We are living in interesting and powerful times. Our day-to day-lives are turned upside down by a pandemic. We are reminded, once again, that the institutionalized racism in this country turns the lives of black people, indigenous people, and people of color upside down on a daily basis. We are finally recognizing that as white people we are complicit unless examine our white privilege and ask, “What can I do to dismantle the systems of oppression that have a strangle hold on our world?” (See our post on the FOTE Facebook page for resources on how to do this.)
Truly it is a time to stop, listen, and reflect. There are many things in our world that are unsustainable, not serving our human family, nor the planet on which we live. Changing these systems, the values that underlie them, and our own thinking takes awareness of what is happening, acceptance that we each have a role to play, and dedicated action to “be the change we want to see.”
Years ago a mentor of mine said, “Sometimes things have to fall apart in order for new things to emerge.” I am watching things fall apart in the larger world around me, and in my smaller, more personal, world as well. I knew the decision we made several weeks ago to cancel summer camps also meant closing Feet On The Earth, and I knew it was the best decision we could make under the circumstances.
As a small organization still recovering from a complete shut down of operations four years ago, we do not have the financial reserves to continue forward without revenue from running programs. The reality is that it is time to let Feet On The Earth go and allow something new to emerge.
I feel sad and at the same time I feel grateful. When I think back over the years, I see hundreds of smiling faces, hear laughter and voices raised in song, smell campfire smoke, and feel our hands holding each other’s as we stand in a circle sharing gratitude. I am grateful for all the ways Feet On The Earth has served the children and families in this community.
I am grateful for each day we had together, for all the parents who entrusted their precious children into our care, and for the children themselves – for their curiosity, their delight in getting dirty and sneaking around with charcoal encrusted faces, their passion to learn, their care for their friends, and their love of nature.
I am grateful for all the mentors and interns who guided the children. They gave of themselves fully, completely, and with great love. They brought their passion for nature, for making fire, for tracking, for songs. They played all out with the children, filled them with love, and supported one another with deep caring. They are the most amazing people I have ever worked with.
I am grateful for the elders and board members who stepped in to help guide Feet On The Earth. They navigated the ups and downs of stewarding a small start-up with a big vision through many cycles, challenges and changes, all while listening open heartedly to the needs of staff and parents. Our elders shared their wisdom, told us amazing stories, and helped everyone learn that as much as we need elders to guide and watch over us, our elders need us to make a place of welcome for them in our community.
I am grateful for our friends and colleagues in our local community – Sage Hamilton programs, Cottonwood Institute, Women’s Wilderness, Thorne Nature Experience, The Kiva Center, Laughing Coyote Project, The Living Arts School, and Sunflower Farms – who shared resources, guidance, and mentoring with us, and who share our vision to raise young people who feel deeply connected with nature, and who are ready to meet life’s challenges and be of service in the world. I am grateful for the global community of 8 Shields Cultural Mentoring programs and practitioners that Feet On The Earth has been part of all these years.
Thank you everyone who has been part of Feet On The Earth for all that FOTE has been and all that will remain in our hearts.
As I grieve leaving behind a beloved part of my life, I carry a bundle of gratitude for all the gifts Feet On The Earth has given me: thousands of incredible moments sharing nature with children and adults; powerful lessons; a place to plant seeds of a vision; and the support to grow those seeds into an organization that touched the lives of hundreds of children and adults in a positive way.
With part of my life falling away, I ask the same question I asked when I started Feet On The Earth, “How I can use my gifts, passion and experience to be of service in the world?” The answer continues to be the same: by helping teen and preteen girls navigate the transition from girlhood to young womanhood through connection with nature, themselves, and a community of positive mentors and role models.
I am exploring new avenues for doing this work that fit with the changing times, my changing life stage, and the wisdom I’ve gained through my years of service with Feet On The Earth. I am shifting my focus to helping moms have the skills, tools, and resources to build closer relationships with their daughters, boost their daughter’s confidence, and honor her transition into womanhood with meaningful ceremony and community connections.
Even though Feet On The Earth is closing, my heart remains with this community. We will keep the FOTE Facebook page up as a place for people to share remembrances and stay connected. Please visit, share your favorite memories, and continue creating deeper connections with nature, yourself, and within our human family.
I look forward to connecting with you in person, in nature, and in community again soon.
Thank you for your support.
Founder & Director
photo by Kirsten Boyer Photography