The Incredible, The Good, and the Difficult

Stretching. Growing. Learning. Packing. Unpacking. Giving. Receiving. Seeking. Finding. Meeting. Leaving. Creating. Loving. TRUSTING. WOW!

More than filmmakers or entrepreneurs or philanthropists the Northern Flicker project has made us feel like explorers or pioneers. Not pioneers of a craft, or social innovation, but of the mind, the heart, and of human connection. Over the last couple of months we have felt our experience shift from one of sowing to one of reaping. In conversation with new friends, our language has changed from just sharing our intentions and hopes to sharing the "good, the bad and the ugly" or maybe the "incredible, the good, and the difficult" would be a more apt phrase.

"While I started this adventure off with yoga, the real stretching has come since. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually I feel I have been challenged in every way. The result has been learning more deeply where and when I can open more, and where and when I must let go."

-Ada

 

"It has felt as though I bent over a drinking fountain to quench my thirst for fresh experience and learning and in a dreamy turn of events have found myself instead with a firehose in my hand trying wildly just to keep the damn thing steady while it blasts every expectation, aversion, comfortable pattern (positive and negative), identification, and pride to oblivion. Now, as the torrent seems to slowly be letting up, I am finding myself stuffed within an inch of bursting and floating all that I wasn’t big enough to hold."

-Nathan

We feel more energized, more exhausted, more passionate, more defeated, more at peace, and more discontent than ever. Above all of these though, we feel deeply proud. In case you missed any of them, check out a few of the videos we have had time to finish so far: 

Experience Breakdown 1.0

We hope you are feeling as inspired as we are by what work we have been able to finish so far! Transparency is important to us, so we want to share where we are at in our journey and our plans for finishing our post production on all that we have filmed. We are now ten months into experimenting with this less than traditional project model. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and we have gained some perspective as to what worked well and what challenges there are to making our ambitious intentions sustainable. 

The Incredible and good:

  • Collaborating with inspired and inspiring people has really filled us up. We feel so honored to join together with each and every one of our supporters and partners in making our world a more peaceful, healthy, happy place to live. 
  • We have been able to donate tens of thousands of dollars in time and skills to our partners. Which means we get to share their stories with the world while saving them significant amounts of money. Win-win! 
  • We are humbled by the generosity of each and every one of our partners and how they stepped up to help us make this work a reality. We have grown deep friendships through living with some truly beautiful people. We have eaten well, and seen some of the most beautiful places and cultures our world has to offer. If current events have you down, know the spirit of welcome is alive and well in this world. 
  • We could never have afforded to go on this whirlwind around-the-world tour (literally) on our own dime. The partnerships we have made along the way, and support we have received from friends and family who believed in our cause, has offered us a unique chance to have the experience of a lifetime. Thank you!

The Difficult:

  • In an effort to help as many people as we could, we bit off an ambitious amount of work and SERIOUSLY underestimated the time it takes for two people to do this work. We have found that scheduling shoots and working along side organizations in person is very tangible, easy to account for, and easy to secure support for. But we are finding it much more difficult to get support (financial or otherwise) for the post production process (editing the videos). Completing edits has become increasingly unsustainable for us amidst travel and workflow. With inconsistent working spaces in changing venues with slow internet and only laptops to do the heavy lifting of video editing work, it has all proven to be rather challenging. 
  • We had hoped that we would be able to spend time editing our previous project while filming for another partner and each project would help support the last. Current partners would supply and food and lodging while we film for them and edit the previous project, but we have just been unable to keep up with the amount of work we have taken on and now are out of resources and breaking into our savings in order stay afloat between projects. This has us re-evalating our model and how sustainable it is for us overall. 

The Skinny:

  • Although we are inspired, proud, and filled with love, we are also finding ourselves tired, broke, and way behind. We firstly want to apologize to many of our partners for the delays finishing the work that we have started. We know that each of our partners have invested their own resources, time and money into helping us create these video pieces and we are committed to seeing each through to a beautiful finished product done to our own (and I’m sure each of your) high standards and expectations.
  • We have invested in a killer editing bay back at our home in Wenatchee. A fast computer, big screen, lots of fast hard drives, and comfortable space. It's complete with the sweetest mom in all the land supporting us with a roof over our heads, pillows under them and bright spirit to cheer us along. We hope this will give us that extra boost we need to finish remaining pieces with greater speed, comfort, and mental well-being. 
  • We are going to do our best in the coming 2 weeks as we will be filming in Japan and have some support there, but we are currently in survival mode and have found it difficult to make significant progress on editing as we have had to spend much of our own money to stay afloat while on the road. We won’t be able to really hit the ground running on editing until mid December when we are back home. We hope to have EVERYTHING done by the end of January at the very latest.
  • February will mark 1+ year of Northern Flicker embarking on working within this experimental economic model. That was the goal we set for ourselves and we are elated to see that we are on our way to accomplishing it! 

