Hi! I'm Karryn
My pronouns are she/hers/hers, and I live on the unceded territory of the Gayogohó:no.
I’m a Lover of Gaia, spiritual seeker, mother, activist, permaculture teacher/designer, career & biz coach, educator, entrepreneur, student of the emerging regenerative paradigm, and writer—who loves the scent of healthy soil, the feeling of my bare feet on earth, and literally, hugging trees.
I feel endless gratitude to have learned from various Indigenous traditions to view our living Earth, and all of "ki's"* inhabitants as my Beloved Community, and it is my desire that my livelihood be in service to Life.
I believe that I am not alone in this desire. I know there are entrepreneurs out there who want to innovate ways of working and collaborating which enable us to thrive while simultaneously growing the capability of our communities and Lifesheds to flourish.
But to actualize these desires, we need to be guided and grounded in a regenerative paradigm that reframes our relationship with this planet, the many Beloveds here, and ourselves.
*"Ki" is a pronoun I learned (as an alternative to the objectifying "it") from Robin Wall Kimmerer. When I use this word, I feel it honors the sacred aliveness of more-than-human Beings, and brings me, and humanity into right relationship.
My approach grounds you in a regenerative paradigm and the foundations of entrepreneurship.
In 1995, I embarked on my path in permaculture, and immediately knew I wanted it to be my career. And while I made a significant impact with my work over the ensuing decades, it came at the expense of my own stress levels and overworking. As a idealist trying to live a regenerative paradigm within an extractive capitalist work culture, my allergy for “business as usual” created a lot of internal resistance for me. I got a Masters of Public Affairs (MPA), not an MBA, for a reason!
But after cobbling together many gigs doing good work, I started studying the Natural Step Framework for strategic sustainability planning in 2011, and I realized that whole sectors will shift quickly towards greener and more socially just practices if we can speak their language. I realized that until now, a big missing link for permaculture was a clear way to explain the business case for ecological design.
Around that same time, I was grappling with the fact that our Permaculture Design Courses were barely covering costs, and also starting my own permaculture design consulting business, so I began to become aware that I understood too little about the business end.
Since then, I’ve trained in entrepreneurial leadership, attended Social Entrepreneurship Institutes, and worked through an entrepreneur accelerator program where I studied and worked with the Business Model Generator canvas, and Lean Startup. I'm continually learning from innovative, kickass, and heart-centered coaches who use business as a force for good.
As a result, I tweaked my on-the-ground design work so that it combines coaching and consulting to better serve my clients who either don't have time, or money, or life situations that enable them to do a full permaculture design course, but they want to design their sites without getting overwhelmed doing it on their own. Clients say that this approach is much more valuable to them.
In 2015, I started gathering groups to explore concepts around how to design regenerative right livelihoods, and this work has grown to be my main focus, and includes courses, coaching, and now, resourcing.
My approach is grounded in learning and applying living systems principles
Life has been evolving on Earth for 3.5 billion years, so living systems hold incredible wisdom about how to design for thriving.
The challenge is that so many of us have become disconnected from this wisdom.
I started out on this reclaiming journey when I learned ecological design through permaculture, and then applied it to landscapes and social endeavors, and later to livelihood design, and entrepreneurship specifically.
Along the way, I learned about Carol Sanford, and her cutting-edge work around exploring and applying the regenerative paradigm to businesses, organizations, and life. In 2019, I joined her Change Agent Development Community. In 2020, I continued on this path by joining the Regenerative Business Development community and Regenerative Women Entrepreneur community. In 2021, I'm continuing on the Business Development track and I'm also a contributor to The Regenerative Economy Collaborative that publishes on Medium.
This is revolutionizing my work and how I show up in the world.
I believe women are key for co-creating our regenerative future.
In undergrad, a whole new way of understanding opened up for me as a women’s studies minor and a rape prevention educator. Later, when studying natural resource management and comparative/international affairs in my Masters, my research and papers focused on women and sustainable development.
Did you know that much of women’s work in Africa happens in the “informal economy” that’s not on the books, thus rendering their economic contributions invisible and skewing aid away from them to the “formal economy” (which can only exist, even in industrialized economies, because it is supported by the unpaid caring work done mostly by women)?
