About Justin and Barefoot Mountain
My story started with my parent's moving to the suburbs of North Carolina at the age of three. Soon after my parents divorced I spent most of the weekends next door with my best friends who were a bit older.
The time was the mid 80's. Our parents were no helicopter parents. We spent our days in the woods with a lot of autonomy. I THRIVED in my environment!
At my mother's it was a different story. I moved around a lot and it was hard for I to maintain friendships. So at thirteen, I moved in with my father. There I went to work. I walked the streets pushing a mower earning and investing money. Since my father was gone during the week as a truck driver, I got himself up and to school on my own, further building more autonomy and mastery.
At the age of fifteen, my father was in a sudden and tragic work accident. I had grown estranged from my mother so I worked to live with my brother. This is known as kinship care in the foster care. I went to a group home for a short while and after a few weeks, I went to live with my brother. My brother and wife had a new newborn child and I instantly attached. I also cared for my niece; I found a natural love for babies.
At age sixteen I felt it was time to tackle life on my own. Drawing from my mastery and autonomy living with my father, I found belonging as men and their families in the small town community helped guide me into adulthood.
As a young adult, I decided to go to college and it was there where I volunteered for the Army right after 9/11. I was soon deployed overseas.
In the Army, I found community and purpose. I started offering fitness advice to my fellow soldiers. It was my first coaching experience and I loved the feeling of helping others. Seeing Iraq also really opened my mind to another world.
Upon my return to the states, I bought two houses as a package deal. I lived in one and rented the other one out. I started renovating and maintaining the houses that this was the beginning of my handyman skills. I was still eager to help others and continue with self-improvement.
I became aware of what was threatening our food and environment. I learned how important soil was and bought my first indoor composting worm bin and started to garden at a community garden plot. I had tremendous luck by only adding compost from my worm bin to the native soil; A handful with every planting and then topdressing as I harvested more castings.
I later donated that garden to someone who was in need. I reported, "This provided me with an example of how to make a sustainable change; teach someone in need, the skill of gardening."
I then focused on animal rescue. I started by rescuing on my own from the local stray animals , I later became the president of the local humane society. I fostered, helped with grants, adoption events, and even helped reform animal abuse laws.
While doing dog rescue I chose to mentor a young boy through a local school program. That really encouraged me to become a foster parent. "I was amazed at the change I saw not only in the boys in my care, but also within myself. I found the more I was able to heal, find purpose, and find a group of people that wanted to help, the more healing could take place for all of us."
Later I began urban homesteading and fostering at-risk youth. I and my kids loved raising fish and plants in the aquaponics system, and tending to the chickens, beehive, worms, and even dubia roaches. I loved learning new things. I felt what is called flow as I was doing this work. During flow, you are productive but it did not feel like I was working, it felt natural. I said, "I felt I was paying forward what I had received as a youth and being more responsible for the footprint." I went on a seven-day solo backpacking trip when I had a vision of an ecovillage for children. "Why keep them in four walls when nature is so healing. “ I thought. As I build toward that goal, I will share what I have learned so that we can all THRIVE!"