Workshops & Keynotes
Using the 4 BEHAVIORS & 8 INSTRUCTIONS OF NATURE as the core of Full Ecology,
Mary M Clare and Gary Ferguson create customized in-person and virtual workshops, keynotes and retreats for organizations, community groups, businesses, schools, and universities. Their end-goal is always tangible, sustainable and resilient relationship, whether personal, organizational or civic.
Full Ecology reminds us that, without exception, the lessons of nature are the lessons of our nature – of human nature.
Gary & Mary teach and inspire as they show how these lessons can support healthy relationships, healthy organizations,
and a healthy earth.
To book please contact:
CHRISTIE HINRICHS, Agent/Director
Authors Unbound Agency
o: 541.797.2217 – m: 541.241.4171
Scroll down this page for sample presentations.
“Humans are conflict avoidant, which is ironic because that automatically puts you in conflict.”
~Mary M Clare
LIVING WITH HEART IN CLIMATE CHANGE
For many of us, anxieties about the well-being of this precious planet are growing as quickly as climate change itself. How do get past feelings of being overwhelmed? What do we do with our sadness and grief – and even guilt – about the choices we humans have made in the past? What is nature telling us – both as individuals and communities – about where we can go from here? This is a program to inspire – showing audiences how to move forward with heart, releasing the wisdom of their own human nature.
NATURE AS HEALER
In these anxious times, we find ourselves overwhelmed by worries about health, climate change, money; mental focus, even a basic sense of well-being, can be is hard to find. Nature can help. Science is overflowing with new evidence that the natural world is a powerful, reliable source of healing. Simply being outdoors reduces stress hormones. Chemicals released from trees, called phytoncides, strengthen the human heart and immune system. Even just looking to the tops of trees calms the brain. Nature also contains brilliant prompts and clues for the psyche, helping us better navigate difficult transitions. This program reconnects audiences to the superpowers of nature – and at the same time, to the untapped brilliance waiting inside us all.
THE FULL ECOLOGY OF WILDFIRE
Fire is an ancient force, powerful enough to shape much of the natural world, and to stand as a real threat to human community. America is now being hit by nearly 50,000 wildfires annually – up 500% from the 1970’s. Thousands of homes are being destroyed. Familiar, comforting landscapes are suddenly stark and strange. In this unprecedented age of wildfire gone extreme we can look to the natural world for guidance. This talk reveals practical mitigation strategies for homes and communities alongside practices for addressing the array of challenges, anxiety, and grief that come with living in wildfire country.
The natural world holds countless examples of the vital role of Elderhood. Vitality that calls for the re-discovery, reclamation, and activation of Elderhood for ourselves. What is Elderhood? Where does it comes from? What is useful, what is worth letting go? Consider evidence of Elderhood as a reliable resource throughout life – one we can nurture and champion. This program reveals the opportunity for reclaiming the wild possibilities of Elderhood – of wisdom and peace in a too frequently wacky world.
COVID-19 AS THE FRONT PORCH OF CLIMATE DISTURBANCE
What skills have we gained from living through COVID-19? What do we know now that will be of help as we engage climate change? On one hand, this fierce pandemic has revealed much about the deep interconnections of life on Earth – most notably, how the loss of critical wildlife habit can significantly increase our exposure to deadly disease. At the same time, COVID also taught us about the power of cooperation – a quality even Charles Darwin recognized as our species’ greatest superpower. How might we more fully tap into that superpower in the years to come?
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM WOLVES
For the past 500 years, wolves have been routinely demonized. And yet across history no animal has been more frequently sought out by humans as a source of wisdom for what it takes to build successful social groups – be it families, or even whole societies. From the lavish care a wolf pack offers its young, to the way pack leaders govern by ensuring freedom for their underlings, wolves show astonishing social intelligence and biological resiliency. This program, based in part on in-depth studies of the wolves of greater Yellowstone, reconnects us with an animal who even today remains a potent teacher.
THE NATURE OF WORK & COMMUNITY
An exploration of lively and practical insights into 3 critical forces that shape every life form, and thus, every human system: A) an essential nurturing of deep interdependence; B) an astonishingly efficient use of energy, that creates a reliable stream of “best choices”; and C) the fact that from an ecological standpoint, there’s simply no better predictor of resilience than diversity.
GRIEF – IT’S ONLY NATURAL
Whether we realize it or not, our lives – like all life on Earth – are possible only because of vast, dynamic networks of connection. Of sharing. As the trees of the forest thrive by means of underground fungal networks, allowing the strong to send food and medicine to the weak, so too are we made strong by our connections. Little wonder that when those connections, those relationships are lost or threatened, we grieve. As do a great many other mammals – from orcas to bonobos, elephants to magpies to wolves. An essential part of humans growing through life is learning to navigate loss. Moving through grief with intention brings us not just into sadness, but into that beautiful place where we can feel how much we really care. Care for our families and friends and neighbors, and at the same time, for all the creatures with whom we share this precious planet.
“Full Ecology is one of the most important books ever written on the climate crisis. Honest, eloquent, touching, free of acronyms and jargon, it goes straight to the heart of cause and cure, the profound disconnect from each other and the natural world. Mary Clare and Gary Ferguson enfold our hopes, fears, and confusion into the splendor and beauty of the natural world from where we can see, feel, and understand how to meet this extraordinary moment in human history.”
—PAUL HAWKEN, editor of Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming and author of Blessed Unrest and Regeneration
“Full Ecology is full of hope and wisdom. It is a much-needed guide to caring for ourselves and our community by caring for nature.”
