Arista Spurrita & Her Love for the World

My name is Jessica Leigh Spurr, I was born in Coeur d’Alene, ID in 1987 in a typical western medicine hospital. I grew up in the general Inland Northwest I like to say. This is because I moved more than 60 or so times during the course of my childhood. I attended seven separate schools and bounced between North Idaho and Spokane, WA. All this moving was due to my general unorthodox upbringing. You see, when I was very small still my Dad owned a bar in Hayden, ID. Due to a number of reasons, when I was still small, maybe five or so, the bar closed down and eventually, as there was no income, we had no roof. Thus my life continued living outside in the summer, and staying with any number of people in the spare rooms and basements in the winter, and occasionally a shelter here or there. I had the opportunity of a more typical existence with my mom, however she worked quite a bit, and my father did not by any means believe in babysitters. So when my mother worked, I was with my Dad. Together we went on numerous adventures, spent our summers at the lakes, and lived in a world that consisted of educational toys, no television, save the occasional PBS, plenty of love, and food that came from kind people, food banks or when we had the chance, a garden.

What’s one goal you have for the near future? What’s one that you have for the distant future? How do you plan on accomplishing these goals?
The near future, well depending on ones version of “near” I desire something by the Equinox of next year. By March 20, 2013 I hope to be somewhere that I may put seeds in the ground, and tend to their lives till I am able to harvest them in the fall. I wish to be somewhere that the cycle of growing much of what I wish to consume is possible. What this looks like however is still in the works. As far as accomplishing this goal, well I intend on speaking about it as though it as already happened. I believe in the power of words, they strong and amplify ones thoughts, thus I also believe in the power of ones mind. This is not to say that I need not do anything in order for my desires to materialize, for this is not true. Meanwhile I am dreaming and drawing my thoughts of a communal living space, with nutrient rich soil, fresh running water from a beautifully clean source, plenty of seeds and a splendid view of the sunset. I am open and will remain so, the Universe always gifts what is needed when it is needed, it is our job, I believe, to remain open so that the possibilities may flow forth.

The distant future, ahhhh so many dreams I can talk about here, but I will go with the one that is ever present on my heart. I adore plant medicine, of all kinds. The wisdom of the earth and sun combined in the conduit that is a plant mesmerizes me. Thus I wish to work with plants and to myself, be a conduit to healing. The more healing tools one has in their pocket the better. There are jungle vines that intrigue me and I wish to work with them, and there are thousands of herbs to meet and know better, all of which have healing properties. At this point I have met but a few herbs that I can say I have a decent idea as to what their medicinal properties are, including Yarrow, Comfrey, Dog Bane, Plantain and St. John’s Wort. So how do I wish to accomplish this goal? Well to begin with I am writing my own herbal book. Every plant I come across that intrigues me, I take a live same and tape it into my book. Then with research from other books, particularly ones by Michael Moore, I add the medicinal information, the medical preparation procedures and dosage, and lastly and contra indicators that I need to know. And again I will give credit to the power of mind and words, I envision myself working like this .

Describe one or more incredibly difficult experiences for you. How did you pull through them? Difficulties… well as the flowers unfurl in the spring and die back in the fall, life too is full of ebbs and flows… hard times make us appreciate those that are more difficult. The first issue coming to mind for difficult experiences would be that of my last quarter of school. What a story I have for you: As Spring quarter landed in my lap, a number of things in my world were crumbling around me: My closest friend and subsequent flatmate was falling away from me. We had been best friends for 12 years, and as she slipped down a path ridden with things I was uninterested in, I lost my closest friends and confidant. Next was the trouble with school, as my final quarter hit I was weighed down by the stress of senior classes, portfolio, capstone, an awful web class that felt like my nemesis… then the school called to inform me that they hadn’t realized I needed two extra classes to graduate… a history class, and a math class (mind you by now I hadn’t taken a math class in 2 1/2 years I was a bit rusty). . . just what I needed 10 more credits atop of my 16 and my 3-4 day a week job… then they called with a final blow that really made my circumstances go from obscene to unbearable… as I was a double major, (spanish & graphic design) I had taken A LOT of classes, so many that I had just reached the limit and was left unqualified for any more finical aid. . . so they took it… all. I was forced to work now full time, be overloaded by two classes that had nothing to do with my major at that point, losing my best friend, who wasn’t speaking to me and made my living environment a very undesirable thing to go home to… I was a wreck to say the least. And something had to give… and it did… the math class. I knew as graduation was pending I hadn’t passed it, while I had tried there was just not enough hours in the day or days in the week to do everything that was being demanded of me at that point. So June 11th came and went, I walked across the stage, my family cheered, and the whole time my heart was sick because I knew I was short a class and was too ashamed of it to say anything to anyone. . . so I kept it to myself. A week later the email from the dean of students showed up and explained that they would be with holding both my diplomas until I earned my math credit. I didn’t know what to do, as my credit load had left me unqualified for financial aid I had no way to pay for another class, and I was still unable to tell my family, not that they would have had the fiscal means to help me anyway. So my only option was to appeal to the professor of the class. I sat down, wrote one of the longest emails I’ve every written and explained in-depth to the professor exactly what had happened to me that quarter, why I had failed his class, how I had no means to pay for another class and begged that if he had anyway of helping me that he would do so. . . a week went by, nothing, I called the math department, nothing, I called again and finally was blessed with a response, he asked me to come in and meet with him that week. He was going to give me a comprehensive final, everything that we had covered in 10 weeks I had 1 1/2 months to study. Whatever I received on that test in August would be my grade for the class. My life outside of work was solely math for those six weeks, before work, on break, after work.. math math math.. then the test came, and off to Cheney I went to take it. It felt good, I felt like I understood what I was doing and then I played the waiting game for a week. An email came, I got an 87% . . . I jumped and screamed for joy, and both my diplomas showed up shortly thereafter. Where there is a will, there is a way, honestly is best and try your hardest you will succeed, intact you already have.

Name one thing that inspires you. Why?
Plants! They eat the sunlight! Fully sustainable, fully compostable, they are an incredible technology, may we realize that bio-mimicry is the way of the future or rather it is the way of now.

Name someone who’s changed your life dramatically. What did they do to inspire this change, and how have you changed from it? Michael, aka Skeeter Pilarski. I took a Permaculture Design Course by him last winter, it changed me and my world. Skeeter studied under who could be called the original permaculturist: Bill Mollison, and has taught 27 Design Courses. He is a walking herbal dictionary, able to list with ease the medicinal properties of many herbs/trees/flowers of the Inland Northwest, their latin names, how to prepare said medicine and contra indicators that are important. I have changed in my possessed knowledge of plants, and my hunger to know more about them has increased ten fold since I have been around him. I’m starting with my herbal book and one day I hope to be practicing and working a healing conduit myself.

If you could change the world in one way, what would it be? Every school, in every country would teach permaculture. All the teachers would be required to take at least one design course, and it would be integrated into the school systems such that each year it was a regular topic of study just like language arts or history. This system is about solutions, it mimics nature and creates closed loop energy systems that are not necessarily dependent on the grid. permaculture is a way of life not just a way of gardening, it is an answer to the worlds problems at large.

What’s your favorite childhood memory? Why?
Mmmm this is difficult, but the most outstanding is a Christmas when I was 3. My dad and I flew to Minnesota to spend the holiday with my older twin brothers, it was the only holiday I would spend with them for 20 years. I remember we were given a bowling set. It was a beautiful time, filled with family and love.

When you were little, what did you want to be “when you grow up?” Do you still have those plans today? If no, what do you want to be now?
When I was small I wanted to be a doctor, specifically I wanted to work with children, and those that had cancer were of the utmost interest to me. Today… do I wish to be a doctor…well not exactly… I wish to be a conduit. I do not believe we heal other people, but that we heal ourselves… and we work with plant medicine as a catalyst to this healing. Herbal medicine is extraordinarily interesting to me and I wish to use it. But there are many types of healing. I am interested in massage, energy work, polarity therapy, reiki, as well as cranial sacral work. . . they are all tools to have in my basket, the more full it is the more people can be helped

What was something you had to learn the hard way and why?

Can I reference the math incident above? When one is spread too thin something always suffers. . . it is inevitable, what is changeable is how you deal with it.

What’s one last thing you’d like to share with the readers of
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” ~Ghandi There is no waiting for a force to come and change it, to make our problems go away, so “save us” we are the change, and we must accept that responsibility. Share the love and share the light that is you

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