About Melissa . . . Loving nature in every direction
I am often asked where my love of nature came from; I know there was nothing unusual about my childhood: children are born in love with nature. I waited all year for those two weeks at YMCA Camp Lakewood in Potosi, MO, starting in 3rd grade. Camp had everything: nature, humans, and God, or the questions there of—we campers wondered why the world couldn't be more like camp. But, I didn't give up or set aside my love of nature to become an adult; I became an adult with my love for nature intact. There's one story, though, that defined what I would do with that love for the rest of my life.
We staff welcomed the buses of new campers. A girl of twelve catches my eye as she shoots off the bus toward me. Her clothes in a pillowcase, I guess that she's from a program supporting lower income 7campers. With her hand in front of her mouth, she whispers in my ear.
It's noisy, so I point her toward the bathroom, thinking she said she has to pee. She shakes her head, “No, I've never touched a tree!” A lightening bolt goes through me. I take her shoulders as we walk unceremoniously over to an oak. She hesitates, so I reach out to the rough bark. She touches it and bursts into smiles. Her counselor comes to find her and I say that she's never seen a tree. The girl corrects me: she could see trees from her grandma's apartment, but she'd never touched one.
For years, I focused on the injustice this story points out. I had understood instantly the basic right of all humans to have a direct relationship with nature—the other great aspect of life. And this girl did, too. But, now I know the joy of the story—this girl's longing to have that experience! She gave me the key: the bond with nature is as basic as the bond of love. She gave me a gift to share for a lifetime.
From that moment, I was determined to find the best way to bring and keep people and nature together. There had to be better ways for schools to teach and people to learn—what if school's taught the way people learned? (I read books like Neill's Summerhill starting in 6th grade.) Bringing school and camp together to immerse people in nature turns out to be an unequaled approach to both.
Doing Earth Business As . . .
Presently, I'm an earth educator and advocate, my outer nature, and a nature artist and author, my inner nature. I, like many of us, understand that this is the time to take humanity further through the transition toward a loving and accountable relationship with nature and each other. And to cheer and inspire ourselves along the way. My business brings nature and people together in ways that work, because together is the only way it will.
- As an Earth Educator, I offer a way for humans to bond with nature and each other as Earth Citizens through our global tale, The Great Universe Story Pageant, as well as nature-immersion diversions (games!) to regain and retain a light heart through Grassy Games & Hikes.
- As an Earth Advocate, I guide advocacy projects through to imaginative completion, using a natural systems approach. One current project, “Bee is for Pollinators! not pesticides” presents the bees' and my unusual story with pesticides, displaying my pollinator weavings. If you have an earth advocacy project that needs a special touch, or an interest in pollinators, I'm your gal.
- As a Nature Artist, I weave tapestries that highlight our interwoven relationship with nature, available for presentation/display or through acquisition and commission to individuals and organizations. I'm also involved with public art. Please see the Present Weaving Portfolio and Past Weaving Portfolio.
- As a Nature Author, I've documented projects, created curriculum, published research, and written advocacy pieces for nonprofit newsletters. Presently, a larger work of nonfiction is ready for publication.
My name, Melissa, means “honeybee” in Greek, but, I go by “Missy.” Interesting that my present personal work is all pollinator-focused! I live with family and friends in the Tualatin River watershed of beautiful, green Portland, OR. But, I lived for years in Northern New Mexico, so photos from each are well-represented on this site. The collages are a gift offering.
Please Contact Me for more information about my business. Thank you.
It's clear how my direction as an earth educator and advocate stems from the story of the girl and the tree. Many of us love and work (and stand like trees) with the Earth and her people. As an educator, I create immersion experiences for the “love” part. I advocate through projects that impact people toward positive action for the earth and a livable world. That's the “stand and fight” part. Here's what I've learned:
- Nature is in every direction forever—the Earth is not fragile. This quote of insight and delight is the foundation of my approach. A direct experience of nature is primary; there are no substitutes. We place ourselves back into the natural world to understand, care, and act.
- Nature is its own curriculum made to grow us, an elevated experience. Nature is an intentional community of which we are a part. All education is earth education; all communities are intentional communities. Our educational and other systems run best when understood this way.
- Nature is necessary for people engaged in environmental/social justice work. In order to move through despair to inspiration and sustain a long-term vision, we offer each other healing, self-care, retreat, ceremony, relaxation, time in nature, play, art and craft, listening, empathy, witness, and advocacy.
While there's value in sharing my approach, you won't hear about it when we're outside letting loose in nature!
Career, Volunteer, Education
- THPRD, Pollinator Survey Monitor, park/greenway wildflower installations
- METRO, Restoration Education, Portland, OR. Pollination Celebration, Eco-Blitz
- UUCCWC, Co-Director, Interdependence Day Family Camps, Hillsboro, OR
- Swift Watch, Peregrine Watch, Portland Audubon, Portland, OR
- Wildlife Rehabilitation, The Wildlife Center, Espanola, NM
- Faculty, Audubon Expedition Institute, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
—Northern Rockies/Great Plains, Southwest Buses; Sustainable Community, ME
- PRISM Institute: Astronomy Immersion, Los Alamos Nat'l. Lab/UNM-LA, NM
- Co-Founder/Director, Our Children's Earth Camps, El Porvenir, NM
- Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars, CO. Guide for Dolores LaChappelle
- Santa Fe Mountain Center, NM. Wilderness Therapy Specialist/Guide
- Santa Fe Public Schools, NM. Vocational Technical High School: Horticulture
- El Morro National Monument, Ramah, NM. NPS Ranger
- Ghost Ranch Conference Center, Abiquiu, NM
—Manager, High Desert Research Farm
- Portland Public Schools, OR. Outdoor School: Van Matre's Sunship Earth
- Como Park Conservatory, St Paul, MN
- Environmental Learning Center (now Wolf Ridge), Duluth, MN
- YMCW Camp Lakewood, Potosi, MO
- Doctor of Earth Relations, New Mexico Theological Seminary, Santa Fe, NM
—Interfaith degree-granting nonprofit Board
- Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars, Denver, CO. Rick Medrick's school
- MA, Transformational Education/Counseling, Southwest College, Santa Fe, NM
- BA, Earth Education, Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis, MN