Category Archives: Cortes Programs

Caroline Casey Interview: How Handmade Goods Change the World

casey_carolineby Karen Brown on Etsy Blog

For sixteen years, listeners of Caroline Casey’s Visionary Activistradio show have come to depend on this deep-voiced, raucously funny, profoundly reverent “weaver of context” for news and perspectives on social change, politics, and global culture. She has provided commentary for ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News, and NPR, and been featured in People magazine and the Washington Post, and is a featured speaker at this year’s Bioneers conference, the largest environmental conference in North America. We spoke about culture, beauty, sustainability, and Etsy.

Karen: Hi, Caroline.

Caroline: Greetings, Ally Karen!

Karen: When I was a guest on your show talking about handmade, I received so many calls and emails, even from other countries, that I thought it would be nice to continue the conversation here on Etsy.

Caroline: It was one of our most popular shows.

Karen: No, really?

Caroline: So popular. It was completely tangible and then got big and universal.

Karen: Well, great! So let’s continue… when we make something by hand, of course we are making a beautiful object, but what else could we say we are doing?

Caroline:  Well… we can say that the major task before us is restoring intimacy to the world, most especially our intimacy with the Earth. And all art is inherently intimate and collaborative, even when you think you’re working alone. For example, the needle meets the thread and then together they both meet the cloth. It’s a kind of intimacy. When you’re doing it consciously, it’s even more powerful. That’s Venus’s presence. Venus is all about art, beauty, love, and reverence for life.


Karen: This is reminds me of Natalie Chanin, when she talks about loving her thread. She says the fibers in sewing thread are held together with tension and torque, but all that tension is what makes thread tangle. So Natalie threads her needle and strokes her thread over and over before sewing – loving it. And while she loves it, she thinks about how beautiful the garment will be and how beautiful the wearer will look when she wears it and how good she will feel, and that it will be the most beautiful garment ever made. And in the process of getting “loved” the thread relaxes and won’t tangle anymore.

Caroline: Exactly. Everything in the world is literal and everything is metaphoric at the same time. You weave the blessing into the thing. Magic is a willingness to cooperate with everything – even tangled thread. When we cooperate with the universe we needn’t fear because “cooperators are standing by.”  And this is how magic and pragmatism are wedded.

Karen: For me, handmade also reminds me that we can accomplish a lot in tiny little steps, even one stitch at a time.

Caroline: You know the old saying: “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, life’s a cinch?” We might think, “Oh I can’t do this big thing, I can’t make real clothes with my own two hands,” or even, “Why vote, my vote doesn’t count,” but that’s just a trick of the reality police to render you non-participatory.


Karen: There are so many lessons in the practice of using your hands. And so many stories.

Caroline: Stories, yes. Handmade things will feed your ancient soul because everything has a story, the story of the maker and then the story of the person who receives the work. By making handmade things, we’re tapping a force that says we’re not destined to accept what fate has assigned us. We want to make things because it’s a way of changing our lives. The marketplace is not meant to be this deadening Walmart thing, but a vibrant cultural exchange, and I think Etsy is changing things as part of a cultural renaissance. In the Middle East, the top blessing, the best thing you can say to someone is, “May the divine bless your hands that have made such beauty.” It’s the impulse to create that invites that divine power in.

Karen: I was reading Anthony Bourdain – yes, chef Anthony Bourdain – and he said that cooking is both very creative and very repetitive and our culture often treats “creative” and “repetitive” as if they were opposites. But it seems to me that most forms of art have elements that are both creative and repetitive because the arts require such profound dedication, whether it’s the intricately knitted sweater, or the musical instrument that must be practiced every day, or all those loved stiches.

