A wilderness journey from heart to home

second day 3

 

Have you ever wondered what’s happened to the wilderness of the suburbs? Wondered how to reconnect with nature when you’re city-based and not feeling mobile to visit lesser-explored lands? Asked for just a few minutes of wonder and stillness, without having to travel too far to find it?

That’s what I am sharing with you–an encapsulated journey of how one person I know very well, has discovered all of these things.

I’m writing not about my own take on wellness and wilderness, but about that of my husband, Tom, an avid paddler for decades. He recently took an adventure trip overnight, right from almost-our-backyard. Read on to learn more of his local kayaking adventure, exploring the lush wilds of New Jersey.

Turning it over to Tom and his GoPro camera–let yourself live through his words and images for a few minutes of your day. Click on each heading or photo to follow along or go directly to his blog to read directly.

1 – Intro

Passaic mist 2

2 – Putting in

putting in

3 – Herding Herons

tree bridge

4 – The Flats and the Meadows

meadows 1

5 – The Chatham Chop

Stanley 1

Stanley 1.5

Stanley 2

6 – Canoe Brook Water Reservoir to Great Piece Meadows

canoe brook 1

7 – The Great Piece Meadows

8 – Second Day

second day 1

9 – Canoes vs. Kayaks

10 – PI – Poison Ivy

11 – a bit about trees

That’s it! Hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of this Passaic journey. More soon.

All the best,

Maia & Tom

 

 

 

 

 

Heading out for the weekend? This Saturday/Sunday only, my books are free!

TheErenwineAgenda_MaiaKumariGilman_Cover reiki

Jump on it!

Described by shaman Janet StraightArrow as

a journey of awakening and finding positive ways of taking action to assist a world in environmental distress

and by architect and AIA Middle East president Raya Ani as

a timely and contemporary novel about love and care for the world—The Erenwine Agenda helps us understand how we might navigate from a place of non-communication to a place of resolution.

You guessed it, I’m running my last free book weekend starting tomorrow, Saturday July 1st, to Sunday July 2nd – after that we go to multi-outlet sales, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etcetera.

If you’d like to download two of my books for free, this is your last chance! I’m offering my love story about fracking, The Erenwine Agenda: a novel as well as my Reiki manual, entitled (very creatively!) Reiki: a manual. You can download now and read later.

Thanks everyone and please spread the word! I am hoping for oodles of positive review of both books on Goodreads and Amazon, especially in advance of the print editions which are coming out this fall.

Happy long weekend,

Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com

Getting Personal…

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I’m working on a new bio, inspired by Dan Blank. It’s taking shape…here it is:

I design, write and paint to reveal deeper connecting rivers of light that flow through our problems and carry us to solutions. I am interested in the weave of words, images and form as they fix our focus on what we think matters in any moment in time. My work is evolving now: as an architect, in a careful, climate-ready approach to renovating existing and historic buildings; as a writer, in crafting my second novel about creative states of consciousness; as an artist, in a series of paintings aimed at targeting the viewer’s attention to that which is eternal, and of upward motion.

I moved to New York on the strength of two months of dreams: every night the same dream. I was painting large, colorful, abstract images and everywhere I went, things worked out through the kindness of strangers. I took jobs in architecture, my “field” of study, and wrote about the environment, published a novel (my first, visionary eco-fiction). The abstract painting began after over a decade of living in the New York area, for me now expanded to New Jersey, after saying out loud over a game of Scrabble, “drawing for me is like breathing,” and realizing I had work to do in shifting from decades of pen sketching realistic spaces, to translating the essence of what I saw and felt of my meditative experience enhanced through my practice of Reiki. And so I began to paint, and the weave became richer, tighter and more compelling to me as a creator.

I knew I’d be a creator from a young age, and so becoming an architect was not a surprise. Limiting myself to architecture was not a possibility, since I see life too spherically to stay within the boundaries of one traditional discipline. My training in architecture (at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada) and practice in historic restoration (in New York City) gave me a strong foundation (pun intended!) for understanding the fundamentals of form and function, and it was from that vantage point that I branched out into the more visionary aspects of translating experience into art. The work is both grounded and expansive.

I’ve always been a writer. First it came as small stories I wrote for myself, and poems, then articles, published, and poems, published. In the same way that my first novel was more globally about ecology and specifically about fracking, so is my second novel more broadly about creative states of consciousness and more specifically about medical marijuana. There is a third novel, in the ethers, which is generally about transportation, and specifically about high speed rail networks. All of these works are as seen through the lens of architecture, which for me is a focusing device using the skills and vantage point that come easily to me.

