Finding our Way Forward at age 23, Shane Metcalf
Living Green
Meredith Medland Sasseen

Episode 28 - Finding our Way Forward at age 23, Shane Metcalf

Shane Metcalf, an inspirational 23 year old at the forefront of the intersecting youth and sustainability movements, opens the door to more education with a review of his recent thesis,: “The Transition Generation: Finding our Way Forward in the 21st Century.” He demonstrates how educating generation Y about the world they are soon to inherit and the challenges and opportunities it presents is one of the most critical undertakings for the transition to a sustainable world.

We’ll talk about the overlap between orgasm and ecology as well as the role that every day spiritual practices play in members of the youth culture who are ready to take on the toughest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

You’ll learn about the personal journey that led Shane to become a passionate champion for a new breed of environmentalists who believe that high technology, capitalism and human ingenuity can work together to create a bright green future.



Woman: This program is brought to you by

[musical interlude]

Meredith Medland: Welcome to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. I'm your host, Meredith Medland, and you're listening to Episode #27. Today on our show, we've got lots in store for you. You're going to meet Shane Metcalf, an inspirational 23-year-old--but he sure doesn’t seem 23--at the forefront of the intersecting youth and sustainability movements. Now I promise you that his perspective on generation Y’s role in the 21st century will open your eyes to a youth culture that’s ready to take on the toughest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

Here are some highlights from our show.

[musical interlude]

Shane Metcalf: Young people are closer to the ground of what's really happening and are really in tuned with the modern world. So by listening to them, by giving them the contacts to which their creativity can be expressed, I think that everyone’s enriched. The history of our race, we've always created cosmologies as guiding principles, these stories that are bigger than ourselves, they help influence our daily decisions and our world view. I think that perhaps the most important thing that’s happening in the evolution of consciousness on the planet right now really is this redefining what our cosmology is.

It's not just going on retreat into a mountain and finding inner peace and not living in the modern world. That’s finding peace within our own selves, within every breath, and then being able to carry that peace into the hectic world and applying that calm and serenity into the chaos of environmental degradation and Jihad and Presidential elections and all of the other things that are pretty scary in this modern world.

[musical interlude]

Meredith Medland: Welcome to the show, Shane, it's great to have you here.

Shane Metcalf: Great, I'm really honored to be on the show.

Meredith Medland: Excellent. So this is a really fun interview for me. We've got a chance to talk a little bit before we started recording and I just want to say a little bit about you that really caught my attention. So when you were 16 years old, you went to your first Bioneers and you met Janine Benyus.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, yes.

Meredith Medland: Yes, and you told me that was the first time you'd felt the love in the environmental movement.

Shane Metcalf: Well, a lot of my perceptions before that have been that environmentalists are a bit stodgy, that it's kind of an angry movement. Janine Benyus, who you had on your show last week--actually it was kind of intimidating when you asked me to do the interview. I'm like, “Oh, my God! Following up Janine Benyus?”

So anyway, I go to the Bioneers’ Conference 2001 and Janine Benyus is the Opening Speaker. It's not really my first experience with Bioneers, and she comes on stage and she just has this light shining in her. She continues to explain how some of the greatest solutions that we can come up with as humans lie in the heart of nature. That if we can humble ourselves enough as humans and really apprentice ourselves to life and to this 3.4 billion year process that has been learning through trial and error, that we really have a chance at succeeding as a race on this planet in that we can be beneficial on this planet. That’s when I really first fell in love with what environmentalism can be.

Meredith Medland: So let's hear more about that. You talked about also Paul Hawkin entering your school at age 16 as well when you were studying sustainability in school. He donated all his resources and books from the book that he wrote called “Natural Capitalism”.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, so I'm 16, at Chamisa Mesa High School in Taos, New Mexico, and one of our students, their parents own a retreat center that Paul spent some time at. So we invited Paul Hawkin to come to our school and he fell in love with our school and in an act of generosity, he donated his whole research library that he used for writing “Natural Capitalism” to my school. I was hooked after that, I just got those boxes of books and I just devoured them and there was no turning back for me.

