The following post is written by Willie Canseco, the Jefferson Center Immersion Program participant.

Returning with a holistic mindset

On Monday, August 10, my month-long adventure as a participant in the Jefferson

Center’s Ranch Immersion Program came to a close. It was, of course, impossible to finish such a

positive and enlightening experience on any note other than a bittersweet one. I’ll miss quiet

Surprise Valley, Springs Ranch, and the Smith family (along with their dogs, cattle, and horses)

for quite a while, but I also have such excitement and optimism about walking back into the

world with a new holistic mindset.

The drive back to the Reno airport with Abbey was filled with exciting discussion through

which I was coming to terms with going home and continuing my adventure. Though I hope I

didn’t commandeer the conversation completely, I reflected on the power of the Holistic Context.

I had built mine only a few days earlier. Part-way through my first draft, I began to feel ecstatic

and empowered. Articulating and defining one’s necessary quality of life, the forms of

continuously producing that, and the resulting future resource base truly gives an uplifting sense

of purpose and agency. The idea that for a Holistic Context there is no ending point, no point at

which an ultimate goal has been met, but an ongoing state of fruitful and progressive existence

is also astoundingly empowering and peaceful to me. This, of course, now leads me to scheme

and dream of using Holistic Management for the benefit of any number of diverse enterprises,

causes, and endeavors.


Ranch life

Springs Ranch, holistic management, Fort Bidwell, California, work study program
Willie Canseco works on the spring box project on Springs Ranch.

In the second half of my immersion program with the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, many

things went on. Recently, a litter of 12 pups was born at the ranch (well, 10 made it). Ellie

seemed to be a good mama-dog. A chicken yard also was built, and an RV awning was

installed. The Fort Bidwell Hotel restaurant was open for business these last few weeks, and I

got to enjoy pizza on two occasions and a chile relleno on one other with the comfort of only

having to walk about a quarter mile to get it. Smoke from nearby forest fires filled the valley on a couple occasions,

which was a new experience for me as a non-Californian. Tumbleweeds were plucked from

electric fence lines. Cattle were pushed up the mountain to fresh forage. Old, grumpy Wagyu

bulls were loaded up (with some difficulty) and sent home to Belcampo. And then there was the spring box project.

Way up on the mountain, Steve, Spencer, and I began developing a spring for providing stock

water. Unfortunately, I was gone before the project was completed, but I got to enjoy two days of

digging and hanging out in the freshly-dug clay, laying pipe, and helping set up the spring box

surrounded by gravel.

Financial planning

At the end of my grand Ranch Immersion Program adventure was a Holistic Financial Planning

workshop. Lili and Robin, who had attended the Biological Monitoring and Land Planning

workshop during the first half of my month, returned, and we were joined by Daniela, who

moved in as the new Immersion Program trainee after I left. Mr. Rob Rutherford came to teach

the class. It was a very pleasant and informative experience, with neat Holistic ideas like

planning for profit first and as an expense being taught. Fascinating and entertaining evening

discussions on a variety of topics (mostly pertaining to Holistic Management, of course) would

follow the class among us workshop-goers on the porch of the hotel and during walks.


Building relationships

In the end, I was sad to go. I had established a relationship with a small, friendly

community in northeastern California, I had established a relationship with a wonderful ranch,

family, and educators, I had established a relationship with Cassie the dog

ranch life, holistic management
Cassie the Smith’s ranch dog is also a beautiful princess in her spare time.

, who would jump up

and ride on the 4-wheeler with me, and I had established a relationship with grass, soil, the sun,

and the many other living organisms that depend on and feed into those things. I had also

established some level of relationship with Lenny the horse, but he may not have been as

happy about that. I eagerly anticipate my many opportunities to implement Holistic Management

and everything I’ve learned, thanks to Spencer, Abbey, and Maezy, and I eagerly anticipate

being part of a new community of Holistic Managers who will benefit the world in countless

ways. I’m extremely grateful to the Smith family for their hospitality, warmth, generosity, and

willingness to provide such a positive and informative experience.

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