The "Office"

 Photo by: Jon Mancuso 

Photo by: Jon Mancuso 

Today, I’m sitting in my office. Well, I’m in the kitchen-slash-living room of my cinematographer’s  house. There’s a comfortable wooden chair, great light, and, most importantly, we are far away from the smoke from a recent fire in the area. Did I mention this “office” comes with a bottomless cup of coffee? I have not yet determined if that’s a good thing. My office space changes on a daily basis, whether I’m traveling in my car for business meetings, visiting local coffee shops, stopping by friends’ houses, or at home in the Burrow, my roommates name for the underground stylish “garden” apartment (i.e. basement) where I live in Washington. 

Down to Earth Expeditions grew from an idea to continue to inspire the people around me to believe that anything is possible. It did not necessarily grow with any money. I work so hard to pay people out-of-pocket to be part of DTE expeditions. And right now, I can afford to do that (ish), as a single women with no costs beyond myself. DTE has never been my full-time job. The first year, I was working full-time at the Waldorf Schools of Bend, Oregon, as a first grade teacher. This past year, I was teaching first to sixth grade students in a one-room school room in Washington’s Methow Valley. My background is in education. I have a Masters degree in elementary education, and I have worked all over the world with various organizations and schools. 

Over the last few months, I have been figuring out what it would take to convert this side project into a full-time non-profit. I have never owned a business, but I have been lucky enough to watch my father excel in the family business of architectural stonework. My brother is the fourth generation to step into work at the stone yard. I didn’t choose that path, but I have spent countless hours at the stone yard, and being there has definitely shaped who I am, and how I will run DTE. This week, I filed to become a non-profit.

This is one of the first things I’ve ever done with little up-front knowledge. It is extremely intimidating. It is also extremely cool. I’m at a point in my life to pursue a challenge like this. My life experiences have prepared me to ask questions, put my foot down, and dig in, even if someone says “no.” I do not need to know exactly how this will play out to know that non-profit status is worth pursuing for DTE.  

DTE is an organization that, hopefully, will give voices to younger children. I hope it will empower teachers to see education in a new light, full of magic. I hope they will see that standards don’t have to be scary. That teaching experientially is worth the work. That continuing professional development doesn’t have be take place at a conference with insightful keynote speakers. So much professional growth can be found in an outdoor environment, alongside fellow teachers and environmentalists, gaining insight through real-life experiences. Test scores do not provide absolute proof of the brilliance of your ideas. Teachers and communities do care about a students success, no matter their walk of life, or the road blocks they may encounter. 

Down to Earth Expeditions will continue to show that education and awareness is worth the hard work, the courage to face uncertainty, and the tenacity to confront challenges. Real-life experiences are so valuable and so needed. Ultimately, we need to believe we all want progress in a way that supports our next generation and ourselves. We can make this world a successful place through collaboration, smiles, and a touch of hope. Please follow us on this journey in spreading awareness around our environment and communities.