Monday, February 29, 2016

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 54, March 01 2016

Interview with John Booker of Angell Job Corps

 John Booker is Center Director at the Angell Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center located north of Yachats.

John: Well, if you want me to, I’ll start out telling you something about our program here at the Angell Job Corps.

TYG: Sure!
I’ve been with this program—matter of fact, I just got an award for 25 years in with the federal government—for 26 years. I’ve been with several Job Corps Centers here in the nation. I started out at the Ouachita Job Corps in Arkansas. Job Corps is a training program that was started 50 years under Lyndon B. Johnson, and it came out of the CCC program—the Civilian Conservation Corps, that was started during the Depression to help disadvantaged youth all across the nation. There are now 128 centers. 28 of them are federal, although one of them was closed down last year. At Angell, here, we have 168 students. I have six trades: urban forestry, brick masonry, plumbing, basic auto, painting, and carpentry.

TYG: I saw a mural on the back of one of the buildings as we were driving in—it’s beautiful!
John: [smiles]
Some of those murals were painted years ago by the students. We just had a meeting with the Department of Labor; we’re trying to bring our culinary arts back online. They did approve that program to come back into play—now the paperwork is in Washington. Just a matter of time! We have a Community Relations Council, and through the community, they helped us and wrote some letters to bring that back online.

TYG-Graphic Design: Do you identify more with Waldport, or Yachats?
We identify from Yachats all the way up to Lincoln City—we do work from there all the way down. If it’s a non-profit organization, we can do [work for] it. Also, the community can hire students to do some things, as long as it’s not violating safety standards: they can’t do roofing, go too high up on ladders, that sort of thing. We call this work-based learning, and a lot of the community come out and hire them on weekends. And then we have work-based learning sites in the community, where students go out during the week, and work.

TYG-GD: Like on the trails?
They do that; we have a student working in the Cape Perpetua office; we have students working in Les Schwab—all over. That’s part of their training here. The ones that qualify are the ones close to graduation. We have graduation once a month; we normally graduate ten to twelve students a month. We place them on jobs, help them with their résumés. Areas we seek are from Washington, Oregon, some California, Idaho—that’s where our kids come in from. We can hold up to 210 students here, but right now my on-board strength is 155. We try to stay up to 160 or 170. Once we bring the culinary arts back on-line, six of our slots will be ACT slots—those are college slots. Tina Terrell, the regional director, just came in for a meeting with Oregon State University—we’re trying to set up a program with OSU for our students to go into. They can get a two-year college program, or they can get a four-year with the aquatics program. So, we try to open up doors for our students. We have students go into the military at least once or twice a month—we have students enroll in the Navy, and they come out and talk to our students. Other centers have advanced training programs, like Clearfield, Utah. We just have the basics, but our students can put in applications and apply to other programs. I had a student transfer last month, going to Clearfield. They have to interview, be a student in good standing; they have to have a certain education score or level to qualify. It’s pretty much the same thing when they apply to get in here—they have to have a copy of their health records, make sure they’re drug-free, and have a copy of their behavior record. They don’t just take any student. You have to be performing at a high level to get into those programs.

TYG-GD: What’s the range of the student ages?
The range here is from 16 to 24. They can be here until they’re 26 or 27—if they come in before their 25th birthday, they have two years to complete the program. That also [applies] if they want to go to advanced training.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: How would a student typically end up in Job Corps?
We have a recruiting program called DESI [Dynamic Educational Systems, Inc.] that does all the recruiting for the Job Corps in this region—we’re in the San Francisco region. Students go in and put in an application, [and talk to] an Outreach Admissions Counselor—sometimes they have their offices in the unemployment offices. They do a background check on the student, and the student tells them if he has IEPs [individualized education programs], special needs, or [requires] some kind of accommodation. Here, in the program, we have a contract with a mental health professional, we have a contract with a TEAP [trainee employee assistance program]—a TEAP is a drug and alcohol person. If the student has issues, we set them up with counseling; if they have an issue with smoking—in the state of Oregon, minors aren’t allowed to smoke—we [set them up] with a doctor so they can get patches or gum to help them out. Some parents let them smoke, but here they’re not allowed to smoke. Sometimes we catch them and hold them accountable: they get written up, have to do extra hours, they get a fine, stuff like that.

TYG-GD: So are the parents typically very involved with the kids?
Yes, most of them. We have students here who are homeless and don’t have any support from their parents. We have students who come out of the military and don’t want to go to college, and they take advantage of the programs. [The Job Corps] is for disadvantaged youth. They base it on your income.

TYG-EA: So there’s a cost to students sometimes?
No cost at all. It costs the government anywhere from $30,000 to $32,000 to stay here a year. The only thing that’s required of a student is to go to work. The government invests in the student; they make $1.86 for every dollar that they invest in. If the student [doesn’t go to work], we end up paying for them because they’re a detriment to society, so we pay for them one way or another. But if they become tax payers...

