As we celebrate the premiere of the Kiss the Ground Movie, it is our honor to reflect on the early seedlings of our organization and acknowledge all of the people that have contributed to this momentous growth period we are all experiencing today.
Like a diverse ecosystem, this moment is made possible from the collective hands, hearts and creative minds of each volunteer, intern, soil advocate, partner, staff member, advisor, funder, mentor, board member, student, friend, and family member.
We want you to know that you have shaped this Kiss The Ground reality. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
In the early days (nearly eight years ago), after a life-changing encounter with Graeme Sait, our co-founders, Finian Makepeace, Lauren Tucker, and Ryland Engelhart gathered friends, neighbors, and colleagues in Ryland’s living room every week to figure out how to build public awareness and change the global narrative around soil as a solution to so many of humanity’s problems.
We became obsessed with all things soil, agriculture, and land management. In September 2014 – less than a year after our initial living room gathering – we founded the 501(c)3 nonprofit Kiss the Ground.
At the start, we were strange characters in a crowded landscape of farmers, scientists, academia, and food brands because we were none of the above. Instead, we were a small passionate group of creative people with a vision and commitment to improve the world.
We began with a roadside community garden, a foundational understanding of “Organic,” confusing rhetoric around veganism, plant-based, and farm-to-table, and a collective belief down to the core that regeneration of the planet was actually possible. And so, our calling was born.
We decided to commit our lives to spreading the word that humanity can turn the corner through regeneration.
“When we are awakened to the possibilities of regeneration it is nearly impossible to go back to sleep.” – Finian Makepeace
Today, together with our partners, we continue to share hopeful stories about this new, old solution to balancing our climate by building healthy soil. We are committed to our mission of awakening people to the possibilities of regeneration, to providing everyone with the pathways to find their unique way forward and the resources to do so. We are committed to sharing a greater diversity of stories on regenerative agriculture from communities all around the world who have been engaging in these practices for generations. We continue to empower individuals to become powerful and impactful advocates through our Stewardship Program and to support farmers and ranchers to transition their land with a robust scholarship program.
…and most importantly, we are committed to supporting everyone to live with the belief of regeneration in their heart, just as we did when we started Kiss the Ground.
Please join us in honoring some of the key people who helped us grow this idea of Kiss The Ground into a global movement.
Firstly, we want to acknowledge Graeme Sait for being the source of inspiration that changed our lives towards regeneration. We would like to give thanks for the foundational partnership between Finian Makepeace, Lauren Tucker, and Ryland Engelhart who came together knowing nothing great in life happens without partnership. And, we want to recognize all those people that gathered in Ryland’s living room, week after week as self-made volunteers to initiate what would become Kiss The Ground.
Next, Chance Foreman and Tony Ranville for creating some of the first media content ever published. For Bobby Bailey sharing with us the possibility of how the media can change the world’s view. Danni Washington for your passion for nature and our oceans. Nicole Landers for what you have built with community healing gardens. Jabu for making our first logo. Jon Marro for designing our first one-sheet. Jenny Emblom for helping us build our first budget. Erin McMorrow for being our first Executive Director and the beauty of what you are creating with your new book, Grounded.
Jonas Hunter for really taking our working group and turning us into a real organization. Boise Tomas for being the best neighbor ever and always showing up to serve. Don Smith for schooling on compost and worms and continuing to guide our technical accuracy. Peter Hoffman for your leadership and direction. Morgan Carson for your energy and inspiration. Andrew McFarlane for living your bold unapologetic truth. Ashton Watkin for naming the Soil Story. Alice Cherng for helping us pay our first taxes. Darius Fisher for down-from-day-one and still at it today editing the KTG movie. Sarah Engelhart for being the best partner to Ryland ever and championing the org in every way. Abbie Makepeace for nurturing and supporting Finian’s extreme passion for this movement. Fortanado and Gina Levy for bringing your activism and your homes to support our work. Sandy Simmons for devoting your time and energy to whatever was needed. Audrey Buchanan for your creativity and imagery to help us bring culture back to agriculture.
We want to acknowledge all of our first employees and the beautiful beginning that you brought to this organization. To all of interns, volunteers and former team members, we want to honor you and your contribution to the movement. Whether you were here a few months or a few years, your impact moved us closer to realizing our mission. Thank you, Matt Finklestein, Sunshine Flores, Ade Onaolapo, Elizabeth Kahn, Aria McLauchlan, Jen Lo, Annie Martin, Kiki Falconer, Jaime Flores, Guido Lois, Josh Kaufman, Jaime Flores, Michelle Uyeda, Aiden Makepeace, Lori-Ann Engel, Tammi Ried, and Emily Alford.
To the teachers who have brought your wisdom to our Stewardship Program, thank you for bringing regeneration to the lives of so many. Thank you Farmer Rishi, Connor Stedman, and Russell Wallack from Terra Genesis International.
To our friends Adrian Grenier, Rosario Dawson, Amy Smart, Kendrick Sampson, Paul Blackthorne, Pashon Murray and Larry Kopald for lending your voices to share the magic of soil and compost with the world.
To every partner and collaborator who supported the amplification of our mission and this movement, we thank you.
To our Soil Advocates across the globe who share the superpowers of soil with their communities, family, friends, and anyone who will listen on a daily basis. You are the future of the movement. Deep bows to you.
To our families, wives, husbands, children and friends who didn’t always understand what we were up to but supported us anyway. Thank you.
We would like send our immense appreciation to our first Board of Directors, Chris Bonbright, Gunnar Lovelace, Jena King, Laurie Benenson and Gay Brown. The key and instrumental advisors and our inspirations, John Roulac, Calla Rose, Vandana Shiva, Jason Mraz, Paul Hawken, Elaine Eingem, Ray Archuleta, Ron Finley, David King, Farmer Jack, and Richard Condon. And, thank you to the original donors who believed in the vision of Kiss The Ground: The Michael and Jena King Foundation, Nutiva, Cafe Gratitude, Dr. Bronners, and Kathy Kellogg.
…And to Josh and Rebecca, for believing in this movement and allowing us all to experience this global moment of possibility, together.
To close, a poem of gratitude from our hearts, written by our Co-Founder, Ryland Engelhart.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
May we utter these words every day of our lives.
Thank you creator for allowing us to know love and giving us this lifetime to remember.
Thank you for making praise an act of giving and receiving. Thank you for the scent of a flower and the receptivity of our noise. Thank you for the communion of this food. Thank you for songs that uplift and inspire us. Thank you for words that speak directly to our hearts.
Thank you for the process of two becoming one. Thank you for this land and all elementals that care for it, seen and unseen. Thank you for the rain for how it cleanses and renews life. Thank you for the wisdom of the trees, who stand their ground.
Thank you for the Sun, and the benevolence of shining on everyone. Thanks for all the virtues that are ever present in our hearts.
Thank you for the river, always flowing home gurgling poetry of the great return. Thank you for the plant queendom and all her medicine.
Thank you for our ancestors and their gifts that we get to carry. Thank you for the Soil, May we kiss the ground with reverence.
May we all experience deep gratitude for this moment and our awareness of being alive, thank you for all your nourishment, the sacrament of life that will become our life. For the community, our families and the people who we have chosen to walk together through life with. Thank you for the universal practice of becoming love.
To all of our past, current, and future partners in this movement we could not have done this without you. Every bit of your magic was infused in this work.
With love and continued possibility in our hearts,
Ryland, Finian, Richard, Taylor, Jessica, Gina, Erica, Don, Kate, Traci, Emily, Mallory, Kylie, Jesse, Michelle, and Karen