Archive for the ‘Sustainable Living’ Category

Iowa Entrepreneur profiles Ideal Energy, Fairfield

November 1, 2017

IPTV IOWA entrepreneur

Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Entrepreneur aired a profile of a local sustainability company in Fairfield, Ideal Energy, co-founded by two MUM graduates, Troy Van Beek and his wife Amy Van Beek. The show first aired on IPTV July 28, 2017. Here’s the hyperlinked title and description to the video: Ideal Energy, Fairfield.

After returning home from active duty, a Navy SEAL sought an education in sustainability at a small Iowa university. Now, he and his wife work together, using renewable energy to sow the seeds of peace.

The show opens with a description of what makes Fairfield unique and the influence of the local university, Maharishi University of Management. The university was the first in the country to offer a four-year degree in sustainability. Students and faculty practice Transcendental Meditation.

The video profiles Troy’s time as a U.S. Navy SEAL in Afghanistan, a lead sniper, part of a team, to protect the head of the country. We later see him setting up his own security company in Africa. During this time he was having second thoughts about his chosen profession using guns to create peace. When he found Fairfield and MUM on the internet, he was inspired to make a life-changing decision and moved to this small Midwest city to become a student. It was there that he would meet his future wife, Amy Greenfield, an eco-developer.

Troy was immediately recognized as someone exceptional and was asked to help with projects to upgrade the university’s buildings to greener standards. They supported his ideas and he learned by doing. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Sustainability (now a BA in Sustainable Living) and the skills to make a difference.

Mayor Ed Malloy invited Troy Van Beek and Lonnie Gamble, one of his teachers and a founding faculty member in MUM’s Sustainable Living department, to join a select committee to put a Go-Green Strategic Plan 2020 together for Fairfield. Reducing energy usage and making buildings more energy efficient was part of the plan. Companies supported this vision, but there was no one to help implement it.

IPTV-Ideal Energy Co-Founders Amy and Troy Van Beek

To fill that void, Amy and Troy started their own sustainability company, Ideal Energy. They became one of the first solar companies in Iowa, installing around two megawatts of solar power on various buildings across the state. Thanks to their efforts, Fairfield has the highest number of solar energy installations per capita in Iowa. They received national and international recognition. In 2014, Troy and Amy were featured in a Huffington Post article and video: What the EPA Clean Power Plan Means: More Jobs, Less Carbon. And they were invited to speak at the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.

I asked Troy how this IPTV show had come about and he said, “They reached out to us. We just made ourselves available. They did reference the Oprah video though. That may be where they heard of us.” Troy and Amy were included in Oprah’s televised visit to Fairfield, America’s Most Unusual Town, which featured an impressive profile of Troy.

In the Iowa video, this dynamic young couple explain how they started the company with just the two of them doing everything. As the demand for more solar installations increased, they needed to hire staff. Troy feels his experiences as a Navy SEAL prepared him to build a team and inspire them with the vision they were manifesting. Not only were they saving energy costs for local businesses, they were also providing jobs, and improving the local economy.

Troy also describes what he saw overseas—the disparities between the haves and the have-nots—especially when it came to energy and power. He sent me a quote for this article. It’s a powerful statement that sums up the core value of their company’s mission—to offer a proven solar solution that could put an end to wars over oil.

IPTV - Troy Van Beek, Co-Founder - Ideal Energy

“We are moving to an abundant sustainable world. Every solar panel adds to this movement. The technology makes it possible to move away from fossil fuels. It’s our mindset and entrenched vested interest that slow the transition. With that said, we are moving from a system of centralized energy and power to one that is distributed. This opportunity makes it one of the most important liberation movements of human history.”

Watch this inspiring 13-minute video profile of Troy and Amy Van Beek’s company, Ideal Energy, in Fairfield, Iowa. Visit their website: www.idealenergysolar.com. The 27-minute show of Iowa Entrepreneur, CapArms & Ideal Energy, aired July 28, 2017.

Related News on Fairfield, Maharishi University, and Ideal Energy

The university did build their off-the-grid Sustainable Living Center, the first of its kind. Troy installed a wind-turbine, with the help of students who built it, and added more solar panels on the energy cottage and new SLC classroom building.

Last year the Des Moines Register’s Kevin Hardy wrote a profile on Fairfield’s entrepreneurial spirit and the University’s sustainability efforts, which included a video interview with Troy: Why this Iowa town is thriving when so many aren’t. And, while ABC News was in town covering the political campaigning, Josh Haskell dropped by for a live report from MUM’s SLC to interview students and learn about sustainability and Transcendental Meditation from Department head David Fisher.

The Smithsonian Magazine rated Fairfield in their top ten list (No. 7) of The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013. Later that year, Des Moines Register columnist Rox Laird featured Fairfield’s civic collaboration and Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center in his Op-Ed piece: Fairfield defines community action.

The following year, BuzzFeed named Fairfield No. 2 of their 11 Coolest Small Cities It’s Time To Road Trip To. Mayor Ed Malloy and Fairfield Iowa Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Rustin Lippincott were interviewed on Moving America Forward, a national television show hosted by William Shatner. In 2004, Fairfield was selected Most Entrepreneurial Capital in Iowa, and in 2003, as the Most Entrepreneurial City in America (with a population under 10,000). Read more: Fairfield: The “Entrepreneurial Capital of Iowa.”

