Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A New Path

An update to all my Friends, and Family

Many of you may have heard that I have decided to move to Guatemala for an indefinite amount of time. I am happy to say that this is true and, following the example of my older sister Sheylan, I have been inspired to reach out and contribute my energies to helping others in our world. Setting forth on this path, I have recently joined four great friends of mine to live and work in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. This may not come as a great surprise to those who know me well as I have been a regular traveler in Latin America. However my decision to move here is life changing, and committing to live in a foreign land, far from snowy mountain peaks was not easy. I hope you enjoy my words as I share why I’m here, and what I will be doing.

Living with a deep respect and appreciation for nature has always been a passion of mine. I have participated in development projects in the past, always with the goal of encouraging environmentally friendly choices, and helping others. This move to Guatemala, however, is the first endeavor in which there is no end date in sight, rather infinite possibilities for growth. Together with a group of friends with whom I have played, worked, and traveled for many years I will be learning and encouraging a transition towards ecologically sound farming practices. We intend to foster knowledge, build leadership, and provide resources that will help align food production with the natural cycles of Earth’s ecosystems. Even though this work is far from my home, I am intrigued to be involved in Guatemala. The people here are ready to take hold of this opportunity and lay the foundation for sustainable changes that may one day sweep the globe.

One component to our work that has steadily been building momentum and keeping us very busy is our Non-profit, Semilla Nueva (New Seed): We collaborate with leaders of agricultural communities to implement pilot investigations that prove the viability and profitability of sustainable systems. First, we work with community leaders to identify the most valuable sustainable technologies with which to experiment. Second, we help community leaders experiment with these technologies on their own land, providing technical assistance and support. Third, we measure results and work with leaders to share findings within their community and beyond. We have been welcomed warmly by individuals, government agencies, and farmer associations, some with over 800 members. This means our work with one community leader has a tremendous potential to reach many farmers.

While community work and leadership building are important pieces to the puzzle we feel that providing environmentally friendly alternatives also plays an important role in the transition of agriculture. As such we have started a triple bottom line company Alternativas Orgánicas de Guatemala (Organic Alternatives Guatemala): We help farmers sustainably grow their yields by offering environmentally friendly alternatives to agrochemicals. Alternativas Orgánicas works to build markets and competition within the sustainable agriculture products sector of Guatemala. Currently, there are only two other providers of sustainable agriculture supplies in all of Guatemala and both focus on export crops like tea or coffee (rather than food). Further, instead of trying to replace chemical systems, they generally work to optimize them. We strive to change this reality by offering farmers a full suite of organic alternatives that can incrementally replace agrochemicals.

By integrating the work of Semilla Nueva and Alternativas Organicas we strive to enable a holistic transition in which all farmers have access to profitable and environmentally sound growing practices. Through collaborative research, technical support, and building markets for sustainable technologies we provide the tools for change. On one hand, Alternativas Orgánicas enables us to approach large industrial producers with an organic means of improving their soil quality, work conditions, and yields. On the other, Semilla Nueva works with small producers who benefit more through learning sustainable methods than investing in alternative products. In time, the work of both organizations will complement one another. Organic systems will become more prevalent allowing producers to understand their farm’s ecology more clearly, and share their knowledge with fellow farmers. Gradually both organizations will help build a network connecting small farm communities to the large industrial producers. Through these networks we aim to encourage innovation, progression, and entrepreneurial opportunities across all scales of agriculture, and unify people in comprehensive actions to grow within natures ecosystems.

Indeed, these are lofty goals for a group of young activists, however I am confident in the ability of our team to endure through difficult times and steadily progress our vision for sustainable change. This summer is perhaps one of the most difficult times we will face. Our work currently demands our minds to be highly focused and strong as we build relationships with leaders, learn the complexities of farming, coordinate volunteers to facilitate projects, and invest not only all of our time but also our small savings to make these projects happen. Personally, I could not ask for a better challenge nor would I wish to be facing it with any others than those involved. Currently I am organizing volunteers and community projects for Semilla Nueva, while simultaneously learning to represent and grow our company with large farms and organizations. These tasks will present me the rare opportunity to learn more about Guatemalan culture, farming, and myself through daily experience as I directly pursue environmental and social change.

