Welcome to The Heartland Project.
The vision of Heartland is to nurture sacred relationship between humans and nature.
We journey into the forests, deserts and coastlands of the Pacific Northwest, being intentional with our presence and connecting deeply to nature.
Our ethos centers around the belief that intimate relationship with the Earth holds potent medicine for anyone who seeks it, and that this medicine is essential to the transformation and wellbeing of culture.
The Heartland Project invites you to collaborate with your heart and the land around you to find guidance, support, healing and connection.
Participate in the Heartland Project:
My name is Michael Silverstein-Bode and I’m the creator and lead guide of the Heartland Project. I have spent my whole life exploring the Oregon outdoors, walking, sitting, and sleeping outside as often as I can. As an adult, wild lands have become my most revered sanctuaries and serve as my wisest teachers.
In my twenties, I oriented around meditation, yoga, and non-dual contemplative practices. From 2014-2021 I worked for Peace in Schools and Presence Collective, teaching mindfulness and meditation to youth and adults. In these 7 years I taught in high schools, facilitated professional development courses for educators, trained and managed other mindfulness teachers, and provided group and one-on-one guidance during meditation retreats.
During this time I also became interested in understanding patriarchy and my own masculinity, eventually co-creating a community for men called EMBRACE, which operated from 2019-2021. This organization facilitated gatherings and courses for men to practice vulnerable and authentic connection, to question male conditioning and societal gender expectations, and to explore dismantling internalized white supremacy and patriarchy.
In January 2021, I designed and undertook a 12-month journey of personal transformation, including a series of wilderness rites of passage, vision fasts, and psychedelic journeys. During this year I stepped away from teaching and facilitation to follow the leadership of my heart. Heartland emerged in January 2022 as a culmination and expression of my heart's deepest desires to heal and change the world through intimacy with nature.
Relationship to Money
The Heartland Project strives to be in right relationship with the Earth and with human community. We strive to de-colonize and challenge capitalistic structures. Heartland does not "own" the land we journey upon, and any benefit received owes credit to all the teachings that have influenced Heartland, each Journeyer's own inner wisdom, and of course to the generosity and power of the land itself. Yet in order to make Heartland a sustainable project, it needs to bring in income to cover business expenses and to contribute to the livelihood of its guides.
The intention is to make Heartland offerings as financially accessible as possible through the use of broad sliding scales. The low end of each scale will just barely cover the expenses of the journey (food, gas, materials, admin costs) and anything above the lowest level will include a contribution to your guide for their services and to support Heartland’s growth.
If you have an abundance of resources you are invited to support this project's sustainability by paying higher on the sliding scale. If you have been profoundly impacted by this work and want to give more, consider doing some research and sharing money with some of the organizations listed on Heartland's Resources Page.
If you feel strongly about participating with Heartland but do not have enough money to pay the low end of the sliding scale, please reach out and we'll try to find a creative solution.
Learning from Indigenous Voices
The places we visit on Heartland Journeys are all ancestral homelands of various Indigenous groups who have lived on and been deeply connected to these lands for millennia.
Building relationship with these places includes connecting with the history of lands and the people who have called it home and hold it sacred. Here in Oregon, there are currently 9 "Federally Recognized" Native American Tribes, and many other Indigenous groups that are not currently "recognized".
Anyone who is interested in Heartland is highly encouraged to learn from indigenous voices about the history of these lands, peoples, and about being in sacred community with the Earth. See the links below or take a look at the first section on Heartland's Resources Page.
Websites of Oregon's 9 Federally Recognized Tribes:
Interactive map of native lands - Native Land Digital