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Congressman Tim Ryan delivers powerful commencement speech to largest graduating class at Maharishi University

June 29, 2017
Congressman Tim Ryan delivers MUM Commencement

Congressman Tim Ryan delivered a powerful commencement speech to Maharishi University’s largest graduating class  © Jim Davis

Maharishi University’s 42nd Commencement took place on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, graduating its largest class of 579 students representing 55 countries.

An earlier press release was sent out and MUM was included in a listing of commencement speakers posted by Inside Higher Ed, and later mentioned in a CNN Politics report. A second more detailed release was sent out and The Gazette also ran an article announcing Ohio (D) Congressman Tim Ryan as the commencement speaker. Matt Kelley of Radio Iowa interviewed Congressman Ryan the day before graduation. KTVO TV reported on the event including interviews with graduating student Chris Grace, MUM VP Craig Pearson, and Congressman Ryan.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Craig Pearson gave an overview of the number of students graduating and some of the countries they were from. Fifteen minutes in, Dr. Pearson introduced MUM Trustee Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and director of the Center for Leadership Performance, who then introduced commencement speaker Congressman Tim Ryan. Ryan delivered a powerful address, peppered with applause throughout, which ended with a standing ovation!

Maharishi University President John Hagelin Bestows Honorary Doctorate on Congressman Tim Ryan at Graduation 2017

Maharishi University President John Hagelin bestowed an honorary doctorate on Congressman Tim Ryan. Maharishi University of Management © 2017

Maharishi University President John Hagelin exclaimed, “That was a speech for the ages; a message for all time.” He then bestowed an honorary doctorate on Congressman Ryan, which brought everyone to their feet again. Hagelin said, “Wow! Really inspiring.” Watch this video and be inspired!

MUM’s Achievements newsletter published a summary of U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan’s Commencement Address. Enjoy TM News reported that U.S. Representative gave an extraordinary commencement address for TM meditators everywhere. See “Lead Us to the Next Renaissance,” Says Congressman Tim Ryan to MUM Grads.

Below are some excerpts, but there was much more in his speech, with profound ideas and quotes, which you can only get from watching it all.

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Don Arney, inventor of aerial wildfire-fighting @Bambi_Bucket, inducted into @InventorsHOF #NIHF17 #NightAtTheNIHF

May 7, 2017
Don Arney Inventors Hall Of Fame

Don Arney, newly inducted into the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame, stands under the medal, with Edison and Lincoln looking on. The inscription reads: The Patent System Added The Fuel Of Interest To The Fire Of Genius.*

Induction at the Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame‘s induction ceremony took place Thursday evening, May 4, 2017 in the majestic central hall of the National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C., where presidential inaugural balls are usually held. Don Arney, who attended, said, “It is beyond awesome!”

Forbes reported, Fifteen amazing innovators became 2017 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.* Don Arney, inventor of the Bambi Bucket® for Aerial Firefighting, is one of them! Frederick E. Allen, Forbes Leadership Editor, wrote an article on the evening’s activities: To Become A Great Innovator, Get Left Back In Fourth Grade: Induction At The Inventors Hall Of Fame. Here’s an excerpt mentioning Don:

Don Arney invented the Bambi Bucket, which carries and shoots out huge quantities of water to fight forest fires, suspended from a helicopter. It is used in more than 110 countries. He said he owed his success to Transcendental Meditation, which he discovered after a spiritual journey that began when he found himself “sitting in the university library wondering if facts are all there is. . . . I’ve been doing it for 47 years now, twice a day, every day.” He said TM has helped him understand that when it comes to invention, or any kind of creativity, “you don’t do it yourself. Those things are gifts that come to you.”

When the announcement came out two months ago about Don Arney being selected as one of the NIHF inductees for 2017,  Derrick Penner interviewed him and wrote an excellent article for the Vancouver Sun: B.C. inventor of wildfire-fighting Bambi Bucket inducted to hall of fame.

The Don Arney Story

Don Arney, 2017 NIHF Inductee

You can see several photos of Don at the National Inventors Hall of Fame 45th Annual Induction Ceremony, especially in the Illumination Ceremony, being inducted, and with other honorees. This one of Don standing in front of his official portrait is very cool!

The NIHF also showed an impressive Induction Video of Don Arney telling the story of how he invented the Bambi Bucket. Filmed from his beautiful home on Salt Spring Island, Don talks about mining the mind for ideas at deeper levels, much like David Lynch describes in his book, Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

Don has found “that meditating is a completely non-directed process, and inventing has to be the same.” He explains, “you know all of the things you’re going to be doing as you engage in the process, but you don’t direct it.” What he finds is that the answers come, and organize, on a very profound level. “They bubble up, and very quickly and innocently the solution appears.”

There’s elegance in simplicity

Another shorter video, Road to NIHF – Don Arney, looks like an interesting outtake from the production of The Don Arney Story. For Don, getting and building a new idea is a very exhilarating and blissful process. Like Joseph Campbell following his bliss, Don says, “you kinda follow your charm and see what’s there.” An intelligent observer, he saw the “elegance in simplicity,” how one thing could be adapted, improved upon, and applied in a whole new way—which led to the Bambi Bucket.

