images I have taken. Found materials, dead or partially decayed trees call out to me as if they want to be worked on and brought back to life as sculptures and objects that carry the sacred


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Marcus Maria Jung

vibration of nature. I work with these tree spirits to help the soul of the trees and their messages to emerge. The field of connectedness with nature is continually opening. My artistic process is a form of meditation with the intention of aligning the viewer with the non-human and spiritual world. As the public encounters my work, in exhibitions and installations, people experience these transmissions. My work with trees is about freeing their blessings, their encoded healing power. It is through this reciprocal process that I was able to reconnect to what is sacred, alive, and wholesome within myself. In my co-creative artwork with nature I transmit the sacredness of the land and all of creation, not only in a conceptual way, but as an actual embodied and felt experience.

In 2015, I lost my art studio, tools, and all my belongings in a massive wildfire. I also lost much of the nature and trees that surrounded the area where I lived and worked. It was an event that changed my life completely. At first it seemed impossible to ever be creative again, not knowing how to start over or where to begin. I had so much grief in my heart for the loss and destruction of so many trees, my dear friends and creative partners. Step by step, I worked through the trauma of the fire. Healing, which seemed impossible at first, started to happen. I owe much of this to the strength of the community of artists that came together to grieve and work collectively through the trauma. I discovered once again the strength, resilience, and beauty of nature, our connectedness with it, even in the hellish realm of so much destruction and death.

19


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Marcus Maria Jung

redwood spirit 20


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

burned trees

valley fire aftermath

Photos Credit: Marcus Maria Jung

21


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Working creatively within the loss, the ashes, and the destruction became a pathway to renewed life. I felt an urgent call to change the way we relate to nature. Feeling my own suffering, I began to see the suffering we inflict upon our entire planet and our population. It became clear to me that I must direct my work toward creating awareness. Where my earlier found sculptures were made to transmit the healing power of the trees, my next body of work focuses on how to restore, protect, and honor nature. The intention with recent works like “Resurrection” is to convey the truth about the ruthless destruction and plunder of resources. The wildfire showed me the wounds that we humans have inflicted on nature. This was a wakeup call in my life and a choice-point: Do I give up or dedicate myself even more fully to a renewed alliance with nature? What made it possible for me to work through this catastrophe was once again my artistic practice, nature, and the strength of working together as a community of like-minded artists, healers and activists. What I gained was understanding of the creative principle of destruction and rebirth – from which emerged an even stronger bond and love for the sacredness and mystery expressed so beautifully in nature. A teaching keeps emerging from this, a way of being in relationship with nature that has respect for the sacredness of creation at its core. Once nature is experienced on this level, it will translate into respect for all life as sacred. Respect and care for nature and life is what we as humans, and particularly men, as we balance the divine masculine and feminine, must cultivate and practice again. Joseph Beuys, the visionary German artist, called this process a “social sculpture” to describe and embody his understanding of art’s potential to transform society: “The central idea of a social sculptor is an artist who creates structures in society using language, thoughts, actions, and objects.”

Mother tree

Beuys was right. We are all artists, after all. And with that comes a responsibility to express our agency to choose and to work together on the larger artwork, (“das Gesamtkunstwerk”): which informs and shapes our lives, our communities, and the world we live in.

Photos Credit: Marcus Maria Jung

22


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

installation ‘resurrection’ 23


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Anja Freese

installation ‘circle of fire’ 24


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Marcus Maria Jung

sculpture ‘tree spirit’ in burned forest

25


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

guardian spirit

the dance of creation, destruction and rebirth

Photos Credit: Marco Schmidli

totem 26


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Today I am grateful for the experience of loss, grief, and catastrophe on the level that I experienced it. I gained deep insight into the natural world and into our inherent oneness with nature — within and without. We are not separate. We are not above nature. When the masculine and feminine forces are in balance, working together and supportive of each other — not as competitors or opponents, but as partners and friends — we once again become co-creators in this ever-new dance of creation, building a new world together. CW

marcus maria jung

Photos Credit: Vigen Yaghszian Photography Studioviggo.com

artist hands

Marcus Maria Jung is a sculptor and photographer whose work has been shown in art exhibitions, installations, and performances in Europe and the United States. In his art he explores themes such as transience, environmental crisis, and a new eco-mythology that is emerging at this time. Jung’s work embodies the ancient and sacred relationship between the human spirit and the natural world. The artist currently lives and works in Los Angeles and Northern California. His offerings include natural wood sculpture classes, artist talks, workshops and teachings around nature’s wisdom. marcusmariajung.com 27


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

28


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

29


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Mike James Cox — Celebrating All of Life BY: suzi smith

I

t’s 6:58 in the evening, in an Airbnb near the heart of Kansas City. We’ve lowered the curtains so the golden light of the setting sun filters through the slats, casting dust particles in suspension. The house is filled with people, but a hush has fallen over us. Anxious whispers, the subtle creaks of an older house and quiet excitement feuds with the muffled sounds of the nearby city. Disco music plays quietly through the TV.

surprise

I believe we are here on this earth and this existence to become more than we walked on stage with. To do less is to not give credit to the gifts we’re given. Keeping watch near one of the windows, I motion to the group that the time has come. A knock sounds and I move to answer it. As Mike Cox and his husband Brandon move across the threshold there is a moment where time seems to hold its breath. A pause, an empty room, confusion. Then the music turns up just in time for the eternal chorus of “We Are Family,” and everyone spills into the living room, dancing in an odd discoconga line mash-up. Bewilderment paints Mike’s face. Then. Recognition! The electrified shock and surprise that overwhelm him brings tears to my eyes, and I am not alone. More than fifteen members of his family, from all across the country, have conspired to surprise Mike during his visit to Kansas City. The outpouring of love and affection warms my heart. This is a surprise party. But the love is no surprise. Mike Cox is the warmest, most genuine and loving person I have ever known. Of course people have gathered from across the country to celebrate him. For this gathering is uniquely significant. Mike turned sixty a few weeks ago; thirty-three of those sixty years haunted by the lingering presence of AIDS. While the diagnosis has, without a doubt, impacted his life, his path has never been easy. The oldest of five children, he was born and raised in rural Missouri. Extremely intelligent, he was younger than many of his classmates and as a result was often singled out and bullied. It was not a time of acceptance; Mike kept his

Photo Credit : Marsha Smith

30


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit : JOEL BARHAM

31


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

sexuality hidden well into young adulthood. As a teenager he was selected to attend a private boarding school with the intention of becoming a priest. He stayed in the seminary into college until he came out as gay. He was promptly kicked out. He doesn’t consider this a bad thing, saying: The seminary was a bad fit. There was no spiritual calling to join the seminary, I was there because I enjoyed helping people. I think that’s what being a priest was about, that’s just part of who I am, I gravitate toward helping others. One of the things I love about Mike is his overwhelmingly positive outlook on life. He had spent seven years of his life working on the path to priesthood only to have it ripped out from under him because a part of his identity was, according to some, inherently “wrong.” This could have caused irreparable damage. But Mike took it in stride. Adapting to meet the challenges of life is a skill some never acquire. It is a part of Mike’s essential makeup. Otherwise you become stagnant. You stop evolving, you stop growing, you stop having

mike & husband brandon... what’s for dinner? 32

a reason to be. I really believe we are here on this earth and this existence to become more than we walked on stage with. To do less is to not give credit to the gifts we’re given. You’ve got to do what you can. It’s how we move on to the next level, the next stage in our lives, (our) existences. I’m a strong believer in reincarnation. It’s how we become better spiritual people. Mike transferred what credits he could to a secular college and went on to graduate with a degree in counseling and clinical psychology. Fresh out of college and adjusting to the freedom and uncertainty of adulthood, he had no idea the hurdles life was preparing to throw at him. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic no one could predict the coming storm. 1985 marks the first U.S. FDA licensed blood test for AIDS. Across the nation blood banks began to test the blood supply and AIDS awareness slowly began to trickle into mainstream media. By 1986 Mike knew he needed to get tested, but back then it was not as easy as walking into a clinic and requesting a test. The only way he knew of was to try to donate blood. So he did. Two


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

weeks later he received a letter in the mail. At that time a positive HIV diagnosis was essentially a death sentence. There were no medications, no “cocktail.” Research was inconclusive and poorly funded. The letter from the blood bank basically said “you’re HIV positive: good luck with that.” There was not even an effort to inform, much less to follow-up: There was a doctor’s name at the bottom so I called the office and basically took a day off work just to go up to see him for all of the five minutes he would give me to try to figure out what to do next. And there was nothing to do, he couldn’t even give me any names or resources or doctors to refer me to go see or anything like that. Nothing. All I had was what there was in the media to go on. What little media attention there was depicted a grave and terrifyingly short future. The CDC had just released a report about AIDS that put the mortality rate at or above 50% and gave newly diagnosed AIDS patients about 15 months to live. Mike figured he had about a year left. He could have chosen to give up and allow fear to overtake him. But in the face of terror, he chose life. No way I would have given up. It’s human nature to try and survive, and I don’t understand the giving up, that’s just not how I think. I’ve really tried my best to never see myself as a victim but as a person who can be a voice of honesty about the illness and someone who can be a reliable source of information for others about HIV. It’s definitely had a large part in shaping my life.

Photos Credit: JOEL BARHAM

to provide federal funding or support for people with AIDS and had stepped up to care for its own. A band of volunteer organizations, now known as the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, was established. The goal was to unite communities and provide lifesaving support to those affected by the AIDS crisis. Lifelong intervened and paid Mike’s insurance premiums, allowing his treatment to continue. Lifelong quite simply saved Mike’s life.

