ABOUT ME

Today, as for much of my life, my work continues as a spiritual companion, a teacher/college instructor and a writer -- of both fiction and non-fiction. In addition, I've been an advisor and an environmental campaigner, as well as (in my early life) a performer across the world. 

My professional work as a chaplain and spiritual companion, in hospitals and hospice care, has allowed me to serve extremely varied demographics, cultures, ages and stages of illness. It is a blessing to have been led to offer the work of service to the world, and a privilege to serve some of the poorest and most desperately ill. I have led numerous ceremonies, performed weddings, and many other important rites of passage. Resilience for communities and also for individuals is an important theme that has run through my vocational and avocational work, worldwide. My writing, including the new fiction I am working on, weaves in themes of community, resilience, healing, eco-chaplaincy, and activism. Nature mysticism and metaphysics play roles, too...

 

My doctoral and postdoctoral work in religious studies and environmental philosophy blended materiality, animism, festival and ritual studies, together with research on lived religious traditions. My PhD dissertation (The Open University, UK) focused on Sense of Place, testing how it is manifested in human societies, how it can heal and offer means of resilience to communities and individuals. The lens in those studies was community festivals in Italy, a topic I explore in depth in my 2018 monograph from Bloomsbury Academic discussed on the home page. The unusual and little-known festivals and ritualized gatherings I studied demonstrate how place and Nature can impact human cultures, sometimes speaking through them. Whether in Italy, or wherever in the world, festival culture reveals much that is otherwise unsaid. 

On the academic side: I've taught a myriad of courses, literally from elementary school to doctoral candidates. Currently I am co-teaching in a Masters of Divinity on-line course for Naropa University in Summer 2021 -- a former colleague invited me to come back to Naropa for that. My teaching career in higher education began as an undergraduate at Georgetown University, in Italian and Italian theatre. In recent years I have also taught environmental studies, cultural geography (pilgrimage), Gaia theory and environmental leadership, among other topics, in both BA and MA programs at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I had been a teacher before that, at the elementary and secondary level, in totally diverse subjects, such as ESL/EFL, public speaking, creative writing, and of course, Earth healing -- in NY City, Washington, DC, Santiago, Chile, and all over Europe. I have also taught both Italian and Spanish, as well as English. 

 

As an international author, my published work spans a broad spectrum, from Italian and Latin American studies, to ritual and festival studies, performance, including that which is sometimes called "performing place", to environmentalism, and foodways.  The Italian edition of my first book Making Magic with Gaia even became a bestseller on Italy's mind-body-spirit lists for a while in 2008 -- a thrill, indeed. Finding the academic and scholarly concept of "materiality" sparked my interest and writing verve, as it speaks to what I believe: that intelligent, powerful energy permeates all -- that that which we may think is "dead" or solid, inactive material, is not.  Place-based materiality and embodied experiences of Nature, seeing Nature as an agent -- not a subject -- figure prominently in my research and writing. Central for me is the interconnectedness of all, the "interanimation" of life, as some scholars write it. This permeates my life and work, as does a profound love of Nature. Dr. Brian Swimme, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Sr. Miriam MacGillis and Father Thomas Berry's "New Cosmology", as discussed in the Universe Story, animate my heart and have informed my writing and teaching. It is exciting to see new ways meeting old ways in how we regard life and the Divine flowing throughout the Universe. 

The attached CV tells some of my many volunteer activities over the years -- which includes the Pastoral Care Committee at the Unitarian-Universalist Church and the Spiritual Support Team at the local women's shelter. For decades I had been a spiritual counselor, trained in New York and London by ethical, compassionate people.  My CV also lists other involvements such as my having been a naturalist and wildlife survey member, a theatre production coach in many schools, volunteering at the Milan animal shelter while living in northern Italy, etc.

Along with theatre, foreign language has been a love of mine since childhood -- my mother began to teach me French as a small child, and my father Italian. Subsequently I studied Italian and French as an undergrad. Then to my delight, I had the chance to later learn Spanish while living and working in South America.  Spanish has continued to be important in my work, professional and volunteer. While still acting professionally, in the 1990s I made a number of TV commercials and "industrial films" in Spanish. More recently Spanish has been a key part of my toolkit as a chaplain and counselor.  

 

A theatre interest note: One of my last high-profile professional performances "on the boards" was playing Mary Magdalene on the London stage, speaking of her relationship with Jesus.  (I co-produced the show with British poet/playwright/musician John Gibbens.) Below is a photo from that 1989 production of  "Covenant", where among other roles written for me was Mary Magdalene.

 

Although I've lived in various countries and grew up in New York, Colorado is currently home base. 

Mary Magdalene, in %22Covenant%22, Londo

EDUCATION

RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Place, nature, community and the “other-than-human”

  • Chaplaincy and related intersections, such as "eco-chaplaincy"

  • Animism and materiality

  • Gaia theory and the “New Cosmology” of Berry, Swimme and Tucker, et al.

  • Foodways and local food movements 

  • Ritual and festival studies

  • Foucauldian notions of the "heterotopia"

  • New religious movements (NRM)

  • Social and environmental justice, and the interconnection with community or individual resilience

  • Cross-cultural communication and foreign language

  • Archeology and related research in early landscapes and societies

  • Animal rights, environmental ethics.

The Open University, UK

PhD in Religious Studies

Dissertation = Sense of Place and Festival in Northern Italy: Perspectives on place, time and community

 

University of Cambridge, UK

MPhil in Latin American Studies

Thesis = National Sovereignty and Environmental Conservation in Latin America

Georgetown University

B.S. Languages and Linguistics,

Magna Cum Laude

Italian, French, Theatre