The EcoGrrl Interview: Yancy



Yancy is the founder of FiveSeed, a teacher, a writer, and a friend living in Redmond, OR.  I’ve yet to meet her in person but we have kept in touch so long through our evolving blogs, that I often forget this!  Her blog is fantastic, and ranges in everything from wellness to sustainable living to bicycle commuting to feminism to self-image.  And I love her products – check them out as they smell good, feel good, and DO good!

Who or what inspires you most? I know this answer is a cliché, but nature inspires me most. I recently read somewhere that nature is simple in function but beautifully complicated in design and I think that’s so true and something innate in our own beings (since we are, after all, part of nature). I strive for that same simplicity yet sense of beauty.

What do you turn to when you need strength? After having several setbacks in the past few years, I have learned to lean on the principles outlined in A Course in Miracles. There are beautiful truths there, namely that only love exists – everything else is an illusion. I have been doing a daily study of this course for almost two years now (as well as dabbling with it for the previous twenty years) and will continue to do so, as it gives me great strength.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? I think the single most important thing we can do is to stop the poisonous talk. I still constantly hear women maligning other women because of what they wear, who they married, what their kids are like, etc. Another woman’s life is none of our business – we have no right to judge and every time we do, we tear at the sisterhood. We don’t have to agree with one another, but I do believe we must stop using our words to hurt others. No more gossip. Imagine what the next generation of women would be like if their female elders taught them to respect one another without exception.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? I’m a Brassica Bitch. I love kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli so so much. I grow many of these, since they don’t mind the cold temperatures of Central Oregon. As for the future – I have grand dreams. I wouldn’t mind an orchard. And a fully-stocked vegetable and herb garden. Tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, asparagus…I may have to move to a different climate, though!

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but you haven’t? I love writing more than anything as far as creativity. I also enjoy cooking, drawing, painting, knitting, spinning and making gift tags. I’ve been dabbling in furniture restoration and that’s something I would really like to get into in the future. I LOVE taking old (or just plain ugly) furniture and sanding it down and making it into something new, functional, vibrant and beautiful.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? I feel in my element mostly when I’m alone! I’m definitely a loner and my creativity tends to be a very solitary experience. However, I also enjoy my day job, working with children, and as time goes on, I find myself feeling more and more comfortable in that environment.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. Roots and Shoots – I adore Jane Goodall’s organization because it targets young people and who better to teach than the ones who will inherit this world?

  2. Big Brothers Big Sisters – For the same reason as above. They are not an environmental group, obviously, but the impact you can make on a Little is powerful – and that includes passing on your passion for the earth.

  3. Sierra Club – I also love them.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? I honestly haven’t done a lot of new things in the past year. The most recent change was when I bought a cruiser to ride to work in October 2011. I had already been a two-year bicycle commuting veteran, but had never used a bike for a steady job (I had been working from home before that). It was a huge challenge for me and one that was very satisfying. I’m now facing some changes in that area that I’ll have to figure out as I go!

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? Perhaps it’s because I’m a water sign, but for me, I find any place with water to be a sanctuary. Lakes, the ocean and especially rivers and creeks. I could literally sit for hours next to a creek – it makes me very happy!

What advice would you give to your younger self? I would tell myself to accept myself and my decisions. I grew up always questioning myself and believing that I was doing everything – and I mean everything – wrong. It was a very painful mental habit that I believe stalled me and keep me in a low-grade depression for over a decade. Things don’t tend to go well when you always think you need to “fix” yourself or “fix” your life. What if nothing needs to be fixed? What a radical thought that would have been to have at that age!

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? I think getting off petroleum is the most important thing we can do, as a society. I have written about this a lot on my blog – I think it’s a dangerous, ingrained choice that needs to stop NOW. We are plenty advanced enough to come up with clean power but the question is, will our government stop making choices based on profit? Hmmm…

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? I have been interested in the environment for so long, I honestly don’t remember what started it. When I was 21, I planned a huge family reunion and had this brilliant idea to make it both fun and philanthropic. I had people pick a team they wanted to be on (recycling, animal activism, waste reduction, etc.) and they had a year to accumulate “points” for doing community work in these categories. Unfortunately, the reunion did not work out due to complaints from people who thought I was forcing my political agenda on them, but that just goes to show how important that was to me – it wasn’t about politics to me, and I was shocked that others weren’t totally on board. Who WOULDN’T be interested in this stuff? The environment IS us.

How do you live simply? I’m still trying to work on this, as a former packrat, but one way is to try to eat close to the earth – whole foods. This helps me keep cooking and food storage relatively simple. Bicycle commuting is another way I try to keep it simple. I don’t need a lot to get around and it helps limit what I buy. As for the rest…I’m still a major work in progress!

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “You have so many extraordinary gifts. How can you expect to lead an ordinary life?” ~ from Little Women


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