Community Building, First Circle Coaching, Pathways to Thriving, Synergetic Genius, Unique Genius

The Sum: Leveraging Our Power


It is with pleasure that I share with you a video created by one of my clients, Elliott Cisneros. Elliott is the Director of The Sum ( Elliott and I are working to introduce The Sum and the Diversity Power Leveraging Model to the wider world. We would appreciate your help!

I recently relocated to Central New York. Elliott became one of my first local coaching clients, and the more he shared with me about his work to support equality and celebrate diversity, the luckier I felt about being part of this project.  Much of my work in the world is around power dynamics, and Elliott has helped me understand how my innate biases are affecting my relationships. My experience in relationship with Elliott is not one of judgment: I seldom feel judged, or that I’m acting in a “wrong” manner. Rather, I feel elated as I learn to communicate clearly what I am feeling and thinking in a way that doesn’t threaten others, and allows each of us in the relationship to contribute our best selves.

Elliott began working to support human rights and diversity very early in life. It is truly his Unique Genius to help each of us understand what The Diversity Power Survey shows is our “power perspective”. He guides us in integrating theelliottheadshot complementary perspectives so that each of us can unleash our personal power across cultures, genders, and abilities.

Please take a moment to watch this brand new video. Elliott discusses the Diversity Power Leveraging Model, and the Diversity Power Survey. Hopefully you will moved to take the Diversity Power Survey yourself, to see what your primary power perspective is. I promise you, if you do, a new awareness of the diverse beauty and unique genius each of us offers will be become part of your experience.

Collective Genius, Community Building, First Circle Coaching, Green Collar Economy, Local Economy, Mindfulness in Schools, Pathways to Thriving, Synergetic Genius, Unique Genius

Chicago’s Mindful Children

The majority of the news coming out of Chicago has been horrific. 67 people have been murdered in Chicago as of 2/10/2017. When I hear good news, when I hear mindfulness is being taught to children in the early grades in Chicago schools as a way of helping them cope with stress, I want to jump for joy, and share this news with everyone. So I am!


This Erikson Institute project is a bright light, and shows what is possible, even in the darkest of times. If you’re looking for an efficient, compassionate and creative organization to support with your hard-earned cash, please consider donating to the Erikson Institute. @EriksonInst



Collective Genius, Community Building, First Circle Coaching, Green Collar Economy, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Synergetic Genius, Unique Genius

Finding the Hidden Talented

Looking for an employee who is friendly, dependable, has good customer service and would be grateful for a chance to expand her skills, and accept more responsibility? There are people with Hidden Talents right in front of your eyes!

When the economy went bust in 2008, people who formerly had “successful” careers began to find themselves unemployed or underemployed. These hard workers still had their hard-won skills sets and unique genius.

Some of these people have retired. Some are waiting to be recognized for the human resource assets they are. To many in the business world, these people are invisible. I’m here to tell you these dedicated, loyal workers are the ones checking you out at the chain stores, the convenience marts, and supermarkets. They want to increase their income, gain more experience, and work for a supportive company with compassion.

Now, imagine you’re a small business owner in a geographic area with limited human resources. There are a couple of big local employers who can afford to give their employees great benefits. These employers naturally are the employer of choice for most of the experienced talent pool. What’s a small business owner to do?

First, I suggest that you change the way you’re thinking about what defines “talent”. Instead of looking for staff trained for office work, with higher expectations around income and benefits, look for the kinds of skills that is transferable, the ones that make a good employee. You want someone with a good attitude, primarily. She also needs to be dependable and honest, with the best interests of the company at heart. You want someone who is going to be accountable, and loyal, because turnover is expensive.

People with these skills are working in “blue collar” jobs throughout your community, and many would love the chance to try something new.

cashier02The next time you’re shopping at the pet store, in a box store, or eating out, pay attention to the person behind the counter. Are they courteous, helpful? Are they accountable when they make an error, or if something is mis-priced?  Are they aware of what is going on around them, do they create relationships? Pay attention to the way they speak to customers on the phone. Then imagine them working in your office.