TYG: Right.
And here, with our federal centers, our students have a lot of opportunity. We have camp crews for our fire teams. We’re also getting ready to hire a FMAO, which is what we call the head of our fire program—we’ve just been approved to start a student fire team. They have to be eighteen and older to get on the student fire team. So students have a lot of options. Even when they go out on the camp crews, they make a lot of money. I have students sometimes leave here with $5,000, $6,000 by going out. That’s good, because when they graduate, that helps them get a start, get a job. They can put a down deposit on an apartment. Because what we call re-adjustment... If they come here without a high school diploma, they get $250 for getting a high school diploma, they get $250 for completing the vocational training. So if a student lives here a year, and they take taxes out, they make about $1,000 for what we call re-adjustment. So after they graduate, they get a re-adjustment pay. That’s just to help them with a deposit and to get started. But a lot of times we try to help them have a job before they leave here.

TYG: Backing up a little, can I assume that FMAO means Fire Management and Operations?
There you go! You got it! [laughs] You’re pretty sharp! That’s a good program. Some students get interested in fire-fighting, and they can go to Boise, Idaho, to the fire school, and become a fire-fighter. Once they go to that school, they become “hot-shots.” Those are the first ones on the scene, they parachute out of the planes, they’re the ones that try to contain the fire once it gets started.

TYG-GD: Exciting but deadly!
Yes, it is. They automatically start out making $70,000 a year—it’s a great job.

TYG-GD: I bet that takes a special kind of personality!
Yes. You have to be in shape.

TYG-EA: And an adrenaline junkie!
I’m telling you, it’s a tough school! I’ve gone there and I’ve seen the things they go through. I think I could have done it when I was younger, but... When I got in Job Corps I used to go out fire-fighting. Basically what we did was fire support. We help put the fire lines around the fire to help contain it, do mop-ups after the fire’s gone through, try to make sure the fire’s out, work on the injury crew... There’s so much that goes on in a fire. California probably has the biggest budget for its fire-fighting from the government. You may not know, but every year it’s a challenge to stay above because of the budget cuts through all the federal programs. Job Corps has taken some cuts too. Every year there’s something different coming out. You know, we used to pay for our students to go home twice a year, at summer break and winter break. This year the Department of Labor decided they won’t have any more summer breaks. It doesn’t mean they can’t—they have to use their annual leave to go. And that’s a big thing: we fly them home, we charter buses; they normally leave here around June 27, and come back July the 8th or somewhere around there. But that’s no longer going to happen. 

TYG-GD: Do you use a lot of community volunteers here?
Yes! I used to have three volunteers, but now I only have two. The people who come in fill out a volunteer form. If somebody wants to volunteer in education, or volunteer to tutor, we’ve had a number of people do that. We also take our students to the numeracy and literacy program in Waldport. [...]

When I first got here, we were ranked 118 [out of 126] in the nation—we weren’t doing very well. Now, I’m ranked 86! I got hired here in June of 2014—I was short 15 staff members. I had to be creative.

TYG-EA: There are not a lot of people around here to be hired!
No. What I do, is I’m very creative. I use every resource—I use contracting. [...] Right now, I’m having a hard time finding a nurse—we’ve been without a nurse for three years. I’ve got a young lady just out of school contracted to hire. But the thing that hurts is when I have a veteran say they want the job, then turn around—they go through the background check, they take the tests, then all of a sudden they say “Well, I changed my mind.” That has happened to me three times. [...] It’s tough in this area—it’s a retirement community. I have a hard time recruiting young people; if they’re not married, it’s hard to keep them here. And if they’re young, and married, after they’ve been here a couple of years, there’s not much for them to do! They’ve got to take their kids to Portland if they want some kinds of recreation, and that kind of gets old!

TYG-EA: We have a similar problem retaining young professionals in medicine around here.
I even talked to the head of the nursing school here out there at the college—they also have a hard time. But, you know, I do a lot of praying. I don’t worry about it. I’ll just ask God. I don’t mean to be preaching to you—I pray, and I leave it in the hands of the Lord. And by His grace, that’s why we continue to be successful and move forward. We had some things here that weren’t working, and now they’re starting to work. We had some people here... they’re retired now. All I expect is for people to work. We wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for the students. And if they’re not providing the students with the services that are expected from us, and treating them the way they need to be treated... Because [the students] come here broken, and we help pick them up, and give them the confidence that they can go on and be successful.

