Various guest teachers will be involved with The FIRE Fellowship, and there is a set of primary faculty who will support the thru-line of the immersion. We call this group the Core Guides. Their responsibilities include offering the basic curriculum and mentoring support, as well as program design and hosting.
Brendan Clarke is a Hapa father, educator, writer, and wilderness rite of passage guide. Born in Washington, D.C. to a family with a long history of foreign service, he has spent the majority of his adult life focused on supporting positive change in his home country. He received a B.A. in political science from McGill University and holds an M.A. in teaching. He has taught in a variety of settings, from public school in southwest Chicago to alternative, nature-based education in California. He sees transformative education as a form of activism, in service to cultural-scale healing, of both our human-to-human relations, and our false sense of separation from the Earth. Since childhood, Brendan has carried a passion for healing the human relationship to the planet, and especially water. In recent years, he has been involved with the Walking Water Pilgrimage, Standing Rock, and the Russian River Confluence. He is a student of nature, yoga, hunting, council, mythology, permaculture, ancestral arts and the greater dreaming of these times. He currently serves as Co-Director of The Ojai Foundation in Southern California.
Darcy Ottey (she/her) has been dedicated to creating intentional rite of passage experiences for young people since her nature-based coming of age experience at age 13. She is grateful to her teachers/mentors in this work, including Stan Crow, Gigi Coyle, Melissa Michaels, Elder Paul Hill, and many more. Darcy’s ancestors include early Quaker settlers of Turtle Island from Wales and England, British coal miners and Ukrainian peasants. Currently Co-Director of Youth Passageways, Darcy has worked with a variety of youth-serving organizations as both rite of passage practitioner and administrator, as well as a consultant and educator on themes of social justice, ancestral recovery, and rites of passage. She holds an M.A. in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle. Her passions are dancing (especially under the full moon), making folk dolls, and helping herself and others with racial, gender, and class privilege understand their history, reclaim their ancestral traditions, and take responsibility for addressing injustices that they have perpetuated. For more on Darcy’s work, see her TedxSnoIsle talk, Tying the Threads of the Past to the Future.
Kruti Parekh is a Coach for Healing & Justice and the mother of 11 year old Khalil. She is coaching leaders, healers, and justice warriors to improve personal and community outcomes. She has been working synergistically with young people and families in the most marginalized communities in both New York and Los Angeles for the last 20+ years around economic and racial justice. Her purpose is to raise consciousness and resistance against Stolen Land, Stolen Labor and Stolen Lives. Her goal is to help people bring voice to the things that get caught between their heart and their throat and to transform spaces of harm and violence into solace and serenity. She is a practitioner and educator of Transformative Justice. Kruti’s experience includes working with the Los Angeles Youth Uprising Coalition, Youth Justice Coalition, Youth Passageways, YouthBuild Charter School of California, Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat, and CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget). Kruti has a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College and a Coaching for Transformation Certification from Leadership That Works.
Sharon Shay Sloan (she/her) is a second-generation community steward committed to nurturing communities and communities of practice. In 2007, she went through her first community-supported rite of passage, met The Ojai Foundation, and began working in international conservation. Since that time, she has engaged in the practice and evolution of the field of rites of passage, including with Beyond Boundaries, Wilderness Reflections, Global Passageways, and Youth Passageways. In 2012, she became a council trainer and the founding director of the Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas program for The WILD Foundation, working to build a bridge between the mainstream conservation movement and Indigenous Peoples. Through this work, and other opportunities over 20 years, Shay has had the honor of learning from and working with Indigenous Peoples from more than a hundred nations. Shay’s early work focused on youth development, and for 18 years, she worked to expand youth presence and leadership at Bioneers. She is co-editor of the book Protecting Wild Nature on Native Lands and co-author of the report “Cross-Cultural Protocols in Rites of Passage: Guiding Principles, Themes and Inquiry.” She currently serves as Co-Director of The Ojai Foundation. When not working, Shay can be found in the ceramics studio, working in the garden, and enjoying her son, Kian.
Guardians & Guest Teachers
Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish has developed a pedagogy that synthesizes mindfulness, embodiment, social justice, the environment, mentoring and ritual & ceremony for over a decade. As a core candidate Assistant Professor In Naropa University’s Interdisciplinary Studies department he teaches foundations in contemplative learning and theory, diversity and social identity and sustainability. He also focuses on the equity dimensions of the environment through courses in food and environmental justice. He serves as a freelance educator, lecturer and consultant on the links between social justice, sustainability and mindfulness for universities, outdoor organizations, non-profits, government and businesses.
Ramon is a certified practitioner of SomaSource and longtime leader/facilitator in the Surfing The Creative® International Youth Leadership Camps, having helped usher hundreds of young people through contemporary threshold experiences. As a previous board member of Youth Passageways and a current board chair for Frontline Farming, Ramon is committed to the revival of rites of passage and community regeneration and resilience.
When she is called, Virginia “Gigi” Coyle shows up as a community activist, a facilitator for many kinds of gatherings, a carrier of council as a practice, and a trainer for our times. She is a life-passage guide and mentor for individuals, communities and organizations, while learning to be a guardian, a witness and an elder, currently serving in such ways for the Ojai Foundation, Youth Passageways, the European Council Network, and Weaving Earth. She has contributed extensively in the areas of citizen diplomacy, earth justice, the empowerment of all, particularly youth and women. Co-steward of a small oasis, Three Creeks, visionary for an alliance, Beyond Boundaries, she is devoted to the emergence of local and global learning centers, sanctuaries, and what she calls “watering holes.” Gigi‘s focus continues to be healing ways through ceremony, inter-generational projects of prayer, action and service. She is co-founder of Walking Water (Walking-Water.org), co-author of The Way of Council, and http://waysofcouncil.net, and The Box, Remembering the Gift.
Pınar (they/them) is an Indigenous multi-species futurist, mentor, consultant and trans eco-philosopher; co-founder of Queer Nature, an “organism” stewarding earth-based queer community through ancestral skills, interspecies solidarity and rites of passage. Enchanted by the liminal, Pınar is a future transcestor of Huanca Quechua, Turkish and Chinese lineages. A central prayer that guides them is envisioning decolonially-informed queer ancestral-futurism through interspecies accountability and the remediation of human exceptionalism in the Chthulucene. Their relationship with queerness, hybridity, neurodivergence, Indigeneity and belonging guided their work in developing Queer Ecopsychology with a somatic and depth approach through a decolonial lens. As a survival skills mentor, one of their core missions is to uplift and amplify the brilliant “survival skills” that BIPOC, LGBTQ2SIA+ and other intersectional systemically targeted populations already have in their resilient bodies and stories of survivance. They are a member of Diversify Outdoors coalition. Follow their work on IG via @queerquechua + @queernature
The Partnering Organizations
To foster practices that awaken connection with self, others, and the natural world.
Theory Of Change
Through education and experience, individuals and communities can improve their wellbeing and take on stewardship responsibility for place and community. Our educational model is built on three pillars: inquiry, practice, offering. We believe that deep inquiry—living the relevant questions and inviting teachers and wisdom from various traditions—supports the integration of powerful practices for wellbeing. From the incorporation of the practices over time, we can know what we have to offer back to the world. This living model allows for adeptness in a time of deep, global adaptation.
Youth Passageways helps regenerate healthy passages into mature adulthood for today’s youth.
Theory Of Change
By inviting practitioners and community members to come together across differences, culturally relevant, transformative practices are preserved and regenerated, which fosters empowered young people, co-creating thriving communities.