The NIHF will probably post the Induction Ceremony on their YouTube channel, but I was able to find it in their Facebook Time line. So you can watch it here. The evening was hosted by Mo Rocca. He introduces Don Arney around 21:38, the induction video is shown, Don is then officially inducted, and he speaks for around 3 1/2 minutes.

When I asked Don for a copy of his acceptance speech he told me: “I had a prepared speech and ditched it at the last minute and spoke off the cuff.” Don’t know what he had planned but his talk comes across as genuine and sincere. Don acknowledges the power of his decades-long Transcendental Meditation practice, twice a day since 1970, to clear the mind and enhance his creativity, which allows him to mine the “nuggets of information” and “kernels of innovation” as gifts that come to him.

Don also pays an emotional tribute to his longtime SEI Industries business partner, Mark McCooey, and invites him to stand and be recognized. Mark was able to transform Don’s invention into an iconic product sold around the world. Their patent commands over 95 percent of the international market. Bambi Buckets come in a range of sizes and capacities and are sold in 110 countries. They were also used to cool Japan’s Fukushima nuclear site after the 2011 tsunami. The Bambi Bucket has saved forests, homes and lives. These facts, plus the simplicity, effectiveness and ubiquity of the product was why the NIHF chose Don Arney as one of their 2017 inductees.

In an earlier newsletter I had included a video of the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee Class. You hear Don’s voice in the opening scene (00:09) and then see him with footage around his home on beautiful Salt Spring Island (until 00:21); later at 1:24 to 1:31 talking about clearing the mind as an essential part of the inventing process; and again, visually, at 2:10-2:12, and 2:15. Here is that video.

*Since our founding in 1973, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) has inducted more than 500 visionary men and women who conceived, patented, and advanced the greatest technological achievements of our nation.

Personal note: As we get older, it’s interesting to see how we are ending up in the latter part of our lives, with what we’ve accomplished, intended or otherwise. It’s also great to celebrate our friends’ accomplishments, especially when they’re connected to Maharishi and what he taught us. I was impressed that Don acknowledged how TM had impacted his life and career, how he highlighted it in the video and in his acceptance speech!

I’ve known Don Arney, and Mark McCooey, since we were young meditators. I’ve seen him progress from a dreamy inventor to a very successful businessman and innovator, doing good for the planet. Those of us who know and love Don and Mark are proud of them and their accomplishments. Their support of the TM Movement in Canada is also very much appreciated.

Read more about Don Arney on his website www.donarney.com.

Related articles

Bambi Bucket inventor Don Arney on TM as a tool for innovation

His Invention Saves Lives, Wildlife, and Millions of Acres in 115 Countries

@NylonMag visits the @TMmeditation Capital of the Midwest @MaharishiU in Fairfield, Iowa

August 11, 2016

During the spring of 2016, Kathy Peterson (MVC), Eva Saint Denis (MUM), and I had the pleasure to host writer Dan Hyman and photographer Logan Clement. They were assigned by NYLON Features Director Lisa Mischianti to visit Fairfield, Iowa and neighboring Maharishi Vedic City, homes of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi School, The Raj, and more. Their August issue is out, and the feature on us came out today online.

radar | NYLON Explores The Meditation Capital Of The Midwest

“The middle-of-nowhere Iowa is pretty weird…and pretty special”

By Dan Hyman

MaharashiVedicCity-142
Photographed by Logan Clement.

The following feature appears in the August 2016 issue of NYLON.

A flatbed truck whizzing around the town square kicks up dust on Burlington Avenue. A repairman with his morning coffee in hand tosses a smile my way. All cornstalks and cool spring breeze, Fairfield, Iowa, wouldn’t seem unlike any other Midwestern city, ones such as Pleasantville, Swan, or Oskaloosa, which dot the map from here to Des Moines.

And then they come into view.

The Golden Domes of Pure Knowledge: orblike, almost shimmering, vaguely extraterrestrial in appearance, 25,000 square feet each. “Your imagination could go wild,” says local resident Kathy Petersen, who has lived in the Fairfield area for nearly 35 years, with a laugh. “Like, ’What do they do in there?’” The reality, it turns out, is not a whole lot: Twice daily, hundreds of people meditate together under the domes. Silence. Concentration. Transcendence. This is Fairfield, a major hub of the spiritual practice and ever-growing global movement known as Transcendental Meditation.

“I haven’t really come across a place like this anywhere else,” says 26-year-old New Orleans native and current Fairfield resident Lauren Webster of the approximately 9,500-person town that, in addition to housing the aforementioned twin Maharishi Golden Domes, is home to the Maharishi University of Management (MUM), a school at which the principal mission is to provide a “Consciousness-Based Education” and Transcendental Meditation is part of the daily practice and core curriculum. To that end, all first-year undergrad students are required to take “Science and Technology of Consciousness,” or Transcendental Meditation 101, if you will, during which they learn the technique and traditions surrounding the practice, as well as explore its theoretical foundations. Students can further immerse themselves in all things Meditation by majoring in, say, Maharishi Vedic Science, which, among other big-ticket subjects, aims to help them understand how they can maximize personal growth and contribute to world peace.

