Sharing Their Voices w/Shine ~ Our 2015 Speakers

Before we get to the bios of our We Shine 2015 Speakers, join me, if you will, in celebrating the beautiful (inside and out) Marji Zintz!

Marji shares her passion for music & radical unschooling & peaceful parenting for MANY hours of Every Single Day of the conference by providing us with glorious SOUND (and recordings!)!

And now she has added to all of that with her magnificent Shining Glee Club!
Her Presence is one of the Best Parts of We Shine, and you just KNOW from being around her energy that she is happiest when she is Allowing, Assisting and Witnessing the SHINE of the members of her favorite Tribe.  What a GIFT to all of us!!

Here she is, in her own words...

(Thank you, Marji.  I Love You.)

I’m sitting here, thinking about how to open this bio, and all I can “hear” in my head is the lyric to the jazz standard “All the Things You Are.” I have a jokester jukebox in my head! 

 Here are some of the things that illustrate this beautiful life I get to live: 

 I get to be mom to a most extraordinary human Be-ing, Liam, who at the time of this writing is 20 years, 5 months, 1 day, and 13 hours of age (not that I’m counting). Liam is a gentle soul who knows his mind, speaks the Truth, plays the guitar like NOBODY I know, and has patiently shown me that we are here for the purpose of joyful expression, that the universe is generous and kind, and we can choose to be in the Flow of abundance. He is in that Flow, and I guess I am, too. The evidence is that he is in my life, and I get to be and do the things I have gotten to be and do. 

 Music is a big part of my existence here. I am a performing musician, and I have been doing that since forever. I think of myself as a storyteller, and connecting with people through music brings me joy and peace. 

 And….I also work with folks to help them parent more peacefully. I call this business that I started the Peaceful Parent Whisperer, because that most clearly describes my approach. I have conversations with parents who feel that they are out of alignment with the way they want to be (if they want to be peaceful, that is), and I help them find a path back to alignment. Together, we find solutions that are durable, sustainable, setting folks on a trajectory that feels great to them and their kids. 

 I feel blessed and even awestruck that all these things I get to do ~ I LOVE doing!!! 

 I live on two beautiful wooded acres in the foothills of the magnificent Catskill Mountains, not far from the famous Woodstock, New York with my honey, Alfredo, and our handsome kitty-man Zamm. And, all the birds. And, all the squirrels and chippies. And, all the foxes. And….

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Your We Shine 2015 Speakers...

Pam Laricchia

A week and change after We Shine this year, my youngest will turn 18. From that moment, as a family we'll officially be living, rather than unschooling. Yet the unschooling lifestyle has become an integral part of who we are—not just a thing we do. What does that mean?

For Joseph, 23 this year, it means living at home where his learning is deep and satisfying and his interests range from the skills of self-sufficiency and maintaining a home, to how human society functions, to the world of stories. And playing video games. Don't forget the video games.

For Lissy, turning 21 this year, it means living in New York City, where she's lived since she was 18. That's where her soul sings, immersed in the world of photography, always learning more about her art and the business. With regular helpings of board games, books, and music.

And for Michael, turning 18, it means pursuing three different fronts—weeknights at his karate dojo as both student and instructor, monthly coaching in extreme performance martial arts and stunt fighting, and weekly trampoline classes—all feeding his wish to eventually pursue stunt work. Weekdays are for video games, and late nights for astronomy.

As for me, I have been a systems thinker all my life. From distilling the complexities of planning nuclear reactor outage work into a popular one-page report, to exploring the beautiful intricacies of learning and living woven into unschooling, I thrive on figuring things out, on making sense of the bigger picture. Sometimes it just takes me a while!

But along the way, I discovered that writing helps me. A lot. And it is so much fun. Even as I alt-tab over to the online thesaurus for the millionth time (I love finding that one right word to convey my thought most precisely). I've written for magazines, journals, and blogs; on laptops, scrap paper, and post-it notes. 

And after years of unschooling, my big picture started to crystallize and I sat down to write my book. I thought that first book, Free to Learn, would get it out and I'd move on. I was wrong. I discovered I had more to say, and out came Free to Live>. Then my blog and email series. And apparently I still have more to say—let the fun continue!

I look forward to spending We Shine with you this summer. Let's live and learn and play and hang out as we explore the unschooling journey together! In the meantime, you can find me and my unschooling writing at
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Anna Brown

I live in Charlotte, NC with David “Danger” Fowley and our 2 amazing daughters who are 15 and 17!! My passions include sustainable living, holistic health, backyard chickens and living consensually. I enjoy writing and sharing about the joy that can be found in parenting and in living present in each moment.

Afton, our oldest, led us to radical unschooling as a toddler. Thanks to John Holt and watching this amazing child, it was clear from the start that we were meant to explore the world together. When our second daughter, Raelin, came along - full of energy, creativity and joy - it was just further confirmation. Fifteen years later I am profoundly grateful for this life and for every moment we’ve had together.  Even when there are challenges, we trust that our bond, foundation of support and love will see us through. It always has!

