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Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Adventures

Everyone is back from the summer, with lots of cool tales to tell. So many adventures to hear of it is stunning. Prescott College students really have a way about them, these are just some of the tidbits I’ve heard:

Spear fishing off the coast of California. Assisting in a World Leadership conference in Japan. An epic mother-son trip through Peru. Working an all boys social justice development camp in Vermont. Tropical studies in Costa Rica. Building a Permaculture non-profit in Dallas. Managing a 200 acre local farm. Learning survival skills and sacred geometry in the Superstition Mountains. Leading lots of kids on backpacking trips in Minnesota up by the boundary waters. Making a film that showed at a cool film festival. Going on a tour with a band up the west coast. Falling in love in the forest. Teaching at a surf camp. Developing an independent theater company. Hitchhiking all over the country. 

For myself, I spent most of my summer in Prescott… running in the woods, dancing and making music with friends, soaking up the beautiful static in the air just before a monsoon rain comes through. Centering, transforming. As everyone returns and settles back in to the new semester, I am seeing the changes in people, the growth. How striking to see my peers becoming wiser and expanding their lives through time, constantly studying and learning even when school isn’t in session. 

As we all greet each other again, one saying is fresh on everyone’s lips, “It feels so good to be back.” - Brittany Davis

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beloved

I was honored to experience and perform at the Beloved festival in southern Oregon recently. The festival was amazing, routed around world music and consciousness elevation. There were musicians and speakers from all over the world, all coming together through the power of expression and the acknowledgement of the need for some powerful change in our world. One speaker from India spoke to the idea of becoming filled…like a cup, but also becoming fulfilled. Then, leaving and spreading that fulfillment to others, filling them up as well. The bigger questions about what would truly bring global happiness were stark on everyone’s lips, and combined with the joy of shaking one’s hips the crowds were indeed inspired.

One fantastic thing I experienced being there was speaking about Prescott College and the values that the school holds that parallel the values of the people at the festival. Being a responsible global citizen in connection to the environment and one another was something many people were surprised to hear of in a college, what with the many colleges that support educational programs that train young people to continue to use and abuse our lands, our cultures, and each other. People were stunned to hear of the different training I had received through Prescott College about permaculture, environmental and cultural activism work and even the basic freedom of self-directed learning. I met many who wanted to network through the school to continue to inspire young students, people who had lived and learned their whole lives and come back to basic principles of support and inspiration that Prescott College upholds. One of the main messages I received: There is more and more need for the kind of education one gets from Prescott College, and the need is full to over-brimming. So in the spirit of carrying on a good thing, let us hope that more colleges take after the model of Prescott College, for this is what the world’s responsible and beloved global citizens are hoping for. - Brittany Davis


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Teachers You Find

Fantastic teachers abound at Prescott College, so many wonderfully intelligent and creative people who are at the tops of their fields. What’s more, though, is the potential for real friendship with the teachers at this school. The open minded and supportive guidance of these teachers constantly extends outside of the classroom, and is one of the reasons my life has improved in an exponential way.

One of my best friends and the most amazing mentor who has ever come into my life is a teacher who I met through Prescott College, Neil Pinholster. I met Neil during the massage therapy program I did with the Arizona School of Integrative Studies, at that time partnered with the college. He teaches Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, an innovative type of bodywork that treats a person holistically, treating someone within the principles of somatic psychology. Somatic psychology acknowledges and works with the importance of the mind-body relationship, and works to release trauma stored in both the body and the mind. I was soon to find that he wasn’t just an amazing teacher, but an all around awesome man who has been an internationally known stone carver, well versed musician(friends with the Grateful Dead and many others), and world explorer who has studied with medicine men and women all over the world. That’s just the beginning, too, of the awesome amount of wonderful things Neil has been involved in.