TYG-EA: Is that a fairly typical profile, some young person who’s had problems?
Yes. Basically, let me tell you the kind of student we get.
I was very popular at school, so I didn’t get bullied. But I didn’t like bullies, because when I was coming up in the first, second grade, I was bullied—a lot. Then I started growing up. I grew up in the projects [in Arkansas], and you either have to fight, or run. So finally, when I started growing up, I was popular. I was good at sports, so mainly I didn’t have many problems then, because people didn’t mess with me. I had this chip on my shoulder, so I learned how to protect myself pretty well. And I just developed this attitude, I didn’t like bullies, so I never allowed bullying in front of me. I stepped in. To this day, I don’t like bullies.

And basically, the kids we get [here] are the ones that are bullied—they don’t dress like everybody, [that kind of thing]. And I saw that. My mom was a single mom, raised four kids and her two brothers, worked two jobs, very strict mom. And by the grace of God, my two brothers went into the military, I got a football scholarship, my sister went into the medical [field] and works at a hospital in Memphis. And my uncles, they all went into the military. But my mom was pretty strict, and she was a strong woman, working two jobs. Matter of fact, I didn’t even know we were that poor. Every year we started out with five outfits. Everybody went to school, you had your five outfits, and then she would add on a little bit here and there as she could. And every Saturday, we ironed our stuff and made sure we were ready to go to school. Because she was never home by the time we got ready to go to school. So we had to make sure we were ready. That’s why, pretty much, I learned how to cook—she was going to night school, so she would write down all the directions and I was the oldest, so I had to prepare the meals. And I love to cook to this day! And it became a habit to learn how to do things—she would just write down the directions and I would do it. I was the head of the household while she was out. [...] But my mom always prepared us, and told us, “When you become a senior, you’d better have a plan, because you can’t stay here—you have to [leave].” She raised me, not somebody she had to take care of. She raised us to be leaders. And I just carried on with my kids. 

TYG-GD: So, did you leave the house when you were 18, or whenever?
Yes, as soon as I graduated from high school, I went straight into college on a football scholarship at the University of Kansas. I was there for five years. And I was blessed from there, you know. I was wanting to go pro, but I got hurt my senior year, and that wasn’t what God had planned for me.

TYG-EA: How did you end up doing this?
When I got out of college, I ended up as a manager for Wendy’s, and I hated it. It wasn’t a challenge. And then I got a job at Kmart in Kansas City in Missouri, at a S. S. Kresge’s—that’s what Kmart originated from. And then I got promoted to another store, [but] then they started having cut-backs. Last hired, first to go. So me and my wife and family, we moved back to Arkansas. I didn’t work for a while, but then unemployment started running out. So I went to my principal, who was Secretary of State, and told him I needed a job, so he hired me as State Capitol police officer. And Clinton was governor at that time. I used to talk to Clinton like I’m sitting here talking to you. He was a workaholic and worked late—I worked the night shift from ten at night until six in the morning. And he was always around the building at that time, with his bodyguards—he would be there till two or three in the morning. Then he’d turn around and you’d see him jogging at six in the morning! And I thought, “Man, this guy—does he ever sleep?” [laughs]

TYG-EA: I hear he was big on a nap around four in the afternoon...
I don’t know what he did in the afternoons, but he was always there! He was a good governor, no matter what they want to say. He was very helpful to me. I left the State Capitol and went to the highway police because of him.

