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  • Writer's pictureMike Marburg

Rainbows and Ballots

Last week, I woke up to this amazing view in the Shenandoah Valley.

Like so many of us, I had been feeling a lot of pressure, given our collective circumstances which are then often accompanied by personal challenges. For me, these challenges have emerged in both my home and work domains, but are also related to my sense of civic duty given the upcoming elections. This November 3rd vote offers a clear referendum related to two areas for which America is clearly at an inflection – how we treat our natural environment and how we invest in our middle class to address substantial income inequality issues.

Thinking that I needed a personal break, I wished that I could find a local option that would mirror what we are trying to develop with Simply Shenandoah. Synchronously, I came across a small group of twenty people that had put together an awesome three-day program – in the valley, no less! Despite being in the middle of moving, it was an incredible opportunity to have a weekend without family or work responsibility. I needed to invest in myself and decided to make it happen.

The retreat was great, as I spent time hiking the blue ridge, convening in the forest, dancing, meditating, campfire sharing, learning, and releasing. Some of the experiences were relaxing and playful, great for helping me recharge. Others involved non-ordinary states of consciousness and were quite uncomfortable – creating physical, mental, and emotional disruption. However, this disruption was exactly what I needed, and I came away with a transformed feeling that was energizing and clarifying.

I am so excited to continue developing a beautiful nature and wellness resort in the valley that can provide the same types of experiences that have been such an amazing part of my life. Our project’s progress was stifled over the summer as the hospitality industry was decimated by COVID and our funding dried up. However, investors increasingly recognize the value of what we propose, and we are making solid progress as I write this blog.

I hope to restart our efforts soon and reaffirm our plan to do this in a way that preserves the region’s rich heritage, invests in and regenerates the natural environment, and provides economic vitality. Everyone I have met in the area, whether neighbors, county/city officials, farmers or businesspeople, has been great, and I look forward to developing deep friendships moving forward.

During the retreat, I saw the most amazing star-scape. Not only was the quantity of stars incredible, but I also saw a shooting star and the brightest Mars I have ever experienced. It was so impactful that I decided to sleep on the deck and woke up the next morning to this view. Everything I need to understand about life and fulfillment can be found in nature, and for me this picture is a great reminder that natural beauty is always around us – I just need to slow down enough to see it.

I wish the best to everyone this week, and truly hope for an outcome that serves our collective long-term interests across all dimensions: human/nature/earth; spiritual beliefs; income levels; races/ethnicities/sexuality; AND gun ownership preferences. With love.


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