Raised in the foothills of Northern California, I grew up with dirt under my fingernails and scrapes on my knees. I loved to climb anything that I could grip—trees, rocks, animals, and structures that stood in the queue of decay. The results weren’t always pretty, but I found a sense of rush as I moved, clutching whatever surface would accept my hand. The moment of reaching my heights, of looking down to see that I had doubled, tripled, everything that I had been; that was what filled my lungs, that was what fueled my soul.
Not much has changed since then, and although you might not see me covered in sap every day, this same sense of adventure is what continues to drive me and push me to explore. This need to double, triple, and stretch is what led me to Experience Institute.
I first learned about Ei two years ago, and although I did not quite understand it, I could never shake the possibilities that existed within its framework. The thought of designing my education, learning from experience, and working on human-centered projects made me wonder how I could leap and what impact I might have if I only stepped outside of comfort.
I have spent much of my life shifting locations and focuses due to an underlying terror of becoming stagnant and a knowledge that I could never dedicate my life to a profit-driven job on the ground. I have always had a need to reach beyond a traditional definition of success and make my nest in the unconventional. Ei is providing these opportunities and is teaching me to move with purpose rather than fear. The notion of learning has been locked inside classrooms for far too long, and although I have learned within walls, it is time for me to actively participate in life-long learning on the outside.
For me, the next twelve months symbolize living with intention and extending all that I have through passion. I chose Ei because it provides a platform of transformation within the realm of design, and strips us from ease so that we may grow beyond our current state. The beauty of this program is that none of us have any idea where it will lead, but we are certain that change is not only inevitable but integral.
My hope for this year is to strengthen my written and visual communication skills through the art of storytelling and showcase the common thread that ties us to each other. As John Steinbeck represented the voices of everyday people and connected individuals to their environments, I am also striving speak up for the hidden, the dusty, and the ones labeled “ordinary.” If I am sure of anything, it is that every one of us has a story worth telling, and that these tales are what will have the greatest resonance of creativity, culture, and empathy. I am here to expand my thinking to solve more complex issues; to find a home in risk; to gain new eyes; and to listen, soak up, and retain all that I can so that I might establish a direct connection with the individuals that uphold the culture within communities. I believe that through human connection powerful change is possible, and that my path to meaningful work is through the realm of communication.
So, as cliché as it sounds, this year is about taking hold of my child-like wonder, stepping out in unabashed curiosity, and climbing without fear of falling.