Michael Coolican - "Foxtail"

Core Contribution: "Quality Leadership"

Foxtail’s contributions are so deep and broad (program leadership and development, support for the struggling kid, support and training for staff, mentorship for youth) that it is challenging to identify one core quality, but it is the focus on leadership, to enable participants and staff to be their best both for each other and their roles as citizens of the planet. Most of all, things are done “well” so that each of us will grow to be the best that we can be.

Leadership Contributions: 1999 - ongoing

Six years at Vision 20/20, including five as the overall on-site coordinator, seven years at Sunship, including two in the coordination role, and lots of work with day camps, HEAT and other programs.

Personal Reflection

“Something that I often like to say, when someone I’ve met learns that my earth name is Foxtail, is that there are more people in this world who know me as Foxtail than as anything else. I was 16 when I gave myself that name, named myself after a neat house plant that my mother had brought home the week before. It was a quick decision, made after one afternoon of Sunship training and an orientation.

With some staff their earth name tells the story of their connection to nature, or its an expression of who they are. I recently, ever so briefly, considered whether I should change my earth name. It’s been 10 years since then and I’m much more clear on my connection with nature. I love to work with wood. I love to work with talented, passionate and committed people. I love the clarity, connections, solitude, immediacy and urgency, that being part of a natural environment allows. I didn’t know these things when I was sixteen. Surely I could come up with something that better reflects these connections than the name of a neat house plant.

What I realized is that Foxtail isn’t an expression of my connection to nature, its an expression of my connection to the Centre. When Foxtail is used as my name it speaks to the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve worked with, the skills I’ve learnt, the talents I’ve used, the approach to learning I’ve adopted, the community I’ve become a part of, and my deep, personal and powerful connection to nature. All of which have grown from my relationship with the Centre, and for all of which, I am deeply thankful.”