I’m lit up by talking about light and color and space, and by hearing what inspires others in their work. I adore teaching others, children in particular, about how to tap into that essence and to find an expression of it in built, sculptural, three-dimensional form. This began long before I had my own children, now entering their teenage years, and it has formed a colorful thread in the larger weave of my work. Sharing what I know at every step is part of my learning and my growth as an architect. As a creator. I continue to work the weave, to find new threads, in design, words and paint – and I am always excited to share that unfolding with people whose flow brings us together.

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com

Free Weekend Ecofiction Read!

Free this Weekend - The Erenwine Agenda

Starting tomorrow, Friday, my visionary ecofiction novel
The Erenwine Agenda will be available for free, worldwide, on any digital device.

Visit the Kindle page all weekend to download.

read on any device

Thanks, enjoy, and spread the word!

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com

The Erenwine Agenda video is out!

asei arts youtube video erenwine agenda teaser raya ani

This inspired video by Finite Visual captures the essence of my visionary ecofiction novel, The Erenwine Agenda. Click the Youtube link to watch in higher resolution. There is also one on Facebook in a lower resolution.

You can see more about the novel here on Amazon and here on Goodreads.

Please enjoy, share, and let me know what you think!

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com

Salmon gathering

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I had a dream in the early hours this morning – an Earth Day dream.

Near my office—we’re somewhere northern—closer to the Arctic Circle.

Salmon gathering,

next to my friend’s office window,

in the river that ran clear past by the office building—

under a train bridge,

parallel to a turning train line.

Stood with my kids while we visited.

All so amazed!

Took out cameras to video the salmon run.

People are in with the salmon.

All so amazed!

Train comes by—whooshes through the salmon.

I’m on the train:

video still rolling,

young folks in bucket seats laughing and chatting and

So amazed!

About the salmon they’ve just trailed through.

The power is in the train,

with the kids;

the power isn’t with the salmon.

The salmon’s power transferred to the young kids on the train.

We’re sitting in the laps of the young kids who are holding the salmon-power.

 

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com

p.s. This Earth Day, we are celebrating a birthday with a sleepover of young salmon-power-holders. Not marching. Just celebrating.

 

 

March for Science

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Tomorrow is the March for Science, coincident with Earth Day. I’ve been a fan of the “Every Day is Earth Day” mentality for a long time and so to recognize this particular Earth Day as unique, is a mindshift. It is unique. It is a day to focus on the direction we want to go.

To that end, I dialogued with multiple-award-winning eco-Interior Designer Tracey Stephens of Tracey Stephens Interior Design, Inc.: EcoSmart Kitchens & Baths about recent proposed cuts to the US federal government’s Energy Star program, operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the direction in which we might choose to go as a result of such cuts. Tracey’s passion about the March for Science and the overlap of our interests in green design spurred us to a dialogue about those proposed cuts around the corner for the EPA.

These are our back-and-forth questions and answers.

tracey stephens - large pic
Vintage-style bath by Tracey Stephens

Maia: Tell me in a couple of sentences about your work.

Tracey: Using my 25 years of interior design experience, I help homeowners bring their vision to life by creating kitchens & bathrooms that reflect who they are and how they really live. From space planning to selecting cabinets, tile and other finishes, my goal is to turn the daunting task of renovation into a fun journey. And with my background in green design, my interiors make the planet happy, too.

Maia: What kinds of products do you specify?

Tracey: I specify both building materials such as non-toxic stone sealer, formaldehyde-free insulation, and LED lighting and finish materials such as cabinetry, appliances and tile. I find my clients are eager to choose healthy products that don’t harm the environment so my job is to stay informed and share with them what’s available. I refer my kitchen clients to appliance showrooms — the technology changes so frequently I rely on my network of experts to help them. People also really want to avoid adding to the landfills so I coordinate donations of items like old kitchen cabinets or bathroom sinks to places like Habitat For Humanity. If something is too worn or broken I use a construction debris recycling company that grinds up materials into either alternative wood fuel (lumber and paper) or road paving materials (toilets, tile, concrete).

Maia: How do you use ratings systems as a guide for making product recommendations to clients?