When you meet a service person with hidden talents, give her one of your business cards. Let her know you’ve noticed what a great job she’s doing, that you’re looking for someone with her skills for your business. Just this moment of appreciation will improve her day, to be sure! She might even give you a call, or send you her resume. And you’ll both win!

It may take some time until her hidden talents will be fully aligned with that of your business. If you handle this relationship with compassion, understanding, and clear communication of expectations, I believe you will both have engaging and successful careers ahead of you.

Community Building, First Circle Coaching, Green Collar Economy, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Synergetic Genius, Systems Thinking, Unique Genius

Hidden Talents

It is my belief that there is no “quality” difference between people who work in “blue collar” and “white collar” jobs. Talented people anywhere in an organization will move up quickly if they are provided opportunity, education and good mentoring.

cashier-copyConsider a cashier at a chain store. There is no more important position in any organization than one which serves as the face of the organization. People who are dependable, friendly, helpful, accurate, and take initiative can succeed in this position. And you also make great managers!

I’m willing to bet that you have hidden talents. Here is an exercise you might consider: Make a list of everything you’ve done today: the relationships you nurtured, the solutions you found, the people who left your presence better off, with a lighter step. Next, take an inventory of your week. What projects have you accomplished? What new skill did you learn? List any goals you set, met or exceeded.

These don’t have to be monumental skills, or substantial projects. Examples might be: A customer came in to return an item, she is very upset. By the time she leaves with her replacement item, she is smiling. Or, during your break you happened to run into the furniture manager, and discuss how to help her increase sales while working at the register. Perhaps you’ve been noticing recurring questions from customers on a particular display, and create signage to help minimize confusion. What may seem like small successes show you can notice pieces of a system that aren’t working, or could work more efficiently, and create solutions. These are all things managers do, though on a larger scale. Use these exercises to gain confidence and hone your message, so you’re ready when someone notices your many talents! (Next blog: how employers can recognize and recruit Hidden Talent in non-traditional environments.)

A great resume is written in the language of the target position. Once you’ve completed this exercise, translate this list into the language used to support the industry or sector of your dream job you’re. Your skills are transferable. Show you are already doing the job you are targeting. If you’re applying for a promotion to senior cashier, use language that shows your leadership, ability to be accountable and to nurture relationships with those at all levels of the organization.

Don’t know what your dream job is? Find a coach or mentor to help you figure it out. Is there someone in your organization you admire and have always wanted to know? Is there one who is doing a job you find intriguing? Do you already have a relationship with this person? If you have no one in mind, consider what traits the ideal person should have to help you reach your career goals. Perhaps you will need to find someone from outside your organization. How would you go about doing that?

I would love to hear your story of success, or answer your questions about next steps. Please reach out or leave a comment.


Dynamic Governance, First Circle Coaching, Green Collar Economy, Inner Ecosystem, Insights, Pathways to Thriving, Permaculture, Turning Point Gratitude Project, Unique Genius

2016: my free-fall into uncertainty

Have you ever leaned back and let yourself fall? A dear frien160701TPGPcr.jpgd of mine tells the story of facilitating a workshop with young people. One by one they climbed onto a table, leaned back and let themselves be caught by their cohort. As the last student emerged from the arms of his new friends, a feisty student with a mischievous gleam in his eye challenged E to do the same. He climbed onto the table, turned around and trusted. His eyes twinkle as he recalls the students catching him, and the shared feeling of trust.

Falling into uncertainty is a scary thing. It is a free-fall into self-trust.

Understanding that we are all living in uncertainty is en-lightening. People often remark on how brave I am to let go of traditional definitions of success, and follow my pathway to thriving, walking in uncertainty. Traditional pathways also contain uncertainty, though many create illusions of certainty for themselves by defining their lives through traditional models of success. At any moment each of us could be faced with a debilitating disease, the loss of a loved-one, or a natural disaster that renders us homeless. The only thing that is absolutely certain is your personal experience of this present moment.

At this moment, I am warm, and safe, and dry, and fed, and loved.  And grateful.

