Illly

IlllyBioI started my life in Gig Harbor Washington. From the time I was allowed to play outside all day with my friends I was wandering through lush underbrush between tall evergreens. I’d be soaking wet & covered with strong smelling conifer sap while building tree forts high in the swaying trees. When I wasn’t running through the damp forest with pals we were riding our bikes beside the shore of the puget sound, deeply breathing in the fishy air. I could not imagine growing up any other way. I was becoming an ‘environmentalist’.

High school was difficult but amazing. I was always into taking electronics apart and making new devices to spy on my sister with. I was building circuits and soldering with my best friend Scott while other kids were at the football games. When the school started a radio station, I was the first radio DJ but I failed during the tense inaugural broadcast by playing the Star Spangled Banner instead of America the Beautiful. I was using technology in a stressful environment and I loved it. I grew my hair long. I was the morning announcement guy. I was transforming into a sexy nerd.

College was mind blowing. I changed so much. I was learning about the world so fast that I could barely keep up with all of my interests and most of the homework. I did great in communications so I started down a journalism path.  I built a used motorcycle from parts before I could drive one. I started dancing. I started to paint and build with wood. I needed to be part of the big messy world and not the orderly world of college anymore so I took a break. I briefly worked as a cod Fisherman in the Bering Sea. I travelled through Europe for 6 months alone. I studied Dutch in Holland and that’s when another epiphany hit me. I was going to become an Audio Engineer.

Back in Seattle I finished recording school & almost instantly started getting hired to record the voices of actors and journalists in film and video. I worked with the band REM in studio. I was hired by NBC News to cover the WTO riots in Seattle. My lungs were choked with tear gas as we shoved between protesters & police with our TV CREW credentials. I was being paid to record people and their stories about crime and love, defeat and fame and I knew I had stumbled into my dream job. I spent well over 20 years traveling to over 20 countries and documenting what I saw & heard.

While working with rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and his family for MTV in 2003 I was asked by a Camera Operator colleague to work with him in Iraq just as the US was debating invasion. How could I say no? The radioactive munitions turning cars into confetti, the burning oil wells, the misguided soldiers led into a crime against humanity. From the dust blasted military encampments on the border between Iraq and Kuwait I got a good look at a failing US empire.

Moving back to Los Angeles for more TV work, I could not look past the incredible social and environmental injustices I was witnessing.  I watched the movie An Inconvenient Truth and was livid. During the Occupy Movement I started to feel my own voice strengthening to share what I knew of the world. I stepped in front of the camera and shared my story, my concerns, talking with media at every opportunity. I studied permaculture and solar energy.

The last straw was when I saw my life flash before my eyes one dark warm Los Angeles evening. I was robbed & beaten by a group of 8 young men with no hope in a broken city. They took my cell phone and my wallet but gave me so much.  I was cut and bruised but my vision cleared far ahead of me. The world needed people like me to take action and transform the system into something that protects life. Something that gives young inheritors of this planet a place to belong and heal. Occupy Wall Street opened the door and now I was ready to walk through it.

That’s why I moved to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.