In the face of a one-year death sentence, Mike not only lived, but thrived for twelve years. Like the classic movie trope: boy meets boy, falls in love, life separates them, drama ensues. Boy follows his heart to Seattle and marries his beloved. Wedding bells ring, Mike and Brandon patiently wait fourteen years until their marriage is legal in the state of Washington, (and seventeen for the USA to acknowledge their union). And … we all live happily ever after. Except, AIDS is still lurking behind the curtain. By the time Mike started to experience symptoms, there were approved medications available for the treatment of AIDS. However, they were still toxic and had severe side effects. Between AIDS and the side effects of the treatment, Mike became too sick to work. Without a job, he was unable to pay his health insurance. Medical care became unaffordable. Thankfully, the gay community had tired of waiting for the government

Mike began to feel better. Touched by the support he had received while sick, he jumped at the chance to give back to the organization that was there for him when he needed it the most. Being a natural caregiver and an extremely good cook, Mike joined the ranks of Lifelong’s Chicken Soup Brigade as a chef. The Chicken Soup Brigade began as a non-profit that provided practical support services for people with AIDS. Because

33


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

I’ve had a great life that lasted far longer than I thought it would. Every day has been a gift for me ...

his culinary exploits. But he also is a talented vocalist. Music is how Mike experiences community. Music is not a solo thing for me. I’m far happier with music when I’m doing it with a group of people, and bringing a complete whole out of individual efforts.

Photo Credit : JOEL BARHAM

of the immune-suppressing nature of AIDS, side effects were incredibly varied but always horrific and often completely debilitating. The Chicken Soup Brigade brought stability into affected households by bringing meals, walking dogs and taking care of various household chores. Finding joy in the world of non-profits, he stayed with the Chicken Soup Brigade for 15 years advancing to manage the home delivery program, then supervising the food bank, and finally running the Chicken Soup Brigade itself. He quickly developed a passion for hunger advocacy. When he felt his time with the CSB had run its course, he put his experience to good use by working to provide nutritional security to the greater community. Mike believes a multi-service approach is the best way to combat poverty-based hunger. He has been a vocal advocate for the improvement of food assistance programs as well as for the collaboration of social assistance programs to better reach the underprivileged. We all dream of a career that goes beyond paying the bills, a career that allows for self-expression and brings personal joy. Mike has found and nurtured his dream in the world of “hunger justice.” He continues to run a major community food bank, FamilyWorks Seattle, to this day. Mike’s creativity does not end when he goes home every day. Cooking is how he expresses himself, to the great joy and anticipation of all of us who benefit from

34

Which, truly, is the essence of choral music. Mike has been singing in choirs his entire life. He regularly performs with Twelfth Night Productions, a community theater in Seattle. Mike made it a point to tell me about the most important and beautiful musical work he has ever been involved in, a musical collection called NakedMan by Philip Littell and Robert Seeley. The piece was commissioned for and originally performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, a group that lost over 200 members to AIDS. It tells the stories of the gay experience at that time. Lyrics and song weave through the coming-out experience, recounting the thrill of falling in love, and depicting the tragedy and terror of facing AIDS and death. It chronicles the desire to marry, achieve equality, and find self-acceptance. After listening to the entire collection, I realize there is more to it than just individual voices coming together to make music. The reality is that gay men were demonized, diminished and dehumanized for decades, centuries (in many places they still are), and this musical work gives them a voice, an opportunity to proudly proclaim their existence, their humanity, their right to be happy. To join together, as a community, to proudly present themselves as their own fullest expression. I asked Mike what the masterpiece of his life looks like, but before he could answer I cut him short, because there is something about that question that bothers me. You could very well call elements of his life a masterpiece; his fight to survive in the face of the most horrifying disease of the time, his work in the field of hunger justice, his journey of self-expression by feeding and nurturing those around him. The problem is “masterpiece” implies that he is done, ready to frame his story, hang it


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

have been plenty of times in my life where I’d had enough reason to say “This is it, I can’t walk it any longer, I’ve got to stop.” But the fact is that if I’d stopped, I would have missed out on the most wonderful relationships I could have ever hoped for. The happiness I’ve found in being able to create, through cooking and singing. The joy and absolute humbling feeling of being able to help others who are in need. I would have never been able to experience any of that if I’d stopped when major hurdles came up in my life. I’ve had a great life that has lasted far longer than I thought it would. Every day has been a gift for me, and that’s the way I’ve got to look at it. I don’t know if that’s a masterpiece, but that’s the single thing that stands out about my whole philosophy for how I live, that’s me.

on the wall and step back. This is something he is in no way ready to do. So I rephrased my question, and instead asked him what the graffiti-on-the-wall, the ever-evolving, the utterly imperfect Banksy-style manifesto of his life is. That’s a whole mouthful of words, and before I let Mike answer it, I’m going to take the writer’s liberty of giving my own two cents on the subject. Mike is a husband, a brother, an uncle, a friend. He is a fierce survivor, a loving caregiver. He is creative as hell, and incredibly funny. He gives the warmest of hugs, is endlessly kind, and takes no shit. He is unwavering in his beliefs, yet unafraid to adapt and evolve. He is his own fullest expression every day by proudly tackling the vulnerability of being true to himself and others. He is an inspiration to us all. He is loved and beloved. In his own words: You can’t give up. It doesn’t matter what life throws at you. You can’t just give up. There

CW

familyworksseattle.org mikec@familyworksseattle.org

Photo Credit : Marsha Smith

celebrating 60 --- celebrating life 35


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

36


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

familyworksseattle.org

37


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Alberto Ruiz— Presence Extraordinaire BY: DEANN ARmes

W

Every intentional detail of his impeccable style is a visual delight; the artist, dressed in a vibrant palette of blue shades set against neutral tones, is himself a work of art.

hen you walk into Alberto’s salon, greeted by one his friendly canines, it feels like you’re being welcomed home, and the man himself shines even brighter than the sun-filled room where he stands.

“I love your navy-colored leather beret,” I compliment, also taking note of the gorgeous long black hair flowing out of it.

You immediately sense you’re in the presence of someone extraordinary, and you’re right. The man has overcome death and cultural oppression to exude the highest expression of himself.

“Thank you, I have one in every color,” is his spirited reply. A lover of beauty and color, this unapologetically authentic man of presence has turned his four decades of work as a hair stylist into something more suitably described as an “intuitive transformation artist.” THE MAIN INGREDIENT IS LOVE Alberto’s rich interior beauty is reflected by his exterior appearance through years of devotion to the art of wellbeing in every facet of his life—a fanciful wardrobe, stylish yet practical Feng Shui home design, an abundant garden, cupboards full of his own handmade pottery, meditative spiritual practices, holistic “no bar code” cooking, and Ayurvedic medicine. He brings the same devotion to his salon, Switch, as he guides clients through their own process of transformation. My job is to help the client connect to the new self they have created inwardly. Maybe to their dreams, their life experiences, the grind of everyday life. I get to crown them with this new self they are today. That’s what I do to serve life. And for Alberto, it is not a job. It is art.

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

38


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Alberto with serge and gonzalo at switCh salon in salt lake city, utah 39


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

should be.” He does things his own way at his salon— his was the first “green” salon in Utah, he does not rely on social media for clientele, and he only books one customer every three hours.

What makes it art is loving what you do. If it’s not love, then it’s a job. And when you love what you do, the money will follow. THE ART OF BECOMING

In his personal life, what sets him apart is his 30-year “HU” meditation practice and a spiritual freedom that goes beyond sexuality or self-expression. “Finding your spiritual freedom, for me, is when you’re not afraid to die.”

Born in New York City and raised in the 1970s male chauvinistic society of Puerto Rico, the idea of doing what you love was unpopular. But Alberto followed his heart. “From the beginning, everyone said, ‘That’s impossible, you cannot do that.’ But you know, I made it. I made my career. I made my own business.” He describes walking into a unisex salon as a kid for the first time as a pivotal moment of self-discovery. The place was buzzing with gorgeous male hair stylists, exuberantly dressed in polyester, high fashion head to toe resembling the Bee Gees, the room full of music and happy chat about life.

DYING EVERY DAY “I died, came back, so I can tell you, don’t be worried about it when you get there.” Alberto had the “privilege” to leave his physical body when he was gravely ill in 1997, weighing only sixty pounds and given three weeks to live. As he left his body, he saw, felt, and heard a silver cord snap, then traveled through a tunnel of light through all of his past lives in the blink of an eye, and landed in the “inner planes” or Akashic records—the place where all creativity and love resides and where we all originate.

The scene was the doorway to finding himself. “It was my intuition tapping into my own inner freedom of being who I really am.”

“It was like normal, and I had been there before,” says Alberto.