When Neil asked me to go on a hike with him for the first time, I was excited but also had certain expectations, what with him being 73 years old. Let me tell you, he hiked me into the ground. Neil is a bear of a man who is in better shape than most 30 year olds I know, and he hiked with the same gusto I did. His vitality and passion for life was beyond inspiring and has continued to keep me in awe. From the beginning his kind wisdom and clever jokes have constantly kept me laughing in one moment and in stunned silence the next. I became his apprentice soon after I met him, and have been for the past three years. 


His wonderful wife, Alexa, and he have become like family to me. They have opened me up to a world of elders who are incredibly cool, all very accomplished artisans and/or leaders in the community. This year, I was honored to take over Neil’s practice at the Prescott Center for the Healing Arts, where I own my own business practicing Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. It has changed my life in ways I can’t even describe to be a part of people’s healing processes. The inspiration never ends, and I would not be where I am now without Neil, one of the most amazing friends and teachers I have ever known. - Brittany Davis



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spotlight On A Tree

There is a unique tree in the landscape around Prescott that is beautiful to behold. With bark shaped like alligator skin, the Alligator Juniper, or Juniperus deppeana, is really something to see. The Prescott National Forest houses the largest in the world, some being said to be over a thousand years old. These trees give such grace to the landscape, with limbs that seem to have been shaped by liquid fire and then half frozen. At certain times of year with the rain, the smell of the juniper is so wonderful, with the bright blue berries plumping up and releasing a scent that really gets the olfactory going.

 This tree is more than just a pretty thing to see, however, there is much respect held for the growth and prosperity of them in our forests. Even in classes through Prescott College, teachers will speak of very old and large junipers as Grandmothers or Grandfathers, adopting age old practices of honoring trees just like the natives who lived on this land for so long. When one considers this honoring, it's pretty amazing to realize how much connection the teachers and students hold for the land in which they live, and it is inspiring to recognize this in the health and histories of every culture. 

"From the earliest human writings and myths, trees have represented the power and mystery of nature. Large, ancient trees seemed immortal, demanding respect and reverence. They could bare huge crops of seed and grow forests full of their own offspring. When struck by lightning or set aflame, trees, even in death, were creatures of worship, awe, and fear - the homes of gods.
Every part of the globe has a myth about this "godliness." From the oak in central Europe, ash in Scandinavia, and Shorea in India, trees were revered. Many early peoples thought that spirits of their ancestors lived in trees. They cultivated and protected holy trees and would beg forgiveness from a tree if it was cut. Some believed that souls of unborn babies lived in trees until birth. In Korea, spirits of women who died in childbirth were thought to live in trees. In Indonesia, vertical slices cut into a fig tree by two gods created man, while horizontal slices created woman. In New Guinea, man was considered a tree that moved! Junipers were planted as protection from thieves and witches..."-Kim D. Coder, professor of Ecology, University of Georgia

There are lots of ways trees have been tied to life and death too. Trees have been known to be planted for births, marriages, and funerals. Even in wars in ancient times, holy forests were often burned over holy temples. Even weapons were made from certain trees in the hope that they would take on certain strengths of a tree. Such a sad thing, but speaking to the power that these forests represent.

In recent times through my studies at Prescott College I was given a book that changed me, called The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono. This is a tale based on a true story of one man whose reforesting efforts in the Alps in the first half of the 20th century brought back an ecosystem. The land had been ravaged from mining, and mostly abandoned. A hermit, however, stayed and had a practice of planting one hundred seeds a day. From this disparaged land the trees took root and within only his lifetime the land had healed itself, water had come back to create fertile soil, and it was once more a paradise. This story is especially interesting because of what many leading scientists are saying today: Even in the face of all the harm humans have caused to the land around them, with mass reforesting efforts the effects of climate change and earth destruction could be turned around in only 100 years. Only 100 years! Yet, if we continue the way we have been, this time frame will grow and grow, causing mass suffering worldwide. Who knows if only one hundred years is needed, but taking example from this story of the man in the Alps, who is to say we shouldn't try?
Within forests and trees there is something powerful, for the health of the land and the health of the people who live in it. So with this idea, and with my community, I honor this unique tree that dwells in our surrounding national forest. - Brittany Davis