Melodie has been mentoring youth in nature for the past 15 years and has worked with over 2,000 young people during that time. She stepped into the world of intentional intergenerational mentoring as an assistant mentor at age 10 and has continued working with youth in nature ever since. She draws upon her experiences of nature-based mentoring at early ages and passes that on with love and commitment.
As Melodie sees it, supporting youth in creating strong and direct relationships with the natural world is an act of resistance to oppressive systems. These systems thrive on disconnection, lack of awareness, and a sense of self as separate from the land. Direct relationship to place cultivates the vitality, resilience and creativity that the times we live in are asking of us.
“One of the most meaningful parts of my experience as a child in the natural world was knowing myself as fully part of an immense web of diverse life. To feed myself directly from the wild earth, to sleep in a shelter knowing that the trees had given me the gift of warmth in the leaves surrounding me, to drink water from a spring; these kinds of unmediated experiences of subsistence stripped things down such that I could actually see what components contributed to each aspect of my living. From there the awareness continued to grow and helped me to see more of the ways in which I impact and am impacted by everything around me”.
This connection cultivated empathy, reverence, and a commitment to truth above comfort. She sees these same results in the youth she has worked with in long-term mentoring relationships.For Melodie, there is an evident link between tracking an animal across a sandbar and tracking the ways power moves through human systems over time.
“If you cultivate awareness, it translates to everything. It’s building the brain patterns necessary to ask important questions that bring us again and again to the edges of what we can perceive and asks us to go farther. Once I started tracking the ecological relationships of the land, I noticed things about my internal landscapes as well. And it didn’t stop there. Every bit of awareness fed back on itself and amplified my ability to see and track more clearly, regardless of the terrain.”
Melodie has a strong commitment to building healthy living systems utilizing methods and ways of being that support life. She sees how often we unintentionally recreate the dysfunctional cycles we have inherited through colonization, white supremacy and patriarchy. Melodie recognizes the vast importance of looking directly to the land for guidance as we source these new ways. Melodie sees the value of looking into her own lineages to find and heal the points of trauma, disconnect, and perpetuation of violence. On that path, she also discovers the places of deep land-centered wisdom and life ways.
“The road ahead is complex and uncharted and the tools we will need to navigate the way forward are different from those we’ve used in getting ourselves to where we are.”
Melodie believes that the ability to sit with discomfort is essential and that a willingness to live into the tensions of our times as “birth-places of creativity” will serve us well along the path ahead. And a night alone in the dark of the woods is a sure place to face the unknown and look fear into its eyes.