TYG-GD: Did you go through officer training?
Well, I flunked the first test, and I was going to go back [to retake it] in three months... but in the meantime, I ran into a gentleman who was hiring for federal jobs at a Job Corps. And I used to think Job Corps was a waste of money, because I grew up in a city where Job Corps was there, and I just didn’t think it was worth the money until I volunteered. He asked me to volunteer, so I came out and volunteered for a couple of months. And I started seeing what it was really about: those kids weren’t any different from me. They were needing a chance. I got hooked on it, and I started weighing the odds: in the long run, am I going to have more retirement and make more money working for the State, or [the federal government]? So I didn’t go back [to the police academy]. So I got hired with the federal government, and I’ve been with it ever since. It’s been a blessing. I’ve had to move several times—I started out in Arkansas, went to Kentucky, went to Tennessee, to Wisconsin, back to Arkansas, Nebraska, Washington, back to Nebraska, then I came up here. So my kids grew up in Job Corps. My oldest son works at a federal prison in Kentucky. Last year he got his doctorate. He had a minor in criminal justice, and his master’s in business, and I don’t remember what he told me his doctorate was in. [laughs] He just told me I have to call him Dr. Booker. My other son is over in the Air Force in England, in Lakenheath. He’s about to get his degree, and is about ready to get out of the military and come back to the States. And my daughter, she’s here. And my wife—we’ve been together since high school—she’s my high-school sweetheart. I was in the tenth grade, and she was in the eighth. The first time I ever saw her, I thought about marriage. I don’t even know why. [laughter] It just went and popped into my head. She was this little itty bitty petite thing, and she’d just moved in from Chicago, and all these guys were trying to talk to her. Well, I wasn’t going to jump in line because I was a cocky athlete, you know. We didn’t too much like each other at first, because I thought I was The Rock, I wasn’t going to chase her... and then when I started liking her, she wouldn’t give me the time of day, and then when she started liking me, I gave her the cold shoulder! [laughter] But then we ended up together. [...] She hung in there and waited till I graduated from college. We had my son before I graduated, and we started a family, and I worked in the summertime. I was blessed. I’ve had a very good wife—I couldn’t have asked the Lord for a better spouse, and she’s a great mother. And honestly, I prayed for that. You’d be surprised—everything I’ve asked the Lord for, I’ve gotten. I asked for a scholarship, I got that. I asked for a good mother and a good wife, I got that. I wouldn’t have this job if it weren’t for Him. I don’t mean to be preaching, but I’m just testifying how my life has gone. And I wasn’t a perfect person, you know. It took me God opening doors and showing me things. And I used to wonder: “I’m constantly blessed, and I don’t even know if I deserve these things.” But he’s always blessed me. And then you get to a point, and wow. I need to change my life, I need to live more like Jesus. When you get older, you start to realize some things. Sometimes He lets you go, and then He brings you back. My mom kept us in the church. She instilled that in us. She always told us: “You can’t get anywhere without having God in your life.” In her house, she didn’t force you to go to church. But if you didn’t go to church, you couldn’t go hang out and play—you had to clean. So you better go to church. [laughter] You know, it’d be nice and sunny, and you had to stay in the house, cleaning. She didn’t wake you up... you had a choice. And if you didn’t miss Sunday School, and you went to church, they would give you a scholarship after you graduated if you were going to go to college or not. They gave out those things. I’ve had a blessed life—I wouldn’t trade it for all the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through.

Job Corps has been good to me. I never had gone camping till I started working with Job Corps. The students taught me how to camp, taught me how to cross-country ski, how to ice fish. I was a recreation supervisor, and all these things I didn’t know how to do. I didn’t even know how to put a tent together until I started working with Job Corps. My wife is a volunteer, so she and my kids would follow behind us when I took kids out camping and hiking and stuff. So my kids pretty much grew up with Job Corps. I introduced those things to them: camping, and hiking and fishing, so they had the background that I didn’t have. I didn’t have a father figure—he wasn’t in my life. He’s more in my grandkids’ life than he was in my life. It took him a while to realize... now he’s preaching. A lot of my problems when I was growing up were anger, toward him. But I had a pastor tell me, “Why? You turned out to be a good person, so that’s just negative energy wasted!” So it took me becoming an adult, in my late thirties, to get over my anger and move forward. My grandparents were more in my life—my dad’s mom and dad. I spent my summers on the farm with my grandparents.

TYG-GD: In Arkansas?
Yes. They raised everything on the farm, and they taught us how to fish. My grandmother was Blackfoot—she would take me out to the woods and talk about things. I wish I’d paid more attention, because her dad was a medicine man, and she would tell me stuff.

TYG-GD: I bet that was fascinating!
It was, but I didn’t... She was eating this dirt, one time, for her blood pressure...

TYG-EA: Did you say, “eating this dirt”?
Some kind of dirt, she was eating. And I’m like, “Big Mama, why?” and she said, “This is for my blood pressure.” And I’m like, “Okay...” [laughter] I wish I had paid more attention to the things she was showing me. She told me they were real poor, coming up, and she told me she had to make meals out of certain things for my dad and them. They used to travel around Arkansas making money, and over the years, they ended up buying sixty-some acres. They got it fixed in the family to where it can’t be resold outside the family. They traveled around Arkansas picking soybeans, picking cotton, different things. And when I got older, I never had seen cotton before I walked out into a cotton field and felt that thing. I don’t know how they did that. Those are very sharp things that you pick cotton from. And I thought, “Wow, my grandparents and them went through all this. I don’t know if I could have done that.” But that’s how they bought all those acres around them, five acres, ten acres... My grandfather was 98 when he died, my grandmother was 72 when she died. And his mother was 101 when she died, so I got to see my great-great-grandmother. I was always scared of old people, for some reason, back in those days.

TYG: I know the feeling, seriously.
I don’t know why, as a young kid, I was.

TYG: I guess maybe it feels unnatural—in nature no human would live past 40, of course.
Right. But you know, that’s a little bit about myself. Job Corps has been good, I love what I do. I love being able to make a difference in these kids’ life. Because they’re no different than me when I was growing up.