Thank you for caring about our journey and being open to hear where we are at. We have been holding the weight of our own expectations and commitments in tension with what has felt healthy for us, and it has been stressing us out! Communicating honestly where we are at, is a relief and gives us renewed energy to move forward. 

You may have noticed, it has been some time since we’ve written you! This was never our intention, but it just fell in priority as our journey picked up velocity. Hopefully as we are able to catch up more, we’ll be able to catch you up in more detail on all the fabulous partners we’ve made and experiences we’ve embarked upon. Until then, hopefully some of the above videos can speak for themselves. 

With love and thanks, 

Nathan and Ada

Pura Vida - Part 2

A new friend told us the other day that it's a good sign if people aren’t posting blog posts too often - it means they are busy having great experiences! Now our time in Costa Rica is soon coming to an end and we have barely begun to tell you all we’ve been up to! Oops. The great news is that it’s because we really have been busy. We’ve worked with some amazing partners and we’re eager to share more about them! So where did we last leave off...?

Coming off of the high of our yoga trainings meant facing the reality of truly making Northern Flicker fly - not just in concept but in practice. It has felt vulnerable to try to funnel all of our big lofty goals into tangible and effective action. We’d be lying if we said it hasn’t been a little scary wondering if enough people would say yes to partnering with us. We’ve struggled with doubting if this model can really be sustainable, or if the projects we find will truly be inspiring and worth all that we have poured into this. Trusting that opportunities would emerge has tested us and become an immense part of our learning. Needless to say, the phrase “leap of faith” has taken on a whole new level of meaning for us.

When Nathan and I reunited after having immersed, explored and refreshed ourselves in our yoga trainings, I was elated to find out that he had fully taken the reigns to make inroads on our next project. Building off of the iLa Yoga Retreats promotion, we were able to do a little trade with the Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort. We helped them develop a promotional video for their website and in return they set us up for a couple weeks with a comfy bed (in a room with AC - luxury), three abundant, healthy, all-you-can-eat, meals a day, a reliable internet connection, and yoga classes led by talented teachers. Not only was it a simply gorgeous setting to be in, it provided us with the perfect space to transition into Northern Flicker full-time. Make sure to keep an eye out for when this video launches, you might just find yourself planning your next holiday to Costa Rica.

While this was all wonderful, the question loomed, “What next?" We had a moment (or several) where we, honest to God, did not know. We were hustling to make connections, scheduling Skype calls, and writing emails. With our life savings on the line, our first experience working together, spending an ungodly amount of time with only each other for company, tensions were high and our relationship teetered on the brink of disaster. We were nearly tossed out of the resort after a yelling (and furniture tossing) match that woke every guest, and right as we were about to give up on this whole crazy idea, life delivered.

We got a last minute call to film a two-day event in the country’s capital of San Jose, focusing on the theme of Collaborative Leadership (and by last minute I mean pack your bags, rent a car, and arrive just hours before the event). But it was simply an opportunity we couldn’t pass up (our first real mission-centered gig!). The event gathered together not only people from across sectors within Costa Rica, but also a cohort of international participants from what is called the Global Wellbeing and GNH (Gross National Happiness) Lab. The Costa Rican organizing team has been inspired by the leadership of the Presencing Institute and their framework for social and systemic change called Theory U. Theory U co-author and Presencing Institute co-founder, Otto Scharmar, was one of many inspiring speakers that shared their perspectives with the Costa Rican participants. And on day two, even the vice president of Costa Rica herself showed up! It was a high-powered couple of days, and yet the core intention of the gathering was all about inclusion, empathy, listening, and seeing with new eyes. The call was sincere, “How can we co-lead a movement that transforms the way Costa Ricans listen to one another?” “How can we foster more collaboration to build a true ‘pura vida’ and culture of well-being for all Costa Ricans?” “How can we sense into the emerging future and co-create a better Costa Rica for our children and grandchildren?” These are big questions, and ones that would certainly not be answered in this two day gathering. But it was a powerful step to welcoming people who care about and are committed to ask such questions and be part of sensing into and creating the answers.

We couldn’t have dreamed up a better crowd to tap into than those that attended the Collaborative Leadership conference. We met change makers galore. People working on indigenous rights, the local food movement, transforming education, and many more. We even met one of our soon-to-be surrogate families, Maria Mercedes (co-organizer) and her daughter Ani, who have welcomed us into their home with such gracious hospitality over these past two months.  Making the video for this event has stretched us as we cut our teeth translating interviews in Spanish and managing the huge amount of inspiring content that was gathered. We will be very glad to share with you the final result in the coming weeks.

