Trish Patricia Mikkelson: Founder and Coordinator
As the coordinator, co-founder, and the only member of Jesus Vegans, my job is to set the vision, beliefs, structures, and values of the community. I see these four things as being like the banks of a river. Without banks, the river can not flow. Whoever comes here who is alignment with these four foundations, will be able to use their talents and resources in ways that can fulfill their heartfelt dreams for a better world.
The reason that I am the only member is that I have been in a process of defining my vision, values, and beliefs since October 2016 when Jesus Vegans was born and financial support from a wealthy friend was offered. Even though I was sure that by age 62, I was clear on where I was headed, our Creator had other plans! In the months leading up to Feb. 1, 2018, I was able to take more time to learn and grow because I did not have to work at a day job.
I had more opportunities to interact with people locally and online, travel, do spiritual practices, and be outside in nature than I had ever had in my life. Even though I was eager to reach out and find people who were members, my intuition said, "not yet." Also, I experienced delays such as a 3-week depression in June where I was unable to work and almost lost my motivation to fulfill this dream.
On February 1, 2018, after a series of very intense conflicts and conversations with Christians that lasted for months, I realized that after 17 years of trying to fit into the Christian Box, I needed to give it up. You can read my story here. The short version is that I love Jesus very much, and he has been my friend and guide all my life. Yet I can no longer call him The Only Way. This goes against my value of respecting all people and not thinking they have an inferior path.
Thus, I am so glad that I did not reach out in a big way. Now we are a vegan, interspiritual Ecovillage where Jesus is respected greatly by all, and for some, he is their friend and guide. Now I can open up the doors wide and invite people of all sorts of spiritual paths to come here. I feel so happy and relieved.
I found this quote about visionary leaders by Carlos Eduardo Espinal
"Effectively, a founder’s vision facilitates the decision-making process the team uses to create a company’s products and services. It is through the clarity of a founder’s vision that focus is brought to the planning and decision-making process within a company, and as a consequence, the company can function efficiently and increase its probability of success."
Our products and services are not making money--but rather to build a community where everyone is empowered to use their talents, skills, and resources to the maximum. We will have products and services eventually, though, because we want to become financially sustainable.
I am working to figure out how to present Jesus Vegans in the most accurate way possible and to then develop an outreach strategy.
I am also experimenting with the daily schedule by stopping up to 6 times during the day to do spiritual practices. This is something I think is going to greatly enhance our ability to live harmoniously and to stay connected to God all the time.
I choose to work on the Jesus Vegans Community in order to manifest my dream of both living in and building an intentional community as well as fulfill what I believe is my destiny of supporting the growing movement of people who are concerned about the welfare of animals.
I love working on this project because everyone who has worked for us has been so enthusiastic about what we are doing. The amazing talents that each person that we have been able to hire has helped me to get to this place.
Some of my main skills are organizing, facilitating, writing, and communication. I am at my best when I can encourage people and to see them grow on all levels. Supporting people in practicing spiritual disciplines that help them to feel more connected to God and grow on every level gives me great satisfaction.
To find out more about me, click here.
Previous Onsite Staff
Robert Kersbergen: Operations Manager
Robert has 43 years of construction experience and has the ability to handle all kinds of projects. He is passionate about alternative energy and green building and wants to teach others. One of his projects is a makers space where work exchange workers will be able to tinker, create, and invent. Robert enjoys cooking, fixing problems, nurturing his cat, and studying the scriptures.
Chris Mikkelson: Communication & Technology Consultant
(Note: We ran out of funding to hire Chris, but he gave invaluable help during the 9 months that he worked for us! And he comes back occasionally to help Trish tweak the website
"Hi, I’m Chris, I enjoy hiking, swimming, playing volleyball, and kayaking. I am also excited about all things media. I love working on this project because it allows me to get the best of both worlds.
I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Masters degree in mass communication, and after working as a public speaking instructor I was invited to work for Jesus Vegans. My role on JV is to coordinate and set up their website, social media, organize online communication, and do random grunt work that needs to done (chainsawing, carpentry, etc.).