A man of distinction, according to Alberto, is “being who you really are, not what someone else thinks you

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

VIBRANT 40


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

And then my spiritual teacher came and he said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, you’re not done.” And he sent me back. Alberto woke up, gained weight, and walked out of that hospice 12 weeks later, very much alive. Shamans, acupuncturists, and other healers had been sent “by a voice” to the hospice for him. They said they just had to come. “All I know is that I was not supposed to die.” Alberto has been healthy and thriving ever since. “It’s harder to stay alive than to die,” Alberto explains, Because alive you have to make choices, you have to discriminate, you have the grind of everyday, the pulling and tearing, the stress, getting lost, refining and shaping, taking control, all of these things. MEDITATION AND MIRACLES Meditation gives you freedom by detaching you from your physical body. Dying is nothing farther than when you do a meditation. When you do a true meditation you disconnect from your mind and body. You are literally soul traveling. Meditation is to die every day. You should die every day. You die by surrendering your thoughts, your opinions. It’s a daily practice. Alberto says: “I am not a good human being when I don’t do it. For me, I become the effect of someone else instead of my own cause.” When you die every day you become a cause, you learn how to tune in, and you stay connected with your higher self. “HU” is an ancient love song to God that has been passed along for many years, a song he uses as a mantra every day for 20 minutes. “It makes you start paying attention to the miracles.” You learn to be mindful in every moment throughout the day. Alberto says: We’re all going to die sooner or later, why not enjoy the moment, the power of the now? So when I’m in the kitchen doing something, cooking, grinding garlic with my mortar, bringing it down, and chopping it out, chopping my vegetable, it’s more than chopping, it’s this preparation that requires that extra care. THRIVING

41


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

INTUITIVE TRANSFORMATIONS Alberto brings the same mindfulness into his salon. When doing a haircut or color, it’s just not throwing the color there. You must be mindful of what it’s going to do, how this is going to react. I want to make sure that if I don’t see you in six months to a year, that the color or cut that I’m giving you is going to collaborate or work with the environment you’re going to be exposed to. He describes working with his clients as a shared “mutual exchange,” because it’s a dance they must do together. When they come and see me, like you and I right now, I’m supposed to give you something and you are giving me something, it’s in a mutual exchange that happens. What can I give you, what can I share with you? We are all together, like in the canopy of the Redwoods. The reason they are together, and the reason they have survived for centuries, is because they are all rooted together under the ground. Everything moves together. So no tree will fall by itself, the whole forest will fill it, and because they are all together, they have created this microenvironment and nothing can grow below them or near them. So every person that comes through my doors, I surrender to because I need to complete whatever I need to complete. It could be something like a message or a song. We’re part of these roots, so we are together, and when one goes down it’s because it’s ready, you know it’s done, and it will not affect the forest. In the best possible ways, Alberto is still affecting the forest. CW

switchsalon.com

READY

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

42


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

43


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

John Ewing —

Chef of Celebration & Fun BY: lena morgan

S

John Ewing is a chef of celebration and fun. His chosen flavor palette of creation is Umami.

weet. Sour. Bitter. Salty. Savor each of those words momentarily. Roll them around on your tongue. They are palpable. They are known. They are expected. Now… Umami. Roll it around on your palette. Consider the word in association with flavor. How does it distinguish itself from the tastes that are well known? Are you familiar with the word? Maybe not. Are you familiar with its fascinating distinction? Yes.

John grew up on the East Coast, where he attended The Culinary Institute of America. In a class of 365, he graduated 16th. There was incredible opportunity for him in elegant restaurants with prestigious titles to follow. He instead chose to follow his heart and get out into the world. In the Philadelphia metropolis, John began an apprenticeship at a restaurant called “Wildflowers.” There he learned the pain and beauty of the sauté position in a kitchen. He learned that playing with hot oil and protein sometimes produced beauty and sometimes painful education. It became his favorite station, sought after and coveted in that kitchen.

Umami is a flavor added to the palette of lore. It is the flavor of home. The flavor of remembering. Umami has been described as “savory and rich,” the flavors we yearn for when we think of comfort food.

John learned a lot about perseverance. The chef he studied under had lost a portion of his leg to cancer, yet he led a kitchen, and with only three people to man the line, served up to 400 diners on busy weekend nights. There were no excuses there, no matter what — a valuable lesson for a young man starting out in life. John next found himself in the tropical Bahama Islands, preparing food for tourists and pleasure seekers. The tropical weather and allure of the Bahamas were something of a fascination for him. John returned to the mainland but not back home to Philly. His journey in life, food, and discovering his love and passions propelled him forward. Florida would be his next stop. This state brought more than experience in cuisine and creation. In Fort Lauderdale, John found love. Though we didn’t speak at length about his courtship, love is a palpable ingredient as his journey continued.

john at the blue coyote cafe Huntsville UT

44


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

45


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Debs, who became his wife, was fond of crisp, fresh snow to ski. Her love of powder brought them to the Ogden Valley in Northern Utah, for vacation and respite. Eventually, the Ogden Valley became their home. The Chef from HEL (Huntsville-Eden-Liberty) became a fixture in the haunts of the valley. Residency in the off-season sits at about 5,000. With such a small population, it is imperative to know your audience well! Harley and Bucks was the first of his stops along the route to the Blue Coyote Cafe, his regular gig these days. John got to know the area, the residents of this beautiful Valley. At the same time, Debs learned she had a rare autoimmune disease, systemic mastocytosis. In relocating to Utah she found relief at Huntsman Cancer Center. The Blue Coyote Cafe holds an annual fundraiser in December to help support the foundation. The dream of culinary infusion for the valley was put aside while John and Debs navigated the waters of her condition. Food, his greatest understanding, was a side note to the dedication he felt for his wife’s healing. There was not a great breadth to her appetite; she wanted only French fries and strawberry bars.

debs, John’s wife

Coincidentally, potatoes are an Umami food. Comfort. Healing.

As Debs grew stronger and her body healed, John was open to welcoming back his dream of culinary work in the Ogden Valley. Harley and Bucks led him to the Wolf Creek, where he took over the grill, beginning to build steam among the local flavor. From there, John branched out on his own, a path that led to the Blue Coyote Cafe at the Lodge in Huntsville, Utah.

John busied himself with the dressing up of French fries and strawberries to satisfy the tastes of his ailing wife. The flavor would become his flagship seasoning. Her healing would lead him right back to his dreams of culinary creation.

This man’s voice is as welcoming and comforting as the foods he creates and cherishes. His laugh is a low grumble and humble. Our conversation made me feel at home, like the foods he dedicates his energy to create. Each potato that crosses the threshold of his door is personally inspected for quality, each cut made is by his hand. This is something that sets him apart, distinguishes him among chefs. His greatest communication is the love communicated through his food. John set the stage for me in describing the Blue Coyote Cafe, beginning with a staff as carefully chosen as the foods he serves. The intention, John says, is not about speed, not about the grind. The intention is fun, family, comfort, community. The thought that fuels the Blue Coyote is, “The day it stops being fun is the day I close the doors.” Without the fun, the food loses the intention behind it, and the customer no longer receives the product John is working to share.

Photo Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

46


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Next, the ambiance… warm, comfortable, like Grandma’s house, he says. Flowers, music, a beautiful view of the Ogden Valley. Even the scenery is delicious. The sounds of local musicians ring through the air on summer nights, serenading the guests of the Blue Coyote. John works with a local musicians’ organization, Mountain Arts and Music, supporting local talent. One of the visions for his place revolved around offering as many types of art as possible. Aesthetics in the restaurant itself match that same homey feeling, intended to incite and instill the delicious flavor of comfort in the memory of John’s guests. Aside from fun, flavor, and comfort, for John the most important tenet of his business which feeds into each nook and cranny, every bite and morsel, is the understanding that success spreads. MOPS: Making Other People Successful. This is the operating structure that has fueled John’s passion. Sharing success, encouraging success, feeding the success of other people uplifts the success of any venture. When people feel successful, it shows. You can taste it.

Photo Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

LOCATED IN THE LODGE AT HUNTSVILLE SQUARE, THE BLUE COYOTE CAFE OFFERS DELECTABLE WEEKEND BRUNCH IN A WARM AND INVITING ATMOSPHERE AS WELL AS SPECIALTY EVENTS, AND CATERING SERVICES. facebook.com/TheBlueCoyoteCafe/

Umami. Home. Comfort. Shared successes. That is the spirit of the Blue Coyote and the Chef from HEL. CW

Photos Credit: Debs Ewing

47


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Quentin Robinson —

Movement: The Universal Language

BY: deann armes

Q

energy radiating from the raw beauty and power of his movements. It renders you speechless and motionless to watch this artist — and humanitarian — in motion.

uentin Robinson is a dancer, yet when he moves it is more than dance — it is movement art. The muscular fluidity of self-expression communicates to you in a way you’ve never experienced. Your body responds in chills to the

Communication is the core purpose of Quentin’s unique freestyle movement, because for Quentin, dance is “the universal language of expression.” Hip hop dance in particular is breaking barriers and commanding the respect it deserves as an art form; it is a valuable communication tool in bringing human understanding and compassion. Quentin explains that it doesn’t matter if the audience isn’t familiar with the style of dance. “Authenticity is what we connect to,” he says. The movement is an interpretation of the sounds and words of the music, for the audience. It communicates something we all understand on a deep level even if we don’t have the words for it. “What causes ‘chills’ is a real vibration.” Quentin, who served in the Marines for a decade, is combining his avidity for service and human connection with dance to start a worldwide effort to generate change through the healing power of movement. Hip hop, or “street dance,” is a style of dance born of pain, one defined by the expression of experience rather than strict adherence to a discipline. “It isn’t just rap, it’s a collective experience, everything you go through. You can even do it to opera music, reggae, classical music, anything,” Quentin says. “I do connecting through movement. We use dance and what we’ve gone through in our life to make an impact,” says Quentin.

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

48


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

49


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

dancing should be contagious The beauty of it is raw and individualized

50


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

51


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

He and his network of other dancers and artists are busting through every open door “showing instead of asking, saying, ‘We are here now.’ This is hip hop. This is popping.”

in the late nineties when he popped the VHS tape of the movie Breakin’ into the VCR and discovered he was able to mimic the character Turbo’s “broom dance” scene in minutes.

