The FINAL EcoGrrl Interview: Peter



What a year!  Yes, this is the final interview in this year-long series asking people I know, know well, or barely know at all about some of the things that really interest me – and based on your feedback, piques your interest as well!  I am working on my first book that will highlight many of their stories, and yes, provide my own answers to my questions as well.

I am honored to close out 2013 with someone who was a tremendous inspiration to me.  Originally having met Peter in 2012 as a client, I remember meeting him for the first time very briefly and knowing instantaneously he was one of those “great” people.  You know those folks who you just say hello to and think, that’s great energy? Yup.  And my instincts were not wrong.  Peter is truly a great leader, with that rare combination of confidence and humility that gets people excited – and willing to follow him.  As I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve also gotten to know his partner, Rebecca, as well (check out her interview), and consider them true friends.  Peter and Rebecca recently relocated to California on a brand new adventure and I am SO excited for them!!! With that, here’s an introduction to Peter, and I’m sure you’ll agree with my “that guy is rad” assessment…

What or who inspires you most? My mentors and teachers throughout my life – they continue to inspire me.  There are also those who have performed random acts of kindness when I needed it most.  I think of them and am continually inspired by their example.

What do you turn to when you need strength? Meditation. Nature, especially forests and the ocean. My son and my girlfriend. Yoga – movement, really.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? My answer applies to all genders. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between ‘fixing’ and ‘serving’, especially from reading some of Rachel Naomi Remen’s writings on this topic. I think we best support and empower when we seek to serve rather than fix or help:  helping implies an inequality; serving comes from a relationship between equals, and is about connection and seeing others as truly whole.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? Various herbs for cooking.  An olive tree.  And a Clivia maxima that a very dear friend and mentor gave me years ago in Boston (its traveled cross country with me).  I would really like to grow vegetables on our new terrace.

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? I’m an on again / off again musician and I am fond of playing my cello. I have a daily yoga and meditation practice.  I also LOVE travel (international, in particular) and specifically the planning and research as much as the actual trip itself. I enjoy cooking, and am excited about Thanksgiving coming up as I answer these questions (there is this stuffing recipe I’ve been tweaking for 15 years or so, involving dried apricots, wild mushrooms and a lot of Grand Marnier).  I have a passion for Oregon Pinot Noir and thoroughly enjoy researching my favorite vintners and AVAs. Finally, I’m really eager to try roasting my own coffee.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? On a beach, near any ocean.  Specifically a beach with very few people, where I can wander and enjoy the sound of the surf and the magnitude of the sea without distraction.  I also feel in my element in old forests and near mountains, especially Mt. Shasta.  Finally, I love paddling on my SUP board, especially on a quiet lake.

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

  1. Save the Children – I first started supporting them when my son was 9 years old and I wanted him to connect more with the greater world and in particular with a part of the world that didn’t have the comforts and privileges we have in the US.  We ‘adopted’ a child in Haiti and wrote to her together every couple of weeks.  I’ve been a Save the Children supporter ever since (my son is now 26!).

  2. Amnesty International – I’ve been involved to one degree or another since I was 18 and was writing letters to South American generals asking them to release political prisoners.  I still have my vinyl copy of the Plastic People of the Universe – a band from Soviet-era Czechoslovakia who were arrested, jailed and deported, and were  subjects of my many letters to government officials there. I think AI is hugely important in a world that seems to always have those that grab power and persecute others who would take that power away.

  3. Southern Poverty Law Center – I am stunned to see how resilient hate groups continue to be in this country, and I am so grateful for Morris Dees and his little organization in Montgomery, Alabama, that not only continue to track Neo-nazis and other hate groups around the US but have also taken it to them – suing them and bankrupting them in many cases.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? Two years ago my girlfriend and I went from two cars down to one, and started to use car2go.  We have also moved away from using plastic containers and switched to using glass.   After recently moving from Portland to the Bay Area, and missing Portland’s emphasis on composting, I am now researching composting alternatives.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? Mt. Shasta for sure – there is a resonance in the air there that I feel keenly.  Crater Lake – a very similar story for me.   Various isolated beaches in Southern OR, New England and Hawaii where the power and vastness of the sea are so THERE. Any old growth forest – in particular some of the Redwoods near Arcata, CA.   And there is also a pass near the Three Sisters in Central OR where the silence is simply unreal.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Sloooow down.  You have time.  You don’t have to rush out into the greater world. Stop and take a long deep breath…and really try to enjoy where you are.  Everything you are excited about will come in its own time – trust in that.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? Think deeply about what we consume each day.  Walk more…a lot more.  And I’d like to see services like car2go in every city.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? My mother, sister and I read ‘Diet for a Small Planet’ when I was 11 and together we became vegetarians.  I was struck so HARD by the political reasons for famine around the world, and how we could truly feed the world if we just focused on getting plant-based protein to people around the world, instead of feeding it to highly inefficient protein producers such as cattle. 

How do you live simply? I meditate and practice yoga every day. Throughout my day, wherever I am, I remind myself to slow down, breathe deeply and come back to this present moment.  I am regularly looking hard at the possessions that I have and identifying what I can give away and do without. I use mass transit and car sharing services instead of owning a car.  I haven’t owned a TV in five years and have no desire to change that.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “Many footpaths go up the mountain; a single moon grazes its peak.” ~ Ikkyu (Zen poet/priest from 15th century Japan)


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