Caroline: Well you know, you’re talking about rhythm. Rhythm invites dedication and just like the repetition of weaving, it weaves us back into wholeness in the world. And there is freedom and safety in wholeness. A while back, some social scientists interviewed prisoners – muggers and robbers – and showed them video of people walking down the street. The prisoners told the scientists that anyone with an arhythmic walk would be vulnerable, but anyone with a strong rhythmic walk they would leave alone.  So handcrafts are an outward expression of inner wholeness and the rhythms that can sustain and protect us. Anything done rhythmically with dedication helps feed the heart. If we can find our own rhythm, we could heal our personal economy, and take part in healing the economy of the world.


Karen: And have fun while we do it?

Caroline: Do you think fun is optional?

Karen: Interesting, because on Etsy, sometimes an item becomes popular with the community just because it’s fun. It will become a favorite – almost a meme – because it is funny or witty or just insanely original.

Caroline: Humor and wit are like a kind of leadership. We see models of leadership like that in animals. For example, wolf culture is not based on dominance as was once thought. We know now that the alpha wolf is the charismatic one who invites everyone in the pack into creative play. And you can identify an alpha wolf within 10 days of birth because it is the cub in the litter with the lowest resting heart rate. The calmest, coolest wolf turns out to be the most charismatic, the most fun. It’s the opposite of road rage. This says, “No, thank you,” to models of leadership and influence based on authority and empire-building. So it’s not a surprise that the wittiest and coolest things on Etsy are loved by the community. They bring out the creative spirit. It’s the spirit of “Woof, woof, want to play?”

Karen: So it’s serious fun.

Caroline: As my dear friend David Grimes says, “If we’re not having fun, we’re just not serious enough.”

You have to meet Caroline Casey July 17-21, for Compassionate Trickster Training at Hollyhock.

Mother Jones meets Grist at Social Change Institute

by Chris Lane via Vancouver Observer

Steve Katz is the publisher of Mother Jones. Photo source: Steve Katz
Steve Katz is the publisher of Mother Jones. Photo source: Steve Katz

There’s no doubt that the world of journalism is changing rapidly. With a wealth of information available at the click of a mouse, the journalist is no longer the sole purveyor of knowledge. But that’s not to say we have no purpose, says Steve Katz, publisher of the American newsmagazine Mother Jones.

“There’s a lot of noise in the system. Part of the job of working journalists is to help people cut through the clutter,” he said, “and give the key information folks need to make up their own minds about what’s going on.”

This June, Katz will be coming to BC’s Cortes Island as a keynote speaker at Hollyhock’s Social Change Institute.

Katz and Dave Robarts of Grist will engage in a conversation with presenter Cara Pike about current affairs across the continent; the lessons we can learn from American conflicts around issues such as oil sands development, fracking, gun control and marriage equality; as well as the state of independent media in Canada and the US.

Mother Jones is an independent but widely read publication that focuses on investigative, political and social justice reporting. Katz cited their “longstanding history of looking at money and politics” as one of the centrepieces of their success.

Resource extraction, and the pipelines that send out our resources, will certainly be a topic of conversation.  Katz is quick to stress the importance of the ongoing debates. “This may be the opening chapter in a generational fight about climate policy and climate realism,” he told VO.


On independent media

Katz pointed to the importance of independent media outlets such as Mother Jones (and VO of course) in such debates.

“Our job is to report the parts of the story that other media outlets are unwilling to cover,“ he said.

He highlighted the importance of following stories closely over a long period of time to truly get at the brunt of the matter. Last year, Mother Jones got international attention when it broke the story of Mitt Romney criticizing the “47 per cent” of Americans who “pay no income tax,” and support President Barack Obama. But it wasn’t just a lucky break for Mother Jones.

“That story was the culmination of many, many years of patient building, organizational strategy, raising money, hiring great people, and giving them the space to stretch out and do their work,” said Katz.


On open communication

“It’s a great time to be a journalist,” he said. “It’s  a lousy time to get paid to do journalism.”  He is enthusiastic about the digital tools enabling anyone to “commit acts of journalism.”

“Keep the internet open and keep those tools available to people,” he said, stressing the importance of free communication in democracy.

Katz said he’s looking forward to free communication at the Social Change Institute, where he will get to share thoughts and hear ideas from the other guests.

