Check out this video by former fellow, River Bourne:
Jimi attended the 2016 session of the Odyssey Fellowship Program at the Eco-Institute. Jimi was born in Taipei, Taiwan and spent his childhood in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He brings his brilliant mind, philosophical logic, kind heart, creative energy, and desire to serve.
"As I was meditating one evening, a great wave of heartfelt inspiration came over me as a realization of a raw, crystal-clear truth: I could feel so fulfilled just by having a garden. Planting a seed, nurturing it, caring for it, watching it grow... Dedicating my time to serve life on this planet is what I was born to do. I feel like the [Odyssey Fellowship] really speaks to this urge.
Right now I'm in the middle of a bridge between two different worldviews: the dominant perspective of separation and objectivity, and a new perspective of interconnectedness and spirit.
I often feel despair for the planet. Every time I hear of something horrible happening, a mass shooting, a forest fire, a nuclear meltdown, poverty, depletion of wetlands, species extinction, an infinity of beauty being forever lost, a part of me feels like it is dying too. Hearing about an oil spill seems to directly pain my heart, and I long for a better world. One source of optimism in my life is the works of my father, Charles Eisenstein. His books really bring to me some perspective on how the world can and will change.
There is a certain state of mind I believe the [Odyssey Fellowship] would perfectly accompany. If you readily reject, or perhaps wish to readily reject the values of the dominant culture, but have no idea how to do so, this program is for you. If you are in search of the path to true wholeness and happiness, but no paths presented to you seem to be in that direction, this program is for you. Most [of all], if you feel like there is something deeply wrong with the way the world is run but don’t know how deeply wrong it is, or how to do anything about it, this program is for you."
Jamila, whose parents are German and Kenyan, traveled to the United States from Denmark specifically for the Odyssey Fellowship Program. She brings a global perspective, tender heart, and clear thinking, which have been great gifts to us all.
“I attended the idealistic international high school United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, which aims to unite people from all over the world no matter financial or social position and through this create a peaceful and sustainable future. Having come from a progressive country and a progressive family in which caring for the earth had always been considered important, I was shocked to discover how much ignorance and lack of awareness there was about matters of treating our beautiful planet right. This was until a friend from war-torn Lebanon pointed out to me that she viewed ‘sustainable living’ as a privilege second to basic survival and health. However, spending the next years travelling through the middle east and working in areas of urgent need of development in Tanzania convinced me that sustainable living should not be a privilege following all other basic human rights. Rather, a global reconnection with the earth is what can allow for these important changes to happen, and it is my wish to fight for global development in a way that moves away from industrial capitalism and towards a united, loving earth.
The program offers a chance to be completely surrounded and in tune with nature – the space I believe to be the most inspiring and therapeutic of all spaces. With my hope to [explore] sustainability and development studies, it is only natural that I would be so attracted to a program such as this one, which combines nature and a striving for peace.
I am different in that I allow emotions to fill me now, instead of feeling the need to push them down and away… I have learned that matters of the heart are not only acceptable, they are what guides and lead us through the world. This is a program for anyone who feels inspired to fight for a greener, more caring, more loving world.”
Will grew up locally in the Piedmont of NC. He brings the gifts of deep sensitivity, enthusiastic participation, hard work, and photography/videography.
“After living a fairly conventional and traditional lifestyle for the first 27 years of my life, I found myself feeling unfulfilled, frustrated, and somewhat confused about my life’s direction. I have everything I could possibly need and want in a material sense and I’ve found that... it has not made my life any more purposeful or progressive. After a lot of deep thinking, internal analysis and honest, constructive self-criticism, I decided to make some changes and literally be the change I want to see in the world.
I feel this opportunity is a unique one that [teaches] the skills and knowledge that I need to continue practicing intentional, efficient living and therefore lead a more ecologically responsible lifestyle. Everyone can benefit from having a therapeutic and educational experience like this. This space allows for rehabilitation of the soul, renewed connection with one’s self, nature and the universe."