Tracey: Product information can be very technical and vetting very time consuming so I rely on ratings systems evaluations. I prefer 3rd party certification to guide my decisions on what to recommend for example Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that cabinetry lumber has been responsibly harvested and GreenGuard for indoor air quality. But I have not found FSC certified kitchen cabinets within my New Jersey 500 mile radius so I buy from companies who participate in the Environmental Stewardship Program of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (2nd party certification).

Maia: What do you think of the Energy Star rating system? How have you used it in the past?

Tracey: I’m a big fan of the Energy Star program.  It’s an easy way for the average person to compare products while shopping. In a nod to the program’s popularity and recognition, many websites now have a search function that allows the buyer to select only Energy Star products.

Since its launch in 1991 starting with rating light bulbs, the voluntary program has grown to include office equipment, heating/cooling, audio/visual equipment, windows and appliances and even certification of buildings. Since 1992, the EPA reports that the Energy Star program has helped families and businesses save an impressive $430 billion on utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.7 billion metric tons.

Maia: What options do you see available instead of using the Energy Star system?

Tracey: If there is no independent rating system then the average consumer will have only the information from a company rating its own product which I do not feel confident about. Trade associations will likely step up with more 2nd party certifications. Consumers and designers will still want to know about the environmental impact of the products they’re buying.

Maia: How do you feel about the proposed elimination of the Energy Star system?

Tracey: Protecting the environment used to be a bi-partisan issue with wide support. The EPA was created under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970. While not surprising considering Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it is infuriating to hear Budget Director Mulvaney say “We’re not spending money on [climate change] anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.” The Trump proposal to slash the EPA budget by 31% and eliminate 56 of its programs is short sighted. As part of the Climate Protection Program, the Energy Star program is on the chopping block, along with the Green Power Partnership (encouraging the use of renewable energy).

Fortunately there are many manufacturers, states and countries who have committed to sustainability regardless of which US administration is in power. For example, California will not roll back fuel economy standards.

Maia: What recommendations do you have for other designers in light of this proposed change?

Tracey:

For designers who care about sustainability, and honestly that should be all people everywhere, it is time to become an environmental activist.

If the federal government is going to roll back protections and programs we need to push our state governments to step up. I’m very hopeful about the state of New Jersey right now. An exciting new broad-based coalition of labor, faith, social justice, community and environmental organizations has launched Jersey Renews to urge our NJ elected officials to act now in support of climate justice, clean energy and good green jobs. And the People’s Climate March on April 29 in DC is going to be massive! We have at least 6 buses going for the day from Montclair. Click here to sign up to join a bus ride to Washington this weekend.

Maia: What recommendations do you have for legislators in light of this proposed change?

Tracey: Legislators at the local, state and national level need to reject climate denial and big business profits at the expense of our health and safety. And we the constituents need to encourage our legislators to support the crucial work of protecting our nation’s climate, people and natural resources, and hold them accountable. So please sign this petition urging Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R- NJ11), chair of Budget Appropriations Committee, to maintain the EPA’s full funding!

Maia: What could be an upside to this proposed change, that others might not have seen yet, and that you have a unique perspective on to share with other design professionals? What is your big picture scenario?

Tracey:

Since so many of us feel under attack, we are galvanized and energized to act.

Maia: There’s one last thing I would add to your big picture thinking scenario, and it comes directly from your website. It’s quote from Sufi poet Rumi, and I think if we step out with this attitude blazing forth, we will find a path to a new system, or way of thinking of these systems:

Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. Do it now. -Rumi

Tracey can be reached in Montclair, NJ at:

Tracey Stephens Interior Design, Inc.
EcoSmart Kitchens & Baths
973-202-8130
www.traceystephens.com

Let us know if you attend a March for Science near you!

Postscript from Maia:

I am personally very moved by these marches, although I won’t be able to attend this Saturday. Instead, I created two resources to share.

One: a printable poster in support of the March for Science (spoiler: includes a poem by me): https://www.maiakumarigilman.com/downloads

Two: a resource base online, of many of the US government’s energy and climate-related PDF documents: https://www.maiakumarigilman.com/resources

climate resources

As my website says,

These PDF files are archived US federal government documents relevant to architects, engineers and planners with energy and climate-related interests in historic preservation, community planning and disaster mitigation.

This is not a complete list and we do not have any further information about the files. Consider these archived/cached internet files that you may download and use in your work. Click on an image and then “Go to link” to access, then save to download.

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.comauthor of The Erenwine Agenda: a novel