John Booker’s interview will conclude in Issue 55.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 53, February 1 2016

Click here for a printable version of The Yachats Gazette, Issue 53
Interview with Yemaya Camille

TYG: So how did you get involved in the chocolate business?
Wow, that’s a good story, actually. Myself and several other earth steward-type people have formed a collective, and we own a permaculture farm in Costa Rica. We’ve been exposed to cacao there—just taking the straight, raw cacao beans and turning them into chocolate that way really, really inspired me to take it further. The last time that I was in Costa Rica we had a few really big events where we were hosting people on the farm, and I was asked to create chocolate for those events. Through that process, I recognized how much I liked it—actually, how much I loved it. I fell in love with the process of creating chocolate from really, really healthy ingredients. That’s how all that came to be, and I decided to take it back to the States and turn it into something here.

TYG: I’d imagine it tastes much better than the big company stuff.
Yemaya: [laughs]
That’s what I’ve heard!

TYG: The big companies add all these ingredients to get the taste just right—it just doesn’t have a variation! Everything tastes exactly the same.
Yes. My chocolate definitely does not taste exactly the same as standard chocolate. I do it differently than most chocolatiers—I sweeten it with honey, which is not an easy process; you can’t temper the chocolate the same because there’s liquid content in the honey. Typically, you want zero water content in the chocolate so you can get a real temper, which means getting the chocolate to a real, shelf-stable state.

TYG: And not wiggle around?
Yes. So I use honey, and I also use coconut sugar—it’s a low glycemic, healthy sweetener as well. That really changes the flavor of the chocolate. I also use a lot of other ingredients: most of my chocolate is enhanced with medicinal herbs, so we use things like maca root, lúcuma, shilajit—different ingredients that are health enhancing and give a lot of exceptional, very different flavors to the chocolate.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: How did you come up with all these variants?
Well, when I was in Costa Rica experimenting with chocolate, I realized: “You know, this is an amazing medium to create food medicine!” First of all, most people love chocolate—however, I’ve learned that there are a lot of people that don’t love chocolate. But most people love chocolate, so if you put medicine in chocolate, they are far more likely to take their medicine. Costa Rica is abundant with different medicinal herbs to play around with, and on our farm there are a lot of those. So I was able to have the blessing of using 100% organic, sustainably-sourced ingredients—and that’s another big part of what my project is: raising the awareness of the importance of utilizing food as medicine and also making sure that what we put into our bodies is coming from healthy sources, not just the health in the food itself, but how it gets here, how it’s grown, what the process is for getting it from point A to point B. Throughout my process of learning all these things, I’ve also encouraged the rest of the people on our farm in Costa Rica—which, by the way, is called VerdEnergía. We’ve decided to create a co-op and purchase an adjacent farm to the one we have already, so we can create another food forest that’s much larger, and a big part of that food forest will be cacao and the medicinal herbs that I’ll be using in the chocolate. So I’ll be able to single-source all of the ingredients that I’m using in the chocolate. “Single-source” means one source; I’m not trying to collect from all over the place. The carbon footprint is much less because it’s going from point A to point B. I can go interact and be a part of the growth process of everything. It’s a very unique aspect of the business that sets me apart from the rest. Like you were saying, chocolate is the same everywhere you go; in order to be successful in this business, I really see the need to set myself apart from the rest; I can’t just do everything the same. So far, I’m doing pretty well with that! [laughs]

TYG: Where do you get the honey?
I source the honey right now from the Oceana co-op in Newport, and they are getting the honey from honey harvesters in Eugene, Oregon. So it’s local, 100% organically-raised bees. So, therefore, I can’t call my chocolates vegan, I learned, because people that are vegan don’t eat honey.

TYG: How is honey not vegan?
TYG-EA: Because you’re exploiting the bees!
Exploiting the bees, however, we’re not harming the bees. I do recognize that there are major, big-industry honey productions that are harmful, but everything that I’m using is ethically sourced and raised. So, my chocolates are not considered vegan. However, they are raw—I don’t ever heat anything over 108° F.

TYG: How does that make them raw?
The ingredients have never been heated, so you’re holding on to the integrity of all the nutrition.

TYG-EA: You’re not denaturing the proteins.
Exactly. So it keeps it all in its most natural state possible. You do have to melt the cacao and the cacao butter together to mix it up and make it. I have some chocolates here for you guys to try!

TYG: Mmm!
TYG-ED: What’s the name of your company?
The company is called Luminous Culture, and chocolate is the first wing of the business. There are two other wings that are slowly coming into development as well. I’ll be doing live-culture foods, which are things like sauerkrauts and fermented vegetables. And I will also be doing tonic elixirs, which are fermented beverages that can have all kinds of medicinal properties.

