The dream of creating a place of learning and teaching in a setting of dramatic natural beauty rolled around in RoundRiver Institute founder Mark Taylor’s soul for some 15 years.
It began while still working as an environmental writer for a daily newspaper. While covering wildlife and environmental issues Mark was struck by the repeating nature of the struggle to preserve wildlands. No matter how many times destructive development or legislation was held back, similar efforts would – like the flu – reappear year after year.
“I really began to see that these persistent attempts to whittle away at wilderness protection, or encroach upon the few remaining slivers of wildlife habitat or puddles of wetlands were more than just about competing economic visions or bureaucratic skirmishes,” he explains. “When you consider that everything we have rests upon the natural world and that we can’t exist if nature isn’t permitted to thrive, a different perspective emerges.
“It became clear we are caught in a spiritual crisis and experiencing a profound separation from the very forces and natural systems that make life possible.”
As important as the daily journalism work was, Mark began to explore what he felt were the deeper issues fueling not only environmental loss, but personal conflicts and a variety of social issues.
“As a wildlife writer I quickly learned – and repeatedly witnessed – the intricate connections and miraculous harmony of the natural world,” Mark notes. “Even the smallest altercation or assault on the natural chain of connection quickly reverberates up and down the links.
“If we can be still enough to be open to them, the lessons of the marsh and meadow apply to our daily lives and the first of those truths is that we are all connected.”
Wisconsin naturalist Aldo Leopold once observed that the first rule of “intelligent tinkering” is to not throw out any of the pieces. As we see over and over again; truly, there are magical connections between all things and the synergy or the whole dwarfs a mere inventory of the parts.
Any student of the world knows the lessons to be discovered are not limited to the orderly shelves of libraries or the web sites of scientific journals. Those frail containers can’t hope to hold the truly vibrant magic of a world that continues to present us with more and more questions with each new discovery.
At the age of 40, Mark returned to graduate school and earned an MA in counseling at the University of New Mexico. Since that time, most of his work has been with adolescents and their families, though he has worked in a variety of programs. He has also provided consultation and training to organizations and businesses. He was asked to develop and teach an undergraduate class, “Youth at Risk”, for the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse.
Mark sees the work of the RoundRiver Institute LLC as a cataylst of change in the lives and work of the teachers and students who find their way to RoundRiver.
“I know the things learned here, and the changes initiated on the personal level, can be a metaphor and model for the many hopeful changes beginning to come together in this new century,” he says.
The RoundRiver programming philosophy is grounded in a belief that, like a mighty river fed by many streams, we learn about ourselves and the world from many sources, varied traditions and on many levels. As a result, our programming explores nature, spirituality, human relations, the arts, Buddhism and the deep, sparkling traditions of indigenous cultures.
What has been created is a place of learning, where small groups of inquistive and open-minded people have the opportunity to gather, teach, share and learn from talented teachers in a variety of fields and traditions.
Too often workshops offer low prices but at the expense of spending hours in stuffy hotel confrence rooms, or a wonderful experience in a pricey setting that few can afford. RoundRiver Institute LLC provides both excellent training at reasonable prices as well as a beautiful setting in which to learn and renew.
The facility is also available for private groups or small businesses seeking a relaxed and reflective site for daylong training or planning retreats. We are especially interested in helping those progressive business owners and managers who are looking for creative ways to weave spiritual values into the challenge of day-to-day business.
If needed, RoundRiver can provide professional facilitation to meet group goals.
The challenges of today’s world are many and the pace growing faster all the time. Fortunately, there are many resources to draw from. Ultimately the responsibility for nurturing needed change rests within the individual. Transformation begins within each of us, and we are witness to the blossoming of soul in each other. RoundRiver is dedicated to be a part of that exciting process.