OR that most of the food that feeds families in Global Majority Nations is grown by women smallholders, who receive little aid, again because they are considered “too small” to support, and the nourishment of their families is considered insignificant in relation to exports? Puke.
OR that agriculture is the most environmentally detrimental activity humans undertake?
Living and working in Ghana and India, I was always drawn to the daily realities and learning the wisdom of the women and farmers.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, who combines astronomical intellectual power with indigenous ways of knowing, became one of my sheroes. And Joanna Macy's work introduced me to Deep Ecology, the Great Turning, and the Work that Reconnects.
In 2005, I co-founded the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, and have served as a lead teacher for PDCs, and Board President. I learned a LOT about permaculture and business models, and the challenges for women in this field (even if you have awesome supportive men on your team, like I do).
I taught for a decade as an adjunct in the Environmental Studies and Sciences Dept. at Ithaca College. And I co-coordinated an annual professional development workshop on "Integrating Sustainability into the Curriculum," taught an online course on a similar theme, and still collaborate regionally.
In 2012, I co-organized the first Women in Permaculture Gathering in the Northeast, and have regularly attended these gatherings, and see firsthand the impact of folks who identify as women having their own spaces to connect bravely, and have space to show up audaciously.
In 2013, I interviewed several women about women’s leadership in permaculture, who faced similar challenges. I subsequently wrote “A Pattern Language for Women in Permaculture” and attended the first North American Permaculture convergence to organize women's tracks, and subsequently compiled “Best Practices for Supporting Women’s Leadership in Permaculture.”
I lived for 14 years in Ecovillage at Ithaca, and have have two wonderful daughters who identify as women of color. Like many women, I've had a super meandering path towards my livelihood!
Along this path of lifelong learning, I've found research that shows that
We get the work done, and we excel at doing it collaboratively, with transparency, and considering long-term impact.
The world urgently needs regenerative solutions, many of which will arise from historically marginalized perspectives.
Studies of women who are managers show that they outperform men in leadership, including the emotional intelligence needed to foster these connections and processes that build bridges across historical divides and bring forth regenerative win-win solutions.
However, in my extensive conversations with women in the fields like permaculture, I've documented the myriad challenges women face...
My big a-ha moment was when I realized that all of these challenges adversely affect women's livelihoods and flourishing. And, if it was this hard for me, with many layers of privilege, there is clearly need for systemic support.
So I decided that my highest contribution would be to use my privilege to learn all I could about entrepreneurship, and how to use these skills towards work paths in service to Life. And to create transformative programs where women**—in all our diversity—can get the support needed to launch our unique highest contribution into the world.
**I'm dedicated to an intersectional approach. I work with anyone who identifies as a woman, all identities and expressions are welcome.
I also support folks who identify as men through my work!
Here's what I'm working on:
I offer transformative programs grounded in the foundations of entrepreneurship, but from a regenerative paradigm.
People who are in the inital stages of a regenerative right livelihood need to discern their Unique Highest Contribution, and figure out how to earn a living doing that work. I created courses within the Regenepreneurs Network to support you to move steadily ahead towards your Thrivelihood. Read more about the courses here, or sign up to hear when they open for enrollment.
People who already have an entrepreneurial endeavor, or need focused or urgent support work with me in 1:1 sessions. On the linked page, you can connect with me for a free strategy session, and we can if we are a good fit for working together.
In the Fall of 2021, I'm hosting a conversation series on "Cultivating LIvelihoods in Service to Life." Sign up to hear more about that here.
In the past, I hosted the Regenepreneurs Interview Series. It's not your usual interview, we focus specifically on how our guest figured out their niche, pricing, offerings, and marketing, to design their Abundance Model. I'd love to interview more folks, so do send them my way!
Here's how you can connect with me:
I send out occasional emails that are more like love letters. I write about why it can be hard to thrive in permaculture, or as a regenerative entrepreneur—especially as a woman—and emphasize the tools that help us thrive. I also cultivate our big audacious visions for the regenerative future we want to create. Enter your contact info on the sign up form to receive those emails.
I'll look forward to connecting with you. Thank you for the good work you do in the world towards co-creating our regenerative future!