MDC students Black Fox Wilderness (Custom)

Some of our most important work at Narrow Ridge is done through our Earth literacy programs. To be Earth literate is to understand the relationship of self with the rest of the natural world.  It is to understand your place within the larger context of a rich and diverse Earth community – a community which humans share with other animals, trees, plants, mountains, prairies, oceans and stones. Earth offers countless ways of deepening our understanding of ourselves and our sacred relationship with nature.  If we are observant, Earth will teach us how to live in harmony with the rest of the natural world.

In our Earth literacy programs participants are given the opportunity to experience sustainable living first hand, to immerse themselves in the natural world where they experience themselves as part of the community of Earth rather than as outside observers, to participate in organic gardening, to delve into environmental issues of mountaintop removal, conscious consumerism, bioregionalism, and sustainable agriculture and diet. We believe our Earth literacy programs are making a difference by creating an awareness of the current state of the planet and the responsibility that each individual holds to self and all the others that make up Earth now and in the future.

Types of Earth Literacy Programs/Experiences:

  • Natural Immersion and Sustainability Experiences: Such programs can be customized to fit the need of the individual, family, school group, church group, etc. Participants gain experience in organic gardening and delve into environmental issues of mountaintop removal, conscious consumerism, bioregionalism, and sustainable agriculture and diet.
  • Courses for Academic Credit: Narrow Ridge works in conjunction with Colleges and Universities to develop on-site programs that satisfy all or part of a course requirement. Programs are typically experiential in nature and may include residence in and tours of sustainable dwellings, day and night hikes, organic gardening, environmental films, field trips to a mountain-top removal site, and vegetarian cooking instruction.Students may also choose Narrow Ridge as the site for a course of independent study or internship with the approval of their academic institution.
  • Alternative Spring Break: Narrow Ridge is a wonderful site for an alternative spring break experience where students take advantage of the opportunities for retreat, restoration and recreation offered by our beautiful natural setting while also delving into environmental issues and engaging in service learning projects such as organic gardening, conservation projects and eco-construction projects.
  • Vision Fast: 

Participants in this program will experience two and a half days of preparation and training, three days and three nights of fasting alone on a mountain near Narrow Ridge Center, and two and a half days of processing including a sweat lodge ceremony.  Past participants have reported significant increases in clarity about life directions, decisions, and purpose, in addition to finding the experience profoundly restorative in terms of feelings of health and well-being.  Vision Fasts have been part of the rites of passage of many different cultures since time immemorial.

Principle VF leaders will be Bill Nickle and Mitzi Wood-Von Mizener. Bill Nickle is founder of Narrow Ridge and 13-year vision fast guide.  Mitzi is Director of Narrow Ridge and has served as VF guide since 2006. She trained under Bill’s mentoring and has received additional training through the School of Lost Borders (SLB).  SLB pioneered non-Native American led vision fasts in the United States.

During and after the VF, participants will stay at Strawbale Lodge on the grounds of Narrow Ridge, an eco-friendly facility constructed of sustainable building materials and utilizing solar power, composting toilets, and an on-demand water heater.  Vegetarian and organic food is provided in a supportive group living and learning environment.

Individuals and couples are invited to apply.  Cost is $600 per person or $1080 per couple.  Need-based scholarship assistance may be available.  Previous camping experience is not required.  Participants must submit a statement of personal intent explaining her/his interest in experiencing a VF.  Those accepted must file a medical statement certifying they are in sufficiently good health given the physical demands of mountain hiking with a heavy pack, camping, and fasting; and be willing to sign a liability waiver accepting the inherent safety risks of a VF including spending time alone in a wilderness setting.  Participants should prepare for the VF over the weeks preceding the experience by following a suggested regime of reading, journaling, short-term fasting, and walking.

To apply or for more information, contact Mitzi Wood-Von Mizener at 865-497-3603 or by email at[email protected].  Deadline for registration is March 30.  A $50 deposit is required to reserve your place in the Vision Fast.Balance of tuition is due by the registration deadline and is fully refundable up until this date. Cancellations thereafter will result in 1/2 tuition reimbursement. If you are interested in applying after the above deadlines, please contact us to see if there are available spaces. Don’t let anything hold you back from participating! Ask about our loan and scholarship programs.

  • Film Nights: Film nights are held on the 4th Saturday at 7:00 p.m. every other month February through October. Films presented focus on environmental topics such as water, mountaintop removal, sustainable agriculture, mindful consumption, hydrofracking, etc. Films are followed by a brief informal discussion. Film nights are free and open to the public.
  • Seasonal Celebrations: We celebrate the cyclic changes of the seasons with friends and neighbors by reflecting on what these changes have meant to those who came before and what they mean to us as individuals, families and community members. We may honor the season under the stars, by a fire, with song, food or stories.  We celebrate the wonder of the cycle of birth, death and renewal that is reflected in all of nature. Our seasonal celebrations are free and open to the public.
  • Music Gatherings: What could be more natural in the human experience than music? What could be more common to the experience of the living than rhythm which is found in the ocean tides, in the wind, in the breath and in the blood flow? We believe that we are called not just to preserve and care for life but to celebrate it, and what better way than through sharing the gift of music. We are so fortunate to be surrounded my so much music and talent in the Hogskin Valley and greater east Tennessee community. Our music gatherings are loads of fun and have really enhanced our bonds of community.  All who wish to share a tune are encouraged to join in the mix, yet many are happy to listen and clap along. Music gatherings are at 7:00 p.m. every other 4th Saturday January through July.