This event sparked a wildfire of connections and potential partners for Northern Flicker. So much so that we have been connected with more inspiring projects than we have time to help! Quite the dramatic shift from a week before the event when we were biting our nails waiting for even one email. We have a LOT more projects and happenings to share, so more posts are on the way! Costa Rica has been the perfect incubator and refuge for us to test our wings and feel into the potential of Northern Flicker. If you were to sit in on one of the many hours working at one of our host families' dining room tables, you’d be sure to hear this common exclamation from one of us “We’re really doing it!”

Pura Vida!

CATCHING UP FROM COSTA RICA [PART 1]

It’s been a busy few months since we arrived to Costa Rica. Besides soaking up the sun, lots of learning has been had and exciting opportunities have emerged. Hopefully with this post we can finally catch you up on some of the experiences that have colored our days. 

The country motto here in Costa Rica is "Pura Vida”. While used in many ways, at its core it represents Costa Ricans' collective priority on enjoying life and being happy. This relaxed, carefree, and optimistic undertone to the culture has been a welcome change of pace for us over the nearly two months since we arrived. I suspect it will continue to be a teacher for us along the way. 

So how have we been enjoying the spirit of Pura Vida so far? Well there have been the typical tropical undertakings, like buying sarongs and trying to surf (and in Nathan’s case this resulted in his first “souvenir” of the trip - 7 stitches and a sweet crescent shaped scar under his right eye - courtesy of his surfboard). And of course there's drinking “pipa” (coconut water) straight from the coconut and savoring the insanely delicious flavors of fresh mango, pineapple and papaya. But the main theme so far as been yoga.

There is a somewhat generic but nonetheless truthful quote that says something like, “Refill your own cup so that you have more to pour into others." Knowing that our ultimate intention was to give as freely as we could to people and initiatives seeking to make a positive impact in the world, we wanted to start our Northern Flicker journey by first filling up our own cups. Our shared love of yoga, and Costa Rica’s abundant and ever growing yoga and wellness culture seemed like the perfect place to top up.

As mentioned in our previous post Nathan has been busy filming and editing the iLa Yoga Retreats video (and it’s looking amazing if I do say so myself). In the meantime I went into the jungle to realize a long-held dream to become a yoga teacher. My training took place in a rather unique community called Pachamama which describes itself as an “experimental village, a spiritual commune, and a centre of transformation.” It is a place where most people who come are looking to deeply reflect upon and expand themselves, and where moments of delighted spirit and uplifting inspiration are welcomed along with moments of pain and confusion. It's a very dynamic, intriguing place. The community seeks to live in harmony with nature (hello compost toilets and howler monkey’s for alarm clocks!) and follows both Osho and Red Road teachings that result in practices like daily silent meditation and the use of various ceremonies like sweat lodges and moon dances among others. As you can imagine this setting influenced my yoga training, making it a process far beyond learning poses and asanas. It led myself and my fellow yoga students on a journey of self-awakening in order to be as receptive and authentic a teacher as we could be. While there are countless details to say about this experience, in summation, I came away with a deeper commitment to the power and practice of yoga to help me release and clear the stresses and stagnancies of daily life so that I can show up more open to receive life and share of myself more fully. I also learned a completely new style of yoga to me, called Calligraphy Yoga. This interdisciplinary form, which mixes Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Hatha yoga, enlivens spinal mobility from all angles and cultivates physical fluidity. In essence, it helps you feel good. All components of the training - from the yoga to the organic food to the immersion in nature to the vulnerable exploration of self with fellow seekers - resulted in my feeling a great sense of health, vitality, and faith to step out into the next, somewhat unknown, phases of our journey. For that I am very grateful. 

All the while Nathan embarked on his own teacher training in a technique called Pranassage, held at the Nosara Yoga Institute. While he could likely write an entire post on that alone, I can tell you from my observation, he was deeply moved by his experience and has a real natural knack for assisting others to access their own power for personal healing. Next time we’re in your area, I would recommend you book a session!

In Part 2, we’ll continue catching you up on all of the exciting opportunities and projects that have started to emerge here in lovely Costa Rica. See you then!  

The Flicker has flown the coop!

First off, THANK YOU! We can't begin to express how grateful we are for our communities near and far who have graced us with love, well wishes and outrageously generous donations. We just finished the last piece of our fundraising campaign and the grand total brings us to over 84% of our goal! With the help of a little loan from the "mom bank" we were able to purchase all the gear we needed to begin our work.

