Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma
Caretaker for Whole Systems Design | GilChrist
I do a little bit of everything at GilChrist—from scheduling groups and feeding animals to writing and managing big projects for sustainability and accessibility. I really love the work of cultivating our ecosystem—the grounds, buildings, flora, fauna, neighborhood, staff, and guests—with a view to our past, present, and future work of nurturing spaces for contemplation that renew us all for our work in the world. I especially enjoyed coordinating the installation of a couple of large ponds on the GilChrist property, which was the realization of a dream that’s been in the air here for decades. I’ve been delighted to see them begin to take on a life of their own, with frogs, herons, migrating ducks, beavers, and many other creatures large and small.
My academic and professional background in the arts, education, publishing, and community development has given me a passion for the big picture and all of the patterns and pieces that make up that larger story. I’ve completed a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, and that framework serves as a guide for dreaming and decision-making in a way that heals and regenerates our environment for ourselves and future generations.
I spend a lot of time looking out my window into the majestic woods and walking the trails in every season of the year. I think of it in the same way that doing ordinary things with another person—making a meal, running errands, reading side by side—fosters an intimate relationship.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.