—ALICE WATERS, American Chef
“At a time when we’re all so busy being ‘productive,’ separated from our very nature, these two lovers of the natural world have created a survivors’ guide. And it’s a God-send. The first step is to stop and open the pages of this tender book. Then let it take you where you need to go, nurturing you along the rocky way.”
—SISTER HELEN PREJEAN, author Dead Man Walking and River of Fire: Becoming an Activist
“The best, most authentic and captivating energy I’ve experienced from a team keynote. They made it clear that the beauty we see outside in nature is inside, too – something we can rely on to show us what self-care means. Totally inspiring.”
John Kasbe, independent film maker
“I’ve never been to a keynote where the speakers so successfully energized us for the conference to follow.”
Anthony Hanson, conference sponsor
“Thank you for offering an alternative to simply thinking of Elderhood as becoming old. One particularly valuable aspect of your focus, I think, is that you refrain from sugar-coating the really hard parts of longer life, even as you emphasize positive dimensions. Your calm, grace-full, generous presence complements your message so well.”
Linda Clark, Lifelong learning program organizer
“So wonderful– truly wonderful!! We all agreed there could not have been a better program . . .”
Carrie Coogan, Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Kansas City Public Library
“The way they present together shows us what Full Ecology is – what it looks like. We were engaged in and enlightened by their co-facilitation of the keynote. A huge value-added component to have them both.”
Gil Hallows, Executive Director Legacy Outdoor Adventures
“Conservation champions Gary Ferguson and Mary M. Clare spoke directly from the heart, reminding more than 80 young rangers at the Wilderness Ranger Academy of the critical importance of their work – and in addition, sharing keen insights for building and sustaining a culture of shared stewardship. The couple was later voted ‘Best Speaker’ for the week-long Academy, among presenters from across America.”
Ralph Swain, Regional Wilderness and Rivers Program Manager, National Forest Service
“Writer Gary Ferguson and social psychologist Dr. Mary Clare are the perfect duo for liberal arts colleges and other communities that value interdisciplinary conversations. They engage a wide audience, grappling with issues of race, gender, and class that are often overlooked in discussions of environmental justice.”
Scott Nadelson, English Department Chair, Willamette University
“Beautifully organic. I’ve been to many conferences where I’ve heard keynotes. I’ve never heard a couple. It was mesmerizing – the content as well as the relationship. These days we need to learn so much about relationship.”
Mara Kavanaugh, therapist
“It was a treat to hear and watch Gary and Mary co-facilitate such a fantastic topic. I loved the clarity of their discussion of mentorship and the wisdom of the land. This was a very special event for me, a true emerging from vision to actualization.”
Tim Walsh, outdoor educator and recovery coach
Although our Keynotes & Workshops are carefully tailored for the needs of each specific organization, their heart is always geared towards combating the damage done by our separation from nature. Their end goal is always tangible, sustainable change, whether personally, relationally, or organizationally. The EIGHT INSTRUCTIONS—the core principles of Full Ecology—serve as the connective thread interlacing all our workshops, presentations and keynotes. Below are several examples of past keynotes the illustrate the dynamic range of topics and struggles our work addresses.
Paula MacKay is a terrestrial carnivore biologist, a conservation scientist and a wilderness writer. She and Gary met when Paula was a student in the Ranier Writing Institute, completing her MFA and among Gary's advisees. Paula has read the Full Ecology book and...
There’s a place in the southwestern corner of Montana where the river weaves a fine Spiga chain through the wetland and willowed prairies at the ankles of a soaring stretch of Rocky Mountains. The mountains run east to west – an orientation adopted by precious few...
Yesterday, we went to a place in Yellowstone National Park where wolves live. We weren’t right there with them, but close enough to stand with other people with high powered spotting scopes to watch from afar. The Junction Butte pack has a good batch of new pups....
Thinking on it, I find it hard to see how one can love the earth but not fellow human beings. And also, it seems incongruous that one could love humanity and exact sins of degradation against nature. Whether wings and feathers or hands and fingers, we share the same...
In the Reiki tradition, there’s a graphic symbol for harmony – for balance. Sei hei ki. To me, it looks like a dancer, or maybe something winged, and I’ve heard that to draw it well requires open, relaxed and sweeping gestures. People who know and practice Reiki use...
Today the temperature around our home hovers near 0°. "Can super cold weather make me tired?" I ask. We talk about it. It can. Sometimes. That's why it's good to sleep in a cool room. It’s also why trees and fields and waterways need winter. To rest well. Whatever the...
These are not easy days. Here in the northern hemisphere, nearing winter solstice, we’re deep in the cold and dark. Add to that the count – ten months of COVID-19. Like the dark, the pandemic is here with us. So are other circumstances – embers of rumination and...
Well. We’ve got it. We who, since mid-March, have essentially cloistered – masked, sanitized, distanced. We even disinfect our keys and doorknobs. How in the world did this virus find us? It did. Our symptoms are quite light. We’ll make it fine. But, like you, we have...
In a functioning ecology, the dialogue between wound and medicine is ongoing; there is a call and response always happening. Francis Weller Do chickens or the eggs come first? They do. Am I living or dying? You are. So, it goes and goes. Call and response. The...
This is our friend Jon Trapp. He has spent a career moving through military service and then into work with wolves through the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Today, much of his life work is focused on wildland firefighting. Jon’s been all over the...
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