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Faculty and Instructor Profiles

Cynthia Hughes and John Crockett (Coracle)
Cynthia Hughes, Celtic harp; and John Crockett, cello and Irish low whistles; are musicians and naturalists from Westminster, Vermont who bring their love of the Earth into their music to celebrate the interconnectedness of all life. Cynthia is an educator, storyteller, and poet who has taught in the public schools and in environmental education for thirty years. In her work as a public school librarian she brings a sense of wonder and discovery into her lessons, encouraging her students to develop a deep connection to the natural world. Cynthia was one of the founding board members of the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center in Brattleboro, VT. She has created many land-based theatrical presentations and musical arts events as well as ritual work for women?s groups based in nature. John has studied the vocal behavior of humpback whales, songbirds, and grey seals and now devotes much of his time to recording natural sounds and advocating for protection of natural soundscapes from the intrusion of engine noise. In 2005 he created The Natural Contemplative, a website devoted to environmental education and conservation from a contemplative perspective. John has worked with the Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance, the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, the environmental studies department at Antioch University New England, and recently presented a program called "Listening to the Voice of the Earth" at the First Annual Northeast Eco-Dharma Conference in Springfield, NH. Together they perform as Coracle, creating programs of traditional and original music inspired by the land and the sea and Earth's creatures. With tunes, songs, and wildlife recordings, Cynthia and John weave a musical journey where the human, natural and contemplative meet.

Fidel Moreno is an Oscar nominee and award-winning ethnographic documentary producer/director. He was the field producer and ethnographic interview for Kevin Costner’s “500 Nations,” and associate director on the Steven Spielberg series: “Into the West.” He has worked for the UN’s ANCOR Refugee and Human Rights and Relief project documenting disaster relief and human rights violations in Mexico and Central and South America. Fidel was the director and associate producer of “The Peyote Road,” a documentary that directly inspired and influenced the U.S. Congress to author the “American Indian Freedom of Religion Act,” reversing the U.S. Supreme Court case decision in Al Smith vs. the United States and protecting the rights of American Indians to practice traditional spiritual and ceremonial rites.

Kristen Avonti studied psychology and herbal medicine at Hampshire College. She went on to complete an herbal apprenticeship as well as a birth doula training and midwifery eduction. Kristen received her Reiki Master-Teacher certification and is studying Shamanism on an ongoing basis with her mentor. Currently, Kristen is studying with Aviva Jill Romm in her Women’s Herbal Health Educator program. Kristen founded Tree of Dreams Sanctuary, a holistic healing educational center and healing arts practice dedicated to community and individual healing, education, personal growth, and the preservation of medicinal plants. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, and is in the final stages of publishing several holistic healing books and co-authoring a book with her Shamanic mentor.

Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is an Episcopal priest, writer, retreat leader, and climate activist. Making peace with her body and recovering from food addiction has led her to a wider concern for the "body" of the Earth and the destructive effect of our society's consumerism and addiction to fossil fuels. In 2001 she was one of 22 members of the interfaith network Religious Witness for the Earth who were arrested in Washington, D.C., during a prayer vigil to urge conservation and renewable energy and to protest oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In recent years many of her retreats, speaking engagements, and writing projects have focused on reclaiming the sacredness of God’s creation and placing care for the Earth at the center of our moral and spiritual concern. She is principal author of * "To Serve Christ in All Creation: A Pastoral Letter from the Episcopal Bishops of New England" (2003) and a lead author of a pastoral letter on the environment released by Episcopal Bishops in the West Coast area of the U.S. (“A Call to Action from the House of Bishops of Province VIII,” 2009). She was a lead contributor to the Interfaith Call for 350. Bullitt-Jonas also serves on the steering committee of the Genesis Covenant, an interfaith initiative through which the national leadership of faith groups across the country will commit to cutting in half the carbon footprint of their facilities within ten years. Bullitt-Jonas' third book has just been released: Joy of Heaven, To Earth Come Down (Forward Movement, 2012), a collection of daily meditations for Advent and Christmas that explore God's presence in creation and the call to intentional, sustainable living in harmony with the natural world.