They aim to place hip hop dance on the same stage as modern art, ballet, and jazz — where it belongs. “You automatically degrade hip hop when you call it ‘street dance,’ but we can take the stage with any other discipline, if not outshine any other discipline. Not to put any other discipline down. It’s just that when you think of hip hop you think of African American. You think of the rough structure of it, and there is rough structure within it. It comes from pain. It comes from trauma. It comes from a lot of things. But the beauty of it is raw and it’s individualized,” he says.

The very next day, after Breakin’ opened his eyes to the world of dance as self-expression, he came across a different kind of street battle — a dance battle, happening on a neighborhood street he’d walked by dozens of times before. Street fights were a daily occurrence in this neighborhood, so walking by a circle of kids normally wouldn’t have turned his head, but he saw a headband and white gloves and thought, “Who fights in that attire?” “They were battling each other. It was literally a street battle, like the movie Breakin’ happening in my neighborhood, that I’d never paid attention to. It’s like this underground thing that, once you figure it out, you start to see it more.” Quentin was pushed into the circle, and by day two he was already performing moves with

Quentin grew up with ill-fitting shoes and a closet full of hand-me-downs in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida neighborhood where street fights were common. Dancing had to find him. His dance story began as a sixth grader

52


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

Along with giving U.S. students the mentoring he never had as a kid, he recently took his movement-teaching methods to villages in Uganda, started the nonprofit Movements4Movements.com with the help of Chuad Johnson, Katie Thompson, and Rachel Kersch.

the best of them — “hitting, popping and gliding right in the same lane as everyone else, but it had the stamp of my personality on it.” This was Day 2 of movement experience. “This kind of dance was new to me. I’d always done dance like City Boy and Running Man at parties, but that form of dancing was new to me. This was a style, not just a party movement.”

He envisions a worldwide flash mob fundraiser. “Wherever you are in the world, at the same exact time, everyone goes live,” he says. “I want to be able to walk outside and possibly hear that song on.”

He joined the circle of dancers, forming the groups MAD (Masters at Dance) and All Out, kids with dance names like Tigger, Red Alert, and Liquid who crowned him with the name Special FX. “We didn’t have mentors or people to come in and do things with us. We learned in the basement, literally. We’d go to my buddy Thomas Moses’s basement after school until the street lights went out.”

Quentin says the end goal is to put movement into education, workspaces ... everywhere. He wants to build a Movements4Movements network in schools, refugee camps, and camps like Make a Dream and Make a Wish, businesses and nonprofits. “Bringing movement into the daily equation, as a way of life, a way of thinking and a curriculum. The goal is to get everyone in the thought of reverting back to the childhood thing where dancing was a part of your life,” he says. “Dancing should be contagious.”

Twenty-two years later, Quentin is using his powerful network of close connections and distinct style of movement to inspire positive change in the world.

53


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

stillness in motion

Yรถggx spotted fox attire created by COLIN HORNETT

54


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

The e ne rgy of the a ud ie nce a l l o ws yo u t o e l e vat e

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

PIVOTAL

55


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Leaving a mark on everything he touches, whether it’s speaking or putting movement into a system, is how Quentin defines distinction. “Someone can mimic the way you move, so to be distinct doesn’t necessarily mean to be separate but to be an entity that moves a room. Everyone can dance but can you move a thought process or an environment? Use movement to MAKE movement? If anger can make everyone else in the room angry, why not dance?” Bringing movement into the curriculum, he says, allows students to learn from their own experiences: “It digs deep into an understanding of what you actually feel or see or react to. How do you move to express the word compassion? Can you identify compassion with a movement?” And it’s highly individualized. “I don’t want you to show compassion the way someone else shows compassion. Whatever you’re going through, go through it your own way, through your own expression.”

Who a r e yo u? w hat d o you wa nt to do ? and d o yo u h av e the c ou r age a n d fa i t h in wh at yo u a re pa s s i on ate a b ou t?

Quentin explains that when he authentically expresses his individualized translation of sound through movement, it brings understanding and connection from the audience, and the audience’s response further influences his freestyle movement, so it’s a symbiotic energy exchange. “Simultaneously, there’s audience, there’s the energy coming from them and sound that’s impacting you, and there’s a bounce of waves going back and forth, the movement through my body with the sound. The emotion in the music immediately starts to course through,” he says. “The energy from the audience allows you to elevate.”

the ‘lack of’ in our community,” he says. “When someone says, ‘Hey, I want to direct movies based on isms,’ sexism or racism or whatever, we’re using that pain we went through and using movement that got us through it, to throw that into the world in a massive net.” Quentin is currently working with dancers and creators Jon Boogz and Lil Buck on a project called “Love Heals All Wounds,” a full-length dance show with original score featuring a full cast of movement artists and writer/spoken word artist Robin Sanders. “Boogz is the one who went out and put social justice with directing and is bringing hip hop dance to the same level as modern art, jazz, and ballet,” says Quentin.

The street dance crew Quentin ran into that day twenty-two years ago are still part of his close circle in business, travel, and entrepreneurship, though they have all focused on different art mediums in production, in film making, in marketing — where Quentin has focused on education. “We all branched out and we’re hitting those areas where we had a failure in growing up. And when I say failure, I mean

56


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

to it now through this close-knit circle of supportive collaborators. They’ve provided a gateway to spreading his movement, with the visit to Uganda, performing alongside incredible artists, being featured in the music video, “Resilient,” by Rising Appalachia, doing a TED talk and other speaking engagements. He credits the Hatch network with giving him the courage to step away from a job to dance and be an artist. The network helped provide answers to: “Who are you, what do you want to do, and do you have the courage and faith to do what you are passionate about?” Running full speed without an agent, the answer is clearly yes, he has the passion. And for three years Quentin has been a professional dancer. “I dance for a living and that is who I am. I am what I do.” CW

“I believe in this work. Everything that we’ve done, and he’s done, has been to elevate the hip hop community. He’s the director. He does that type of thing with the message, where I walk into a school or a business, or a community and change the structure mentally on the level of connecting through movement. We use dance and what we’ve gone through in our life to impact. We target the things that dance got us through, that other people are going through, and use dance to help them get through it. Dance is the tiniest, smallest, most minute title you can give what we do. That’s nothing of what we actually use it for.” More doors of opportunity have opened for Quentin through another tight network of entrepreneurs, business developers, and “do-gooders” from around the world he met through Hatch. Hatch is a yearly summit, a big “think tank,” that shares gifts and knowledge. “It’s a ‘self-exploration’ summit, not just networking at one event,” he says. The meaningful, personal, “family-like level,” of direct contact has helped manifest Quentin’s vision. “Just reach out to say hello, and you’re on a plane to Africa.” That is quite literally the way it happened for him. “I had an idea that was bigger than my bandwidth - to teach a routine around the world.” And he’s closer

movements4movements.com Breaking Barriers with Special FX | Quentin Robinson | TEDxBozeman

Yöggx spotted fox attire created by COLIN HORNETT

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

57


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Thaine Fischer —

Entrepreneur & Community Visionary BY: Lena Morgan & Shannon Perry

H

Entrepreneur and community visionary Thaine Fischer saw not just any butterfly but the bold and beautiful monarch in a tired, beaten-down building on the corner of Ogden, Utah’s 25th and Ogden Streets.

OW is a building like a butterfly? Most of us would not look at a building — especially an unloved, broken-down one — and see a butterfly.

Twenty-fifth has a … colorful history. It’s seen the rise and fall of fortunes, housed brothels and rail-riding tramps. More recently, it’s seen vacancy and the usual vandalism that goes with it. Within the last two decades, the storied street had begun to come alive again, finding new tenants, housing local businesses, and generally enjoying renovation and a new lease on life. But like many projects, the restoration hit a wall during the recession of the 2000s – and renovation of the building in question was put on indefinite hold. Restoration delayed, the building sat, wrapped in a chrysalis of neglect, for years. Though its windows were broken and its spaces empty, Thaine heard the flutter of life within, just waiting its chance to break free in all its hidden glory. the man behind the Monarch Thaine grew up on a ranch just outside of the very small Montana town of Kila, population 62. As he got out into the world, he discovered creativity. The Blue Man Group was touring through Boston when Thaine visited in his 20s, and the visual cacophony of creativity moved him, sparked an interest in the workings of the creative mind. The way that troop of creatives found ways to turn paint and sound into visual art through elements completely disconnected from one another started him on a path to supporting creative energy.

butterfly mural by artist jane kim 58


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

59


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

In the building now known as The Monarch, Thaine saw an opportunity to both express his own creativity and artistry and support that of others. In our interview, Thaine spoke of sunlight coming into the building and how that could inspire a creative human being with warm, natural ambiance. He believes combining the energy of creatives can spread like wildfire, feeding a collective creativity in a shared space for gathering and communicating ideas. His vision of the space is now beginning to unfurl in the way a butterfly emerges and spreads its wings to fly. In its original day, The Monarch building began as a state-of-the-art garage with wide open bays and renaissance architectural design. Thaine Fischer is, as he says, in the business of “buying birdcages and making them into hip Urban Spaces.” This is his ninth project reviving Ogden’s historical architecture back to the beauty it once was. In contrast to the general idea to build, build, build, Thaine looks to restore, enliven, and envision the possibilities of spaces left to time. Business and balance Although Thaine has contoured and shaped his eye for creativity and programming, he is an entrepreneur. And beauty takes work. While Thaine understands the value and his own obligation to give back, balancing the needs of business, his own instincts towards altruism, and the need to provide for his family is an evolving process. Active in the local community as a board member, visionary, and entrepreneur, time can be somewhat of an afterthought for most, but not for Thaine. His time away from his family and dedication to a project are choices carefully made. That means when he is dedicated to a project, he is all in. Sometimes it brings challenging decisions and making the commitment to take time for business. However, his family knows that his dedication to work has a time stamp for each project and that the end of the tunnel is in sight as The Monarch approaches opening day. The path to here The Monarch is only the latest in a string of restorations Thaine has undertaken. The realization that art, creativity, and legacy matter came with the purchase of the old Star Noodle Parlor building, his first restoration project. Like all firsts, the Star Noodle Parlor project came with a learning curve: The sign for this location was a staple in Ogden’s visual history. When the sign was removed, the

finding solutions for first friday opening Photo Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

60


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Peter McDearmon

iconic star noodle Parlor sign

From the Noodle Parlor, Thaine followed the line of Ogden’s historical path like a butterfly on its migration, and it led him to understanding the significant impact he could make on the community around him.

community had questions — where did it go? Why were we not involved? Where is it now? Is it coming back? Additionally, the purchase had multiple partners, and partnerships can become difficult. Reparations had to be made and partnership reassessed, and all the while, the community continued with the questions.