Click through the gallery to read the rest of the feature on their website.

Dan Hyman posted a PDF of his 8-page article as it appears in print: Transcendent City: Inside the meditation capital of the midwest.

Amine Kouider (left) Dan Hyman (rt)

Writer Dan Hyman (right) interviewed Amine Kouider, whose quote about Fairfield and MUM was featured in the NYLON article’s sub-heading. (Photo by Ken Chawkin)

Related News: ABC News reports on Maharishi University in Iowa and Fairfield, Iowa, TM and MUM make national news  

Fairfield, Iowa, TM and MUM make national news

June 10, 2016

Many articles have come out in praise of Fairfield, Iowa. Two and a half years ago, Rox Laird, The Des Moines Register’s editorial columnist, published an Opinion piece, Fairfield defines community action, on the city’s civic collaboration and Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center. The Smithsonian named Fairfield 7th out of 20 best small towns to visit that year. BuzzFeed named Fairfield one of the coolest small towns in America. And The Iowan had published an article on how Fairfield thinks inclusively creating rural success in Iowa.

I like to think the positive outcome of this latest article on Fairfield, TM and MUM, by Kevin Hardy in The Des Moines Register and the  USA TODAY NETWORK, resulted from a phone call I received on my birthday.

In April, I went to visit my son Nathanael at his new home in the Santa Barbara Riviera. For lunch he took me to The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, a well-known outdoor restaurant on the beach by the ocean. While waiting for our food to arrive, an unknown number called my cellphone. It was Kevin Hardy. He told me he covered business, labor and the economy for the Des Moines Register, and was researching why some towns in Iowa were thriving while many were losing population and failing economically. Then he said something that surprised me.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairfield was Iowa’s fastest-growing city among cities of a similar size. Kevin wanted to know what role I thought Maharishi University of Management had played in the demographic and economic growth of Fairfield.

In addition to some of the longtime established businesses, I  gave him an historical overview how hundreds of meditators came from all over the US and Canada after MIU had moved to town from the mid-1970s onwards. Many would stay and relocate their businesses or start new ones. Also told him about today’s younger entrepreneurs, the new successful ventures they started, and gave him a list of people and companies to visit and interview.

Kevin Hardy and Register photographer/videographer Zach Boyden-Holmes really did their homework. They put together an impressive article that became a national success story! It is reproduced here with permission.  See the full article with 14 photos taken May 9, 2016 by Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register. I added links for more information.

Why this Iowa town is thriving when so many aren’t
By Kevin Hardy, June 1, 2016

Click here or on the image below to see a short video of Fairfield entrepreneurs. (1:20)

Fairfield out-performed all of the state’s 15 micropolitan areas in terms of population growth between 2010 and 2015.

FAIRFIELD, Ia. – Take a walk around this town’s bustling square and you’ll see an array of businesses that would rival some shopping malls.

On one corner sits a coffee shop that roasts its own beans in house. Down the block is a store specializing in sustainable children’s clothing and toys. Along another strip, there’s a women’s boutique, a Verizon store and a nutrition company.

The town’s retail center also is home to a salon, a consignment store, a furniture store and an art gallery. Just off the square is a pet spa, a natural remedy store and a photography studio. And for those looking for a bite to eat: a Thai restaurant, an Indian cafe, an Italian spot and a joint peddling pizza and steak.

In fact, local officials count only one vacancy in the storefronts that line shady Central Park. It’s just one more sign of success in this town of 9,500 in a state where most small cities and rural areas are seeing residents leave.

Since 1969, census data show Iowa’s metropolitan areas have gained nearly a half million people, while smaller cities and rural places have lost more than 171,000 residents.

But Fairfield has prospered, particularly in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015, the city saw a 4 percent population gain – a rate that rivaled the growth of some of Iowa’s much larger metro areas.

This southeast Iowa city is known as a magnet for practitioners of Transcendental Meditation at Maharishi University of Management, who flocked here since the 1970’s. Fairfield was able to capitalize on that unique niche, building a surprisingly metropolitan quality of life.

While Fairfield is home to 1,000 fewer jobs than it had 15 years ago, state figures show employers have rebounded in the last five years, adding nearly 700 jobs between 2010 and 2015. During that time, Fairfield went from 714 employers to 751, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

“We have a great quality-of-life culture and an entrepreneurial culture,” said Mayor Ed Malloy. “And we see it is allowing more young people to put down roots in this community.”

Around town, there is no shortage of small-city staples like Casey’s General Store and Pizza Ranch, though Fairfield is better known for its funky coffee houses, shops and restaurants. Locals claim the city is home to more restaurants per capita than San Francisco.

Yet the place that Oprah Winfrey dubbed “America’s most unusual town” is more than just quirky. It’s one of the few nonmetropolitan areas in Iowa posting strong population growth, according to U.S. Census figures. And around town, evidence abounds that Fairfield has done what so many small cities in the Midwest struggle to achieve: attract and retain people.