Meredith Medland: Now, you also were involved with this solar radio station in Taos and that was KTAO, of course.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, KTAO Solar.

Meredith Medland: Yes, and you had a show.

Shane Metcalf: It was called “Listen Up” and “Listen Up Youth Radio” and it was really highlighting the positive intelligence of young people. Buckminster Fuller has this great quote, he says that your children are you elders in universe time. Sometimes I understand what that means, and sometimes it just really confuses my brain, but when I do get it, it's this understanding that youth have an enormous amount to offer the world.

Not that they're like, “Oh, save the children!” type of mentality, but that young people are closer to the ground of what's really happening and are really in tuned with the modern world. So by listening to them, by giving them the contacts to which their creativity can be expressed, I think that everyone is enriched.

Meredith Medland: You were right that you said Janine Benyus was on the show last week. We've had lots of phenomenal guests with great resumes. You're 23 and you've done many, many amazing things and I trust that you can see things that I can't see and some of our listeners can't see. So as a representative of generation Y, you have over 35,000 listeners as of this show date today to share your message to. What do you want to get through to our audience?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, well, I think that first and foremost, I think that my generation is--I go back and forth between wondering if my generation is one of the most apathetic generations that’s ever lived or it it's one of the most engaged, passionate, and capable generations. I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is that if you just look at the facts, if you look at the century and if you look at some of the converging macro trends of global warming, population growth, resource scarcity, they're all kind of converging in the first part of the century.

So 2030, 2040, when my generation is at the height of its power and influence, when we're running the show, we're the CEOs of all the companies, that is when it is really going to be hitting the fan. That is like a little canyon that we're entering in to, like a 21st century canyon. We're going to the ones that are going to have to navigate through it. Right now, there's a lot of talk about global warming and yet it's still something that’s in the dusting even though it's here and now and we're seeing the changes, we're feeling the repercussions.

But I think that in 2030 let's say, it's going to be a much more in-our-face reality and that’s when we're going to be in charge. That’s why I think that our generation really needs to step up today and really educate ourselves about what kind of world were inheriting and what we can do about it. If we just let the adults of society dictate what kind of future they're going to hand to us and that’s what we're going to get. We can speak up now and say, “No, we deserve better and we're going to make sure we get better.”

Meredith Medland: You've been speaking up lot in your life, and when we get back from the break, we're going to talk a little bit about your own personal journey. We're going to talk about your involvement with the cleantech firm and just hear some more fantastic stories. I've got something else in store for our listeners which is that Shane has figured out a way to address the thread between sustainability and orgasm.

We're going to take a break to thank our sponsors. You're listening to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. You can find the Episode Page at You can see Shane’s bio and more information on the links in the episode’s details. We’ll be back right after this.

[radio break]

Meredith Medland: You're listening to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People” and I'm your host, Meredith Medland, and I'm here with Shane Metcalf. As you know, Shane is a very, very inspiring 23-year-old man, but he's been on an amazing personal journey and he is now a passionate champion for our new breed of environmentalist who believe that high technology, capitalism, and human ingenuity can work together to create a bright and clean future.

What do you think is the most important thing that’s happening in preparation for 2012?

Shane Metcalf: I think that there's a type of global consciousness that’s been created, and in a way, if you look at the history of our race, we've always created cosmologies as guiding principles, as these stories that are bigger than ourselves that help influence our daily decisions and our world of view. I think that perhaps the most important thing that’s happening in the evolution of consciousness on the planet right now really is this redefining what our cosmology is and discovering new cosmologies, new creation source.

What we've discovered in the last 200 years of science is just remarkable. We never knew that the universe is 14 billion years old. Until 1920, we thought that the Milky Way galaxy was the entire universe. We now know that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies. That has to change our perspective of what it means to be human and I think that that’s just a pretty mind blowing fact in itself. If we can get in touch with the nature of reality with really living in the universe that is, that’s a very critical thing that we can be doing right now.

Meredith Medland: What do you think the status of our universe is?