His most recent projects, The Monarch and Perry Lofts, are the work of one architect ancestral to Ogden, Leslie S. Hodgson. Paying respects to an architect’s vision from 100 years prior is an honor for Thaine. The restoration of a community legacy is crucial in bringing this work forward. This is a distinct part of what makes Thaine recognizable as a steward of the beauty available in Ogden.

Perhaps the biggest lesson from the Star Noodle Parlor was this: history matters. It matters to the community; it must be the foundation from which any restoration begins. The story, the visual remembering, they are truly important to people. Bringing a community icon back to life, restoring it, preserving it through enhancement matters to people. Historical legacy matters.

Creating space For Thaine, collaborative creativity and artistry are vital elements to success. Paying respect and homage to all the pieces that have gone into the emergence of these projects is a focus for this man.

This experience fueled Thaine in business and creativity. The realization that restoration can be profitable and genuinely impact community for the better became his work in this world.

61


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Nina Maluda

monarch butterfly chrysalis

62


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

63

Photos Courtesy of the Monarch


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Brewing all the elements of creativity together is where the magic happens, where the caterpillar turns inward and emerges as the Monarch.

The entrance to the monarch

64


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Laurie Z Divine Photography

65


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Dining, visual art, podcasts, music, printing presses — now there is space for it all, for creative minds to assemble, put all their forces and energy together, and erupt out into the community to spread that energy. It’s attractive, it’s illuminating, it creates an infectious desire to create more, to beautify more, to migrate out into the community and nest in the minds surrounding it.

Admittedly, Thaine is not conventionally educated in art, nor does he seek to reduce creativity to visual art alone. The way his team can take the seeds of a vision for spaces and distill them into reality is creativity at its finest. Brewing all the elements of creativity together is where the magic happens, where the caterpillar turns inward and emerges as the Monarch.

The Monarch is a big undertaking. The building itself is able to house immense creative potential. Instead of identifying every creative mind as an artist, Thaine has taken the approach of seeking “creatives” to occupy studio space within The Monarch. Creatives of all kinds can have membership in studio space and have 24/7 access to it. It is theirs to do with what they will in order to create their offerings to this world.

Providing space for it all to happen is the intention behind the artistry of The Monarch. When a space is set up for creativity, it can attract creative minds on all platforms. Coincidentally, the rise of The Monarch also gave life to 01ARTS exhibit, Platforms, on the corner of 25th and Adams Avenue. Eight concrete platforms were created against the backdrop of a mural by artist Rachel Pohl.

The Monarch’s website showcases each creative, and it is magnificent to see all the different elements that will emerge from this space. Painters, woodworkers, stained glass artists, sculptors, photographers, podcasters, all fluttering around under the same roof. All this creative energy moving, migrating from pupa to full-fledged offering out into the community. While in their own chrysalis stage, each creative has access to a community of creative energy under a shared umbrella to bounce

Thaine works with local nonprofit 01Arts that birthed this complementary space for creativity in an empty lot across the street from The Monarch. Eight platforms being used in all manner of artistic expression. Creativity is spreading like wildfire in Ogden’s emerging 9 Rails Creative District, with The Monarch its epicenter. The Butterfly’s Effect What happens when this butterfly gets its wings? Everyone will feel it in an upsurge of activity, creativity, and opportunity.

Photo Credit: JULIE DECKER PHOTOGRAPHY

the fischer family: THAINE, TAHNA, REGAN, SOPHIA 66


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

the monarch lobby ideas off of, to gather with, and to share the love of creativity outward.

prepared by Thaine have remained a staple. A reprieve and more time as a family is approaching. All are looking forward to Thaine having the time to relax into the rhythm of life outside of focused tasks.

The flight path As The Monarch emerges, Thaine’s work on the initial project draws to a close. The next phase brings the building’s future into more collaboration with the community he has helped revive and re-energize.

Time and choice, focus and precision, all they’ve worked so hard for is coming to fruition. When those doors open and the dreams are birthed, Thaine’s work will not cease overnight as reaching stabilization will take effort. Then … respite set against a tropical beach perhaps or devoted family time under a canopy of trees.

This birdcage has been transformed, and every effort that has gone into it has been essential. Each step along the evolution of Thaine’s life as an entrepreneur, creative, community partner, collaborator, husband, father, human being and all other hats he wears, distinguishes him among the business and creative community. While not every step has been easy, each choice has been his.

Whatever the setting is, the next chrysalis will be shared with family, watching movies, talking about the day, and knowing that all the hard work devoted to the hatching of a dream was worth it. Cheers to The Monarch, cheers to the creatives. CW

Following the unveiling and stabilization of this creative endeavor, Thaine plans to take some time for himself and his family and to reacquaint himself with his paths to joy outside of business.

themonarchogden.com

The Fischer family has chosen to view the dedication to this undertaking as a necessary step with Thaine focusing his concentrated energy toward the project. Yet simple pleasures, like home-cooked meals

67


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Zane Wilemon -

In Service to Love & Life BY: zane wilemon

A

It was also this same trip that I first journaled my experiences, started tracking my thoughts and feelings, and began to open my mind to a life of meaning. Of course it wasn’t a lightening-striking-naked-on-top-of-a-plasticbull-in-the-middle-of-a-train-station kind of inspiration; it was a subtle nudging throughout that summer of 1998. And that subtle nudging, which lingered as we made our way back home to Texas, honestly continues to this day.

nd just like that I was buck naked, in the middle of the night, running through a train station in Zurich, Switzerland. My two best friends and I had been betting with one another who could take the BEST photo of the day, so when the Swiss train company went on strike and we were left stranded, three Texas college kids with nowhere to go — but bet a on the line — well... inspiration struck when I saw a piece of artwork, a plastic mold of an abstract cow in the middle of the station. This whole thing happened over 20 years ago, and the photo still makes me laugh. It was a time in life when I was more free, less burdened by responsibilities, and completely filled with the possibilities of what this life could and would be.

A constant has been hunger and desire for purpose held within a tension of having fun, making money, and serving those on the margins of society. After that first experience abroad, the hunger to see more and be more and a yearning to pursue a higher purpose took root in my soul. The year that followed was a struggle. It was a struggle between the life I had known of forming and molding to the social norms around me and the tension of that seed that was taking root within me to break out and follow an inner voice hungry for purpose. It took me another two years before that hunger became a famine, and I acted on it by buying a one-way ticket to Africa. On October 18, 2000, I landed for the very first time in Nairobi, Kenya and drove an hour and a half down into the Great Rift Valley where I would center and focus my next two decades of life into the town of Maai Mahiu.

Photo Credit: Adam Bannister

68


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit : Dagny Piasecki, SHDW STUDIOS

69


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

And that is where God met me. That is where my heart was ripped open. There I would dedicate the focus of my life to serve, to love, and to walk alongside my good friend Jeremiah Kuria to discover our purpose and meaning in life…together.

At the time, Maai Mahiu had a population of only about 15,000 people and no running water or electricity. It was a transit stop along what was and still is known as the AIDS Highway that runs from Mombasa, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda. Of course, I had no idea of its strategic location at the time, but it was here that I met my now co-founder and lifetime friend, Jeremiah Kuria.

Together we have served the Maai Mahiu community for almost 20 years. We started the very first school for children with special needs in the Rift Valley region and have created hundreds of jobs for the local community. We are actually proud to say that we are Maai Mahiu’s largest employer and growing. We have scaled alongside great companies like Whole Foods Market, American Eagle Outfitters, and Zazzle, producing handmade products by our Maker Mums who didn’t even know how to sew ten years ago.

When I first met Jeremiah, he was running an orphanage of 140 children in Maai Mahiu, running a local church and raising three children with his wife Mary. I later learned he was doing this for a staggering $50/month, all while smiling and living a life of immense purpose like none I had ever witnessed before. Jeremiah’s life was an enigma to me. I was raised a middle-class Texas kid, with no need unmet and basically any desire filled by my family. And now, here I stood in the middle of Kenya with a man who received his first pair of shoes at the age of 15, a man who could barely make ends meet but who was raising an amazingly happy family in the midst of what appeared to me to be an impoverished town with little to no hope.

