We Are Nature Rising is a new project under the fiscal sponsorship of Merrohawke Nature School and directed by Mark Morey. Our aim is to systemically address the intersection of issues that we believe challenge our ecological, cultural and spiritual well-being today: Indigenous Rights, Climate Change and Nature Disconnection. We believe now is the time to step up and actively develop an eco-social justice strategy at the national level.

The rise of Standing Rock brought long-term native struggles into the national consciousness and has lit a fire for action. As mentors to the next generation, we are also highly aware of the impact climate data and environmental chaos is having on the hope of future leaders.

We Are Nature Rising is our response to these times. We intend to integrate next generation leadership development, climate justice awareness and native reciprocity with an established North American network of nature connection communities that are already deeply engaged in long-term nature connection as a strategy for social change.

We are working towards:

  • Increasing organizing competency and social impact in the next generation of leaders in the critical life-systems issues of soil, water, food, energy, health, traditional knowledge and climate.
  • Forging a new future where settler culture honors, respects and responsibly co-exists with indigenous culture and the natural world.
  • Elevating and providing platforms for the indigenous voice
  • Providing resources and training for ongoing awareness of privilege, power, and systems of oppression and encouraging responsibility to do our part in decolonization
  • Evolving the consciousness of giving from compartmentalized to systems thinking
  • Establishing intergenerational partnerships between elders and next generation leaders
  • Midwifing a new generation of hopeful and empowered leaders who experience the world as abundant, loving and worth inheriting

We believe effective eco-social change needs to be long-term, complex and regenerative while making an immediate impact on the well-being of communities. Our intent is to be native-centered, holistic, and stand for a future of thriving indigenous life-ways. Respect for–and societal integration of–indigenous core values will result in a healthy world for us all and will provide hope for the next generation of leaders shouldering the responsibility of stewarding healthy and regenerative culture.  

We Are Nature Rising is a basket of seven nested stakeholder circles:

  • Native Advisory Council
  • Eco-social philanthropists
  • Staff and Volunteers
  • Native next generation leaders (20 – 30 yrs old)
  • Non-Native next generation leaders (20 – 30 yrs old)
  • Nature Connection Organizations
  • Native Communities, Elders and Partner Organizations

If you think these issues are important and you align with our approach, please comment and share!

My name is Kawisente, I’m a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Clan Mother from Kahnawake, a Mohawk reservation just across the bridge from Montreal. I’m a mother of two: a daughter, age 17 and a son, age 14. My children and I have always been active in social and environmental causes. Culturally we were taught to be responsible for caretaking of the land, water, and all living things.

Because of people being disconnected to the natural world, we see all life suffering. Because of colonization, my people are lacking certain skills, (forest skills). Many people are just taught to have a high paying job and take care of their nuclear fmaily.

I first met Steve Leckman a few years ago when my chidlren were young and it was proposed by friends that it would be beneficial as families to learn these skills to bring back this connection to Mother Earth. Traditionaly it is the Uncles and Aunties that take the children and show them these skills. But Uncles, Aunties, Grandparents are too busy working. So Steve’s survival program and its volunteers fill the Uncle Aunt role.

Helping to bring the inner child (forest child) to the surface, playing in the forest, makes people connected to nature. When you’re living in it, you love it and so you value and protect it.

I allow non-native people on this land because I believe this program is a medicine that needs to be dispensed or prescribed to everyone. My children and non-native children are working side by side as caretakers of Mother Earth. Nursery school is where our first introduction to others begins. Forest teachings should begin as young as possible. This is when we are being formed and where we’re most open-minded.

What would it be like if all people could return to being guardians of human and biological diversity on the planet?  It’s this generation that will bring out of the box solutions to today’s global challenges.
A portion of this workshop will be experiencing the woods and fields through nature mentoring activities that include wandering to unknown places, internal challenges and exploring the world as if we lived there. This workshop will include stories of people and places that have engaged in transformative leadership experiences in nature. This will also include stories from Mark’s trip to Standing Rock and the indigenous leadership modeled there.
This is an intentional strategy for developing the next generation of leaders by providing a different location for a spiritual and moral guidance system.
[note: This upcoming workshop is located at Philips Exeter Academy and is closed to the public. If you are interested in hosting this workshop at your workplace, university or in your community, please contact us]

“From Standing Rock to Queensland, colonized and indigenous people are demanding new relationships to water that sustains the life and land which provides for the people.
This approach entails returning lands and resources to indigenous control and rethinking our relationship to the environment by recognizing and protecting indigenous values and the rights of nature through the law.
While indigenous values, beliefs and practices are as diverse as indigenous people themselves, they find common roots in a relationship to land and water radically different from the notion of property. For indigenous people, land and water are regarded as sacred, living relatives, ancestors, places of origin or any combination of the above.”



The following is an excerpt from Bill Pfeiffer’s book about transformational leadership experiences in nature. He interviewed me for one of his chapters in: Wild Earth Wild Soul.

We ended up talking about the role of extended family in bringing culture back into a regenerative state again.


Mark: If we take the long view of human beings as animals on the planet, we know— even with our limited anthropological lenses—that the culture our ancestors created was an imitation of the natural world they inhabited. The amount of nature-based arts that Native cultures have is outstanding—music, storytelling, dance, regalia, crafts; it goes on and on. And you know what? There’s no school in sight. The school I grew up with was designed to feed a machine, and I think it kills children’s creativity. Sir Ken Robinson and John Taylor Gatto have spent their lives explaining how this happens. Instead, I’m championing a life of intergenerational community mentoring designed around nature’s instructions. Nature becomes the school, and that’s been very successful and resilient over the long haul.

I think facilitating regenerative culture is like a holistic Chinese Five Element acupuncture treatment. Mentors who have spent a lot of time connecting with nature and applying that to people are like a combination of the acupuncture practitioner and the needles. They stimulate the meridians and multiple places throughout the entire body called culture, through core routines of nature connection and cultural mentoring.

Bill: Where do we start this cultural change?

Mark: One place to start is with the extended family.  It wasn’t that long ago that extended family was far more vital, so it’s not too hard to actually bring it back. The questions I ask to get people to think along these lines are: How long ago was it that the grandparents still lived with their families? What was life like before the nursing home? And what are the cultures around the world that are still that way? How many of you long to be in a village? How many of you wish to be seen by someone who can see your gift? How many people have adopted you as part of their extended family?

The answers to these questions are richer and more meaningful when the extended family becomes familiar with transition ceremonies around death, rites of passage, rites of competence, festivals, and other things like that. This is the beginning of intergenerational healing.

If you feel moved, please SHARE this post and help us lift up We Are Nature Rising !
We Are Nature Rising is a project of Merrohawke and has 501c3 tax deductible status.  Make a donation today and help lift the next generation of leaders !  DONATE

We Are Nature Rising !



If you feel moved, please SHARE this post and help us lift up We Are Nature Rising !
We Are Nature Rising is a project of Merrohawke and has 501c3 tax deductible status.  Make a donation today and help lift the next generation of leaders !  DONATE