Shane Metcalf: Well, I think that if you can look at that there are trends, there's a trajectory to have the universe had moved from a state of more order to more disorder and to more complexity, and as it becomes more complex, it becomes more interdependent. At the same time, it becomes more autonomous. So we have this knowledge of how we as matter of the universe have developed.

Brian Swimme, the cosmologists, has this great quote that if you take a big cloud of hydrogen and you leave it alone for a couple of billion years, you get rose bushes, draughts, and humans. So it's this miracle and you can look at it as, “Oh, well, yes, it's just random chance”, but you can also look at it that there's a direction to the universe.

Meredith Medland: Let us switch gears a little bit because I'm really inspired by your personal story and some of the things that you've experienced. You have been a community member in several communities, one of which is the One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, California. If our listeners go to, they may have already discovered that there’s Sensuality podcast, they're also associated with this network. There are podcasts at the site that have been recorded at the One Taste Community Center.

So, what insight can you gather with this experience in sensuality and orgasm and really, you've had access to Bioneers, Paul Hawken, Janine Benyus, you've been to Bioneers multiple times, you have visions of house parties and getting people involved through videos, where is that intersection for you personally?

Shane Metcalf: I didn’t know this is going to be such a racy, green radio show.

Meredith Medland: Well, you'll never know what you might get here.

Shane Metcalf: Springing in orgasm on us. Well I think my experience with One Taste was really interesting. I think what it speaks to me about is that there's a level of integral consciousness that’s developing, so that says that our sex lives are related to ecology, and ecology is related to the economy. These things that we've previously had a lot of walls between, those walls are starting to crumble and we’re starting to realize that the health of one system directly influences the health of another system. So we can create these complimentary practices, some people are calling it like an integral life practice.

Meredith Medland: Right, Ken Wilber.

Shane Metcalf: Ken Wilber. So, it's not just going on retreat into a mountain and finding inner peace and not living in the modern world, that’s finding peace within our own ourselves, within every breath, and then being able to carry that peace into the hectic world and applying that calm and serenity into the chaos of environmental degradation and Jihad and Presidential elections and all of the other things that are pretty scary in this modern world.

Meredith Medland: What do you think about Ron Paul.

Shane Metcalf: I've never even paid attention to Ron Paul.

Meredith Medland: I got to ask when you talk politics. All right, so that’s pretty exciting with you talking about orgasm and ecology, to take a big breath here with our listeners.

Shane Metcalf: Well, one of my favorite things that they say One Taste is that here we have 6.7 billion people on this planet, everyone of us was created by orgasm but nobody wants to talk about it.

Meredith Medland: Why don’t you think people want to talk about it?

Shane Metcalf: Well, it's scary, I mean, there's a lot of fear around our own sexuality and there's a lot of shame and guilt and there's also a lot of tradition that people are carrying. So there's a lot of resistance to talking about sexuality openly.

Meredith Medland: So what does sexuality for you have to do with ecology in your personal spiritual practices on a daily basis?

Shane Metcalf: The world wouldn’t be worth saving if we couldn't have sex, right?

Meredith Medland: I guess not, and it's more fun to save them when we are having sex.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, and I think that one of the things that I can teach us is that we can make saving the world a pleasurable experience. We can make this good fight, this fight for justice, this fight to liberate women around the world, to bring people out of poverty and to restore ecosystems. It can be a joyful thing, and we don’t have to be morally scolding people for not doing the right thing but we can listen to people where they're at. We can help them find a better way where they can fulfill their own life priorities while also benefiting other systems.

Meredith Medland: So for your particular system, whether you call that a community or body system, your own integrated spirituality, your energy filled, what are you doing to address your inner ecology?

Shane Metcalf: Really, it comes down to practice that I learned from a gentleman who’s name is Maharji and it's called “self-knowledge”. It's something that I've been doing for five years, and it's four simple techniques that just take my senses and turn them inside. It's almost more simple than my mind is comfortable with and I think that’s why it works. It just allows me to see myself, it's a mirror. It doesn’t show me, “Oh, I'm divine. Oh, I'm fragile.” It just shows me myself.

