Welcome, friend . . . . .

I love butterflies. They remind me of the fragility, randomness and beauty of life on this blessed planet. And wow, are they ever a mess in the middle of a metamorphosis!


The Industrial Age is passing and everything we take for granted is changing rapidly. Like all previous ages, the Industrial Age will leave a permanent mark on future ages.

What is that mark to be?

As a tenth grader I went to an American high school in a re-purposed World War II prisoner of war facility in England. There were shower heads in the walls of our science lab. It was located next to a US nuclear weapons air base in a beautiful rural community. We had to pause during our classes when the after-burners of the F-111 bombers kicked in. This was during the first wave of “Arab” terror attacks in the 1970’s. There were rolls of razor wire surrounding our school to keep terrorists at bay, completing the Prisoner of War aesthetic.

I published a satirical underground high school newspaper with my friends.  “Are we being kept safe from terror or are we in prison?”

Is there any difference between safety and prison in the nuclear age? Why does it seem like the more we strive for security the less our civil liberties and rights are protected, much less nature and mother earth? What is Mutually Assured Destruction? Why is  nature cut down, covered over, poisoned and converted into the machinery of war and all this unnecessary stuff we consume? Is this what I am here for? 

I have held these questions for half a century while trying to make a difference and keep my head above water.  I believe that although success is not probable, it is possible that we may survive all of this and achieve peace, abundance, beauty and cultural respect for all. We may live to tell our grandchildren how we achieved the improbable.

The way forward exists. But our awareness is overgrown with centuries of neglect and  invasive ideas. Our will to push through the overgrowth, or crawl beneath it, needs strength.

“The New Old Way” is a phrase introduced to me by a respected and beloved Hawaiian elder and friend, Al Lagunero. To me the term has come to signify the search for ancestral continuity in a time of cataclysmic global transformation.

A just future lies outside of our present collective grasp, but not beyond our reachTogether we must face the most difficult navigational challenge of human history. We are already inside the chrysalis. What butterfly will emerge is up to each one and all of us, inseparably.


13 thoughts on “Welcome, friend . . . . .

  1. This is Alan Brisley’s blog. I am about to embark on a 500 mile track across northern Spain on the Camino Santiago de Compostela Norte with my beloved Kelley and our two children Linden (17) and Daisy (13.) We depart from Maui on June 9th for seven weeks! Yikes! I haven’t gone off for seven weeks in I don’t know how many years.

    Anyway, I am a foodscaper (you can check out my work-in-progress website at alohafoodscape.com) and a nature awareness and primary skills instructor with a passion for community organizing, peacemaking and cultural renewal and repair. So that’s the lens that I’ll be looking through on this blog. I hope you will come along on the culture repair trail!

  2. Now, two years later, as I renew my relationship with this blog, it is good to pause and reflect on my family’s Camino Santiago adventure. It seems like so much water has passed under the bridge! Linden went to Bali where he attended and graduated from the Green School. Daisy spent 18 hours a week in the Atlier (studio) studying art from a classical approach for nine solid months. Now she has gone to the Green School as a high school freshman. Linden is off doing a full time farm apprenticeship. Our nest is surprisingly empty a little too soon for us adults and we are stretching our wings a little. But the Camino was a profound turning point in the life and happiness of our family as a family – the best thing we ever did! Well, life rolls on and this blog rolls along with it!

  3. Well, two more years have passed. Daisy will be a senior at the Green School Bali this fall and has just completed her third Camino Santiago, this time from Portugal. Linden has left the marijuana industry and is supporting a year of experimental organic vegetable farming on about 1/2 acre of of Frog Hill Farm with full time work for a local landscaping business. I am recently divorced and have moved back to Washington State to a little farm and school that my dear friend of over thirty years, Dana Sherholtz, runs on Vashon Island.

    Interestingly the name of her 26 student nature awareness plus academic learning enterprise is Vashon Green School. This is a very good place for me. At this very moment Dana is upstairs in her room working on a photo-journalistic book about her amazing little school to help others be inspired to take learning out doors, incorporating ancient cultural mentoring practices, hands-on farm and “primary” skill development (as opposed to primitive skills) and the modern learning needs of literacy, mathematics, science, and compassionate social conduct. I feel like I have come home to my people and my place after a very strenuous year of upheaval and struggle. My time in the cave of depression, sadness, confusion and darkness is shifting. I feel ready to take up the writing journey again. Hopefully with greater awareness, compassion and humility. We shall see.

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