ABOUT ME

Today, as for much of my life, my work continues as a spiritual companion, a writer, actor and teacher/college instructor. In my earlier career, I was an environmental campaigner, as well as a performer and workshop leader 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 a variety of 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. 

 

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 as community "perform place" and history. 

On the academic side: I've taught a myriad of courses, literally from elementary school to doctoral candidates. In summer 2021 I co-taught a Masters of Divinity on-line course for Naropa University. 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. An Italian colleague invited me to co-teach a class on Italian theatre at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003-2004.  In my early teaching career, I worked at the elementary and secondary level, as well as in adult learning, in totally diverse subjects: ESL/EFL, public speaking, accent correction, creative writing, and various spiritual topics -- 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. It is exciting to see new ways meeting old ways in how we regard life and the Divine flowing throughout the Universe. 

Theatre and foreign language have been enduring loves 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 teaching and acting in South America.  Spanish has continued to be important in my work, professional and volunteer. While acting professionally in Colorado some years ago 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.  In my years living in Italy I both performed in Italian on stage and TV, as well as leading a myriad of workshops in Italian, including theatre workshops -- with adults and teens. 

 

A note of special theatre interest: One of my high-profile professional performances "on the boards" in London was playing Mary Magdalene on the Fringe, speaking of her relationship with Jesus.  (I co-produced the show with British poet/playwright/musician John Gibbens.) Below is a photo from that production of  "Covenant", where among other roles written for me was Mary Magdalene. Michael Moriarty, my long-time mentor and acting coach, helped to direct the piece while he was still living in NY.

If interested specifically in my acting resume, please contact me directly. 

The following CV page 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.

 

Although I've lived in various countries and grew up in New York State, 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"

  • Theatre, ritual and festival studies

  • Animism and materiality

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

  • Foodways and local food movements 

  • 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, Theatre & French