Curious by nature. Believer of dreams and action, Soul Adventurer.
Explorer of truths and seeker of happiness, River Rat.
Greetings! The name’s Michael, however you found your way here, welcome.
Paul and I get to chatting a lot on these rivers about various topics – food, best campsites, and when the mood’s right – theories on life. As the river meanders, our theories do to. The one I believe in and stand for is Positive Trace Living.
See, I come from a place where the ‘waters reflect the skies’ and the state bird is the mosquito. A place where cultures mix, and perspectives are full spectrum. Growing up, the soccer community in St. Louis Park, MN rooted me. Post graduation, some friends and I wanted to pay it forward and spread the positivity. In 2014, we started the SPAM F.C. Scholarship Foundation to continue to strengthen the community and we now annually distribute college scholarships to rising freshmen.
The Mississippi River rooted me while I simultaneously earned my undergrad degree in ecology from the University of Minnesota – TC and spiraled into a deep depression. The powerpoints with slide after slide of devastation to the earth by the hand of our species and the general catastrophic doom approach by my professors left me feeling small and helpless.
I believe this is where the seeds of Positive Trace Living began to sprout. As I grew toward the light, I realized I needed to take full responsibility over what I thought, what I said, and what I did.
The idea with Positive Trace compared to something like the backcountry environmental ethics Leave no Trace is that it acknowledges that we are alive and empowers us to be aware of our impact our surroundings. From this awareness, we have the opportunity to make the choice to leave a positive trace wherever we are and with whatever we do.
Knowing I needed to expand my horizons (and get out of the dark Minnesota winters), I headed south and studied tropical ecology and conservation in Costa Rica and was introduced to the experiential education learning model – essentially learning by doing. Full immersion. Not sitting in lecture halls but picking up plants, having real conversations. The travel bug, or a bot fly (you decide) bit me while there and I have since traveled throughout Central America spending time permaculture farming on mountain sides, managing a primate rehabilitation center, handcrafting djembe drums, and simply observing the different ways in which people interact within their local environments.
I was hooked- I knew I wanted to keep learning about the vast variety of ways people find meaningful connection with nature. So, I spent the last few years working as a Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service – Mississippi River taking thousands of urban youth outdoors and seeing how they relate and get connected to the natural world, themselves, and each other. I also enjoyed my time as wilderness guide for Wilderness Inquiry where I was able to connect with all types of people (first time campers, people with varying mental and physical abilities and backgrounds, war veterans..) and lead trips in remote settings like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Positive Trace living asks “How is your presence a positive force for you and others? How about the animals, and the communities to which you belong? And for the generations to come? Or the water which speaks its own language?
Each trace unique, with an infinite ways to spread positivity. Plant a garden. Help eliminate racism in your workplace. Be a steward of your local woods. Pick up the litter that has been sitting at the end of the street . Take action on clean air. Help your elderly neighbor cross the street. We all give in our own way and that’s the point. Take the time to get to know yourself and what’s happening around you so, if you choose, you can leave a positive trace on the world.
I’ve seen that when we intentionally focus our attention on moment to moment awareness, we can tap into a subtler state of being where “coincidences” become the norm and the pieces find alignment. In this state, you feel in tune with your life – empowered, capable, alive.
We are participating. Right here, right now.
Behavior, communication, and relationships fascinate me. Leaving places I enter with a positive impact motivates me. Mindfulness, yoga, canoeing, and being outdoors balance me. Meaningful conversations, people giving their best, and natural phenomena inspire me.
Sharing stories is also one of my favorites as stories contain embedded truths and wisdom. Once taken in, they are like gems shining in the soul. Good stories have the capacity to span space and time while behaving like rivers carrying essential nutrients wherever they flow.
From connection, comes relation, and with relation comes connection. Meaning and purpose arise from these connections and relations. We often like thinking in circles at Adventure Stewardship Alliance and believe the choices we make everyday plant seeds which will grow into exactly what was planted. The main question is what would you like to grow today?
Thanks for stopping by, please stay a while, swap some stories, check out an upcoming trip, get connected and involved!
‘Till we link up- may you be curious by nature, believe and act on your dreams, and dwell within a place of happiness…