Michael Muir is the great-grandson of America’s visionary conservationist, John Muir. In his own right, Michael Muir has enjoyed success in a far-ranging equestrian career that has earned his horses National Grand Championships in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
His racehorses have set track and world records and established multi-million-dollar sire careers. He has directed the operations of the largest commercial carriage business in the world. He has represented the United States five times in World and International Championship carriage driving competitions, winning medals and champion honors in Germany, Austria, France and Great Britain.
Michael has lived with multiple sclerosis since 1967, when he was fifteen years old. In 2001, Michael led an international team of carriage drivers with disabilities, driving wheelchair accessible carriages more than 3,000 miles from California to the White House, in an epic journey that took over nine months to complete. In 2002, they traveled across northern Europe, in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary. In 2003, Michael followed the 1867 path of John Muir’s first great wilderness adventure, the Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. In 2009, Michael survived a cancer diagnosis, with two surgeries and radiation treatment.
After serving as President of United States Driving for the Disabled, Michael founded Access Adventure in 2005, enriching the lives of people with disabilities and other underserved members of our community by providing outdoor recreation, open space access, education and therapy through a working partnership with horses. The organization is staffed entirely by volunteers and the services they provide to hundreds of people are free.
Access Adventure had more than 150 events scheduled in 2014, providing life-changing experiences for people with disabilities, injured veterans, at-risk youth, senior citizens and special needs children. The program is a pioneer in the field of therapeutic driving and serves as America’s premier organization using wheelchair-accessible horse drawn carriages to enhance the lives of people in need.
LAURIE MARSHALL, M.A.
Laurie Marshall, M.A. is a cutting-edge educator and creative activist who uses collaborative art to envision healing of heartbreak. Known as The Singing Tree Lady, Laurie is the founder of Unity Through Creativity Foundation and the Singing Tree Project. This is a collaborative healing process inspired by Nature that envisions healing community heartbreak to spark innovative actions. 88 murals have been created by 20,000 people from 52 countries. She has worked with underserved and at-risk/at-potential for over 35 years. Marshall's many books include “Beating the Odds Now”, “Singing Trees: A Growing Forest” and “The Flood of Kindness - Inspired by Hurricane Katrina”, written by an 8 year old boy, produced and illustrated by Laurie. Many murals have been funded by Tobacco Free entities to help youth and adults envision freedom
from addiction. The Singing Tree Project partners also include NASA, FEMA, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Bioneers, the Institute of Noetic Sciences and Project Drawdown, the World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions. Marshall is trained as a Conversational Intelligence Coach, a Peace Ambassador, a
Waldorf educator, and a graphic facilitator.
JOHN FOX, PPM
John Fox, Poetry Therapist, is a poet, educator, and author. His books include, Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity through Poem-Making (1995) and Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (1997). The Only Gift to Bring is a chapbook of his poems published in 2015. His work is featured in the 2008 PBS documentary Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine. He is the author of numerous other essays on a wide range of applications for poetry-as-healer.
John taught concurrently for fifteen years as associate adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in Expressive Therapy; for seventeen years at Sofia University (formerly The Institute for Transpersonal Psychology) in Palo Alto, CA; for ten years at the Sophia Center for Culture and Spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA; and for twenty years at John F. Kennedy University—first teaching in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology in Orinda, CA and then the Department of Arts & Consciousness in Berkeley, CA. He leads public workshops on the creative process and using poetic medicine for empowerment and community building. The Institute for Poetic Medicine, a nonprofit founded by John in 2005 has a training program that extends the practice of poetic medicine. IPM supports and funds Poetry Partner Programs that serve a wide-range of people at the margins including immigrant and refugee youth, prisoners, people overcoming addiction, women who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault, among many others.
Since the age of thirteen the path of poetry-as-healer has called to John. Its message is continually being renewed; its capacity for inclusion is at the heart of that message: each voice matters.
Julie Bridge, founder of Mearas, has been steeped in the exploration of purpose driven leadership, social and emotional intelligence, creating meaning in the workplace and organizational development for over twenty-five years. Through her own personal development and decades of work with Fortune 500 companies, Julie has developed a deep understanding of the dynamics that can drive an organization to mastery or mediocrity.
As a lifelong equestrian, Julie understands the power of the horse/human relationship, and the profound realizations leaders, teams and organizations achieve through working with these majestic beings. She has had the honor of studying with the foremost thought leaders in Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Guided Education and is an Advanced EponaQuest Instructor, Riding Instructor and Equine Guided Educator.
Hilary Maslon is an abstract painter with over 30 years of experience in painting and exhibiting. She has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Queens. As an entrepreneur, ecologist, and lover of animals she brings a new perspective of art and healing. She has taught art to diversified groups and venues in NYC, Mississippi and California.
Originally from a farm in Minnesota, Hilary moved with her family to Los Angeles at the age of 13, and then went on to study at San Francisco Art Institute, acquiring a BA through New College of CA/Mill Valley Program. In 1990 she moved to NYC, where she painted, exhibited, and worked as a scenic artist and prop technician. In 2000—motivated by the need to see the stars, know where her food came from, and become more self-reliant, she purchased land in the Piney Hills of North Mississippi and set up a cattle ranch and retreat. For the next 10 years, she split her time between Mississippi and NYC, acquiring her MFA. Subsequently, she established herself as a full-time resident of Mississippi, and became a host for the Worldwide Organization of Organic Farmers and taught farming and ranching skills to young adults from all over the world. Her teaching experience includes: NYC: Working through LEAP, a New York based artist-in-the-schools program, and Art Start where artists
Debbie Darrin is a certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher through the 2-year MMTCP training by Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach. She facilitates mindful teachings and meditation regularly and has explored various aspects of mindfulness and meditation since the early 1980’s.
Debbie has a strong interest in mindfulness practices and recovery. She is mentored by well-known Dharma and Recovery teacher Kevin Griffin and facilitates his classes on occasion. She believes the heart practices of mindfulness play a significant role in balancing, healing, and navigating a complex world. She is a creative, certified in Art4Healing, accomplished in equine learning and leadership, and an all-around contemplative spirit.