So here, with the new year upon us, is a list of films, books and poems that had the most impact on me in 2021. This list is for anyone who’s curious about nature, technology, consciousness and/or indigenous wisdom.
Occupy The Farm tells the story of a community’s fight to save public land for urban farming. When 200 farmers march to the gates of the last farmland in the urban East Bay near Oakland, they don’t carry signs protesting University of California’s plans to build a shopping center. Instead, they carry tents, tools and 15,000 seedlings. They clip the padlock off the gate and march onto the fields. I was so moved by the passion and dedication of the activists! I highly recommend this film to anyone who cares about equality, urban farming and healthy food for all.
Aluna is made by and with the Kogi people, a genuine lost civilization hidden on an isolated triangular pyramid mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, nearly five miles high, on the Caribbean coast. For the Kogi, nature is a living organism, and they want to spread the message to “little brother” that we need to take better care of the planet. The fascinating thing about this film was the advanced ecological and permaculture knowledge that these ancient people carry and how effortlessly they expressed it. I was energized and inspired by the indigenous wisdom in this film.
Bright Green Lies investigates the change in focus of the mainstream environmental movement from its original concern with protecting nature, to its current obsession with powering an unsustainable way of life. The film exposes the lies and fantastical thinking behind the notion that solar, wind, hydro, biomass, or green consumerism will save us from climate change. This film made me angry — the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off — but I feel more alerted to look beyond the green tech solutions and ask deeper questions about what actually needs to change.
The Earthing Movie is a documentary that reveals the scientific phenomenon of how we can heal our bodies by doing the simplest thing that a person can do — standing barefoot on the earth. This seems like the most common sense practice to me since I have been a barefoot dancer, yogi and nature lover for most of my life— but it was nice to see validation from doctors and other experts about the health benefits of keeping our feet on the ground. I hope that this film influences more people to skip the shoes and spend more time outdoors.
As soon as this short animated film A Gathering of the Tribe narrated by Charles Eisenstein landed in my inbox, I posted it on social media. Within a few days, several people texted it to me and also posted it on social media. His message is definitely striking a relevant cord with my cohort. Aubrey Marcus says: “This story made me cry the first time I read it in Charles Eisenstein’s book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible and every time I have watched it since. Because to me, it is a true story. It is time for us to come together. To gather, to rise, to love, to LIVE! You are not alone. I promise you, you are not alone.” I hope more people can hear this message and feel uplifted!
This is Your Mind on Plants and How to Change Your Mind are equally pleasurable in measure. Both are written by Michael Pollan, and both will take you down a rabbit hole of plant magic, from psychedelic trips to caffeine withdrawal. This was the first year that I experimented with peyote, mushrooms, LSD and Ayahuasca so it was fun to have these books as companions on my journey.
Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life — vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — along with Rob Greenfield’s Food Freedom — completely opened my eyes to new possibilities about how we can forage and harvest what need, while reducing the harm caused by industrial agriculture.
Simard’s memoir, Finding the Mother Tree, describes the intersecting webs of her career and private life that brought her to rewrite not only the forestry canon but our understanding of nature itself. Her mother trees have starring roles in the 2009 film Avatar and in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are currently turning this book into a feature film.
Soulcraft is filled with stories, poems, and guidelines, and practices that facilitate the descent to soul, including dreamwork, vision fasts, self-designed ceremony, nature-based shadow work, and the arts of romance, being lost, and storytelling. Reading this book is like going on a spiritual wilderness adventure. Dr. Plotkin also has Animas Valley Institute in CO where you can learn more about his approach to soul work.
Reading The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic felt like wellbeing and homecoming. The words were like food for my indigenous soul — a soul that I now realize is present in all human beings. During 2021, I lived in the two places where Martin became a shaman and storyteller — Northern New Mexico and Lake Atitlan. I could see-hear-smell-taste-and-touch his writing as I read it. It was such a pleasant surprise to find his book during this part of my journey.
I became slightly obsessed with crypto, blockchain and the “new internet” this year so it was really fun to read The Infinite Machine. Everyone has heard of Bitcoin, but few know about the second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, created by a supremely gifted 19-year-old. Camila Russo details the wild adventures of a team of hippy-anarchists, reluctantly led by an ambivalent visionary, and lays out how we are amidst a revolution of technology, culture, and money.
If you have a heart, Andrea Gibson’s poem, HOMESICK: A Plea for Our Planet, will make you cry. Her voice is the blood of the Earth, a volcanic eruption of grief and rage, and longing for all of us to remember our connection to nature.
The first time I heard Hieroglyphic Stairway, I had chills all over my body. Every time I re-read it, or hear it again, I am reminded of why I am on this eco-journey of recovery and rewilding. I don’t want to face a sleepless night at the end of my life where I cannot answer the question: what did you do once you knew?
What did we love in 2020?
In case you missed my round up last year, here are the books & films, that had the most impact on me in 2020.
What Can I Do? by Jane Fonda
Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer