Sunday, July 21

The Crestone Eagle is a nonprofit monthly newspaper serving Crestone and the San Luis Valley

Who We Are: Michael DiMartino: Promoting full-spectrum regenerative design

By Gussie Fauntleroy

For seven years in the small community of Nevada City, California, Michael DiMartino ran what he called The Hub. It was a “community resilience center” that provided an event space, offices, a speakers series, and a video/audio broadcast studio where DiMartino produced and hosted the Golden Road Show on radio and television from 2012 to 2020. Each of The Hub’s offerings reinforced what he sees as a critical and necessary way forward for addressing the world’s increasingly complex and serious issues. 

DiMartino calls the approach “full spectrum regenerative design.” Like the name of his former center in California, it consists of many spokes radiating from a central hub representing the inherent unity among all humans everywhere. The spokes represent each of the areas of life that need to be simultaneously addressed from a regenerative perspective: arts and culture, green and renewable energy, agriculture and food security, holistic health, water security, women’s, civil, and human rights, governance, and a shift from the current capitalist economy to a “circular” economy in which all, not just a very few at the top, can benefit and thrive.

“We’re realizing now, especially after the pandemic, that as the old things collapse that don’t work anymore, we have to redesign,” DiMartino said, sitting in the kitchen of his Crestone home. “I worked in a lot of these areas (spokes of the hub), but a few years ago it congealed for me, that there’s actually a word for this and a movement happening.” Paul Hawken’s 2021 book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, affirmed for DiMartino both the movement and the term that best describes an idea that includes sustainability but goes beyond it to the generation of new systems to replace those that no longer work.

For a time as the pandemic closed its grip on the world in 2020, DiMartino’s center continued to operate with in-person events. But community members loudly complained. Unable to continue serving as he had, he realized, “It was time to leave all that.” He had visited Crestone shortly after connecting with Hanne and Maurice Strong at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. So when he decided to leave Nevada City, he remembered and felt inspired by a few people he’d met in Crestone. He returned and settled here about three and a half years ago.

Competition to cooperation

DiMartino’s passion for a collaborative, cooperative vision of humanity is far different from his early attitude in life, which modeled the Western approach of intense competition. Growing up in a small Connecticut town, he excelled in sports. He was active in football and baseball and twice earned the title of New England Wrestling Champion in his weight class. But at age 13, something happened that reversed his worldview.

Hit by a car as he was walking, he witnessed the next moments from outside his body as a near-death experience. He awoke back in his body as it was being placed in an ambulance. He was never the same. Suddenly he knew he no longer fit in the box of conservative, small-town New England. He continued to work in his family’s Italian restaurant business, leading to a degree in hotel and restaurant management. But as soon as he graduated, he packed up his car and headed for Venice Beach, Ca. 

“I was a huge fan of Jim Morrison and the Doors, and when Morrison said, ‘The West is best,’ I took it seriously — sunny beaches, open minded people,” he says, smiling. He had already been a drummer and vocalist for several years, playing in a Santana cover band as a teen. In California he committed himself fully to music, performing professionally and also beginning to gain experience as an event producer.

Music, stages, and spiritual growth

DiMartino’s percussionist skills, along with a love of musicology and world music, opened doors for experiential understanding in many of the world’s wisdom traditions that drew him on his personal spiritual path. For 10 years he traveled in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and around North America, visiting temples, living in ashrams, and spending time with lamas,  among them the Dalai Lama, and Native American elders including Black Elk. Because sacred ceremonies in most traditions incorporate drumming, he was able to take part in many of these, experiencing shifts in consciousness as he did.

Meanwhile he became skilled at organizing and producing large festivals and promoting the values he sees as necessary in the world today. In 1992 he was invited to speak at the UN Earth Summit in Brazil. That same year he became ordained as an interfaith minister and in 1993 was an invited speaker at the Parliament of the World Religions in Chicago. 

In the years that followed, DiMartino produced such events as the 1994 World Unity Festival in Flagstaff, whose final day featured simultaneous drumming in 52 countries without benefit of the Internet. He also produced a world music festival at the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in 2012 was asked to produce a consciousness event at the Chichén Itzá Pyramid in the Yucatán, Mexico, in conjunction with the end of a long cycle in the Mayan calendar.

A way forward

DiMartino lived relatively quietly in Massachusetts for some years beginning in the mid-1990s while his two daughters were young—Ananda, now 32, is a physician in New York and 30-year-old Sierra is a “digital nomad” in California. Since moving to Crestone, he has organized regenerative roundtables here and other small events in Boulder and elsewhere. He has played music at Crestone’s Art in the Garden tour and established the nonprofit Earthstock Foundation.

DiMartino believes 2024 will be a “promising year for coming out of the separation” imposed by the pandemic and events since then. For his part, he is continuing to feel out how best to contribute to the Crestone/Baca community and the world at this point. The San Luis Valley and greater Four Corners bioregion, with its deep history of vision questing and healing, provides a “great platform to build on,” he says. “We need to start by reconciling with the earth, indigenous communities, and each other. It’s big spiritual work. It’s social permaculture.”

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