Andrew Forsthoefel

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I’m a writer, speaker, and peace activist living in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. After graduating from Middlebury College, I spent eleven months trekking across the United States with a sign on my pack that read “Walking to Listen,” recording interviews with the people I met along the way. I co-produced a radio documentary about this project that was featured on Transom.org and This American Life, and my book, Walking to Listen(Bloomsbury, 2017), tells the tale of the journey.

Drawing from the experiences of my year-long initiation on the road, and from the abundance of lived fodder that comes from an active contemplative practice, I offer my work as a contribution to the collective project of learning how to be human together with love, by listening—united by our diversity, empowered by sharing the inherent vulnerability of being alive, and freed by opening to truth.

This work comes in three ways: I write, putting my wonder to words. I speak, spinning stories and mining them for insight. And I teach, exploring the practice of listening as a catalyst for connective presence, personal transformation, and peacemaking.


Zoe Abram

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After working as a farmer for many years, Zoe has pivoted towards work growing capacity for connection, belonging and presence with self, others and the larger whole. She is trained in conscious communication and group facilitation, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Zoe brings a variety of experience, having worked in a non-profit setting and as an entrepreneur, and also always her innate enthusiasm for what’s-in-the-room to her practice. She’s currently diving deep into learning about fear and transition; Zoe loves a good plunge into ice-cold water, and using metaphors that pattern off nature for human experiences. A mentor once described Zoe as having “attention surplus disorder,” a quality of uninterruptible focus that she brings to both narrow-scope research projects and broad and connective team-building work.  


Pete McLean

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Hey, that’s me!  And the other guy is Willie. Hi Willie!

Where to start? 

True North is a big attempt to give to my community the very thing that I’ve most wanted:  a space flooded with positive regard that holds me accountable, accepts me completely, and dares me to dream.  To think.  To act.  As big as my heart can allow. 

And its crazy to think how this project began, where it came from.  Frankly, it came from sadness, grief, loneliness and depression. 

I broke my back as a farmer in 2014 and was in bed for half that year.  In bed with a busy mind.  A mind asking questions like, “What the fuck is happening to me?!”, “How is this my life?!”, “What kind of impact could I make without a working back?!”, “Who will love me if I’m broken?!”, and “What am I going to do now?!”. 

Ya know, just some light existential questioning. 

Those questions led me deep deep deep into myself and ultimately into the trust of my worth, my value, my belonging.  Healthy back, or not.  (This was a lengthy and juicy process.  Let’s talk.)

Soon, I found Men’s Work.  I found mentors.  I found trainings, certifications, and workshops. 

I found that our deepest wounds hold the keys to our happiness, fulfillment, joy, creativity, and the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, family, community and planet. 

Wounds.  The very things that I had been working tirelessly to hide from those I encounter.  To bury down for no one to find. 

Wounds.  The entryway into healing.  Transformation.  Liberation.  Creative expression.  Movement.  Joy.  Connection.  Belonging.  Peace.

Enough on the wounds already!  

And to do this work.  This brave work of seeing each other fully.  Openly.  And with acceptance.  It needs to be in a group.  Needs to be done with others.  With co-workers.  With teammates.  With friends, families, lovers.  

So, I began to bring this work into my community into small businesses, non-profits and higher ed.  Sure, we were making Mission Statements, 5 Year Plans, and clarifying Core Values but really we were doing the hard and brave work of being seen.  Being seen in confusion, or in anger, or in doubt, or in total excitement.  But to really allow ourselves to be truthful, honest, brave, and connected -- trusting that what came of it would only strengthen the team, the department, the organization. 

See, I’m pretty convinced that life is way sweeter, fuller, richer, wilder when we’re honest.  Like, deeply honest.  Like, Holy-Shit-am-I-really-about-to-say/do-this honest. 

And now, to be bringing this work into all male spaces like fraternities and sports teams is huge gift. To work with young men, men who are often isolated in their feelings, alone in their struggles, and yet surrounded by other young men. To bring this work to them and to teach some tools, offer some insights and to listen deeply is a real gift. Especially considering the current cultural state of our young men.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over 30 different organizations at the time of this updating (April, 2019) facilitating conversations, designing and running programs that bring people and teams together into the truth of who they are, what they value, and where they want to go.  It continues to be rewarding, challenging and humbling work.  And I’m grateful and fortunate I get to make my living in this way.  In this beautiful, unpredictable, scary, challenging, hilarious, vulnerable and authentic way. 

 

Thanks to everyone who I’ve been lucky enough to get to see, to meet, to know through this project. 