2016 is the first year I committed myself to celebrating uncertainty. I shifted my focus from cimbria-and-the-bee-crfear of what could happen to a celebration of all the things I couldn’t possibly expect. I listened more closely to the whispers of my heart. I let go of definitions of myself I had carried for many years, illusions based on my reflection in the mirror of society. These definitions had begun to feel too heavy for me to bear any longer. Putting them down, rather than putting myself down for not meeting expectations – mine or others – was the most compassionate thing I have ever done for myself. Giving up this burden gave me the strength to look inward and become familiar with the love-ly woman-child giggling inside of me, full of wonder.

It’s been a year of challenges, and a year of celebrations. I want to thank all of the people who accompanied me on my journey this year. Having touched you, I carry your DNA. It is helping to shape the future me physically. You are literally becoming part of me, and will live inside me forever.

Having heard your stories, comforted your fears, shared your tears and roared fiercely with you, I am a stronger and more compassionate person. You have helped shape the way I think, how I communicate, and what I pay attention to. You’ve helped me learn how to be vulnerable, ask questions, face fear peacefully, and create opportunity. You have helped me recognize and invite others to experience my Unique Genius. You may not have intended that our shared experience would be such a blessing in my life. I thank you anyway, for the precious gift of your time and perspective.

I myself have never climbed onto a table and fallen, trusting others to catch me. I would like to experience that some day. My free-fall was into uncertainty, trusting myself to catch me. And I did. And I do.


Community Building, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Permaculture, Synergetic Genius, Systems Thinking, Turning Point Gratitude Project, Unique Genius

July 15 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stormwater Analysis of Crowell Park

Session 8 of the Turning Point Gratitude Project permaculture course will be a field trip to Crowell Lot in Brattleboro. This session will be free and open to the public.


This heavily wooded park is very popular with neighbors. It borders on the Green Street School and has a playground. It has also been know to be camp for squatters. It was initially chosen as the site for the town skate board park, which will now be built in Memorial Park.

This park is located at the corner of Western Avenue and Union Street. It is owned by the school district, and slops towards the Whetstone Brook and Connecticut River. The “Whetstone Brook flows west to east from the hills of Marlboro across Brattleboro before emptying into the Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro (Whetstone). The brook’s headwaters originate at over 1,500 feet above sea level at Hidden Lake. The brook cascades down from steep hills and follows Vermont Rte. 9 to the Connecticut River flatlands. The brook empties into the Connecticut River at 250 feet above sea level, dropping over 1,250 feet in just seven miles of stream length (Whetstone). Approximately 69% of the watershed resides in Brattleboro with 29% of the land in Marlboro and 2% of the land within Dummerston (Whetstone, 2008). The watershed contains nearly 20 miles of streams and a mix of rural, residential and urban land.” (Watershed description taken from a Vermont Environmental Conservation publication.)

During this session participants will analyze water flow, including how the site is being affected or affects its neighboring properties. The participants have learned a lot about water flow, how water and land interact, and how to retain this valuable resource on site for use in creating an edible landscape aligned with the existing ecosystem. They’ve learned the value of stacking functions, using and enhancing existing patterns, how forest layers interact, and how to use the permaculture principles and ethics to guide their designs.

Join us for what will be an interesting and informative session. This will be the final session before the students focus on the Turning Point edible forest garden design. If you have questions about the Turning Point Gratitude Project, the stormwater analysis of Crowell Lot, or want to talk about using ecological design to manage stormwater on your site, please contact me!

Community Building, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Permaculture, Synergetic Genius, Systems Thinking, Turning Point Gratitude Project, Unique Genius

TPGP Makes the Airwaves with Green Mountain Mornings

Many thanks to Chris Lenois of WKVT Radio’s Green Mountain Mornings. Chris invited us in to speak about the Turning Point Gratitude Project. Chris asked many really insightful questions about the benefits to the Turning Point of Windham County community. Take a listen!



Community Building, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Permaculture, Synergetic Genius, Systems Thinking, Turning Point Gratitude Project, Unique Genius

Turning Point Gratitude Project Permaculture Course Launches!