Michael Ciborski is a beloved longtime Dharma teacher, a former monk in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and co-founder of the Morning Sun Mindfulness Center, an intentional community and retreat center that seeks to integrate spiritual practice with ecological sustainability and social justice. Michael lived at Plum Village monastery in France for nine years, training in the meditative arts as a monk for seven. He was fortunate to live and work intimately with Thich Nhat Hanh and the monastic community to organize, support, and offer meditation retreats around the world. While living in Plum Village, he became a Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition. In 2003, Michael departed Plum Village, returned to lay life, and married Fern Dorresteyn. Now they have a son, Laurian, and two daughters, Seriena and Fiana. In 2009, Fern and Michael established Morning Sun Mindfulness Center on 243 beautiful acres of forests and ponds in southeastern New Hampshire. Michael now leads mindfulness retreats (including many focused on sustainability and our human relationship to earth) at Morning Sun and around the country.

Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, referred to as the “birth mother” of the Jewish environmental movement, is the founder of Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth, the first national Jewish environmental organization. She is author of “The Splendor of Creation: A Biblical Ecology," “Ecology and the Jewish Spirit,” and several other books and articles on Judaism and ecology. She writes, speaks, and consults widely on the topic of Judaism and ecology. To read more about Ellen, please visit www.ellenbernstein.org.

Rev. Liza M. Neal is director of spiritual life at Hampshire College and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Liza studied spiritual expression through writing and dance in comparative religions at Hampshire College, and mysticism, theology of reconciliation, and the creation of heterogenous community at Yale Divinity School. She has been an activist with and counselor to survivors of sexual violence for the last 20 years. She designed an innovative Spiritual Life Program that includes but goes beyond multi-faith, addressing and engaging the community as a whole in intercultural engagement; ethics and service; contemplative life, holistic health and wellness; religion and politics; and questions of meaning and purpose across all boundaries. She continues her study and practice of the Sacred Divine Feminine particularly through Mary Magdalene and the intersections of Celtic Pagan and Christian spirituality, while working to transform the role and understanding of spirituality inside and outside the academic institution.

Simon Dennis is a community organizer and organizational consultant who works to transform personal and collective consciousness as the foundation of our ability to develop sustainable culture. He is co-founder of The Center for Transformational Practice, where he currently resides, and of Transition Town White River Junction (Vermont). He also serves as a national Transition Trainer with a particular focus on "Inner Transition": personal, group, and community practices for transformation, resilience and sustainability. In 2011, Simon returned from a year in Haridwar, India, volunteering and writing with a popular social movement that applies the Vedic spiritual science to address the needs of rural Indians (www.awgp.org). Soon afterwards, he was elected to the select board of Hartford, Vermont. Simon spent the late 1990s and early 2000s founding and directing a non-profit service organization that organizes volunteers to address urgently needed home repair projects for elderly and disabled people in the community (www.coverhomerepair.org).

Susal Stebbins Collins, M.A., is contemplative life advisor at Hampshire College and U.S. Transition Trainer. Susal has worked as an environmental/deep ecology, peace, economic justice, diversity, and human rights trainer; teacher; writer/editor; advocate; organizer; and organization/coalition builder for over 25 years. She has practiced meditation in Tibetan Buddhist traditions and in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Community of Mindfulness for fifteen years, taking refuge in both traditions, and has recently added study and practice in Insight Meditation. She helped develop and taught at Arya Tara School for Buddhist nuns (educating young nuns put their vows of compassion to practical use) in Nepal from 2001 to 2004, and has led mindfulness meditation in academic and community settings in the U.S. since 2004. Susal is one of the founders of and serves on the Initiating Group of Transition Dummerston (Vermont) and serves as a transition trainer for the New England region. Her current focus is on developing the work of inner Transition: the mindful awareness, compassion, insights, and practices necessary for a Great Turning towards Earth community and sustainability.

Susan M. Darlington is professor of anthropology and Asian studies at Hampshire College. Her research, based on extensive fieldwork in Thailand, examines the work of Buddhist monks engaged in rural development, environmental conservation and other forms of social activism. The broader questions she addresses in her research and teaching include understanding the changing social, political, and historical contexts of religion, environmentalism and human rights, and the creative use of ritual for social change. She also teaches about socially engaged Buddhism, religious movements, and Southeast Asian studies. She is actively involved in the struggle for human rights in Burma.

Other faculty to be announced will include teachers in the Transition movement, Indigenous, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist teachers and leaders.

 
 

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