Since leaving Wenatchee, we've snacked in airpots, stopped over for a week to play and say goodbyes in LA, met with friends in Costa Rica, and haven't missed a Playa Guiones sunset yet.

In a (coco)nutshell the last couple weeks have gone something like this... plane, sun, plane, WAY more sun. Ever since we left the Northwest we've been buffeted, beaten and baffled by the strength of those life giving rays from the center of our solar system. We've managed to painfully make our way from pasty-white to shades of slightly-tanner-but-mostly-red. With more work to do on the tanning front we've begun some work for Northern Flicker. While Ada has headed into the jungle for a yoga teacher training of her own at Pachamama (unrelated to Northern Flicker, but still amazing), Nathan is filming iLa Yoga's yearly yoga retreat. iLa has been an incredible place of growth and learning for Nathan over the last few years in Wenatchee and we are so excited to give back a little to this amazing studio that brings peace and health to the Wenatchee community every day. It has been an amazing week of yoga and community and sunshine. We will be capturing the final bits of footage today and tomorrow and will keep you posted when the editing is done. 

More updates to come, but that is all for now! Thank you again and again for helping to send us off on this incredible journey! We can't wait to share with you the stories of organizations bringing light to the world. Much love from Costa Rica!

And we're working! ...before we've even left!

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) based in Siem Reap, Cambodia is our first official partner and we couldn't be more thrilled.

CPCS is a world class organization involved in direct intervention work in various conflict contexts throughout East Asia. Not only that but they are engaged in producing practitioner-focused research and publications in the field of applied conflict transformation, host a yearly Peace Practitioners Research Conference, and have developed a Masters in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies (ACTS). And that is just scratching the surface!

Definitely this is a group of people doing extremely meaningful work in the world, the type of work Northern Flicker was made to support. 

While we hope this partnership will bring us eventually to Siem Reap to support their upcoming campaign to build Cambodia's first ever Peace Museum (more on that later hopefully!), we have been able to help with a few odds and ends from home in the meantime.

So how did we start working before we've even left? 

Well, CPCS has been keen to update their website for a while now. They were becoming aware that it was beginning to look a little outdated. Imagine a pair of flared jeans from the early 2000’s, hip then, but somewhat less fashionable today. Unfortunately, they weren't quite sure how to revamp their look. We offered to flex our web design muscles to advise and help implement a fresh look for their website that more accurately reflects the professionalism and expertise CPCS offers. 

While this project is still underway, so far we have designed an updated logo and have started developing a new look for their site with a more modern theme. This will be finished in collaboration with CPCS staff and we will surely show you the final product when it's ready to reveal. Until then, check out the incredible work they do at www.centrepeaceconflictstudies.org


Euro Trip

We are abroad! Our first trip outside of the country together. We are getting to test out our navigation skills, work out our walking muscles and remember how to use real paper maps again. Not having access to internet on our phones at any given moment is a pretty novel (and surprisingly empowering) experience. It's been great to see how we do amidst the stresses of travel, and we are happy to say that even after a sprint through the airport and near miss of a flight we are managing to stay friends and float through the hangry, tired and grumpy moments with ease. 

We are visiting friends for a few days in Copenhagen and Berlin, then finally ending in a little village outside of Krakow for Christmas with Ada's family. We are so grateful for all of the wonderful positive feedback we have received about the Northern Flicker website and general support for our developing project. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter you can do so here to stay updated. We will be posting more and launching our fundraiser for gear in the coming week, as well as sharing a little more about the concrete details for where we will begin this adventure. 

With love from Copenhagen and Berlin!

Northern Flicker Launch!

ITS LIVE!

We have officially launched the Northern Flicker project! Cruise around the website and let us know what you think! Chances are if you are here reading this you are a close friend or acquaintance and we'd love to hear from you. Have we been clear enough with our language and intention? Is anything confusing? Shoot us any feedback you might have about content or imagery or anything else! Make sure to sign up to receive our newsletter to stay in touch with updates and progress as our plans and itinerary start to fill up. If you know of any organizations that could really benefit from our services, please let us know. 

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

DONATE HERE!

We have also launched our fundraising page on the Generosity platform and greatly appreciate any support you might be able to offer. Whether money, prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts or kind words of encouragement, it is all vital to the success of this endeavor. We are beyond excited to be on our way. Thank you, thank you for all the support we have received so far. It has been incredible to share our ideas and hear critiques and advice. Much love and happy holidays from Berlin! 