A constant has been hunger and desire for purpose held within a tension of having fun, making money, and serving those on the margins of society. How does one healthfully live in this tension? As Ubuntu Life enters its 20th year as an organization, I am starting to reflect more on what I have learned,

Photo Credit: Erin Outdoors

ubuntu co-founders jerimiah kuria and zane wilemon 70


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Zane with wife and partner amal

where we are heading, and how I would like to shape those learnings into resources for others along their journeys of purpose, of impact, and of business. As an Episcopal priest who runs a non-profit, that is a business, I am constantly intrigued with this concept of the spirituality of business. I am interested in how we tend to separate the two, placing our business life into one compartment of making profits at all costs and reserving our spiritual bucket on the side for when we have time to practice. Why is this so? Why can we not foster a harmonizing of our corporate life with our spiritual life? The reality that I have witnessed by starting a non-profit charity that is morphing into a self-sustaining business is that there is no separation. They are one and the same. We pray together, we sing together, we make money together, we lead business strategy together. I am still formulating these ideas, but in doing so, I hope to discover greater clarity as I have in so many other aspects along this journey. What once seemed distant and far off — like our Maker Mums learning to sew, or finding ourselves on the shelves in Whole Foods Market, or designing custom Disney shoes with Zazzle — this too will bring clarity simply by outwardly living the question. And just like that I continue charging ahead buck naked, vulnerable, enthusiastically running towards the next abstract plastic cow and purpose to discover! CW

UBUNTU.LIFE

Photo Credit : Dagny Piasecki, SHDW STUDIOS

Photo Credit: Hanna Cofer

Zane with Maker Mums 71


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

The Ubuntu Afridrille BY: zane wilemon

A

s we boarded an early morning plane that would take us from Nairobi to Ethiopia, an illusion pervaded my spirit that we could never make a shoe. I was handicapped by fear that it was nothing more than a big idea. And yet here we were: Jeremiah Kuria, Ubuntu Life Co-founder, and five very adventurous executives from Zazzle, a Silicon Valley-based company, and me flying to Addis Ababa on the hunt to learn what it takes to make shoes.

them to make shoes. But they weren’t making just any shoe, they’d be making Africa’s first fully customizable shoe. As much as I believed in our Ubuntu Life Maker Mums, the reality was that not a single one of us had ever made shoes, had ever worked for a company that made shoes, or had any affinity for a career in cobbling. Regardless, we were boarding a plane for Ethiopia to learn about the shoe-making process, and I was carrying a heavy burden of doubt wondering if we could truly pull this off.

The goal: to learn how to make shoes, bring that idea back to our Ubuntu Life Maker Mums, and empower

As we touched down in Addis, we hit the ground running. The days that followed were filled with meetings at local leather tanneries and shoe factories as well as a few peculiar meetings, such as one with a German expat who was eager to partner with us by using banana leaf to substitute the traditional jute sole of an espadrille. As we closed out our Ethiopia journey, we quickly realized that it was just too much of a feat to pull off making shoes in Kenya. The expertise required, the vulcanization process of making soles alone, and all the extra equipment we would need to purchase made this once-exciting endeavor a roaring and humbling defeat within just a few days. Had the illusion actually been no illusion at all, but a reality that I should have known from the start was true? We packed our bags and headed back to Nairobi, our Zazzle crew leaving for the US just days later.

Zane with afridrille sole Maai Mahiu, Kenya

Months passed, and the feelings of embarrassment that I would even consider such a crazy idea lingered. Then I received a brief email from the Zazzle team: “Hey Zane, check out this YouTube clip of a woman homemaking an espadrille shoe. Looks simple, like she took two of our canvas coffee sleeves, sewed them together and attached a jute sole. Think the Maker Mums could pull this off if we’re able to locate a sole manufacturer?”

Photo Credit: Adam Bannister

72


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Kelli Eberhard, The Purpose Pursuit

Afridrilles - Africa’s first customizable shoe

73


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

U B U N TU MI SSION Ub un t u i s a n on p r of i t b u s i n e s s t hat us e s t he po we r o f g l o b a l c omme rc e to c re ate “inch wid e , mil e d e e p” so c i a l i mpac t f or c h i l d re n a nd mo t he r s in K e nya .

ubuntu afridrille soles

Ubuntu Life Fall/Winter Backpack

Photo Credit: Dagny Piasecki, SHDW STUDIOS

Meaning of “Ubuntu” Ubuntu is an African philosophy that means “I am, because we are.” It describes the interconnectedness among all things. We all depend on every other being on this planet in ways large and small, and we feel those connections now more strongly than ever. To reach our full potential, both individually and as a society, we must help others reach theirs: I am because we are. Jerimia Curia, Co-Founder Ubuntu

74

(Ubuntu Life) RED Afridrilles


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

And then just like that, everything changed! A year later, after many months of blood, sweat, love, and tears, we pulled off making Kenya’s first espadrille shoe and Africa’s first fully customizable shoe…the African espadrille which we affectionately branded, The Afridrille. “Our goal while on this earth is to transcend our illusions and discover the innate power of our spirit.” The important part about all of this is that often times, most times, in order to discover that innate power and to transcend our illusions, we need the love and belief from those around us. Because the Zazzle team never gave up on our idea, and the Maker Mums never gave up in their belief in their abilities, they empowered me and the rest of our Ubuntu team to create something full of love and “in service to others and all of life.” CW Ubuntu.life

Photo Credit: Erin Outdoors

Summer Bracelet Collection

Photo Credit: Ubuntu Life

CONNECT WITH UBUNTU LIFE. FEEL THE IMPACT. CONTRIBUTE. Photo Credit: Erin Outdoors

BE A PART OF THE IMPACT. UBUNTU.LIFE 75


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

East Forest —

The Power of Music BY: mark Wilkerson

W

hat do Trevor Oswalt, professionally known as East Forest, and the famous 88-year-old living Guru Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert), have in common? Besides collaborating on an album, it turns out more than one would think.

is calm of voice and manner, but a dancing looping perpetual motion machine in front of his electronic keyboards. And he, like his teacher Ram Dass, shares spiritual truths and wisdom in an unassuming invitation. So let’s dive in:

Ram Dass bestowed on Trevor the honor (and this is a very big deal) of the name “Krishna.” Their collaborative album, entitled Ram Dass, is a new-age instrumental created by Krishna, and other invited musicians, with spoken words by Ram Dass. The album is Grammy worthy. In fact it is up for a Grammy.

Mark: I want to focus on what you’ve been doing in the last 12 months with a particular focus on your new album with Ram Dass. Tell me about that relationship. Music is a language that all souls understand.

East Forest, Krishna, is all a musician, composer, and teacher should be. He is extraordinarily talented in an ordinary sort of way. He is famous in a humble sort of way. He is forceful in an unforced sort of way. He

I’m honored that my teachings have been paired with a musician like East Forest, who has crafted an album with so much love.

~

ram dass

Krishna: He’s someone who was a teacher for me, through books and talks. I always wanted to meet him, but I didn’t know how. And then my manager and I were having a meeting and he asked me just as like a big picture question, “How do you want your work to be remembered?” I was thinking I wanted it to be remembered the way Ram Dass’ work is remembered. It’s bigger than him and it’s universal, and it’s certainly important to me. I wanted to have that sort of feeling to what I was putting out into the world and legacy. I pitched it to his world, his foundation, and it was just good timing. Meeting with him; being in this studio and mixing him and listening to his words over and over and over again, like every day for over a year. It was a very intimate experience.

East Forest offers face to face retreats for deeper immersive experiences both at the Esalen Institute where he is a faculty member as well as in his adopted home of the high desert in Southern Utah. His albums and collaborations have twice charted #1 (iTunes Aug 2016, and May 2019) as well as several Billboard top ten releases.

76


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

“East Forest is tied to both nature and to everyday urban life, giving it the qualities of a sort of ethereal and mystical modern-day fairytale. It’s just blissful.” (NPR) “Full of rich bass, introspective soundscapes, the biophany of nature, and live instrumentation ranging from a wooden flute to a mylodica, East Forest doesn’t just create sound, he creates narrative.” (Huffington Post) “Immersive and vivid” (Wired)

Photos Credit: Kristine Wilkerson

77


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

For me it’s been a big act of service to be able to help transmit his ideas to even more people. Hopefully new ears, young ears. And I think it’s really just beginning. I wanted to create something with this record that was timeless. I didn’t want it to be a record that a few years from now you might listen to it musically and think, “Oh, that was so 2019; it’s just not really relevant.” I wanted it to be a diversity of music and the kind of music that can last many, many decades.

again. And so I’m trying to meet the times and play the game of how you release music these days, but also still strive to create something that has a timeless quality. That is a work in itself. Mark: So ideally someone would listen to it beginning to end? Krishna: It’s built that way. But I’m totally open. There’s a million roads to Rome, spiritually. So it’s whatever works. There is an intentionality to its flow. I think Ram Dass is a true master and I wanted to respect that.

Mark: This record is somewhat unique in that it is spoken words to music; can you describe it for us.?

Mark: I know a little about Ram Dass’ history and the LSD and other things he used to try to kind of “tap in.” Can you talk about that?

Krishna: Right. It’s the sum of the parts for sure. I liked the music a lot on its own. But it’s obviously better with Ram Dass’ words on there. And I think if it was just Ram Dass’ words, which are great on their own, but the music amplifies them emotionally. So it’s like a film score. It takes what he’s saying, which is already really solid and amplifies them maybe two or three or even four times.