TYG: Non-alcoholic beverages, I’m assuming?
Well, they say that kombucha has 0.002% alcohol, but no, they will not get you drunk! [laughter] They’re meant to be consumed in small doses: they’re very strong and potent, like a super-concentrated tea, and you add an elixir like kombucha or water kefir, which are the things I’ll be using. So I’ll be doing water kefir as the base, then adding the herbs; eventually I will have a tonic elixir line as well. So all three of those things is what makes up Luminous Culture.

TYG-ED: Are you going to be doing chocolate bars and powders and stuff?
Yes, that is the plan! Right now I’m just doing chocolate by the piece, because it’s the easiest way—I don’t have my own kitchen yet, and still have a lot of equipment that I need to purchase. So this is still in the process of birthing; it’s not even exposed yet, other than to the very close, local community that I’ve reached out to. And to the community in Costa Rica, which is very supportive of what I’m doing.

TYG-ED: Don’t forget your breathing exercises! [...]
Yemaya: [laugh]
I should be practicing my breathing exercises, because this is a lot! This is a whole, big thing that I’m taking on and trying to do singularly. There are no other people involved in my business, other than my “technical” business assistant Heather Graham. She's been an enormous help and inspiration on every level. I guess we could call her my business partner, but she’s really helped me to learn the ropes of registering a business, what I need to do to have a website; all those logistical things that I’m not super-savvy in because I just want to be the artist that creates everything. [laughs]

TYG: You should make little cool-looking molds!
I have them. I have all kinds of chocolate molds that I picked up along my travels. But what I’m finding is that people really like to have a piece of chocolate that’s easy to bite into, and not too big as far as pieces go, so I’m sticking with squares and circles right now.

TYG: I just thought of an interesting thing! What if, for the medicinal ones, you made them in shapes like the stalks or the roots of the plant, or the leaves. [...] That would be like the dosage, or something.
That’s a good point that you’re bringing up, is that people like to know how much they’re getting of something, so once I’m up and running and I have serial codes, and packaging all organized, then I will have [a note that] there are this many milligrams per piece. Right now I’m just using my best judgement and knowing that I’m not over-dosing people on anything. All of the herbs that I’m using are food—it’s not like I’m adding some sort of synthetic ingredient or anything.

TYG: So, how was your time in Costa Rica?
My time in Costa Rica was incredible—that’s a whole other story, an interview in and of itself. But I encourage you to go and look at the website for our farm, and that will teach you what we’re all about. [The website is] Eventually, the farm will be producing all the ingredients for Luminous Culture.

TYG: Will you ever be selling the ingredients? Say you’ve had a good year, and the farm produces way more than you’re ever going to use. Would you be selling to other people?
Yes, that’s part of our plan, to be able to export cacao, and ginger, and the other stuff we’re producing. [We hope to make it] available to retailers to purchase and sell, or to wholesalers to use for their own ingredients; so yes, that’s definitely on the agenda. It’s a five-year goal to where we have the cacao into a place of production, because it takes five years to get a tree that’s producing anything.

TYG: So how did you find Yachats?
Well, my family moved to Oregon when I was seven. My dad is a commercial fisherman; he was actually a lobsterman for many years (we’re from Massachusets). We came here to Seal Rock, and discovered Yachats through that. I just got back here to the Oregon coast almost five years ago. I left Costa Rica, realizing that that wasn’t the environment I really wanted to thrive in; however, I go back and visit often.

TYG: So how did you find Costa Rica?
Well, we were in need of a change. We were living in Portland, Oregon; we started a bio-diesel business up there, me and my ex-partner. We were really in competition with the policies here in the US, and it was really disturbing. My ex-partner is a big-time political activist, and it was in 2006 that we were ready to make a change and do something different. We were looking at all kinds of places all over the world, and decided that Costa Rica was a good option because it has a really green government—they like to support earth-sustaining projects, and they’ve actually helped us a lot. The department of agriculture in Costa Rica has helped fund large portions of our farming projects.

TYG: Because you’re here spreading the word?
Well, my business is separate from the farm. The farm is the place where I’ll be sourcing my ingredients, but VerdEnergía is a business in and of itself. It’s a permaculture farm; we have a big project down there: we grow crops for bio-diesel. The government is really on board with that because they want to go as green as they can with fuel resourcing. They’ve helped us to create basically a regional cooperative, and show other small farmers who are at risk of losing their farms to monoculture how to crop these different plants and save their farms and their families through that process. The government has helped fund the educational aspects of that to get people aware and to help farmers transition into different crops. So that’s been a big part of what we’ve done down there. There’s all kinds of stuff that we’re doing. It’s an educational retreat center: right now as we speak they’re having a permaculture design course down there—they’ve brought some really highly-recognized permaculturists down there to teach people how to farm naturally. They’re having really good success—I think we’re having 20 different people down there for a three-week permaculture immersion course. We’re set up for lodging for up to 55 people at a time. It’s become a really great project for many reasons, but especially to raise awareness and bring people into understanding natural farming practices.