I am also thankful to be blessed with the opportunity to finally live with my girl friend of a year, Yaoska Liduvina Rosales Suarez—a beautiful, brilliant, and passionate lady from Nicaragua. Her presence will provide the loving support to keep my heart and soul healthy through these times of discovery, difficulty, and resilience. After a year of long distance phone calls, and emails I am very excited to spend time learning more about her as our relationship grows. In time and with luck, we will bypass the complicated and expensive visa process, and Yaoska will have the opportunity to meet my crazy family and friends and share her smiles with you as she has with me.

If there is one thing that I may ask of you all, my friends and family, it is to offer as much support from abroad as possible. As you well know I appreciate all means of support, smiles, jokes, and loving energy, however at this moment we are also walking a very fine line financially. Currently our teams savings are dwindling as we have taken it upon ourselves to pay operational costs while we explore as many avenues as possible to stabilize funding. The immediate goal is to build a foundation of members and donors, who’s generosity ensures our ability to follow through on our commitments to work with farmers who are eager to collaborate. Your donation will go a long way for us, so please, if you are able, visit our website www.semillanueva.org

, read our blog, learn about our work, and become a member of the Semilla Nueva network.

From Guatemala I send my love, smiles, and blessings. To all you who have helped me grow, and learn how to approach life with endless positivity Thank You! And know that as with any of my houses, my doors of hospitality are wide open to any who wish to visit. Come spend some time with me here as I embark on this life changing experience in pursuit of contributing positively to the lives of all those who I come across in this exciting and abstract path that I walk.

Lots of Love, Brook Golling

PS. To contact me in Guatemala you can:

E-mail me at: brookgolling@semillanueva.org

Call me at: (011) 502.40.218.418

Or send letters to my home address in Oregon

Po Box 362

Ashland OR, 97520

Saturday, February 6, 2010


How did I get here? Searching, Flipping Spinning and loving life in the moment.
Grounding myself while in the process trying to fly seems to be the theme of my winter thus far. As some know and others will learn I have been complimenting my time searching out excitement and peace in the mountains with an active pursuit to take action to serve the earth and many friends who live here.

Friends in fun and friends in work, friends unknown all have helped enable the inception of Semilla Nueva. The non-profit organization in the process of becoming thanks to inspiration, motivation, action and an urgency that gathered great friends to build a powerful team to create sustainable agriculture opportunities to farmers in Guatemala. www.semillanueva.org

These friends may look confused but don't be fooled its only because the big flips and spins that started their day have not had time to wear off.
The sky may be the limit but we are doing what we can to push this boundaries.
SHHH this is a secret place I like to call the rainbow room...
Anything is possible here in this magic location blessed with soft snow and creative visions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ten Past Days

Breath out, breath in, observe, be happy. Ten days I spent in a vipassana meditation course silently learning to observe reality AS IT IS moment to moment. The foundation is so simple, the practice is straightforward and yet the depths and complexity of this experience is difficult to describe. There are three basic elements that lead you into a deep exploration of mind and matter: morality, concentration, and wisdom. The first is self-explanatory in that any action you make should have strong moral integrity. Maintaining this gives you a pure foundation that will allow you to experience concentration, and wisdom without the pollution and misconceptions that arise from immoral acts. Concentration is another key component to this journey, and on the surface level everyone can concentrate, however in order to truly study your mind and body a very deep and practiced concentration must be learned and eventually develop into natural habit. Wisdom is a word that encompasses such a large array of understandings it is important to understand its varying possibilities. The most basic wisdom is gained by listening to others. Wisdom of intellect is the analytical understanding of a topic. Both of these are important in life however vipassana demands and creates wisdom of far greater value… Wisdom of experience is wisdom gained from direct personal experience and is essential to further understanding of the mind. By gaining and practicing wisdom of experience you begin to understand and change the reactions of your body and mind at the root level thus opening life to happiness, peace, and love on a consistent and personal basis.

