A Natural History of NatureConnect NW

by Judy Todd



Painted Hills visitation

Painted Hills visitation

In 1996 Judy Todd moved to Portland to begin a new life. She realized her heart needed quiet solace to re-imagine and renew the future. She went into nature as she once had as a child. Soon, going out every season for a long weekend became natural. She began inviting others to come along. They did.

The first organized NatureConnect Excursion was in November 1998 in Oxbow Park along the Sandy River. Here 30 people gathered over two days under heavy gray skies, explored the woods and river, shared stories of other times and other experiences in nature, and shared their current yearning for something more real in daily life.

NatureConnect had begun.




Crooked River and Crooked River Gorge

Crooked River and Crooked River Gorge

By the fall of 2013, Judy – aka Scout – had been inviting others to get out into nature with her for 15 years. That fall, gathered with three friends in pouring rain along the Crooked River, she shared about the new callings of her heart. She wanted to join The Great March for Climate Action, an 8-month walk across America. She felt an urgency to act and join the climate movement. She had practical and soul-searching questions about what that meant for her and for NatureConnect. Her friends Jan Shannon, Kathy Kobow and Suzan Hill, listened and probed and spoke from their own hearts. What emerged were ways to carry on the work of nature connection that had been offered to hundreds of people.

The NatureConnect Council had gathered.


Chapter Three: CREATing AND COLLABORAting

NCNW's freshly crafted mission statement, January 2016

NCNW's freshly crafted mission statement, January 2016

In November of 2015, we became NatureConnect NW, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization. At our kickoff retreat in January, 2016, the NCNW Council crafted a Mission, a Vision, Common Values, and Communication Agreements. These principles and practices direct everything we do and everything we offer.

Our Mission:

The purpose of NatureConnect NW is to foster and empower kinship with Earth and all her creatures.

Our vision is humanity living according to Nature’s guidance, in harmony with the web of life.

Our Values:

  • We revere Nature as Source, healer teacher, inspiration and primary guide.
  • We practice connection through deep listening, stillness, curiosity, gratitude, willingness and doing no harm.
  • We create safe haven, inviting, nourishing, witnessing, heart speaking, and tending to safety and well being of all.
  • We act from the heart with care, receiving what comes with grace and gratitude, walking in beauty.

Our Council Communication Agreements:

  • Speak from the heart with care
  • Listen generously
  • Seek unity
  • Track our own inner peace, and do what is needed to restore it

With this, NatureConnect NW was reborn.


chapter four: looking back with gratitude

Malheuer National Wildlife Refuge

Malheuer National Wildlife Refuge

We find ourselves in the company of others dedicated to being present, listening, looking, offering gratitude and ceremony, and paying attention to the instructions of Earth.

Over the years, and through the four seasons, while the individual backgrounds and interests varied, we all shared a common desire to get out there where many lives have been forever altered, renewed and transformed by the connection and experience.

We have learned and loved many landscapes with their own names: Cascade Head, Tom McCall Point, Rowena Crest, Wanderland, Council Lake and Council Bluff, Peterson Prairie, Capes Foulweather, Meares, Kiwanda, and Lookout at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Steens Mountain and Kiger Gorge, Page Springs and Frenchglen, The High Desert lands of the Painted Hills, Goose and Sheep Rocks, Clarno and the Blue Basin, Sedona and Red Rock Country, Gila Wilderness and Cliff Dwellings.

And oh, the rivers, streams and lakes we’ve sat beside or crossed on foot: The Gila, John Day, Deschutes, Bridge Creek, Catherine Creek, Salmon River, Little Salmon River, Lewis River, Wind River, Opal Creek, Siltcoos River, Neskowin, Three Creeks, Coal Creek, and the Nehalem River, the mighty Columbia River and so many of its other tributaries.

The birds, butterflies, trees, medicine plants, wildflowers, 4-leggeds, 8-leggeds, cloud people, winds, stone people and awesome beauty of the many Beings who have blessed us are too numerous to fully recount. They know who they are.