Troy with MUM Solar Array

Troy Van Beek stands in front of a solar power array his company Ideal Energy installed at the Maharishi University in Fairfield Monday, May 9, 2016. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

TM’s long effect
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation, or TM, in India in the 1950’s.

But he brought his technique and “Consciousness-Based education” to Iowa in 1974, when Maharishi International University moved from Santa Barbara, Calif., to the 1 million empty square feet vacated by Parsons College in Fairfield. (The university later changed its name to Maharishi University of Management.)

While some in the community resisted the influx of meditators, locals say most of those tensions were alleviated years ago.

“As time has gone on, everybody’s meshed seamlessly,” said local designer Linda Pettit.

Pettit, who with her husband owns Finishing Touch interior design, has watched Fairfield thrive over the last 32 years from her storefront on the town square. She ticks off quality-of-life improvements such as a new pool and new recreation center.

She boasts about the many restaurants. And she tells of all the new and unusual businesses that have opened.

“We have a very vibrant community,” she said. “I think a lot of small towns don’t have the diversity that we do.”

Pettit hears about layoffs at plants in nearby Ottumwa. She knows how Iowa farmers are struggling with low commodity prices. But she said that isn’t Fairfield’s storyline.

Her business works on residential and commercial projects. But she’s noticed a slant toward more commercial projects in recent years, as new businesses pop up and old ones invest in upgrades.

“It’s a great place to have a business,” she said.

Iowa’s ‘Silicorn Valley’
Over the years, many TM practitioners and others who visited Fairfield decided to stay.

Once here, they had to find a way to make a living. Some Fairfield residents drive to Ottumwa or Iowa City for work. But many have started small businesses in Fairfield, which has been called “Silicorn Valley” for its mixture of tech startups and entrepreneurial ventures.

“People moved here and they had to figure out how to stay here,” said David Navarrete, spokesman for Sky Factory.

The 38-employee company was founded in 2002 by Bill Witherspoon, an artist who moved to Fairfield for its TM community. A serial entrepreneur, he formed Sky Factory as a means of supporting his family. It creates window and ceiling panels that recreate outdoor views like those of a blue sky or a beachfront.

Sky Factory’s biggest clients are health care providers, as research shows even a simulated view of the outdoors can boost moods for those trapped indoors.

“I think there’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit here, and I think a lot of that comes from the university,” said Witherspoon’s son, Skye Witherspoon, now the company’s CEO.

Fairfield is also home to a surprising array of manufacturing.
Creative Edge makes intricate flooring for some of the world’s best known hotels, casinos, hospitals and universities. Bovard Studios makes and restores stained glass windows for churches across the country. And a host of businesses manufacture agricultural parts, iron castings, polyethylene piping and laundromat washers and dryers.

So many things are made in Fairfield that the Iowa Economic Development Authority will host an export conference here in the fall.

Fairfield’s biggest employers have grown in recent years, too.

Cambridge Investment Research now employs about 700 and boasts more than $70 billion in assets under its management.

Mixed signals
Like many small cities, some employers in Fairfield report trouble recruiting and hiring, especially with Iowa’s unemployment rate remaining below 4 percent.

Lori Schaefer-Wheaton, president of the 170-employee Agri-Industrial Plastics, said hiring is a struggle. She has 20 openings, a number that has held fairly constant over the last two years, she said.

Fairfield is an anomaly among small cities in Iowa, she said, but she thinks recent population growth is largely related to the university.

“That kind of population growth might show up on our census,” she said. “But I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the workforce in our town.”

Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson said Fairfield definitely out performs many similarly sized cities. But some signals are mixed: While some measures show recent job growth, other data actually point to employment losses, he said.

“They seem to be demonstrating both demographic and economic growth that stands out,” he said. “The big question is this a short term growth or is it sustainable?”

Natives return home
Meghan Dowd came to Fairfield as a child when her parents migrated here for the TM community.

She moved away for college, then ended up working in television in California.

From there, she visited her mom in Fairfield and realized it was going through a “renaissance,” with monthly art walks, a new events center and lots of cool coffee shops and restaurants. She moved back in 2009 and started Shaktea, a maker of kombucha, a trendy fermented drink.

In Fairfield, she says she can do just about anything she could in a metro city. Plus, it’s much cheaper to buy a home or start a business. (She also started Cado, an organic avocado-based ice cream, featured with a photo in the article and video.)

Her children attend a Waldorf-inspired preschool. And after yearning for a yoga studio, she just opened her own.

“A lot of people moved here, the kids grew up here, but then the kids wanted to go out into the world and experience different things,” Dowd said. “I think that happened and some of that is kind of boomeranging back to Fairfield.”

Jesse Narducci followed a similar path. He returned home to Fairfield a few years ago after living in Colorado and California for more than a decade. He opened Jefferson County Ciderworks just outside of town. He brews hard apple cider and runs a taproom featuring hard-to-find craft brews.

Narducci said many of Iowa’s smaller towns are undesirable places to live because they lack quality places to grab a meal or a drink out. Not Fairfield.

“You don’t have to drive to Iowa City to have a good ale or a good meal,” he said. “I don’t really leave that often. … I’m trying to create my own little paradise out here.”