“I’m hoping it will be a two-way conversation all the way through,” he said.


Looking forward to Hollyhock

The natural setting of Hollyhock provides a venue for deep thinking and discussion away from the pressures of day-to-day life.

“In our workdays we get so focussed on keeping on task, and the next crisis that needs to be handled,” said Katz, saying he’s looking forward to getting up to “a beautiful place that gives us a chance to reflect more broadly on the work,” in the company of like-minded thinkers.

The Social Change Institute event will take place June 5 to 9. In addition to Katz and Robarts, speakers will also include Nathan Cullen, house leader of the official opposition in Canada’s parliament, and Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, who deals with aboriginal land and rights issues.

Katz has been with Mother Jones since 2003 and worked with them to set up the Media Consortium, a network of independent and progressive media organizations across the United States. Previously, he worked with groups in environmental advocacy, non-profit arts and urban housing.

10 Reasons To Take Eric Maisel’s Deep Writing Workshop

By Tamara via Bean Up the Nose Art

1.  This is a sample of what you might see outside your classroom window at one of Eric Maisel’s Deep Writing Workshops.  Because he teaches them all over the place, in amazing venues.  This is Rome, in April.

Rome Roofs Bean Up The Nose Art

2.  Eric Maisel is a psychologist and awesome freakin’ creativity coach who walks his talk.  He’s written over 40 books.  Some are fiction, and a slew are about creativity, fear, productivity — everything you wrestle with as a writer.  In the Deep Writing workshops, you get the benefit of all he’s learned about writers, writing, and how to make ourselves write.  And finish projects.  And sell them.

3.  The workshops are five-days long, with classes running four hours a day.  The rest of the time, you’re on your own to do whatever you want in whatever cool place you’ve landed.   I’d never been to Rome in my life.  I was blown away walking the streets, eating gelato at least three times a day, visiting — for example — the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican Museums (which includes the Sistine Chapel), and St. Peter’s Basilica.  I walked to every single one of these places from my room.

4.  You work on whatever writing project you want, in whatever state it and you are in.  Some people are mid-way through big projects.  Some are finishing and editing.  Some, like me, are just starting.  I’ve had a mystery set in ancient Rome rambling in my brain for three years.  I made notes and did research.  I never started writing it.  The first session of the first morning of the first day of the Deep Writing workshop, I started at Page 1.  And kept on going.  It was a miracle.

5.  There are no miracles.  There are no magic bullets.  You don’t wait for “The Muse” or “Inspiration” to hit you on the head and write your book for you.  Instead, you sit your ass down on your chair on a regular, committed basis the first thing in the morning, and you write.  You “commit 100%, provisionally,” to the piece that you’re working on, and see where it goes that day.  You do the process.  This is the nuts-and-bolts of writing life that Eric teaches you — in the five days you sit in the class, doing this over and over.

6.  You don’t have to — and don’t ever, in the workshop — show your writing to anyone.  This is not a sharing process, a reviewing process, a writers-exchanging-writing-for-feedback process.  No.  This is a sit-your-ass-in-the-chair-and-keep-writing process.

7.  Each day’s class has four writing sessions of various lengths, which are interspersed with brief, pithy, awesome talks by Eric about the creative process, why writing is hard and we resist it, and how we can commit to it and make it “easier” to do.  And also about nuts and bolts of things like writing a book proposal.  And then, there are quick breaks to run out and have an espresso.  And maybe some cannoli.  Or gelato.  Or all three.

8.  Your classmates are excellent, kind, smart, committed folks in all stages of the writing and publishing process.  Many have published very cool fiction through major publishing houses.  They come from all over the world.  Many have come to the workshops before.  Because the workshops work.

