In 2011, Karina Colliat, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with foundational training in Expressive Arts Therapy and Ecopsychology, formed and named the practice of Ecoutearth. She joined with fellow Expressive Arts and Ecopsychology Therapist, Kayla Hochfelder, to put Ecoutearth into practice. Kayla and Karina introduced Ecoutearth to the community by presenting at the Holos Conference in 2011 in Northern California. They organized meetings around the Bay Area for participants to connect with the land and themselves, and share their experience through aesthetic responses. In 2012 as Kayla prepared to leave the Bay Area to return to her home land in Vancouver. Nikyta Palmisani joined the Ecoutearth, slow down movement. Nikyta is also an Expressive Arts Therapist and Yoga and Mindfulness Instructor. In 2013, Karina and Nikyta facilitated monthly gatherings in the same location in Joaquin Miller Park in the Bay Area of California in an old growth Redwood forest. Nikyta and Karina presented their work in a side event at the International Expressive Arts Therapy Conference in 2013 in Berkeley, California. Karina continues to practice individual and group Ecopsychology and Expressive Arts sessions through her private practice in Marin and Berkeley. Kayla Hochfelder now lives and combines Ecoutearth gatherings with her private therapy practice in Vancouver, Washington. Nikyta Palmisani practices and teaches on Lopez Island and is now bringing Ecoutearth to the San Juan Islands in the Salish Sea.
This is the idea behind a slow down movement. On March 21, 2011, solstice night, the wind was beckoning to me. It brought me to my senses and asked me to slow down and listen. The wind talked loud. I slowed down, put my bare body on the ground, feeling the earth on my skin. I laid there and took it in. When I took leave of this space I thanked the earth around me and the wind gusted up for a brief moment and thanked me as well.
From this moment I was reminded of the importance to listen to the Earth. It had been only a few weeks since the earthquake in Japan and there was fear and rumor that the "big one" could happen that night here in California. I had been paying attention to my cat because I've heard that animals know when earthquakes are coming. They can sense it and they leave or act differently. I wondered if I tuned into the earth and listened more closely if I too would be able to sense when an earthquake was coming. But it's not just about predicting earthquakes it's about remembering right relationship and that I am a part of the land I live on. And like any relationship, balance and harmony come through mutual listening and respect. And that's when I decided that I wanted to start a practice of slowing down and listening to the earth.
Ecouter means to listen in French. I want to spend time in nature taking time to listen. I want to listen in various ways such as just sitting and noticing with all of my senses what is around me. I want to notice in a variety of ways--through my eyes with paint, in my body with movement, noticing with words -- smells, sounds, temperature. I want to discover new ways to listen. And I want to invite others to join me in slowing down and listening to the earth and to ourselves in the earth, on the earth and with the earth.