Meredith Medland: We're going to take a break, and would you be willing, when we come back from the break, to take us through those four pieces?

Shane Metcalf: No, I wouldn’t actually.

Meredith Medland: Oohh! All right.

Shane Metcalf: You got to find out for yourself.

Meredith Medland: If our listeners want to learn more about those four things, where they can get more information?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, there's a really easy way. You can go to and there's a wealth of resources about Maharji’s message. Really, let me just say that his message is that what we're looking for, we already have. We already have the peace within us. We already have the answers within us. Once we know how to look for it, we can have that. So, it's a really beautiful message and it's very simple, and I'm a huge fan of it. So you can also go to

Meredith Medland: Thank you for sharing that. I imagine it's very personal practice, so thanks.

We're going to take a break, and when we come back from the break, Shane is going to tell us about his recently finished Senior thesis titled, “The Transition Generation: Finding our Way Forward in the 21st Century”. Thanks so much for listening to “Living Green”, my name is Meredith Medland, and we’ll be back right after this.

[radio break]

[musical interlude]

Meredith Medland: You're listening to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. My name is Meredith Medland, and I'm your host. Again, we're back with Shane Metcalf.

Shane, you just finished your Senior thesis, it's called “The Transition Generation: Finding Our Way Forward in the 21st Century” and it proposes that what we need to do is educate generation Y about the world they soon to inherit as well as the opportunities that are being presented from the transition into a sustainable world. How did you choose that as a topic? Can you share us the highlights from that thesis?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, so I really decided to write this thesis after reading this book by James Martin who wrote “The Wired Society” in the ‘70s which really predicted a lot of the Internet Age and this book is called “The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Our Survival”. It's a really great book, I've had to recommend it but in it, he really calls out my generation as being a critical force in the transition to a sustainable world. He kind of goes through a quick scan of several of the macro trends and the momentum trends that are happening in the world right now.

If you look at the fact, we're in trouble on this planet. Every ecosystem is in decline and the rate of decline is accelerating. It's like, “OK, well, we have some really big challenges” and there are a lot of people that are working on developing the solutions and they're incubating them. We're trying how t5o make renewable energy cheaper than coal energy. But those aren’t in mass application yet, and what James Martin really proposes is that my generation is going to the ones that are actually going to have to implement those solutions and navigate them through the first two quarters of the 21st century.

Meredith Medland: So I've a great opportunity for you as a listener, we actually have a partnership with So you can actually go to and you get a wonderful opportunity to have a 30-day trial with them and check out that. So there's more information on the Web and the link on the Episode Page is on the right hand rail of under this episode, Episode #27. So just an assignment, people like to mention books, I just want to mention that that’s an offer that we prenegotiated so there’d be some nice benefits here in this podcast.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, and I also say one more thing is that when you hear about youth movements or youth activism, before I often kind of had this feeling like, “OK, yes, that’s nice.” And people are like, “Yes, save the children. That’s really nice.” Reading James Martin’s book really emphasized to me that, “Oh no, it's beyond the mere cuteness and charity”. It is critical to all of our survival that my generation really steps up to the plate, understands what the challenges are, and looks at those challenges as opportunities.

Meredith Medland: If you're stepping up to the plate and you're going to leave a lasting legacy, what would that legacy be?

Shane Metcalf: I would want to have a legacy of that I enjoyed myself, I recognized the opportunity to enjoy my life and milk that for all that it was worth and that I didn’t let a day go by where I wasn't grateful.

Meredith Medland: Where do you feel like you're most listened to by people of high influence in the environmental movement?

Shane Metcalf: Well, I've really found that this idea of talking about my generation as a transition generation really strikes a cord with the older generations. A lot of the baby boomers, they look at my generation and they might see we're just obsessed with entertainment and we're just text messaging all the time and we're just connected from real human interactions. I really think that that’s bogus, I think that Facebook and all of these social networking sites and our ability to maintain relationships with vastly more humans than any other generation has ever been able to before is actually helping to cultivate this kind of global consciousness. We're going to need to really understand that we're in this boat together, that we can't just ignore the world’s poorest people who are going to be hit the hardest by climate change. But we really need to involve them in figuring out these solutions.

