My life’s work is all about learning to heal and honor Mother Earth. I have known since childhood what I have been called to. It first came to me in the understanding that I would learn to restore the land. Even before I really knew what the damage was.
My exploration of how to live closely with the earth led me through organic and indigenous agriculture, permaculture design, creating water systems to allow us to live off rain catchment, passive solar design, natural building, solar cooking, and earth honoring spiritual practices.
When people ask where I grew up, I have a list. The place I most connected with was the Sonoran desert in my elementary school days in Tucson, Arizona.
For the rest of my childhood I yearned to return, and I finally did after I graduated from college in 1995.
As a permaculturist, gardener, and plant lover at heart, there are many reasons to settle in places with more water. But I came where I was called- eventually to this very arid high desert canyon in New Mexico where Ampersand was born.
Like most people, my deepest joy and purpose is to share what I love. For me it’s living closely with the elements and gifts of this sacred planet. I love sharing what I have learned about living sustainably in the world at this time. How possible it is, and how impossible it is within our current context of planetary devastation, extinction events, and a human economy based on the illusion of unlimited growth, which benefits a minority of people. Despite these realities, we can still create our worlds to honor the magic of the interconnection of all beings on this beautiful planet. With the regenerative nature of the Earth, we can heal our spirits and psyches as well as our lands and communities.
My most honest resume is Ampersand, where we live within the designs that I have envisioned and created with the help of many friends, volunteers, interns and apprentices. The way we live off primarily rain catchment in a place with scarce rainfall has deepened my relationship with water, weather, and wildlife. The shelters that we have built to house our bodies, our food growing systems, and our creative endeavors are made with clay, sand, straw, and cast-away materials from the extractive industrial supply systems that are bringing our planet to a crisis point. I believe that we can be regenerative forces that lead the way towards not only surviving, but creating a world together on the grassroots level where we embody our values and our connections give us the resilience we need.
John Todd and Nancy Todd – Ocean Arks Intl and New Alchemy Institute- Ecological Design
Fritjof Capra- founder Center for Ecological Literacy- Systems Thinking
Frederique Marglin- Anthropology
Morgan Saufkie- Bear Clan of Sungopavi Village- Hopi Agriculture
Barbara Kerr of Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center- Sustainability
Adolfo Ttito Condoori- Andean Spiritual Cosmology
Ohki Forest – Red Wind Councils- Medicine Wheel teachings
Stephen Wall of White Earth Nation- Decolonization
Bill Zeedyk- Land Restoration
Steve Baer of Zomeworks- Passive Solar Design
Quentin Wilson- Adobe Building
“I met Amanda and found Ampersand eleven years ago after applying for the summer intern program because I wanted to learn skills of rainwater harvesting and water conservation that needed to be shared with the communities of the Colonias in South Texas. The experience not only taught me how to create these systems practically, but taught me about my deeper connection to the Land and Water itself and helped lead me to formulate a deeper relationship with Nature and in turn myself. I have returned to this space many times and have learned something profound about the land, the community, and our relationships every time. Amanda continues to be my mentor and supports me and the community I work within by sharing her wisdom and her intuition on navigating the complexities of working and living in complex systems and communities of diverse backgrounds.”
Dorothy Pena, Indigenous Rights Organizer and Farmer