Finding a Peaceful Path

How can we live together peacefully and sustainably on planet Earth? This question has occupied me most of my life, and it has taken me on an exciting journey through world, nature, and self.

It has taken me from my native Germany to Los Angeles, where I worked as a television journalist and studied Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

It has taken me on a year-long voyage that started in Istanbul and, after winding through India and China, ended in the American Midwest, where I became an organic farmer and permaculture designer.

It has taken me to Kansas City, where I co-founded Cultivate Kansas City and spent eight years working with farmers, urban planners, policy makers, and diverse urban communities to promote growing food in cities.

It has taken me to the South of France, where I lived for two years in Plum Village, the monastery of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. There I helped guide the establishment of Happy Farm, where mindfulness and Earth stewardship are cultivated alongside organic vegetables. And most recently, it has taken me back to Germany and the Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin under a heading of “healing and seeing anew.”

I have worked with refugees in Berlin and in Kansas City. I have taught sustainable urban design at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), discovered the healing power of mediation in a restorative justice program, and volunteered in a prison rehabilitation program, walking with inmates the often difficult journey toward self-acceptance and self-love.

When I discovered mindfulness practice and meditation, a spiritual path opened up and I began looking inward at the role my mind plays in shaping my experience. In meditation I observed the endless train of thoughts passing through my mind and practiced letting go of them, not identifying with them so much. I gradually experienced a new freedom and peace and my life started to change in fundamental ways.

In Plum Village Monastery, I witnessed first-hand the many benefits of cultivating mindfulness, compassion, open-hearted communication and simple community living. The wish to further develop and share these practices with others was born.

I hold out hope that we will eventually adopt ways to live peacefully and sustainably on this planet. Amid news of ecological breakdown, climate change, political turmoil, refugee crises, war, pandemics and economic insecurity, I am encouraged that simple practices such as mindfulness, meditation and organic farming can change the way we speak and listen to one another and to Mother Earth. With practices like these we can learn to be happier and kinder; we can gradually transform the pain within us; and we may stop chasing that which we don’t need, leaving more for those in need.


Education & Training
M.A. Urban Planning
University of California. Los Angeles, USA. 1998.
B.A. Broadcast Journalism
California State University. Los Angeles, USA. 1991.
Mindfulness & Meditation Retreats
Plum Village. Thenac, France. Two 12-month residential retreats. 2013 & 2015.
European Institute of Applied Buddhism. Waldbröl, Germany. 2010.
YMCA of the Rockies. Estes Park, Colorado, USA. 2009 & 2011.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
University of Missouri. Kansas City, USA. 2014.
Certified Mediator Training (Federal Association Mediation e.V.)
A 12-month training program by Lisa Hinrichsen and Dr. Jana Schildt. Berlin, Germany. 2021. Obtained certification under Germany’s Mediation Law (Mediationsgesetz).
Certificate in Mediation (USA)
Center for Conflict Resolution. Kansas City, MO, USA. 2014.
Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC)
Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI). Basalt, Colorado, USA. 2008.
Together-Green Conservation Leadership Fellow
National Audubon Society / Toyota. Washington, D.C., USA. 2010.
Embodied Leadership Training: Communicating under Conflict
Braveheart Institute. Berlin, Germany. 2016.
Embodied Leadership Training: Embodied Awareness
Braveheart Institute. Berlin, Germany. 2016.
U.LAB: Transforming Business, Society and Self
Online course via MITx / EdX. 2015.
Trauma-Informed Care Workshop
Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health. Kansas City. 2014.
Workshop & Retreat Facilitation
Introduction to Nonviolent Communication, Part 1 & 2. Gutsgarten Hellersdorf. Berlin, Germany.
Garden Meditation for All. A workshop in meditation and gardening. Parkplatzgarten am Gropius Bau. Berlin, Germany.
Through the Garden in Mindfulness. A workshop in meditation and gardening. Urania. Berlin, Germany.
Vegetable Production, Self-efficacy and Mindfulness in the Garden. A one-day workshop for staff members of a Berlin child care center. Gutsgarten Hellersdorf. Berlin, Germany.
Reflections on Deep Sustainability: A Mindfulness Retreat in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn. A four-day residential farm retreat at Lebensgut Retreat Center. Pommritz, Germany.
Sustainability, Mindfulness and Community Life: An EIAB Happy Farm Retreat. A four-day residential retreat at the European Institute for Applied Buddhism. Waldbröl, Germany.
Organic Farming Techniques for Mindfulness Practitioners. A series of weekly workshops / presentations designed for interns at monastic farm. Plum Village Monastery. Thénac, France.
Sustainability, Mindfulness and Community Living: A Plum Village Happy Farm Retreat. A weeklong residential retreat at Plum Village Buddhist Monastery. Thénac, France.
Introduction to Nonviolent Communication. Reaching Out from Within Project at Lansing Medium Security Prison. Lansing, KS.
Introduction to Meditation and Mindfulness. Reaching Out From Within Project at Lansing Medium Security Prison. Lansing, KS.
Designing Edible Forest Gardens. Two-day intensive design workshop offered by Kaw Permaculture Collaborative. Lawrence, KS.
Professional Positions Held

Independent Workshop and Retreat Facilitator, Mediator. Berlin, Germany.

Facilitator of Inclusive Workshops and Book Projects @ TUML / Himmelbeet Urban Garden. Berlin, Germany.

Community Gardener, Project Manager @ Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv. Berlin, Germany.

Coach, Facilitator, Organic Farmer @ Plum Village Mindfulness Center and Monastery. Thénac, France

Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design @ University of Missouri. Kansas City, USA.

Co-founder, Associate Director @  Cultivate Kansas City. Kansas City, USA.

Co-founder, Organic Farmer @ Trailside Farm. Calhoun, MO, USA.

Producer, Researcher  @ German Television Films. Los Angeles, USA.

News Desk Researcher, Field Producer @ KCBS-TV. Los Angeles, USA.

Community Planning Assistant @ Shelter Partnership. Los Angeles, USA.

Independent Voice-Over and Dubbing Actor. Los Angeles, USA.

Curriculum Vitae

A complete curriculum vitae is available upon request.


The Urban Mindfulness Lab: A Look at Mindfulness in an Urbanizing World

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Urban Mindfulness Lab (UML) explores the potential of bringing mindfulness practice to the development of sustainable urban community. UML seeks to promote the transition from an ego-centric to an eco-centric city.

UML is presently taking the form of an occasional blog, chronicling experiences, reflections, photos, projects, events and meditations on the subject of mindful urban living. Many of these will be inspired by day-to-day experiences right here in Berlin.

UML was created in 2018 by Daniel Dermitzel.