Testimonials:

  • I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to co-facilitate community programs with Pete. The entire process- brainstorming, actualizing, performing, and fine-tuning - is a joy when collaborating with Pete. He is a clear, concise communicator; a celebrator of authentic self; a champion of unexpected connection; and an all-around blast to be around. His energy and spirit are noticeably contagious. I feel confident when delving in to a project with Pete that our final product or program will be compelling and successful.
    — Erin Elise Ferrentino
  • Pete is approachable, smart, and personable.  He was able to adeptly and efficiently untangle what I perceived to be a complex puzzle of blurry ideas and overwhelming feelings.  He has a breadth of skills and exceptional focus.  He showed me that I could not only be aware of myself and my patterns, but harness the power to be proactive about my actions and emotionally supportive to myself in a premeditated way.  I had never thought about that slant, but this tactic has stayed with me; in fact, it is something that I hope I forever keep.  Thank you, Pete!
    — M.B., 40
  • This past November, I allowed myself to become highly cynical about the world and people around me. Pete's genuineness, vivid anecdotes, and years of active listening experience helped me realize that if I was to advocate for a more just world, I first needed to reexamine my negative judgement of other people and society at large. The change I felt after a few long conversations was like night and day.
    —  Amherst College Student, Class of 2017
  • Pete is one of the keenest, kindest listeners I've encountered, and it is this combination of razor-sharp attention and sincerity that made our meetings so transformative. Like a wolf on the hunt, he would track my blind spots with a quiet tenacity, and when he'd find them, his killer instinct turned to skillful compassion, offering truly unique counsel that could only come from someone as brilliant and big-hearted as himself. Each meeting with this natural-born advisor was a treasure.
    — Andrew F
  • After just one session with Pete, I was reminded of an inner power that has since been awakened and engaged. I'm much further down my path in a huge part because of his guidance. His style is direct, warm, honest, and energized, all qualities I look for in a strong facilitator.
    — Greg, Montague
  • Pete has the rare quality of being able to convey unconditional positive regard in such a way that people feel instantly safe, at ease and cared for. This established a level of trust at our first meeting that opened the door for me to talk about deep issues.
    — Jessica Gifford, Founder, Thrive: Growing Wellness
  • Balanced, humble, and in touch. When I'm with Pete for counsel I have come to trust that he will be honest, open, and talk to me in a way that meets me where I am at. He asks concise, clear questions to focus and hone his intuition, to understand where we're going. H then embarks with me on an exploration to imagine and map out what's possible and where I'm going.
  • Pete's very steady. He comes from a heart place, grounded in connection, relationship, and purpose. I take deeper breaths when I'm with him.
    — Ryan Richards
  • Working with Pete over the years has given me a lens to view my inner value, and helped bring this to the surface and to offer it to the world. I have seen tangible results from applying specific tactics developed with Pete and I am certain the yield will remain fruitful for many years to come. I can say, without compromise, I have adopted a greater sense of self-worth, of community, and of collaboration, as a product of Pete's insightful mentorship.
    — Peter Brown, President, Earth Investments LLC
  • I've never been more comfortable with a counselor as I was during my sessions with Peter. Peter was remarkably warm and supportive yet proficient at helping me understand more about myself. He's given me tools to help channel my emotions and thinking away from anxiety, distrust and uncertainty and towards compassion, acceptance and understanding.
    — Paul Kastuk, 32
  • Working with Pete to identify clear steps into a new career was exhilarating. He is a skilled listener and was 100% invested in the work. To boot, he's a joy to work with. Coming out of our session, I feel empowered and energized.
    — Nate, Montague
  • After working with Peter McLean, I find he excels at creating a safe ritual space a shared connection to the present moment and to each other an ability to remove himself from my work and facilitate my revealing and accepting my hidden beliefs and truths and then facilitate strategies for dealing with what is revealed I find him kind and curious and skilled.  I recommend him highly.
    — Lawrence Quigley
  • My journey of self-compassion really began with my meeting with Pete. His demeanor and verbal toolbox allowed him to serve as a mirror for me to begin to explore parts of myself that I had yet to befriend. I have been inspired to continue with the same compassion for myself as he exhibited toward me in our meeting, which is a valuable practice indeed.
    — Hope Kelly
  • My experience when doing important "internal" work with Pete McLean is that he is a rare human being with a true gift for bringing to light the essence of both what I needed named and known as my "work" and, furthermore, then facilitating that with such integrity, skill, and sensitivity.  
  • There are people who choose an occupation because they have a skill set.  There are individuals who choose a vocation because they have passion for it.   And then there is that limited number of humans who have an incredible skill set -- ability to be empathetic; listen deeply; who know that there is no formulaic answer to a unique human being's desire for understanding, meaning, and direction (sometimes bushwhacking is required); and the capacity for sincere questions, dialogue, practice, reflection and genuine support -- that will help lead an individual to the answer(s) and path they seek (since almost the entire answer will be found inside the individual themself).