(Amherst) Shalini is a consultant and researcher specializing in programs for mindfulness in business, social media, health care and academia. With Zayda Vallejo, she is a cofounder of The Mindfulness Connection, which promotes “a mindful organizational culture that fosters cooperation, creativity, and engagement at work, and an overall sense of well being.” She also is an online social media strategy instructor at the Isenberg School of Business, UMass, Amherst; co-creator of a social network site for mindfulness called Mindful Universe; and researcher with publications in top marketing and public policy journals.
(Shelburne) John believes that singing matters. That without singing our heath and spirits fails. He knows that singing connects people in our communities and peoples throughout the world. He is a founder of Eventide, a gathering of two dozen volunteer singers whose mission is to provide a bed of music on which a terminally ill person may rest in harmony while in her or his transition from this time to what is next to come. John is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, a former director of performance programs for NPR (which earned him a Peabody Award), and spent more than 30 years as a strategic planning consultant in the non-profit cultural and education fields.
(Orange) Lawyer/activist/development worker/radical businessman, Dean Cycon is the Founder and CEO of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Company, a pioneering organic and fair trade company located in Orange, Massachusetts. Dean has spent a lifetime fighting unjust systems with indigenous peoples around the world. He started Dean's Beans to see if a business could be a real partner in addressing the poverty and chronic underdevelopment in coffee villages of the Global South - and still be profitable. His book, Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee has been published in English, Korean and Chinese. Dean believes that only a fundamental shift in the way businesses operate will save the world from total destruction in our children's lifetime.
(S. Hadley) Darby is a professor of astronomy at Mount Holyoke College. The primary goal of her research is to understand how hydrogen and oxygen are distributed throughout our solar system, particularly in terrestrial bodies such as the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and the parent bodies of meteorites. She is a frequent contributor to scientific journals, and has been awarded numerous grants from the American Chemical Society, the National Science Foundation, and NASA, among other institutions. She has ongoing funding from NASA's Mars Fundamental Research program to conduct research for the space agency's rovers, including Curiosity, which touched down on the Red Planet August 6.
(Belchertown) David, considered the father of American improvisational theater, is also a producer, director, and actor. His groundbreaking experiments with improvisational formats have, for the most part, been incubated in his company Group Creativity Projects. David spent most of his life inventing improv formats such as COMPASS cabaret in Chicago, which was replicated 1,000 times world wide. From New York his Improv Olympix was carried to 300 Canadian high schools. MOVIExperience brought him to Massachusetts, where he now develops Life-Play. David has received lifetime achievement awards from the Chicago Improv Festival, Second City, and the Canadian Improv Games.
(Williamsburg) A former aerospace & defense professional who later worked as a genocide investigator for the United Nations, Keith is a local small farmer, war correspondent and photographer. He was the 2009 Regent’s Lecturer in Law and Society at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has worked in 44 countries, he is ‘persona non grata’ in Rwanda and Ethiopia, and he is also banned (for life) from Hampshire, Smith and Mt. Holyoke Colleges. A facilitator of consciousness workshops, he describes himself as “... a spiritual seeker learning to breathe and feel fine while preparing for the end of the world as we know it.”
(Goshen) Guitar Magazine calls June “one of the hottest female guitarists in the industry”. She’s made music since she was a child playing ukulele in her native Philippines. While living in CA in the 1960’s she and her sister, bassist Jean, turned in their folk guitars for electric, forming a succession of all-girl bands. By 1969 their band, Fanny, became the first all-women's rock band to be signed to a major label. Through five successful albums and extensive touring of Europe and North America, Fanny served notice that women could do more than simply sing: they could write and play passionate rock 'n roll. June is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen – a non-profit teaching, performing and recording facility dedicated to the support of women and girls in the music industry.
(Florence) Following his innovations in tap, jazz, modern, and postmodern dance, Daniel encountered tango in Buenos Aires in 1986 and spent the next two decades traveling 100 cities and igniting a multigenerational tango renaissance. In addition to creating the first tango tours to Buenos Aires and the first tango store in North America, Daniel ran an intercultural exchange in Havana where he added the salsa rueda to his repertoire. He settled in the Pioneer Valley in 2002 and teaches at Smith, Amherst and Mount Holyoke colleges, and the Performing Arts High School.
(Ashfield) With passions in writing, researching, ancient stone work, spirituality and metaphysics, Jim is a stone mason and co-owner of North Wind Stonework in Ashfield, doing dry masonry in and around the Berkshire Highlands for 15 years. Jim belongs to the Northeast Antiquities Research Association, a clearinghouse of information regarding mysterious monuments of antiquity. Jim is a regular contributing columnist for the Shelburne Falls & West County Independent and the national publication Ancient American Magazine.
(Buckland) Ezekiel is young meditator, poet and artist from Shelburne Falls. He is currently exploring the inner workings of the mind, studying the science of the physical world and thinking about how these connect. These days he is pondering fractal imagery as a visual framework for the idea of infinite infiniteness, underscoring Ezekiel’s belief that expanding our perspectives will facilitate greater positivity and connection with all things. Ezekiel was also a resident of the grass roots "Occupy Wall Street" tent community in Zuccotti Park in NYC.
(Northampton) Our host for the day,
Rona Leventhal is a masterful storyteller with twenty-two years experience bringing multicultural tales and original stories to life through drama, movement, song, and humor, all aimed at facilitating a joyful sense of community. Dedicated to team-building and integrating the arts into school curricula, Rona also is a specialist of improvisational theatre and movement, an environmental educator and a certified teacher: She has been a visiting lecturer at Columbia University and an adjunct professor and Lesley University and the University of Massachusetts, and has performed at the National Storytelling Conference in Los Angeles and internationally at schools, libraries, festivals and other venues where community is encouraged through the arts.