About Jennifer, Writing Mentor
I am a writer. I help others write, too. This is a story about my journey.
PhD: Environmental Studies (Crafts Coops & Protected Areas)
MA: Education (Intercultural, Environmental Group Learning)
BA: Liberal Arts (Ecology & Spirituality, Special Educ, Spanish)
Certificated Mediator, Community Boards
Relevant Experience: Editor, Consultant, Tutor, Faculty, Environmental Researcher, Speaker, Conflict Coach/Support, Rites of Passage Guide, Wilderness Guide Assistant
Current Memberships: Society for Human Ecology, Wilderness Guides Council, Charter for Compassion, Parliament of the World's Religions, Washington Mediation Association, Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern CA, Community Boards of San Francisco
Passions: Writing & Reading, Ecology, Arts.Crafts.Creativity, Compassion, Community Service, Hospice, Photography, Spirituality, Travel
To request a copy of my CV, a list of prior research projects or past speaking engagements, please use the contact form.
When I was twelve years old, my English teacher gave us an assignment to write a twenty page, typed, fictitious story. At first overwhelmed, I soon found myself writing and illustrating page after page about someone around whom I felt my life revolved. I added in a bit of wishful thinking, changed some names, and altered a few details; voila! it became a piece of fiction. I reached an impasse when I realized that I did not know how to finish the story. (This was, after all, a memoir about my still-unfolding life.) Well ahead of the deadline when this dilemma with the ending presented itself, I took a break from writing. Several nights later I had a dream in which I was offered a conclusion for my story. When I awoke, I added the dream's wisdom to the fifteen pages I had already written and proudly held the completed twenty page creation in my young hands. This experience planted the seed of writing in me; my passion and power to write were born!
From prolific journals and melancholy poetry that I kept hidden from the world, to children's stories for my once-young nieces and nephews, I never stopped writing in my youth. The themes began to focus on my relationship to the natural world by the time I was in my mid to late twenties.
Academia & Professional Beginnings
During graduate school I primarily wrote academic pieces and further developed my skills as a writer about nature and the environment. I also began to critique fellow grad students' work as part of my professional development as a scholar. This led to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I was especially interested in working with students conducting research, writing a thesis, or writing about passions similar to my own: creativity, relationship to nature, conservation. This experience as an instructor and mentor of writing was invaluable. I discovered that I love helping people hone their writing skills, nurturing their process as writers, and supporting them as they find their writing edges.
More recently, I have worked as a writing tutor, proofreader and editor both within and outside of academia.
Writing as Ecotone, about Ecotone
I am a published author of books and articles and am greatly inspired to write about my experiences in natural environments and with wildlife in places locally and abroad. My deepest calling is to write about inner/outer landscapes. Inner landscapes include emotion and spirituality while outer landscapes are what we see as "nature" (forest, beach, mountain, meadow, for examples). I am compelled by the dynamic ways in which Self and Nature are one, and how they influence each other. In ecology, the term "ecotone" refers to the transition zone between two or more natural areas (such as where the forest meets a meadow). The ecotone typically contains characteristic species from each of the contributing natural areas and is thus considered to be especially rich in biodiversity. I often experience the inner/outer landscape convergence as an ecotone and much of my writing focuses on these rich ideas.
I am intrigued with notions of shadow and light, beauty and pain, the Wild Other (outside of and within us), and balance and excess. Most readily I see these manifested in death, loss and grief; addiction and recovery; meditation and spirituality; and in the visual arts. I see in my written work layers of stories and concepts related to these themes.
Service to Others
Community service has been part of my daily landscape for nearly forty years. Since my first trained position as a thirteen year old candystriper, volunteering has been a steady personal commitment. In an eclectic array of contexts (including environmental and human rights groups, soup kitchens, conferences and workshops, arts venues, and crisis hotlines), I have offered support to my community. For the last fourteen years, my primary service work has been as a hospice volunteer. I am honored to be called to the bedsides of people who are dying and to support their families. I am utterly and deeply moved by their stories. More recently, I have been co-facilitating grief and loss groups as well. I have also been privileged to sit in the sacred terrain of vision fast circles mirroring the fasters' stories and witnessing their spiritual quest in the wilderness. For a short while, I also joined the local Diversion Board for first-time juvenile offenders; I worked with other community volunteers listening and offering guidance using a restorative justice model.
I thrive on and am sustained by these experiences of voluntarily serving others. When I open to my community in compassion, I am led back to the writing page with renewed gentleness and honesty.
I currently live in the Puget Sound area of Western Washington, writing my way through the glorious days of rain and verdant landscapes. My story continues to unfold.