Holistic Contexts empower people

This week marked the end of Willie’s (a.k.a. Roberto Guillermo Conseco) stay with us and the beginning of Daniela Flynn’s stay with us. Both are such thoughtful, intelligent people who are working to make the world a better place. We are inspired by them and thankful they chose to spend time with us at the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management.

Willie is a student at Hampshire College in Massachusetts and said he intends to incorporate holistic management into his degree. On the long drive back to Reno from Fort Bidwell, via Gerlach, we discussed the many applications of holistic management. Willie saw it as a way to empower people in a non-violent way. He said that people seek empowerment in many ways, which often manifest in violence. Through the creation of a holistic context, people realize their power over their own lives and decisions and thus the need for empowerment through other means diminishes. As Mr. Rob Rutherford told us over slices of gluten-free pizza at the Fort Bidwell Hotel, after the financial planning workshop, just a few nights before, “the most important person in your life is you.”


Willie left Fort Bidwell on his 20th birthday. It was fascinating to see holistic management through the eyes of someone who is early in the process of shaping their own life. He said, “I feel like I’ve been waiting and waiting for my adventure to begin…and now it has.”

I was 22 when I wrote my first holistic context while in South Africa, living as Willie did, with a family practicing holistic management. I realized how much of that original context still applies. Our most deeply held values, perhaps, rarely shift or change. The key is listening close enough and giving yourself the space to learn them.

Jefferson Center for Holistic Management immersion program
The Smith family says good-bye to their new friend, Willie Canseco after his month-long immersion program with the Jefferson Center.

All meat diets heal

Tuesday morning at 5:30 a.m., Spencer and I sat in the guest bedroom at the ranch, hunched over a table and his cell phone, as we Skyped with Stephanie Holbrook and Peter Defty to record a podcast about holistic management and the benefits of large, ruminant animals to a landscape (when managed properly) and their role in healing us (or those of us with compromised intestinal epithelium, I happen to fall into this category). We discussed whole-ecosystem management and how soil bacteria, fungi, grasses, herbivores, predators all evolved together. They are part of the same whole. When one component is missing the whole ecosystem, it is unsustainable. Meat consumption is, thus, not detrimental to the environment if the meat comes from cattle who are playing their proper role in the ecosystem. We have our own little ecosystems within us–in the biome of our guts–and of course an interview with coaches of endurance athletes must include consideration of the role nutrient-dense food plays in our overall health (and performance). We agreed that our own bodies must be managed holistically. Spencer and I learned so much from Peter and Stephanie and consider them new friends. I hope, like Daniela and Wille, they come spend time with us on the ranch. They explained role of meat and high fat diets in our evolution and health. As a family following the Paleo diet we were aware of the necessity of eating real food, but Peter argues that fruits and vegetables are unessential to us and can even be detrimental if the gut lining of the individual is compromised.

He says, “One key line of thought I have comes from the understanding of ruminant nutrition…i.e. the “nutrition

” ruminants gain from consuming plants comes from the fatty acids produced by the bacteria in their rumen…..now the human biome is an important bit player in terms of human nutrition (though its role is force to step up as a main player with vegans, something its not fully able to do for most people)….I say this because of all the hyperbole about the biome and nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables….the point here is a lot of the nutrition one gains from consuming fruits and vegetables comes from the fatty acids produced by the bacteria consuming the fruit/veg rather than the food source itself…..so if the epithelium is compromised the biome will be limited as there simply is not the residential area for it to inhabit…if the biome is compromised or out of balance due to a variety of factors on top of the epithelium then the ability to produce essential fatty acids is compromised.”

For those of you curious enough to learn more, here are some links Stephanie and Peter shared with us about all meat diets:

We will provide a link to the podcast when it is produced. We talked for almost two hours, so I’m sure some editing is in order. 


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