I am passionate about my walk with Jesus. I believe he is the Son of God and that having a personal relationship with Him is the only way to have lasting peace. Although not a Vegan, I believe it is very important to take care of God’s creation, including treating animals with the respect and dignity they deserve."
Chase Jones: Permaculture Consultant & Videographer
(Noted: We had to let Chase go because our funding ended, but he helped us so much!)
"Hi, I’m Chase, I practice permaculture design and videography. I also enjoy oil painting, climbing, and travel. I love learning about new things and applying new knowledge to goals and projects. Working for the Jesus Vegans Project has allowed me to engage in that practice.
I have been studying permaculture design for about 2 years and studying videography for about 9. My hope is to sustain myself by combining these two practices into a career. Through this type of work, I will be able to create a sustainable lifestyle and educate and empower others to do the same.
Permaculture is so powerful because it can help solve so many problems we face including feeding people, managing energy and using resources responsibly. Videography is so powerful because it helps get these ideas and solutions to people around the world."
To find more about me, click here.
Täs Zinck: Permaculture Educator and Synergistic Landscape Designer
(Note: Because our funding sources ended, we needed to let Tas go, but we benefitted immensely from having him work for us for 9 months.)
"Hi, my name is Täs Zinck, I’ve grown up with a passion for plants. I pursued horticulture as a personal study in high school, but my experience gardening goes back as far as I can remember. My father is a solar technician and energy efficient builder, so my exposure to the concepts and ethics of sustainability came naturally. When I discovered permaculture I knew I had found a way to make my passion my trade. I pursued self-study and took any workshops and classes on sustainability skills I could.
I studied Ozark herbalism, built with various forms of alternative construction such as super-adobe and practiced designing and building garden all over Arkansas, including work through a non-profit I co-founded LEAFF, that promotes permaculture in NWA. Before ever getting my Permaculture Design certification I had a decade of experience, which I feel more than makes up for my young age in the field. I’ve taught workshops, led volunteers, and helped design and manage different orchards and food forest systems.
As a long time proponent of environmentalism and animal rights when I learned of Jesus Vegans mission to spread creation care and compassion to the Northwest Arkansas Christian communities and beyond I was a huge supporter. Having just co-founded a startup sustainable design and strategy consulting firm, Biodesic Strategies, with my permaculture partner Chase Jones JV was an ideal first client. The partnership we’ve formed has been incredibly mutually beneficial. Helping Jesus Vegans reach their visions is, in turn, helping Chase and I achieve our own."
Brian Leffert: Master Carpenter. Brian worked hard on our building projects in our Jesus Vegans Community at Wellspring. His skills were so welcome!
Scott “Sky” Masters
I am striving and have been building towards the vision of “Sacred Beloved Community” for many years. Working so closely with the animal kingdom and a plant-based diet as a foundation aligns with my heart and deepest values.
I believe in Community and it is a dream to build and support an Ecovillage! My mission is to serve others offering my greatest gifts within a loving environment.
I love the energy and enthusiasm of the Jesus Vegans team and feel a deep love and commitment to serve others.
I am a pure animal lover and want to do what I can to protect these sacred vulnerable beings. I have worked in the area of healing relationships through Compassionate Communication, Self- discovery and inner child work, Co-Dependency Recovery, meditation practices, Dyads, Wisdom Circles, supporting creative expression through writing, sound, and music as an M.C...
To find out more about me, click here.
Cliff Mikkelson: Former husband, friend, and neighbor
I have been a total vegetarian for the past 47 years, and actually about 98% vegan because the only animal products I ate were occasional yogurts. I very rarely ate cheese, butter, and eggs. And with so many non-dairy yogurts available now, I’m really 99% vegan.
My main motivation for changing to a vegetarian diet came about when I was a young man faced with the dilemma of the Vietnam war. I was a conscientious objector to war, and as I examined myself, I realized I was complicit in the violence against animals, so I quit eating animals.
I have been a follower of Jesus since I had a mystical experience of Jesus when I was nine years old. He gave me certain guidelines to live by, which I needed because none of my childhood friends at that time were very religious...
To find more about me, click here.