The beauty of sitting and studying your mind is that there is always more to discover. While observing the sensations on my body, I learned from many directions and slowly thoughts got very pointed. You have no choice but to examine your reality: tensions, stresses, pleasures and pain arrive and pass away. It becomes apparent that as balanced as you may feel on the surface, many impurities and imbalances exist. Even more astounding lies the capacity to understand the universe in its essence by examining the trillions of molecules that create our physical perceptions through an immense rapidity of arising and passing. While I meditate there is no doubt that my mind is in constant state of anicca (impermanence), thoughts come and go with the rapidity of a fire flickering. There is no turning away from the fact that all things come and go. Honestly observing the reality of all your sensations, and thoughts in the moment gives you a great capacity to react to these things. Habitually reactions to sensory objects create an action or attitude of craving or aversion. By these principles we lead our lives leaving the door open to a variety of miseries entering our life and creating imbalance. Meditation teaches you the capacity to change the habit of your mind and react to things from a balanced prospective that does not create craving or aversion. In stopping this fundamental reactionary process you stop creating habits formed by the inner self that obstruct pure happiness, love, and compassion. Further the old habits from the depths of your unconscious begin to arise and by observing this process with equanimity (evenness of mind or temper) these habits have no option but to pass away. Again so simple: be aware, remain equanimis and naturally your mind will purify, thoughts will sharpen, and life will be easier lived happy.

Where to go from now is a question very much rolling around in my head. I have gained wisdom of all three types during these ten days and will no doubt apply this through every day living. Will I practice vipassana meditation on a regular basis? My immediate response was probably not. I can quickly justify this by applying the reality that I am happy, I show love, and have compassion for the world. My life is full of experience that has created a healthy joyful environment that I have been able to share with others. If you ever have skied with me you would agree that its hard to be anywhere than the moment. The focus and meditation I achieve during skiing or yoga are healthy for me and don’t require long periods of sitting. However I have a strong sense that vipassana meditation has the capacity to sharpen my mind and allow me to understand things on a deeper level with more quickness. The fact that immediately after my return was the memorial of a close friend of mine Ethan Townsend has pulled me away from the position of applying the knowledge and continuing life without regular meditation. Ethan was perhaps the most intelligent, and joyful, loving man I know which inspires me to exercise my brain to fuller extents. It feels irresponsible to not take steps that improve the functions of my mind and increase the capacity to help others while I well know the world has lost one of its sharpest most pointed individuals. So yes I will discipline myself to meditate with a more than sporadic frequency. And I will recommend that anybody set aside ten days of their life to go to a vipassana course without expectations and an open mind to learning. May all beings be happy. Peace Brook

Monday, June 1, 2009


Riva, Riva, Rivas, The ring of bus boys and taxi drivers sounds the same every time.  Working to convince passerby’s with the shear enthusiasm of their voice to join their journey to a different place. My quickest trip to Nicaragua was indeed well appreciated. With the passing of more than two years since I had last seen any of my friends in Nicaragua it was refreshing to see their smiles, hear their laughs and exchange comical stories of our lives moving along. Four of them have new children, Mariel has a 2 year old girl, Gonzalo a 1 year old boy, Ramon with a 5 month old boy, and Alfredo with a 2 month old boy. I am a little surprised as my life has been far from having children and now many close friends of mine are happy fathers and mothers.

 No denying I noticed the standard development and spread of western progress none the less I still feel the heart of the country beating strong and shining with joy. The friends I have seen and the strangers that I passed by still have the same stress free relaxed attitude that keeps people smiling when money is scarce and responsibilities real. This constant positivism in life is a strong force as my dear friend Fermin explained to me while we sat under the shade of a tree on an, empty white sand, sea shell littered beach. We shared stories of life… losses and gains, sadness and joys, each accepting that our words have meaning and impact but life has more faces than either of us can label. Get to the root of the matter and you conclude… why label what you cant control when you have the option to stay positive about the things you can?

 What is it about Yaoska that swayed me into a spontaneous trip to visit while I know very well the difficulties involved in being together. I think more than anything it was her voice fluidly expressing emotions and ideas thoroughly and without hesitation. The relaxed feeling I’m lulled into by the distant whispers of unconditional happiness spoken from a woman who is genuine and caring. Perhaps also her strong features that emphasize the power of a delicate body. Maybe I am drawn to the idea that she has yet to be distracted by a capitalistic world that deforms priories and confuses relationships. Or maybe that she can still comfortably share a room with 3 sisters and a best friend. Whatever it was that called me down there it only grew as two weeks passed without a hesitation or complication between us.  Cheers to Nicaragua.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The end of each ski season ends with large parties and roudy skiers getting dressed up and and wasted in the mountains. Needless to say this season was no different and lots of fun. Bellow you see a few photos from Alta's High Boy party. Also the easter bunny getting his but kicked on Solitudes last day, what can you say gotta keep the good times rolling. CHEERS.