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Ottumwa Courier photojournalist Rachel Leathe @courierrachel takes a tour of MUM @MaharishiU

March 19, 2016

Rachel Leathe, photojournalist for the Ottumwa Courier called to take a tour of Maharishi University. She had recently transferred to the Courier from Montana and was curious to visit the campus. Click here to see what she put together as it appeared online with 6 photographs from various campus locations. Click here to see 61 more photos at their online photo gallery. And here is a PDF of the article, which took up the back page of the Thursday, March 10, 2016 issue: A tour of MUM.

A tour of MUM

AmineKouider:RachelLeathe:The Courier

Amine Kouider, Science and Technology of Consciousness Instructor, meditates with his class before lunch on Feb. 23, 2016. This is the first class that these David Lynch Master Film students are taking and is also the first class that all students at MUM are required to take. RACHEL LEATHE/ THE COURIER

Walking around the Maharishi University of Management campus in Fairfield, you may imagine you’ve somehow been transplanted to a Buddhist temple or an Indian yoga retreat. You certainly wouldn’t expect to find yourself on a college campus in rural Iowa.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi set up his first university on a small campus in Santa Barbara, CA in 1973. He dreamed of creating a new kind of university, one that not only offered a traditional education but also focused on what he called a “Consciousness-Based education.” One of the main features of this kind of education was Transcendental Meditation.

In 1973 Parsons College went bankrupt due to a myriad of issues including overspending, a sharp drop in enrollment, and a deep deficit. At the same time, Maharishi University was rapidly outgrowing its Santa Barbara campus and looking for a new home. In the summer of 1974, with the help of private benefactors, MUM was able to purchase the former Parsons College campus and move in.

Every new student at MUM is required to first take a class on TM. The class guides students through a seven-step learning process which explains the theory behind TM, the benefits of TM, and teaches students different techniques to help them meditate. Ken Chawkin, Publicist for MUM and TM practitioner for the last 49 years, says that “after meditation, one comes out recharged and more wide awake.” He says this is particularly beneficial to students because it makes them more receptive to what their teacher is saying.

International students make up a little over 75% percent of the MUM student body and on average represent about 85 different countries. MUM offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees, similar to most other US colleges. However unlike most universities, nearly 70% of MUM’s students are pursuing their Master’s degrees.

Another unique aspect of MUM is that it operates on a block system. Instead of taking four or five classes at once, “which is very stressful,” Chawkin says, students “go much more deeply into that particular subject.” They attend this one class Monday through Friday, usually from 10 am to around 3 pm with a break for lunch and two daily meditations. Students are also usually expected to attend an additional Saturday morning class.

MUM campus dining services also sets MUM apart by only serving completely organic, vegetarian food. The kitchen receives a small portion of their food from the campus organic farm ran by Director of MUM Farms, Steve McLaskey, PhD. The rest of the produce they receive is from local organic farmers and from a couple outside providers. Executive Chef, Suresh Miller says that the biggest difficulty with an all organic, vegetarian menu is finding a wide variety of vegetables, “Like you can’t get asparagus in the winter time. Whereas meat you can buy all winter long, no problem.”

One Comment was posted so far by TLGreen:
Great article and gleaning of SE Iowa history. I moved to Fairfield in 2004 to attend MUM from Oregon. I was in a grad program at the [ ] and had no intention of changing schools…and then I came to visit Fairfield. I was so impressed by the level of regard to education, for students well being and for the commitment to organic food and lifestyle that my life was forever changed. I loved my experiences and studies at MUM – I was able to be that curious, motivated and engaged student that I longed to be, but struggled with the intense pressures of a traditional & unhealthy grad program.

See Rachel’s photo essay on the March Fairfield 1st Friday’s Art Walk.

Related: ABC News reports on Maharishi University in Iowa.

Maharishi University places 23rd in top 30 great small colleges for certain personality types

February 18, 2016

Here is an interesting ranking of a select number of colleges based on a specific personality type. I’ll copy the introduction for you and include the description and ranking for Maharishi University of Management. MUM is in good company!

30 Great Small Colleges for ESTP Personality Types

Published February 2016

In this ranking, we focus on 30 great small colleges for the ESTP personality type.

About ESTP Personality Types

The ESTP Personality is referred to as “the Entrepreneur” and considered an Explorer. These are people who are smart, perceptive, energetic, bold and original. Some of their best attributes include their excellent sense of humor, their perception skills, and their excitement for life. They have an innate sense of when something, even something minute, is different. School can be a challenge for the ESTP learner, not because of a lack of intelligence, but rather their love of learning by doing. They are people who often subscribe to the motto “rules are made to be broken.” This Myers Briggs Personality type is a risk taker and loves to push boundaries. They can sometimes be seen as insensitive or impatient and their risk taking can lead to trouble. In some instances they can even be seen as defiant.

An ESTP loves to think on their feet and make decisions in the moment. They are extremely social people and love to network and use their social intelligence. Some of the careers for ESTP learners include sales, marketing, business, athletics or exercise profession, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, sustainability studies, coach, sports medicine and athlete. Typically the ESTP career is that of a leader, and not a subordinate.