Meredith Medland: As a podcast interviewer, I actually listen to a lot of podcasts on the Personal Life Media Network and others, and when you said that about Facebook, it reminded me of Susan Bratton’s latest episode on or “Dishy Mix” which is on our network. She talks about Facebook and the implications and the advertising opportunities in the social communities.

One of my wishes for our listeners is that if you're looking to become more turned on from a technological standpoint, that that’s a really solid podcast to navigate and understand the importance of what's happening. I just feel really privileged to be able to have technology, spiritually, ecology, and sexuality all intersecting in my life and I love playing podcast in my house and I listen to them while I'm folding the laundry or exercising, I mean I listen actually all the time.

Shane Metcalf: Yes, I just started downloading the TED Talks, the Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and so I've just made all of their talks available for free, and it's just this incredible resource. I highly encourage anybody, you can just search for TED in iTunes and you can get them.

Meredith Medland: Yes, so we'll put those links on the Episode Page. So we're getting ready to wrap up this show and one of the things that I love to talk about is outcomes. I have an accountability consultancy called, so my brain thinks a lot about a question that I actually asked Al Gore last year on the Red Carpet, if you could create three outcomes within the next three months, what would they be?

Shane Metcalf: So three outcomes, I'm in between jobs right now, I just graduated college and left my position with a clean technology investment firm, and so now I'm on the job hunt. I want the best job I've ever had. I want to be in an organization where I'm getting bus loads of money but also making high impact on the world and really helping to move the human story forward.

Meredith Medland: Before you gone, what [xx] say more?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, well, if you're out there and you have an incredible organization, give me a call or send me an email.

Meredith Medland: Well, what would you be doing that would be so--if you could create anything--what would that job be?

Shane Metcalf: Well, Google right now has just launched their RE

Meredith Medland: Best wishes for you there. What about number two?

Shane Metcalf: Number two, I really want to help spread the solutions that Bioneers presents to my generation and really have my peers get as excited as I am about that not only that it’s possible for us to change the world, but we can actually make a world that’s more beautiful and more effective and more abundant that we ever thought possible.

Meredith Medland: Tell us about your experience with Julia Butterfly Hill in coming to Bioneers.

Shane Metcalf: Well, Julia Butterfly gave me a scholarship when I was 16 because I wrote an essay and so she gave me a scholarship to attend the Bioneers’ Conference because in 2000, she was at Bioneers and she was looking around the conference and it was all these middle aged, white people from Marin, and she thought, “Oh, my God! Where are the young people? They're the ones that really need to be hearing this.” So she started a scholarship fund, I got a scholarship and I was there for the first year of the Youth Initiative and I've been going back for seven years now.

Meredith Medland: Excellent. So you're quite an ambassador for Bioneers, yes?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, definitely the organization that I give when I have some extra cash that I give money to.

Meredith Medland: Nice! So, house parties and video screenings and association with Bioneers, that’s something that you also mentioned. What were those house parties be like?

Shane Metcalf: I think that it's an opportunity to bring together friends and strangers and show a video maybe with a little profess but show videos of people like Amory Lovins who has a presentation about how to get the US off oil in the next two decades. You just realize that that’s attainable. Or, people like Jay Harman and his company PAX Scientific that’s using the geometries of nature and integrating them into industrial technology.

It's just like, “Oh, well, these things are really happening.” I want to increase the awareness that that stuff is happening, because I talked to a lot of my friends and they're very cynical. I mean, they hear about the bad stuff but they don’t know what is going on that is good and positive and that has the potential to really change the world.

