The North American Earth Holder Community is guided by a steering group, known as the Care Taking Council, and a Coordinator. Together, they are advancing policies and addressing organizational needs to fulfill Earth Holders’ founding document. You can learn more about the Earth Holder Community Structure here.

Who We Are

John–at home everywhere, including the Massachusetts wilderness

John Bell (he/him/his) is a Plum Village Buddhist Dharma Teacher who lives near Boston, MA, USA. He is a founding staff and former vice president of YouthBuild USA, an international non-profit that provides learning, earning, and leadership opportunities to young people from low-income backgrounds. He is an author, lifelong social justice activist, international trainer facilitator, father and grandfather.  His blog is www.beginwithin.info and email is jbellminder@gmail.com.

John lives in New England where consciousness of climate justice issues is on the rise–a strong regional center for 350.org, the Green Justice Coalition, Sunrise, Poor People’s Campaign, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Greenpeace, and more. He lives on the traditional lands of the Wampanoag people.

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The Dharma is Clear Grace’s source of insight to heal from injustices of all kinds.

Clear Grace (She/her, they/them) was ordained as Generous Presence of the Heart in 2015 and she took her Novice Ordination in 2018 as True Moon of Clear Grace at Deer Park Monastery. Sister Clear Grace has since left the Monastery and now resides at Heartwood Refuge under the tutelage of Venerable Dr. Pannavati in Hendersonville, NC the Traditional Lands of the  Untakiyastiyi- the place of the great races and the Kustiyi- the place of the ashes.

Sister Clear Grace aspires to embrace Earth Loving practices that lead towards change that protects all beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, status and the ways in which many are marginalized.  Clear Grace is also a Core member for the  ARISE Sangha (Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity) a community of mindfulness practitioners and monastics who come together to heal the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity, beginning with looking deeply within ourselves and using the energy of compassion, understanding, and love in action.

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Sara breathing with the scent of kale and great mother earth

Sara Henry (she/they) received the 5 MT name Complete Understanding of the Heart in Plum Village Thailand in 2012, and was ordained with the 14 MT name True Manifestation of Offering in Blue Cliff Monastery in 2017.  She is a resident at Morning Sun Mindfulness Center in Alstead, NH, the true lands of the Abenaki and Pennacook. Morning Sun is an intergenerational intentional community and mindfulness retreat center in the Plum Village tradition. Sara is a yoga and meditation teacher, community organizer, and person of many trades, always wanting to learn more. She studies and practices mental health care, intersectional racial and social equity, and numerous Eastern and Western ways to take better care of ourselves and the earth. Sara has long been in touch with the reality of climate chaos, having stayed close with the environment since she was a young child. Sara is committed to walking the path of the dharma alongside the sangha in order to help transform discrimination and violence into peace and refuge. 

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Andrew–ever flowing in the
river of compassion

Andrew Deckert (he/him/his) received the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Thich Nhat Hanh in 1995, ordained in the Order of Interbeing in 2001, and has been active with Earth Holder Community Care Taking Council since 2015. He is a retired local public health worker, partner, father of three, and an ex Mindful Peacebuilding board member. Andrew enjoys jogging, yoga, gardening, inner work, and building community. He facilitates a mindful reading group, ecosattva half-days of mindfulness, and strives to bring mindfulness to local activism in support of the living world and each other.

Living in the lands of the Wintu and Pit River peoples (aka Northern California), Andrew has experienced deadly wildfires, heat waves and drought worsened by climate change.

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Chaya – looking deeply into the joys and pains at the front lines of disasters

Chaya Ocampo Go (she/her/hers) ordained as True Radiant Cloud at Blue Cliff Monastery in 2019. She is a Filipina social worker, scholar and activist committed to well-being and survival in marginalized communities across the Philippines. She served as an emergency relief worker post super typhoon Haiyan (2013). Great love and hope inspires her continued work among front liners. Her doctoral research features three short films on women leading grassroots disaster response efforts in the country: “Barangay Magiting (Village Heroes)”(2019).

As a migrant/settler on unceded territories in Canada, Chaya practices being in alliance with First Nations land and water protectors. 

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Nomi–she shines as bright
and warm as the sun

Nomi Green (she/ they) was ordained in 2011 and received the dharma name True Source of Virtue.   She is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist who specializes in trauma and is deeply looking with others on how to bring these necessary skills to support our practices of deep looking and resilience in our rapidly changing world. She enjoys hiking, gardening, and being in nature. Nomi lives in the White Shell Water Place (Santa Fe, NM) on the un-ceded homeland of the Tewa people where drought is ever-present and the Oglala Aquifer is declining. 

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Stephanie and her daughter Daphne–the embodiment of fearlessness

Stephanie Knox Steiner (she/her/hers)
ordained as True Earth Dwelling in 2017, also joined the Earth Holder Care Taking Council in 2017. She is a mother, peace educator and scholar, currently working towards her doctorate with a specialization in Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Eco-Psychologies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She writes about these topics, as well as mindfulness and motherhood, at stephanieknoxsteiner.com.

Stephanie recently moved to Colorado, on the traditional land of the Ute nation, where climate disruption takes the form of a combination of warmer winters, drought, wildfires, and increased  intensity of winter storms such as “snowicanes” and “bomb cyclones.”  

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Shephali embracing Great Mother Ocean, the source of all life on Earth.

Shephali Patel (she/her/hers) is a traditional ecologist, regenerative farmer, educator, and climate crisis activist. All of her work centers around creating spaces that support people in remembering that they are Nature, and falling in love with the living world before asking them to save it. Her teacher Thich Nhat Hahn, the Plum Village Tradition, and precious visits to Blue Cliff Monastery continue to teach her how to weave these pockets-of-wonder that fuel the love-in-action needed to build a future of joy and peace for ALL of us. In between all this, Shephali loves to commune with the wild by staring at stars, hiking, rock climbing, practicing yoga and qi gong, and falling into the ocean over and over again.

Shephali holds both of her given 5MT names close to her heart as she works to embody each energy: Radiant Kindness of the Heart (given by fellow CTC member Sister True Vow) and Spiritual Action of the Heart (from CTC member John Bell).

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Simona Coayla Duba, our Earth Holder Coordinator who knows no bounds

Simona Coayla-Duba (she/her/hers) is an Andean-European Indigenous-environmental rights activist. She considers the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Andes of South America home. Simona is an alumna of Naropa University’s Environmental Studies department where she participated in an international academic research program at the Royal University of Bhutan’s College of Natural Resources. She is excited about relational healing, creative and collaborative solutions, and climbing up mountains! Simona has witnessed and felt the impacts of extractivist culture, such as mining and environmental racism, in her homes of the high Rockies in Colorado (land to the Arapahoe, Ute and Cheyenne) and Andean peaks (land of the Tiwanaku and Incan peoples).

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