Taylor Westbrook was born and raised in Pittsburg, PA, but he has traveled the world extensively, learning diverse cooking methods and techniques. His passion for sustainable agriculture combined with his deep love of the culinary arts fuel his vision of the future: to create a world in which our impact on our communities, our environment, and ourselves is positive instead of negative--by creating spaces that foster question the status quo and feel safety to ask for help and hold one another to grow through our suffering. Through his calm and grounding demeanor, he inspires others to be more open, try new things, and listen deeply to those around them.
Flora, one of the youngest Fellows we’ve had at 17 years of age, came to us from the UK, where she had previous experience working on a sustainable living farm, Embercombe. She participates as a Council Chief on the Embercombe Council, holding the Young Adult seat, which is one of 16 representing different parts of community, based on an ancient American Indian structure, The Circle of Law. At the heart of this meeting they place the Children’s Fire as a reminder to bring awareness to the consequences of our decisions. Flora brings the gifts of purity, playfulness, innocence, and wisdom.
“I listen to our Earth, the planet which nourishes us and gives us life. I listen to its beauty and pain alike. I listen and I hear a call. A beautiful call of help. I hear our destruction and our hurting and I feel much grief. I hear the beauty, vulnerability and courage. I hear our world separated, and artificially glued back together. I hear how lost we feel. I hear the hatred we feel. I hear the pain we feel. And I hear that we are where we need to be, we are enough right here, right now. I too am enough, as is each and every other being alive. I remember that truly we are never separate and I feel the walls of this illusion are breaking. I see the beauty and hear the love. I hear the cries for peace and the compassion. I hear it all and I see that we are growing. I see that we are remembering and I see that we are healing. And I remember to trust in us.
I have learned of letting go. I have [identified] the stories I tell myself and live by that no longer serve me. I had this revelation throughout my fellowship that I may let go of projection and story, my ego clinging on and stepping forward into a place of centered presence. A sense of trusting has crept in, and with that has followed a great peace, a feeling of equanimity, groundedness and centeredness, allowing the gravity of love to surround and support me. [The Eco-Institute] is the place to come if you need time and space, warm hearts, and wisdom. A place to be nurtured, loved, and accepted; a place to be held and heard.”
Brenna, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, threw herself across the continent to the east coast in search of many things. She brings the gifts of perceptivity, strong intuition, radical honesty, and gut wrenching laughter.
"I see a new era beginning in response to an overly industrialized world. We’re creating more problems than we’re solving by not approaching life with the right understanding. And people are waking up and realizing there is a whole lot they can do about it. We must be honest about our present crisis and make wise decisions, acting from a deep place of knowing.
This society we have created stifles the magic and intuition of childhood and shoves us into adolescence, where the majority of us stay for a lifetime. If you want to come of age, grow into full adulthood, and someday true elderhood, this is a good place to start. I don’t know how yet I’m going to be part of healing our world, but I’m beginning to feel guided by an inner force I was not connected to before. It seems obvious that the first step is to put yourself out there, immerse yourself in what you feel is calling you, surround yourself with other seekers and doers. Remove the negativity and distance yourself from the naysayers. Once you have gained strength, developed yourself, and started your momentum you can face the same negativity with calm loving confidence and know who you are and what you intend to do- or allow- for this world, both of which of course are ever changing."
Shane grew up in Kentucky and graduated from John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School in 2010 and served as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant until 2013. He was stationed in Germany and served multiple tours to Afghanistan. Shane brings the gifts of having witnessed the harsh realities of war and humanity’s dark side, which are balanced by the gifts of dedicated spiritual inquiry and healing touch.
“This is a place that is filling with people that have compassion and an ability to understand and grow. I take strength in seeing the care and support that is present in places like [the Eco-Institute]. More than that I find support in knowing that everything changes. When given a long enough timeline, the law of entropy doesn’t hold true, this universe is moving, changing and growing. The oak forest doesn’t just rot and disappear. A seed can become a forest. May it be so with humanity."