Best Majors for the ESTP Personality

Each of the Myers Briggs Personality types has a number of career options that are best suited for their specific personality characteristics. ESTP’s may choose to major in a field where they can put their best skills to use. They will hone in on their social prowess and their quick thinking. They are people with naturally born business savvy and an innate ability to negotiate successfully with others. These traits are ideal for the ESTP majors of business, marketing, sustainability, environmental science, exercise or sport science and entrepreneurship.

Qualities or the Best College for the ESTP Personality

For each of the unique Myers Briggs personalities, there is a learning environment that will most ideally allow them to use their individual strengths and interests. For example, an ESTP will benefit from a learning environment that is not restrictive. A smaller learning environment is ideal so they have plenty of opportunities to put their natural leadership skills to work. A college with many opportunities to interact socially will also be a great college for ESTP learners. Those schools with opportunities to participate in athletics will be a huge benefit for ESTP athletes.

For information on how we selected these 30 schools, see the methodology statement at the end of the ranking.

#23 – Maharishi University of Management – Fairfield, Iowa

Maharishi University of Management Best ESTP CollegePoints: 9
University Website

Maharishi University of Management is a pioneering academic institution with great pride in their eminent quality of life. There are a number of unique elements that make this school one of the best for ESTP learners. Students can become active in many extra-curricular activities such as:

  • Helping provide sustainable organic produce in the vegetarian kitchen
  • Opportunities to meditate on campus
  • The ability for students to focus on their studies one at a time

For those non-traditional students who might be juggling work and school, or those who benefit from a more relaxed pace, this school could be an ideal choice. For more than 40 years, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) has forged the way with a cutting edge approach to learning, creating Consciousness-Based℠ education. All students and faculty at MUM practice the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique, a simple meditative technique. Research has shown that this meditative model leads to integrated brain functioning, increased creativity and intelligence, reduced stress, improved learning ability, improved academic performance (GPA), improved ability to focus, improved health, and many more. MUM offers bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in a wide range of traditional fields, such as business, media and communications, art, literature, education, and computer science. The school has also developed several new and exciting disciplines as well, including sustainable living and Maharishi Vedic Science.

ESTP majors with an interest in business can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The BA in Business Administration program prepares students to be leaders in the private or public sectors. The MBA program prepares students to compete effectively in the job markets and to engage in high-level operational and strategic management teams.

ESTP majors with a passion for sustainability will thrive in the Master of Arts in Sustainable Living major program. MUM defines Deep Sustainability as:

  • Going beyond efficiency and substitution to radically re-design systems from the ground up
  • Creating deeply resilient communities, able to adapt to any disturbance
  • Promote individual and social transformation from the deepest level – the level of consciousness
  • Some of the unique features of this graduate level sustainability program include:
  • Enjoy a unique learning environment that enables every student to thrive
  • Work on student-driven projects integrated into each course
  • Move through the course sequence together with other students as a team
  • Cohort system

Enrollment: 1,454
Cost of Attendance: $18,784
Overall School Accreditation:
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
US News and World Report Ranking: Not Applicable
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
Best Colleges: 25 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students—Ranked #2
Number of ESTP Majors Available: 2

ABC News reports on Maharishi University in Iowa

January 21, 2016

Maharishi University of Management continues to be in the news. Today, a journalist from ABC News visited Fairfield to find out more about this Leading University in Transcendental Meditation.

MUM-SLC-ABC

Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center Greenhouse

Thursday, January 21, 2016, Fairfield, Iowa: Campaign Digital Journalist Josh Haskell is in Iowa covering politics for ABC News. When not on the campaign trail he takes time off to see some of the more interesting locations around the state.

Today Josh dropped in on Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield. He was very interested in visiting MUM because of the talk about TM at the New York office. He knew that some of them were meditating including news anchor George Stephanopoulos who had interviewed Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Roth about it.

Josh visited the university’s Sustainable Living Center and was given a tour by David Fisher, the head of the department. David also explained Consciousness-Based Education, a unique feature of this university, and the benefits it brings to students.

Josh saw a very diverse group of students in a Computer Science course meditating at the end of their day in class. He later returned to interview them. He asked about their Transcendental Meditation practice and what it’s like to study at MUM. All the students praised TM and the University for allowing them to think more clearly and learn more effectively in a stress-free environment.

Click the hyperlinked title above the photo or this link to see his 12-minute report: http://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=36431564.

Related: @NylonMag visits the @TMmeditation Capital of the Midwest @MaharishiU in Fairfield, Iowa.

Business startup expert @AsherFergusson featured among @MaharishU successful alumni

October 22, 2015

Asher Fergusson, a business startup expert with bizHUMM, is featured among Maharishi University of Management’s successful alumni profiles. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Asher quickly rose to become a leader, who, at 29, graduated Valedictorian from MUM in 2008 with a degree in Maharishi Vedic Science.

Asher Fergusson Sydney 2011

Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Asher became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Galaxy Ninja, his own startup Internet marketing business, which he successfully ran for 6 years before selling it in 2014. During his tenure as CEO of Galaxy Ninja, Asher earned his second degree from MUM — an MBA in Sustainable Business.