The Turning Point Gratitude Project launched Tuesday June 2nd with a session introducing permaculture theory, ethics and principles to the participants. Permaculture is as much about creating social abundance as it is about ecological abundance. We discussed our hopes or goals for the course, and what our expectations are. Community is all important, and the bonding of a PDC cohort is something which provides grace and beauty to the final group design.

The first session took place at Turning Point of Windham County and involved a walk through the site, including the building. The participants became familiar with the permaculture principles: Observe & Interact, Catch & Store Energy, Obtain a Yield, Self-Regulate/Accept Feedback, Use & Value Renewables, Produce No Waste, Design from Patterns to Detail, Integrate, Slow, Small Solutions, Use & Value Diversity, Value the Marginal.

As we toured the site for the first time together, we noticed where these principles and correlating ethics of Care for the Earth, Care for People, and Fair Share are already being demonstrated. Participants were introduced to the concept of “stacking functions”, which is to receive many types of yields from one item, such as a tree, or a chicken, or a fence. Students looked for evidence of this on the site.

Our role as designers is to recognize what is working, and to help build on the successes which exist in the ecosystem. (Tuesday June 9th we will look at the existing conditions at a homestead on Bonnyvale Road. If you’d like to join us, please contact me by close of business Monday June 8th.)

The enthusiasm in the group was very inspiring. As is the case for many budding permies, being around people who share your love and support for ecosystems is heady stuff. Understanding the dynamics of the natural system and viewing it through a permaculture lens enhances the way you look at all the ecosystems in your life: natural, social and professional.

Session 2 ~ Tuesday, June 9, 2015
6 BTT Hours or EBT card FREE (Inquire if you would like to join us for a nominal fee)
Water & Landscape, Soil & Earthworks

In this session you will visit a homestead in Guilford where hugel culture is being implemented. We will dive more deeply into the interaction between water and land, and what the consequences are when we disturb the land without understanding how its systems work

Knowledge covered
Observe & Interact, Catch & Store Energy, Obtain a Yield, Self-Regulate/Accept Feedback, Use & Value Renewables, Produce No Waste, Design from Patterns to Detail, Integrate, Slow, Small Solutions, Use & Value Diversity, Value the Marginal

♦ Care for the Earth – Environmental goals
♦ Care for People – Social goals
♦ Fair Share – Embrace justice for all beings

Learning Objectives
How are you affecting the water cycle where you live? What are the duties of water? How can you design so you support your water and soil relationship, and accomplish as many functions as possible? The best question is the one that is asked.

Skills covered:
♦ We continue to build a cooperative and non-threatening environment in which to learn.
♦ In understanding of how soil and water are intricately linked, demonstrated by hugel culture.
♦ An understanding of how soils and plants can provide carbon sequestration.
♦ Become familiar with designs that have dealt with soil issues successfully.

Collective Genius, Community Building, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Pathways to Thriving, Permaculture, Synergetic Genius, Systems Thinking, Turning Point Gratitude Project, Unique Genius

Turning Point Gratitude Project Recieves 2015 Seed Grant from NEGEF!

We are deeply grateful to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund for awarding the Turning Point Gratitude Project one of their 2015 Seed Grants. Wrote Ally Philip, Program Coordinator, during a recent correspondence, “We are happy to support such an innovative project that touches upon several of NEGEF’s issue areas.” We are quite happy too, Ally! The funds will go to defray some of the costs incurred in setting up the program, purchasing materials for the classes and implementation of the design.

Thank you so much NEGEF! Want to donate to our project? Contact Turning Point of Windham County Executive Director Susan Walker at TPWC.1 (at) Your gift is tax-deductible! We will also need materials and manpower to implement the design once it’s complete. You’ll be in great company!

Here is the course outline: TPGPCourseOutlineRev. The registration fee for the full PDC is $500, (which is one third to one quarter of the usual cost for certification). If you would like to enroll in the Permaculture Design Certification course please use this form: TPGPCourseReg.

To enroll in individual courses, download this registration form: TPGPINDCourseReg. Those who have EBT cards may enroll in individual courses at no cost! If you have questions, please contact Cimbria CimbriaGratitudeProject (at) We look forward to having you play with us in the garden!