Meredith Medland: I'm having this great visual image--well, kinestatic feeling as well--of people cuddling together, these young people here--I'm 35, not that much older than you--but all cuddling together. First, it starts at One Taste in San Francisco and then it goes to One Taste in New York and then it starts going to Cafe Gratitude or other places and then it's in people’s homes. I'm happy to host it, and we get a  whole bunch of furry, comfy pillows. Now, if this is a little too Northern California, [xx] pieces all over the United States. But I'm telling you people are coming together and cuddling. What a better way we could mix it with some of these great videos and there'd be a really deep intimacy that was educating the world on what we need to do which I really feel as fueled by whom we need to be, which is connected to both our inner end and outer ecology. Sound like a good [xx].

Shane Metcalf: I’ll play.

Meredith Medland: Would you come?

Shane Metcalf: Yes, funny enough, I'm actually going to show a Bioneers’ video at One Taste. So, now we just got a factor in the cuddling part, and your dream will be coming true.

Meredith Medland: All right, excellent! When are you doing that?

Shane Metcalf: Well, I had something scheduled for January but I had to postpone because the holidays interrupted everything, and so I'm looking at sometime in February.

Meredith Medland: How nice! So I feel like we're speaking about One Taste a lot, so I just want to give that URL, it's

Shane Metcalf: No, actually that you're outdated information. They’ve now changed it to

Meredith Medland: All right, thank you for that. So we've got the Y generation updating me. That’s the first time that, you know [laughs]. That’s brilliant. So, third outcome.

Shane Metcalf: Third outcome is to stay committed to being as clear as I can about what I want in my life and having the discipline to do my own practice so that I can ensure that I am staying clear. Really trusting that I can get what I want, that I can ask for what I want and that’s OK, and that’s actually the only way I can get what I want is by asking for it. So, a commitment to keeping those personal practice is alive and thriving.

Meredith Medland: Thank you. Shane, I’ve one more question before we go. But before I ask you that, is there anything that you'd like to share with our audience that we haven’t covered.

Shane Metcalf: No, I think that I really loved being on this interview and I really loved hearing more about your story. I think that those listening should wake up tomorrow morning or go to bed tonight and just appreciate that the world is still here. We're on this ball of rock, hurtling through space at 66,000 miles an hour. Every day that we are alive and that we have people on our lives that we love is something to be appreciated and I think that amidst the problems, there's also an enormous amount of stuff that we can be happy and grateful for.

Meredith Medland: My friend Mark Lewis says that the problems are the solutions.

Shane Metcalf: Well, yes, I guess the one thing that I'll end with is that if you look at the evolution of life in a long term perspective, it's always been chaos, break downs, and bad news that have been the driving force of creative evolution. So that gives me a lot of hope actually, I'm really optimistic about the future, because look at all the chaos, breakdowns, and bad news going on. So of course, we're going to step out, of course, we're going to be like, “Oh, our survival is at risk.” So we're going to make those solutions.

Meredith Medland: Awesome! All right, last question, thank you so much for being with me, it's been such a pleasure to feel connected to you. If you project yourself forward to 2020 and you're standing on a stage, delivering a presentation and a speech that’s based on a book that you've written that just hit the New York Times’ Bestseller List, what would you have to say in the last three inspirational minutes of the presentation.

Shane Metcalf: Outside of “We did it!” that we were hit with the challenges of ecological collapse, economic collapse, but that we pulled together, we were creative and that we, as a country and as a world, we came together and we really embraced the best of class solutions and we're pulling through this mess. We are prepared for the next 80 years of the 21st century and that we're going to survive, we're going to thrive on this planet for millions of years to come.

Meredith Medland: All right! I love it, I've got these shivers. Shane, thank you. This is Shane Metcalf and he is your 23-year-old inspirational superstar representing the Y generation and maybe forget everything you said about hiring him because I just might do that instead. No, seriously, thank you so much for listening to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. Shane, thank you for your time and your attention and your energy and I wish you the best.

Shane Metcalf: Thank you, Meredith.

Meredith Medland: For texts and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, go to If you like more information about Shane or the links from this episode, go to and scroll down the episodes, look for Shane’s name and his picture, and you'll find this episode there.

Thank you so much for joining me, I'll see you again next week. I'm your host, Meredith Medland, and as always, keep living green.

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