Logo Evolution

We always knew that we wanted the Northern Flicker to represent the work we are setting out to do. If you read our previous post "What's in a name?" you learned just how layered the symbolism and significance is for us.

But the final name and logo you see on our newly minted website is far from where we started. And though it took longer than we wanted, in what was a very tight timeframe, we are very happy with the evolution undertaken and the outcome we've produced. 

We hope you find it interesting to track our progression. It certainly took patience and perseverance! 

Prior to the idea of this adventure, we had been mulling over potential band names (we're a fledgling duo, just breaking into our local scene). Nathan started digging on the name Flicker Feathers. Fun alliteration and most importantly a special shared symbol that's come to hold significance in our lives. See here Nathan's first Christmas gift to me, a hand painted water-color and a beautiful poem he wrote to honor the connection I feel between these feathers and my late father. 

Flicker-Feather2.jpg

We never quite committed to that name, but once we decided to embark on this journey we revisited the idea, adapting it to Flicker Flight Creative. We felt it was more aspirational and suitable to evoking the suite of creative services we were hoping to offer. This was the first incarnation of logo #1. Clean, sleek, and maybe a bit retro. 

 

But in our eyes it kind of said motorcycle club or 50's ice-cream shop a bit more than we wanted, so we decided to keep playing. Nathan, our lead creative and chief logo-designer, kept doodling away.

The next iteration was meant to evoke more of our Northwestern roots and to tie in more imagery of the bird. Notice here the wings and body of the bird are made from "F's". In this round we were weighing up the subtle differences between these two options. 

As great as all of those options were, something still didn't sit right. We even started to question our name (which was a bit disheartening after all the effort we had put into our existing logos). Something about it just felt a bit forced. Too tongue-twistery. Still, such is the creative process and we agreed to keep experimenting. Flicker was recommended, but I think we all know a certain company that dominates the use of that word 

So we thought of other combinations we liked. Fly & Flicker being Nathan's pick. Fox & Flicker being Ada's. In the end though, during a moment of creative fatigue, up floated the most obvious idea of all. The name of the bird itself.  Northern Flicker. It had a solid ring to it. Evoked lots of imagery that we liked. Connoted where we were from. So we ran with that. More doodles and design ensued. 

Finally we were getting closer. We drew a lot of inspiration from 20's art deco. We used color samples from the Northern flicker and the night sky. Nathan worked in the look of wings for the F and R of Flicker - harkening back to earlier ideas and iterations. And with a bit of feedback from colleagues we decided to offset the color of the word flicker - just in case anyone might miss it. 

Long story short - it takes a long time to make a good logo. You have to leave ideas you love behind. You end up "wasting time" on ideas that go nowhere.  You have to be willing to start over if it doesn't quite feel right and agree to just finish it even if there are countless options left unexplored. So here you have it, our final product. A hand drawn expression of who we are. The logo for this fledgling project. We give you, Northern Flicker. 

What's in a name?

What did you think of when you first heard our name? The flicker of the film reel or the camera shutter? Considering what we do, that is quite appropriate. Maybe the mesmerizing view of the Northern Lights? Or the guiding shimmer of the North Star? Also good. 

What we love about our name is that so many layers of imagery and meaning are contained within it. But if you took a close enough look at our logo you would find Northern Flicker actually refers to a bird.  

We chose it for our name not least because we both share a strong personal connection to the bird (stories on that later), nor simply because it is a reminder of the beauty of our northwestern home (C'mon, "Put a bird on it!"). Named for it’s ability to catch your eye with a brilliant flash of its orange underwing color, the Northern Flicker seems highly symbolic for what we are setting out to do. 

How can we help show off the brilliance and beauty of what your organization or initiative has "hidden under it’s wing"? Our goal is to find and feature what it is about you that catches people's eye, that uplifts, inspires, and makes a difference. The people and organizations we are seeking to connect with all have important stories to tell. We want to reveal the beauty of those stories, to convey what makes your work unique and special and oh so vital for our world.  By using our skills and talents for the betterment of people and causes we care about, our intention is to help all of our work to take flight and flicker brightly. 

And then if you really want to get knee deep into the symbolism, the Northern Flicker is a woodpecker, and woodpeckers represent many amazing things! Like grabbing attention and shaking up awareness. Or signaling opportunity, value, and progress. Woodpeckers mark determination, commitment, and coming up with creative solutions. They teach us about communication and taking action, and finding a rhythm. As native North American wisdom considers the woodpeckers drumming to indicate journeying and transcendentalism, many tribes consider the woodpecker as an other-worldly messenger, a prophet, and even the . protector of humankind. 

How cool is all that? 

Photo Credit: Darron Birgenheier licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0