Krishna: Sure. I asked him about psilocybin, which is magic mushrooms. And on the record there is a song called “Home” where he says that psilocybin started him on his spiritual path. That’s a huge statement. Basically saying like, “I wouldn’t be Ram Dass if I hadn’t taken mushrooms with Allen Ginsburg and Timothy Leary back in the 60s.” And that’s a big deal. He’s always had

Mark: Is that a fair definition for you of the power of music? Krishna: As an amplification for words, well, yes and no. I’ve always leaned more towards music than words. So this is a good combo for me too. It’s essentially working with a lyricist who is a master. In that sense it was like playing into my weaknesses and using my strengths. What Ram Dass was doing all these years was like amazing, right? It just wasn’t music. So I thought bringing music to that was another modality and compliment to what he’s doing. Mark: I think it plays to your strengths too because the music allows the words to resonate and repeat even if silently through the music. It brings it into your head and… Krishna: Into your heart. And into your gut and that’s what’s cool about it. Mark: I love that description. But I didn’t let you answer the question about your own description of this work with Ram Dass. Krishna: It’s quite simply new Ram Dass teachings set to new music, East Forest music. And I wanted it to be something that had many doorways into it. That’s why there’s a different kind of style of music to it. It’s a journey and there wasn’t some monotony where you couldn’t quite last. It’s an interesting landscape musically right now anyway because some people still listen to records like that and some people it’s more about singles and they just listen to something over and over and over

east forest playing in the beauty of southern utah

78


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

that legitimacy of being a Harvard professor who sees the intellectual angle. And then he had this Eastern spirituality he brought back. The psychedelics were a tool. It’s beautiful. For me it’s much the same in that 20 years ago I had experiences with psilocybin that were thankfully positive and absolutely lit a fuse of a spiritual path that showed me that there’s more to the picture. I couldn’t argue because they were felt experiences. I was looking for wisdom, looking for answers, and that’s what led me down my spiritual path. Mark: Does that spiritual path guide your music or vice versa? Krishna: Both, it’s hand in hand. My goal is that there’s no separation between church and state, so to speak. My walking life, my thinking life, my music, my spiritual life. It’s just all life. I just try to keep it all within this lens of an awareness. I’m not asleep. And the decisions I’m making about music and business and even just interacting with people and with my partner and with myself and my mind, it’s all the same thing of a certain level of awareness and kindness and love. My goal would be that there’s no separation. I would just want to find peace through all of that.

ten laws podcast Recorded during the Fall 2019 SPIRIT DIVE

RETREAT in Southern UT, moderated by Marisa Radha Weppner

this hierarchy stuff, it’s a process. Meaning you’re in it, you’re out of it, you’re through it, it’s fluid. The physical universe is always changing. Your consciousness, your moods. It’s what the Buddha taught. Just stop grabbing onto it.

Mark: We’ve heard a lot, Kristine and I, from artists, about the gift of “being present.” How does being present inform your life?

Mark: This is the idea of “witness”?

Krishna: Well it’s like Ram Dass says, “Be here now, there isn’t anything else.” The more you can be here now, the more you’re alive.

Krishna: Yes. Ram Dass talks about that throughout the record. You’re sitting in what he calls the “soul land” or the witness where you’re a bit removed. So instead of being in the thoughts, you’re like, “Oh wait, I can see them. I might still be still angry, but at least I can step back and notice I’m angry. And so there’s a part of me that’s not totally identified with that right now.” Not only is it profound philosophically, but it allows you to have this other place from which to make decisions, better.

Mark: The words make it sound pretty easy. “Just be here now, be present, come to the party.” But to actually do it I think takes a great deal of effort … Krishna: I would say it takes no effort. The effort is you thinking it takes effort. You’re doing it right now by saying it, you just reminded yourself. The in and the out is the engine of life. That’s why we’re here, I think. And so I stopped beating myself up for forgetting because if I forget then I can remember. And that’s a practice. The reasons people do yoga or listen to this record or read this magazine; these are all just different ways to sing to the choir, so to speak, to sing each other awake over and over again.

Mark: We’re located in a high tech studio in one of the most remote locations in the country. Describe where we are and how you came to be here. Krishna: I assume you do not want the existential answer…Hah. This is a strange little blue dot in the Southern Utah landscape and it is a really interesting group of weirdos. And I say that in the highest sense, there’s really interesting people in this tiny town. I came here because I followed a certain excitement 10 years ago for a retreat, like the one you’re on right now. And I met people here and I met the landscape, and I just kept coming back to visit. Then eventually I got a place here. The setting is remarkable with massive desert rock features, yet massive pine trees and water flowing.

I mean we’re all just animals on this planet trying to be spiritual beings at the same time. It’s a tough gig. I mean we have this ability to be down in the dirt. We share the same qualities with this stone, but then we’re able to have cosmic thoughts. It’s a process versus a destination. I think in the West we often hear about this destination “enlightenment,” like it’s this thing you’re always reaching for. If you get rid of that destination idea or 79


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ― Ram Dass

“Now is now. Are you going to be here or not?” ― Ram Dass

“I see my life as an unfoldin of opportunities to awaken ― Ram Dass Photo Credit: Kristine Wilkerson

80


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN slot canyon inMAGAZINE southern utah

ng set n.� 81


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

It’s more work. It’s probably why I don’t put a lot of lyrics in my stuff because I’m like, “Oh, it’s too exact.”

Mark: Thank you and I agree the setting is remarkable and the people quite, well, interesting.

Mark: Is it a concern that by putting words to the music you’re somehow boxing the listener in?

But getting back to your musical work, what about more spiritual leaders? Do you think you’ll follow that thread for more projects?

Krishna: Definitely. And also cross culturally people who don’t speak English. Yeah, it definitely starts to get more specific. For sure.

Krishna: I’ve been thinking about the Dalai Lama. He’s speaking a lot about action mixed in with Tibetan Buddhism. I think it could be really interesting. But we’ll see. If it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.

Mark: Ironically, I have heard from some poets that, “my words alone leave room for interpretation. If you add music, I’m afraid you drive the meaning too narrowly.”

Mark: Those reading your words here are going to recognize the level of work and thought that goes into your life. What about sharing some of your words of wisdom through your musical work?

Krishna: I hear their perspective. I definitely think adding music to poetry, making it lyrics to a song would push it emotionally one way or the other. There’s a music inherent to the poetry, just as there are words that may come into one’s mind from instrumental music. That’s why it’s so delicate. Adding another layer to either might be a great enhancement, but maybe not.

Krishna: Well I do sometimes write lyrics, and that’s something I’m thinking of exploring more on the next record just to see if it flows. But I’ve actually been working on ... thinking about the right timing for a book. That may be sooner than later. Mark: Do you enjoy that part of the process, the words part of it?

Mark: How do you define a “man of distinction”? Krishna: “Distinction“ is such a loaded word for me. I always think of James Bond or something. So I have to redefine it to even be palatable. I think what would make someone outstanding, particularly in the form

Krishna: It’s harder. The music to me is more broad and paints with the more metaphorical brush, whereas words are so specific. I think that’s more of a challenge.

east forest creating magic in the studio in southern utah 82


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

of masculinity, would be knowing how to tell the truth. How do you tell the truth to yourself? How do you tell the truth to the world? In partnership? In business? I think that’s a pathway to distinction. Mark: I know Ram Dass gave you your spiritual name Krishna, and I want to get to that next but first tell us about your other name, East Forest. Krishna: Oh, that’s easy. My legal last name is Oswalt. In German, Oz plus Vault translates to East Forest. I picked it up 10 years ago and slapped it on that first record I made because I thought, “Oh that’s a cool name.” And it stuck. And then Krishna. It was very important to be named by Ram Dass. We both [gesturing to his partner] got names at the same moment. What’s so cool about that is that I would give myself that name above any other name. And when I learned more about Krishna and her name, Radha, it’s like he saw it. He’s so giving and so loving and he looks at you and he’s like, “I see the soul. And you might not think you’re Krishna, but you’re Krishna.” And so now every time someone calls me Krishna, it’s a little wake up call to allow me to be bigger and better and tell the truth and be more loving. Mark: How about you, Radha [turning to Krishna’s partner]? Radha: It was a really powerful moment. I was in the room with them and he gave him the name Krishna. I knew who Krishna was. He didn’t and he actually was doubtful, like “Just Krishna?” And Ram Dass said, “Yes, just Krishna.” Then he looked at me and he said, “And you, you are Radha.” And then he slapped his thigh, and he started laughing. And I knew what that meant when he said that. Because Krishna and Radha are divine consorts, they’re beloveds, they’re partners. It was like a spiritual marriage in that moment when he said, “You’re a Krishna and you’re Radha.” It was huge. It is huge. Krishna: It was great. And then the next day, you know after Radha clues me in to the meanings, we were in Maui and Krishna and Radha were everywhere. We went in the shops and the stores, there would be a statue of Krishna and Radha chanting, or tapestries of Krishna and Radha, or pictures of Krishna and Radha. They were all over the place. Just like the universe throwing these signals, these spiritual symbols, back. Mark: So you, as a man of distinction like Ram Dass, are sharing universal truths as you know them with the world. Krishna: This is my hope. CW

eastforest.org Ten Laws | East Forest | TEDxBend eastforest.org/podcast/ 83

krishna and radha


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

84


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

becomingnobody.com 85


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Spiritual Keeper & Magic Guide — Juan deDios “Kucho“ BY: mark & kristine wilkerson

W

hen Juan de Dios “Kucho” guided six of us to the center of Machu Picchu, he asked us to do two things. First, he asked us to do it backwards. Second, he asked us to approach the first view of the most iconic ancient site on the planet…without looking. What?

an uncrowded experience if we tour in reverse,” said Kucho. But not looking when looking is what we came here to do? “Trust me,” Kucho said in his calm, knowing voice. “Wait to look up until I tell you. And then, like the ancients who built all this, you will feel the mountain gallop into your heart like a herd of wild horses.”