TYG-ED: Would you mind explaining the term “permaculture”?
Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity stability and resilience of a natural ecosystem. It’s a harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and nonmaterial needs in a sustainable way. It’s not just farming, it’s a lifestyle—the choices that you make. Right now we have an entire food forest on 27 acres that’s producing 75 different native fruits, all kinds of different roots and food that all seeds itself. There’s farmwork that goes into it, but usually it takes about five years to eight years to re-establish good soil and nutrition once you’re working in a place that’s already been cropped before. But after that, your farm takes care of itself. It continues to produce without having to rape it every single season and start over.

TYG: How do you grow cacao?
Cacao is a tree. In most parts of the world that are doing mass production of cacao, [the situation] is really, really bad. There are all these different funguses that have begun growing in central and south America where they grow a lot of cacao, because they’re bringing in stuff from places that have done it wrong; there’s genetic modification, there’s all kinds of stuff that’s happened to make growing cacao a challenge. But, you grow it just like any other tree, pretty much. You can only grow cacao in certain environments; you couldn’t grow cacoa in the Pacific Northwest at all. It has to be in a tropical environment.

TYG: So how did you get involved with belly dancing?
Well, my mom started belly dancing right after she had me. She had lots of girlfriends—this was the early 70’s—and she learned that it was good for getting back into shape after having a kid, and it was also the rage back then. She fell in love with it, and became a master instructor, and I followed in her footsteps! She would take me to all of her classes when I was a baby—I’d sit in a playpen and watch. I started performing at age four...

TYG: Wow!
...and started taking it seriously as a profession at the age of 19. I apprenticed under my mom (Joanna Camille, known as belly dancer Kameal) for several years before I began teaching, but I started teaching professionally in my early 20’s. I’ve been a professional performer since I was 18. It’s just always been a part of my life; my step-father, Joseph Pusey, who has passed away, was an incredible folklore musician who had a main focus on Middle Eastern music. He and my mom were married for a lot of years, and we were blessed to have his music as part of our dance experience—I was able to dance to live music for the majority of the time he was with us. It was really great. And I’m still doing it! I teach here on the Oregon coast in Newport at Dance and All That Jazz, and also at the Harmony Center—maybe eventually in Yachats, we’ll see. I am kind of planning a move to the valley, hopefully at the end of next summer, because I really want to get Kaileah [her daughter] involved in more art and dance. There is some of it available here, but not the style she’s really interested in—she wants to be on a dance team where they can compete. She’s got a competitive nature, unlike myself. She just wants to be more challenged than she is here, and she’s not really into ballet. [...] Plus, she’s an amazing singer and an amazing actress, and she just wants the change—and so do I. I have a really big following in Corvallis, because that’s where I grew up (from the age of 14 until my mid-20’s). So I can teach pretty successfully; I really love teaching belly dance. It’s my favorite part of what I do. I really love watching women blossom into this art; it’s a wonderful way to get in shape and to have a really good time too.

TYG: It has to be a massive confidence booster!
It is! You see amazing changes within an eight-week course of belly dance. Women go from being really unsure of themselves to excited and confident about they’re doing.

Just so you know, I’ll be performing at Ona this coming Tuesday, February 2. There will be three shows: One at 5pm, one at 6pm, and one at 7:15pm. I’ll also be dancing at the Waves hotel on the 12th of February, and the next night at the Sylvia Inn in Newport—they’re having a special Valentine’s dinner. So there will be actual opportunity to see live belly dancing in this area, which is amazing! I’ve lived here for almost five years and had hardly any performance gigs, and now—now, it’s happening! [laughs]

Interview with Lisa Holland

Lisa Holland, MS, LPC, a former resident of Yachats, is a Jungian Psychoanalyst. She is offering a class entitled “Untapped Treasures: What Are Your Dreams Telling You?” at Newport’s Center for Health Education on February 6, from 10 am to 4 pm.

TYG: What do you mean by tapping into your subconscious? [The conversation references the flier for the class.]
That’s a great place to start, but complicated, because first we have to understand what the unconscious is! Perhaps if we start with the body it is more clear. I choose and am aware of biting into a sandwich, but my body does the digesting unconsciously, for the most part outside my conscious awareness, unless something goes wrong. Indigestion, for example.
Things that we associate more with the mind are a little different. There are things that don’t register consciously, like if I were daydreaming, what the math teacher said during class, or what I saw on the drive to work. Consciousness and the unconscious collide when we fantasize, sometimes when we have physical symptoms (that are psychosomatic), and when we dream. Tapping into the unconscious is creating more moments of collision. Spending time and considering the things that float up from beneath consciousness in order to build a stronger relationship, an alliance even, between the two. Since the unconscious has things to offer us, in energy, creativity, wisdom, etc. it makes sense to tap those resources that are just waiting for us to tune in.

