Statement of Purpose
As a creative, I use writing, photography, and documentary film to explore where our narratives converge and where they pale in the bright horizon: the frontiers and wildernesses of our lives. As a facilitator, I use wilderness experience and narrative to reflect, relate, and reconcile our complex and competing perspectives.
My personal story as an American born and raised in Kenya means I have gravitated towards intercultural spaces throughout my life. My academic background is in philosophy, religion, and the creative arts, and professionally in outdoor leadership, conservation, and freelance storytelling. I work to weave these diverse threads together as I walk a path that is both personally and spiritually fulfilling and of use to the world I live in.
I have taught for the world’s leading wilderness education institutions including NOLS and Outward Bound, specializing in “at-risk” student demographics. As a freelancer I have contributed images and words to the Alpinist, Climbing Magazine, Rock & Ice, Travel Africa, Nomad Magazine, Wilder Magazine, SA Climber, the Star and Standard newspapers in Kenya, Nashville Fit Magazine and others. In the world of conservation, I worked in Laikipia and Baringo counties in Kenya as a communications and community liaison officer and as a principal mediator between private landowners, local communities, and government agencies during a period of severe tension and unrest.
ABOUT THE KILELE PROJECT
an evolving philosophy
The Kilele Project is my portfolio. Try as I might, I have been unable to separate my storytelling from my work in environmental education, mediation and conservation– so this is my attempt to weave the threads together, to find a common theme and purpose.
I am interested in stories from the ragged edges of the world; of journeys through both the inner and the outer landscapes; of humans finding a home on this remarkable rock we woke up on. Stories, like my own, where people defy the script laid out for them and venture bravely into authentic experience and the unwritten future.
Kilele means “summit” in Swahili, my second language and the lingua franca of East Africa. The equatorial mountains and highlands were the first landscapes that truly held and shaped me and continue to be where I learn the most. This fascination with wilderness has guided much of my work.
The journey through a landscape is an ancient and deep allegory for the human life– the lessons of ascent and descent equally essential. The word ‘wilderness’ is in great dispute these days, and I use it as a conceptual term: the places that are hard to reach, geographically but also culturally, politically, and spiritually. The places we wander when we have no answers. The places that transform us.
Our relationship to a landscape is a powerful tool to examine the tendencies of our cultures: do we extract, conquer, and dominate, or do we honor, heal, and reciprocate what the world has given us? As we participate in the conversation, are we oriented by what divides us or what connects us? Even more profound, perhaps– what is the relationship between those two apparently polar approaches?
The beauty and power of wilderness is this: no matter the idea or intent you carry into it, it will inevitably evaporate in light of the grandeur and complexity of what’s out there. It will alchemize into an always new sense of self. It will call you out, it will send you home. It is just this journey, again and again.
Thus the “Kilele Project” – the idea of landscape as metaphor and teacher with the idea that this is only ever a project, a process, a pilgrimage: there is no end to a globe, nor to the journey, nor to our questions. We tell the story and are the story all at once.