9.  The workshops work.  Writing four times a day on your piece . . . beginning each with Eric saying, “Okay, let’s write for ___ minutes” . . . ingrains the habit of just starting and keeping going.  And doing that five days in a row makes that habit stronger.  And at the end of the week, you’ve also got a big enough part of your work done that you’ve fallen in love with it and are committed to continue.  And with the habit pattern already starting, you do it.  I have written 90 minutes every Monday through Thursday morning since the class ended.  This means I wake up and start at 5:30 every morning.  And I hate waking up early.  But I LOVE how it feels every day at 7:00 a.m., when I have 500 more words done on the novel, and I have just spent that time in my characters’ worlds.

10.  Eric teaches the Deep Writing workshops all over the place . . . and just announced that he’ll be doing his first in San Francisco at the end of October.  So, especially if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and therefore aren’t paying for travel and lodging, you can get an ass-kicking workshop led by a great coach that will jumpstart your writing for a very reasonable price.  Click here for more details.

(Okay, here’s an 11.  Because if you really are a writer, you’re going to feel way, way, way, way, way worse about yourself NOT WRITING THAT BOOK than you will ever feel having to wake up early over and over again to do it.  You need to do it.  And you need to give yourself the habits and tools that will get you doing it.  DO.  IT.)

Clearly, I think Eric rocks.  I’ve probably posted more often on Beans’ blog in the past three years about him than any other non-family member.  I’ve worked with him in individual coaching sessions, taken his on-line classes through, read many of his books, and now have taken this in-person workshop with him.  I’ve never been disappointed, in any venue.  Exactly the opposite.  I always find exactly what I need — and very quickly and efficiently — working with Eric.  I’m hoping you’ll give yourself the same opportunity.

See for yourself August 9-14 at Deep Writing with Eric Maisel on Cortes Island.

Playing for Keeps

by Maria Sirois

We can right now, in this moment step into a day, step into this day, this time, this life, as if it matters.


Maria_Sirois_featureMaria Sirois, PhD, leads workshops across the continent and has worked in the intersection of psychology, spirituality and mind/body medicine for more than 20 years. She is the author of Every Day

Join Maria for Flourishing No Matter What, at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, July 31 – Aug 4, 2013.



From Our Kitchen ~ Apple Banana Puff Pancake

By Rebeka Carpenter

 Apple Banana Puff Pancake Recipe


I have served this dish previously with apples, and numerous times in Hawaii with the wonderful Hawaiian apple banana and also the larger Williams bananas, which we are more familiar with in N. America.

This should make one Puff Pancake. I think you could easily use most fruits, except citrus. And berries might bleed too much and look gross. Please know there are many recipes out and about for this dish, so do have fun and experiment. Makes a cozy winter dessert, too!

Serves 6-8

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 apples peeled and sliced (I substitute copious amounts of banana-perhaps 2 of the large mainland Williams 4-6 of the smaller apple bananas-be generous)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sifted icing sugar for garnish before serving

Melt butter in a 9-10 in heavy ovenproof skillet. Transfer 2 tbsp to a blender or food processor. I use a blender and also often nuke the butter for ease of measuring for my needs.

Add banana slices to skillet with melted butter and brown sugar and cook for 10 min., or until  fruit is tender, but not mushy.  I actually think I use less brown sugar and all is tasty.

Meanwhile, add eggs, granulated sugar, milk, flour and cinnamon to the blender and mix until smooth.  I think I also use more cinnamon-like a full teaspoon.

Pour over fruit in skillet of pie dish. Now, if you can make all this in the skillet-heavy cast-iron is great or you can also use a pie dish/pan like you saw me do.  I also sprayed the pie dish with oil and I felt it helped from sticking too much.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until browned and puffed. We also cooked fine in a lower temperature oven, maybe not as puffed and allows for making more and stretching the time out to feed a gang.

Good served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and berry compote or maple syrup.  Jam would be good too, aka lilikoi!  One can easily multiple the recipe.  


Cook with our cookbook authors, Moreka Jolar and Heidi Scheifley, Oct 18-23, on Cortes Island. Click here for info. And, find out more about what Moreka and Heidi are up to by checking out their blog.

Join the founder of Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamets, for Mushrooms: Wild & Mysterious at Hollyhock, Oct 23-27.