OK, the backwards part was a matter of practicality, “The crowds all go in the opposite way so we have

So we did. We waited. He was absolutely right. None of us will ever forget the moment he told us to look up from our boots. The moment Machu Picchu, the mountain not the Inca citadel, galloped into our hearts and souls. Quite simply, breath leaves you as the vision and the spirit fills you. This is one of the many reasons Juan de Dios “Kucho” is the Spiritual Keeper of Machu Picchu. The following is a deep dive into wisdom with Juan de Dios Garcia, “Kucho:” Q: Who are you and where do you come from? A: Where do I come from? I come from the stars! (Laughs) Well, this is a daily question I ask myself: “Who am I?” Also, I always ask myself: “What am I doing here?” But, in this third world about which I believe you are asking, I was born in Cusco Peru. I lived more than half of my life there. Later, I moved here to the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu at Aguas Caliente, and I’m still navigating this place. Q: What do you do? A: I am a medicine man, a spiritual practitioner, although I now prefer to be known as a magic guide. After my personal initiation when I was a young man, I have spent most of my life here in these mountains, in contact with these mountains of Machu Picchu. In a first stage

Our magic guide sharing machu picchu 86


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

87


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

juan de dios “kucho” - spiritual keeper overlooking machu picchu

88


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Balance is reached thanks to the state of awareness: A state of consciousness where each being, each person, can realize the real dimension one can reach. What does this mean? When you are aware of everything you do, when you have consciousness, you have a state of tranquility, of peace. That’s balance.

sacred place machu picchu inca citadel with huayna PICCHU mountain in background

89

Photos Credit: Eleazar Clara Alejo Nick Stark


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

it was partly out of subsistence, having a job, and partly because of the responsibility of having entered on this path. I called myself a spiritual guide. But after some time, I needed to identify myself in a different way. The mountain gave me a message to be not a spiritual guide, but a magic guide. And this gave me a strength, a sense of direction, a consistency, that’s much more stable, much more conscious.

The most important thing about this place is that it has a dynamic of change and constant transformation that the human senses don’t fully reach, can’t go beyond into that dimension. It seems we are navigating the third dimension, but beyond it there is more; the dimension of nature is like the dimension of the sky. Constantly changing and evolving, sometimes one doesn’t completely understand.

I try to first understand the nature of this place, to comprehend the dimension of this place. In this process I have been given a lot of opportunities, a lot of paths have opened, especially with the people who arrive here with their good intentions. People who come here from all over the world. And just like any of us, they try to understand a little more of all of this. Thanks to the messages I have received and receive every day from these mountains; thanks to the wisdom of this place; to the spirit and ancestors of this place, I am guided to help people to learn and understand the magic.

This place transforms you into a constant practitioner, to be a constant spiritual practitioner of the dimension of nature. And so when we speak of the dimension of nature it’s not just mountains and the elements, the plants, it also includes all that was left to us by our ancestors: their temples, their altars, all of these marvelous works of engineering and architecture. This all gives you a mission, a projection, to see these dimensions, this time that was in the past, and this time in the present. This is one way to be able to understand a little of the magic that this places gives you. 90


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Eleazar Clara Alejo

of course. So we have this transparency, this clarity that guides those who come in search of this medicine. We must all walk together because this position of shaman or curanderos or spiritual guide or guru, all this is history. In the present, the most important thing is the listener and the speaker. They must walk together.

I think that understanding a little of all this, it’s a responsibility in the face of humanity, with nature, in the face of the great problems we have on the planet, and the great responsibility each and every one of us must face. In our personal transcendence, the fruits are there for us on the path we make for ourself, that teaches us more and more. Before evolving, I think that man, in the personal and the collective, has to embark on a journey of personal re-volution, more than e-volution.

Q: How does one balance the divine masculine and divine feminine? A: In this dimension that we are talking about, there are these two aspects, divine aspects, this duality inside us, in our being. This search, this approach, is beyond duality: the Divine invites us to move past it.

Q: How do you share teachings with others? A: I think teachings are spontaneous. In the understanding I have, knowledge is for the intellectual planes, but I think in the field we must guide ourselves with wisdom, which is different, a different perception, a little further on. What I want to say is that no one owns truth, nobody owns wisdom. Wisdom comes spontaneously and lands as messages. The medicine, the magic, is full of knowledge and wisdom. And healing,

Very well: you have found the feminine, you have found the masculine - what do you do with balance? The most important is creativity. Once you find the essence of the perfect equilibrium of these two aspects, then you get creativity. And so I believe that the task is in finding balance, of balancing these aspects. It’s in the name, the 91


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

S H A R I N G TH E MA GI C W O R L D WID E

92


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Photos Credit: Eleazar Clara Alejo and Nick Stark

93


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

IN SACRED CEREMONY ABOVE CUSCO

sharing with the animals of machu picchu

94


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

Divine. This search for perfection (even though nothing is perfection), this search for divine balance invites us to go beyond. That is to enter other realms of awareness, even in one’s own consciousness; to create an opening, a doorway of awareness. So the essence is that it’s not about finding balance, but going beyond it.

A: Things happen when we as humans give ourselves space for reflection - we call these “retreats” or “dietas.” Well it was like this for me. The message came to me that I needed to retreat to the mountain. I was invited to go up the mountains to explore the message. A message that was already spoken, but that was refreshed that night, by the mountains, by the nature. This special night with a full moon, then rain. Nature was set on fire and I could feel it and smell it in the smoky air. I was guided to reflect, and like a decree it was made clear to me to make this School of Andean Spirituality. This was ratified because this message had landed years ago, but when I went up the mountain that special night it was ratified that this must be done.

Q: How does one balance these supposed opposites of masculine and feminine? A. They are not polarities, but complementary forces. It is a very Western thought, a very divided thought, to consider them polarizing. They are complementary. It’s like saying the earth and the sky. We are taught to see these as separate things. But they are integrated within us, it’s just one. Earth and sky, like masculine and feminine, are reciprocal but part of one whole. They complement one another.

The person receiving this ancient wisdom sets the conditions. It is born of them willingly. That’s it. Through will. When one receives through will, when one takes action, one does things with greater strength and with love. Like one might say “I’m going to do some volunteer work over there to help the indigenous of that place.” Do it with tenacity, with your will, voluntariado expecting nothing in return. This is the way of the Andean spirituality, to do things, things born free from our will. Giving and receiving the wisdom, the magic, voluntariado. This is what we propose to do here in this school, in this place.

Q: How does one get to balance? Balance is reached thanks to the state of awareness. A state of consciousness where each being, each person, can realize the real dimension they can reach. What does this mean? When you are aware of everything you do, when you have consciousness, you have a state of tranquility, of peace. That’s balance. Being in peace with oneself, with others, with everything, takes you to this goal of balance, tranquility, purity. The purity of simple things. How we see, how we speak, how we hear, how we move, how we unfold before others; this I believe is the maximum equilibrium we can rescue as humans. In the simple things. I think balance is attained not in the completion, but in the search through simple natural things.

Juan de Dios “Kucho” ~ magic indeed. CW

intiwasispiritualcenter.com

Q: What inspires you?

Special thank you to An Ka Amaru and Oona Chaplin for their assistance in the interview and translation.

A: Appreciating all this nature, the plants, the animals, the humans, these mountains. The greatest thing is to live inspired. Or the world becomes too mechanical. Inspiration comes when you begin to focus your awareness, your attention, in the things closest to you: perhaps a plant, in the flight of a bird. This can show you so much. Living with inspiration is the most marvelous thing in human life. A lot of us don’t realize this. We think by knowing a lot about a lot of things we are enriching our life, our being. But the truth is, the wisdom, the medicine, the magic is that just the flight of a little fly can inspire many things. The daily things that one does… one has to live life with inspiration, always opening to creativity.

The focus of the Andean School of Spirituality is wakening of the Ancestors Path of Wisdom. This is an experiential path, not led by a guru or spiritual leader, but by experiences of unmediated connection with the natural world so a living breathing wisdom may be received and implemented. The keys are based in life principles of nature that contribute to the harmonious way of life in the Sacred Valley as they have for millennia. For more information about curated tours working with Juan de Dios ‘Kucho’ and immersion in the Tawantinsuyo contact An Ka Amaru at anka333amaru@gmail.com heirloomculture.org

Q: I know you are working on creating your School of Andean Spirituality; how did the inspiration for the school come to you? 95


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

96


97


2019 fall/winter 2020

C WITHIN MAGAZINE

98


Photo Credit: Eleazar Clara Alejo

99


fall/winter TWENTY NINETEEn/twenty

MAGAZINE

Profile for CWithin

C Within Magazine 2019 Fall/Winter 2020  

Life Artistry. Deep Connection. C Within Magazine is a celebration of life; of all things art and artistry. It is a tool showing by example,...

C Within Magazine 2019 Fall/Winter 2020  

Life Artistry. Deep Connection. C Within Magazine is a celebration of life; of all things art and artistry. It is a tool showing by example,...

Profile for cwithin