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.
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.
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.
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
, 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.