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Helgi Townsend

It's a healthy thing to write a bio from time to time.  It is a way to examine the space that one takes up in this world.  But damn, it's hard to explain myself to others! What should be a list of the things I enjoy and what I do in a day, quickly turns to a philosophical, existential musing on who I truly am...core to periphery. However, I'd rather go there than sound like the Escape song (though I do enjoy pina coladas and getting caught in the rain).  

Ok, *deep breath*, diving in.  I am Helgi, mom to Harper, 11 and Shepherd, 7.  Vincent is my husband.  We unschool together in Maryland and have been doing so for all the years of my kid's lives.  Vincent and I have created a home and space in the world and in our hearts to foster love, connection and freedom for our kids and ourselves. I've never known anything (except love) to feel as right and true, as I know unschooling to be right and true.  I spent my teens and 20s with such angst about my place in the world.  I never expected to find my truth in my own heart, in a marriage and in my children.  Unschooling is not just a form of homeschooling for me.  It is a path to awakening.  It is a way to see the world, both inner and outer, more clearly and openly.  It is a way of truly hearing my inner voice so that I may connect with my children, mySelf and others.  I am so excited and terribly nervous to be speaking at Shine this year.  I love talking about how unshooling has been a bright, shiny path even when it seems like the hardest thing in the world.  I look forward to sharing my Shine, with you. 

And, beyond pina coladas, I like yoga, herbs, hiking, movies, long conversations about human nature, looking up at the stars, drawing, and being the friend you can call at midnight because you know I'm still up.  

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Amy Carpenter Leugs

I'm Amy Carpenter Leugs, and I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with my husband, Michael (known as Dr. Lowside by his motorcycling friends and The Token Straight Guy by his Gay Men's Chorus).  We partner in unschooling our three sons.  Brian is 20, Fisher will turn 18 at We Shine, and Riley will have just turned 12.  

I deeply believe that "small shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts at change," (Thomas Moore).  It follows that my passions are: 1. seeing through the eyes of my fresh-from-the-universe boys, and 2. spilling colored bits of love and life onto paper, also called writing.

We've unschooled since 2003, when Riley was a baby.  Looking back, I can see now how he and Fisher conspired to bring us to this life-learning path, just by being themselves.  Fisher was beautifully clear on how he was losing himself at school, and Riley came into our home full of the courage and joy we needed to walk away from the institution and towards our wholeness.  In 2012, Brian joined our family with his own lively perspective on How to Be a Person.  We are many different parts, held together by our own love-magic as we explore the world, a bit like Howl's Moving Castle -- strange, beautiful, and ever-changing.

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Anne Ohman

My Beautiful Mama and Me, 4/2014.

It seems strange to write a bio, a snapshot of *this* moment in our lives, when all I really want to do is have conversations about The Bigger Picture all of the time.

But, Here We Are.  Here.  And Now. ~

I always knew there was more to life than that which was presented to me as a child ~ in school and at home.  I have been aware of being a deeply spiritual person since I was a young child (I never believed the Catholic priests when, before communion, they would say, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you..." ~  Deep Down, I Always Knew I Was Worthy, even when I was being told I was not).  I never understood life on the surface and no one understood my depth.  And yet I knew that the time would come when I would take what I valued from the world-expanding foundation that my parents created and I would create my own happy world.

1984 ~ I met my honey and we knew we were here on this earth for each other and we knew the first time we touched each other that we had found our True Home and we were married 11 months after the day we first met.  We have been married for 30 amazing years.

1990 ~ Jacob was born and he looked at me with his knowing eyes and said to me, from his non-verbal spirit, "Yes, you are right ~ life is not as hard as others are making it out to be and I Am Here for you now and we are going to hold hands and walk toward our own Happy Truth and it’s going to be amazing and wonderful." 

1994 ~ Sammy was born and he looked at me with his knowing eyes and said to me, from his non-verbal spirit, "WTF, Mom? You guys have been WAY too serious and I Am Here for you now and we are going to hold hands and have some FUN and LAUGH and I will show you how to Be ALL that you are because it's all about the JOY!"

My Jacob showed us how to unabashedly Be Who We Are by Claiming Our Being-ness Space.  My Sammy showed us how to unabashedly Be Who We Are by Letting Go and Having FUN.  And my honey, my rock, has supported my spiritual/mothering instincts 100%, every step of the way and he remains the best man I have ever met, the best partner I could ever imagine. 

And me ~ I Am Always Learning & Flowing & Loving & Being ~ and doing my best to laugh as much as possible and cry when I feel like it and LIVE what I am learning, especially the Truth that All is Truly Well...especially the Truth that We Are More Incredibly Loved than we could ever imagine.

And so ~ Here We Are.  Here.  And Now.

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