Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dreamchaser Spotlight

     Promises, Promises...I am truly a woman of my word!  It may take me a little while, but I will always follow through on my promises.  Today, I am more than excited to keep one of those promises.  I have been inspired to follow my own heart because I have met some quite adventurous people that are following their passions everyday.

     A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of John Ivanko at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.  Although I didn't get a chance to meet his wife, Lisa Kivirist, that day, I would love to sit down and talk with her soon, also.  John and Lisa are self-professed "former advertising agency fast-trackers" who choose to  leave the city life of Chicago and followed their passions to the Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast in Wisconsin. 

    They are they authors of several books, including Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life, ECOpreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits, and Homemade for Sale:  How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen.  Together, they are the owners of the Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast. Natural Home recognized the Inn as one of the "top 10 eco-destinations in North America".  It is an organic farm and business that is also completely powered by the wind and sun.  They also have found a way to make other passions a part of their life:  photography, writing, cooking, speaking. 

     I hope you enjoy learning more about these fascinating adventurous people.  They are truly an inspiration to anyone wanting to know how to make your dreams a reality.  If you would like to learn more about John and Lisa, please visit their website, http://www.innserendipity.com/, or go to Amazon to take a learn more about their books. 

Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko

          1.  What is your dream? 
Live in a way that makes the world a better place.  Over the years, that's come to take the form of how we generate electricity with a 10kW Bergey wind turbine and our work in the organic growing fields where we produce about 70 percent of  the ingredients we need for our Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and our personal needs.  The extra electricity is sold back to the utility.  The surplus of produce is then sold to local restaurants, B&B guests or other farms (in the case of our seed garlic).  Everything is interconnected, so our dream was to make those connections to meet our food, energy, living and financial needs in way that doesn't destroy the planet and yield the greatest degree of satisfaction and happiness.

2.  Was any kind of "large leap" needed to make your dreams come true?

Completely redefine "wealth" and to a large degree, "success."  In our culture, both tend to be measured in dollars and cents.  However, we measure wealth in the health of our soil, time spent together with our son (we home-school him) and quality of the foods we savor every day.  We may never be millionaires, but we sure eat like one.  

3. What were some of the small steps that you were able to make until you made the "big leap"?
Relearning the skills of self-reliance, which we explore at length in our book Rural Renaissance and along the culinary sides in Farmstead Chef.  From cooking in the kitchen to caring for our son (without daycare or babysitters), from generating our electricity on site to harvesting and "working up" the downed hardwood we use to heat our modest farmhouse, the multiplicity of steps over the now 19 years translated to tens of thousands of dollars we never had to earn.  What we did with the money we would have paid to grocery stores, restaurants and the utility companies we used to pay down our mortgage ("death pledge" we call it in our talks at the Mother Earth News Fairs).  Now we're death pledge-free, which is incredibly freeing.  We never set out to be the richest person in the cemetery.  Our focus is on quality of life, not quantity of things.  The planet is not made up of things, after all.  It's made up of relationships:  bees and flowers, husband, wife and kids -- and community potlucks! 

4. What convinced you to make any big changes to your life?

Every living system is in decline.  Climate change means our growing season is widened on both ends by at least two weeks, and extreme weather is so common that the weather report is now called the Extreme Weather Report.  If we don't change, who will?  In our ECOpreneuring book we write about being the change we seek in the world.  It can simply start with a tomato plant or a jar of pickles you share with a friend.

5. On a day-to-day basis, how are you making everything work?

We're always shuffling priorities.  Life can be messy and increasingly, unpredictable.  Like we eat, we live seasonally.  Our farm and the B&B is the priority in the summer months, our writing and speaking more the focus during the long winters in Wisconsin.  To keep everything in balance, we tend to let our livelihood dictate our projects for the season, with a keen eye on diversification.  We follow nature's lead in so many ways.  If it's a nice day, work outside; if it's cold, cocoon inside and work on an article.  Permaculture simplifies this process in a way that's accessible and appealing to us.
6. What words of advice do you have for our readers?

Start a business or enterprise, built around a passion.  We wrote our latest book, HOMEMADE FOR SALE (homemadeforsale.com) for those amazing bakers and jammers out there who, at least in 42 states, can start a food business from their home kitchen.  Like we did with our pickles and sauerkraut, turn your love of artisanal food into a small business, strengthen your local economy, build community and savor the abundance.

We use our business to make the world a better place.  We live in one of the most amazing, business-friendly nations in the world.  Harness the power of free enterprise to create a place more beautiful, more sustainable and more convivial to all life.  Our books address this idea in very practical and accessible ways.  Also, we can't emphasize enough the power of the potluck, of sharing the surplus with neighbors and friends.

One last thing, never take your great health for granted.  We never know how long we have on this Earth.  Enjoy every moment and live life to it's fullest.  This is why we often end our presentations with the "strawberry story".  If you missed it, here it is from our ECOpreneuring book:

Eat the Strawberry
A friend visiting the farm recently wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of a big,
juicy-looking strawberry and the words “Eat the Strawberry.” When asked the origin,
he explained that he actually had designed — and sold — the shirt himself,
based on spreading the inspiration he drew from the following fable of Buddhist

A man was jogging through the woods when, all of a sudden, he realized
he was being chased by a tiger. Surprised to encounter a tiger,
he didn’t contemplate why there was a tiger in the woods but rather
started running for his life — until he ran up against the edge of a
steep cliff. Peering down over the edge, he saw a second hungry tiger
waiting for him at the bottom. Unable to run forward or jump down,
the man noticed a small branch growing out from the side of the cliff
a few feet below where he stood. He jumped and hung on the
branch, not knowing what his next move would be but realizing that
this way he’d at least be alive. Then he saw two small mice intensely
chewing away on the branch, now slowly cracking and about to fall
off. Suddenly, the man caught a glimpse of a single bright red, ripe
strawberry growing from a rambling vine within his easy reach right
above his head. The man picked the strawberry and popped it into
his mouth, readily absorbed by the juicy flavors of this ruby treasure.
It was the best strawberry he ever ate.

While this man’s fate and the tragic ending stands clear, the fable symbolizes the
life journey we share. The tigers represent death, and the mice stand for time, two
inevitable facets of life that will come eventually to all of us. The strawberry reminds
us to live in the moment, to enjoy and savor what is ripe and readily picked when
we have that opportunity, not to be sorry over the inevitable that can’t be controlled.
As ecopreneurs, we remind ourselves to live in the present, take advantage
of opportunity and act on our livelihood dreams before the inevitable tigers and
mice catch up with us and we’re left with regrets. So, eat the strawberry.

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