Asher says he appreciates the clarity of mind he’s received from his regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, which was part of the Consciousness-Based Education curriculum at MUM. “It gives me the mental space to find solutions to what otherwise might have been an insurmountable hurdle. The idea for a solution just magically comes out of no-where and this often saves me countless hours of time. It really does make me ‘lucky’ in all kinds of situations, it’s great!”

As an Internet marketer, he specializes in fields such as Search Engine Optimization, viral content creation and Facebook Advertising. He has helped countless small businesses successfully compete with billion dollar companies.

Asher is now the Chief Marketing Officer for a new startup based in Fairfield called bizHUMM. This website is a free resource that teaches people the steps to starting a business and also how to grow existing businesses. “At bizHUMM I’m applying all the knowledge I gained during my MBA at MUM and from running my first startup, Galaxy Ninja. It’s so fulfilling to apply my degree and help businesses all over the world start and grow. We often get emails of praise from far off places like Gambia, Malaysia and of course locally in the US,” Asher said.

asher+lyric-wedding-photoClick here to read the rest of this fascinating MUM alumni profile with photos of Asher surfing, his worldwide travels and recent marriage to 2006 alumna Lyric Benson.

Asher is also helping his wife, Lyric Benson Fergusson, a talented singer-songwriter/poet, launch her first book of poetry. They currently live in Maui, Hawaii.

See an interview I posted in January of this year with bizHUMM founder Laurie Sluser: Check out bizHUMM for all things small business.

Ledger’s Andy Hallman reports on Greg Reitman’s documentary playing in Fairfield, Iowa on Sunday

August 1, 2015

Documentary filmed partially in Fairfield to play Sunday

By ANDY HALLMAN Ledger news editor | Jul 31, 2015

t1200-Donovan, Greg Reitman, and students at tree planting ceremony

During his visit to Fairfield, film producer Greg Reitman planted a tree with MUM students outside the university’s library. Reitman is the man in the center with the necklace. The man to the right is the singer Donovan, whom Reitman interviewed for his film “Rooted in Peace,” which will be shown at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by: Nicole Hester-Williams/Ledger

A documentary that was filmed partially in Fairfield will make its Iowa debut at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Steven Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.

The film, “Rooted in Peace,” is a product of Greg Reitman, founder of Blue Water Entertainment, Inc. In a press release, Reitman said the film challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings.

“Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world,” reads the press release. “Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence.”

Reitman interviewed numerous celebrities for the film such as author Deepak Chopra, film director David Lynch, musicians Donovan, Mike Love and Pete Seeger, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and more.

He also interviewed Fred Travis, professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management.

The press release states that Reitman learned kernels of wisdom from all those he interviewed.

“Reitman’s journey is an example of transformation — how one person can learn to make the necessary changes to enjoy a better life — and in so doing inspire others to want to improve their own lives, and society as a whole,” reads the press release.

Reitman said he became interested in documentaries while studying abroad in Florence, Italy, where he took a class on Italian cinema. He would go on to produce the 2008 SUNDANCE Audience Award-winning feature documentary “FUEL.”

After that, he started thinking about doing a film about all the violence in the world. An experience at JFK Airport in New York City opened his eyes to a whole new world.

“I almost got arrested for not giving up a bottle of water,” he said. “I was seeing racial profiling going on. It made me start thinking about our rights, and about what fear can do. It mirrored a world that I had lived in at age 19, when I was living in Israel during the first Gulf War.”

Reitman got in touch with Ken Chawkin, who was then the public relations officer at MUM. Chawkin encouraged him to visit Fairfield, and mentioned that the Beach Boys were going to be in town for a concert. Reitman’s wife is from Iowa, so the two decided to attend the concert.

Reitman came back a second time with Donovan for the David Lynch Film Weekend. During his second trip to Fairfield, he interviewed Donovan, David Lynch and Bob Roth.

After the film, Reitman will hold a question-and-answer session with the audience.

One of the common questions Reitman has received in his other Q and As is, “Why did the film take so long to make?” The film took five years in all, which Reitman said is not too far out of the ordinary for documentaries.

“The reason it took me so long was that I had to find peace first,” he said. “When I talked to Ken, he said, ‘Greg, you’re not going to understand peace until you come to Fairfield.’”

Reitman said he greatly enjoyed his time in Fairfield. It reminded him of another small town he filmed in, Carbondale, Colorado, with a population of just over 6,000.

Part of the film is autobiographical, where Reitman shares his person story of living in Israel and visiting Hiroshima, Japan. That said, he feels it’s more an inspirational film than a dry, descriptive documentary.

“It’s one man’s quest to seek inner peace and coming upon the roadblocks that lead him to enlightenment,” he said. “It’s about him having to unlock each of those pearls of wisdom, to understand the concept of a healthy heart and a healthy body. Then you can understand what a healthy world looks like.”

This three-column cover story with large photo carries over to a page 7 three-column section with two photos, one of Greg Reitman with Donovan playing guitar, the other of Mike Love singing on stage from the Beach Boys concert. This article is republished here with permission from The Fairfield Ledger. Click FF Ledger Documentary 7-31-2015 to see a PDF of the whole 2-page article with photos.

See other news about the film here.


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