TYG: What kind of potential would tapping into this 80% energy drain give to us?
The unconscious is not an energy drain, but is truly the source of energy. If we are more in alignment or harmony with our  unconscious, with our bodies as well as our minds, with our instincts as well as our ideals, and with our non-rational or feeling parts as well as our rationality, we will have the capacity to live more peaceful, creative, passionate and effective lives.

TYG: What is Jungian dream theory?
Jungian Dream theory is a huge topic, but I will try to sum it in a manner that is useful. According to Jung, dreams communicate in the language of symbols, but not as Freud theorized, in order to trick or fool us. Jung believed that the symbols in dreams were truly the best possible manner in which to attempt to capture extremely complex phenomena. According to Jung, dreams come to compensate  (balance out or correct) a conscious approach or attitude that is maladaptive.

For example, I had I dream a few nights ago in which I was scrubbing a giant toilet bowl as big as a swimming pool!  I was working hard, doing a dirty, unpleasant task, but making progress. When I awoke, I had a good laugh. I understood that the dream was suggesting that some of my care-taking habits were a bit out of control. And perhaps I needed to focus on cleaning my own bathroom and not everybody else’s. Dreams often have many layers of meaning and as we live with a dream our understanding of it deepens over time. One could also suggest that my vocation, as psychotherapist and psychoanalyst,  sometimes includes dealing with the stinky psychic messes of others. On some level it is my job and though at moments unpleasant, I am making headway.

TYG: What do you mean by embodiment in psychoanalysis?
Though we are all embodied (if not we would be dead) we tend to live in a society that splits things into opposites. Light/Dark, Male/Female, Upper/Lower, Thinking/Feeling, Mind/Body. Many of these opposites, if not all, are ranked, with one considered as superior and the other inferior. Since the body is associated with the unconscious, something that has sensations and desires that we can’t control and breaks down and gets sick without our permission, we tend to disconnect from it. You can see this even in small children when they use muscle tension to try to keep from crying when they are hurt or angry. This happens in a much more extreme form when people have experienced trauma. This is a useful coping mechanism to get people through difficult or even unbearable situations, but feelings of true well-being and aliveness are also sacrificed. In my work I attempt to support people in taking back their bodies again, meaning to re-connect to their awareness of living in a body and mind/body wholeness.

TYG: Where did you live in Europe, and did you enjoy it? Why did you choose to leave the United States initially?
Lisa: I
left the US because I fell in love with a European who had a great job/tenure at a university in Northern Spain. Once the marriage broke up I stayed on in Europe, studying in Zurich, Switzerland. Now that I have finished my studies, I enjoy long stretches of time in Northern Italy, but also want to spend more time in the US again. I miss my country after being away over a decade.

TYG: How did the International School of Analytical Psychology help you?
The International School of Analytical Psychology came into my life at the precisely perfect moment. It was life-changing not only for the intellectual experience, but for my community of colleagues and clients from all over the world. I had the privilege of working with an Egyptian during the Arab Spring, a Pakistani whose family was being terrorized by fundamentalists, a Japanese woman during the Fukushima disaster, etc. I was able to feel how history is something real people are a part of, not just something that happens to characters in a book. I believe it is important to get outside of ourselves and see things from different perspectives. ISAP gave me that well as teaching me a lot about Jung and Jungian Analysis.

TYG: What is the symbol of the spine?
The symbol of the spine is vast. It is our central axis, our “trunk” like the tree. It is part of our central nervous system and connects the “lower” chakras to the “higher” ones. It is also associated with strength of character and courage. We encourage people to have some “backbone” and stand up for themselves. And we feel disappointed when we find that someone has no “spine”. 

I have been working with women’s capacity to say “no”. When I worked in the past with battered women, we would tell them that without a “no” (without the safety or capacity to say “no”) “yes” has no meaning.  In my imagination this idea connects to the body through the spine. I also am playing with the idea that “no” is the “spine” of “yes”.  That’s probably enough for now! The rest you can read once my book is published.

TYG: What was life like for you here in Yachats?
Lisa: I loved living in Yachats. It was a very important  time for me. The ocean, rocks, trees, kind people, and my dog Ben really held me  during a difficult passage. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my ideas and experiences with you and the community through the Yachats Gazette. I loved my years of living in Yachats and getting to know some of the wonderful people who live(d) there.  I am deeply grateful for those years.

To register for Lisa Holland’s class, contact Ursula Marinelli at, or call 541-270-6413 no later than Friday, February 5. The class fee is $75.