Our People

Welcome to our growing and evolving Starter Culture family. We are a small collective based in and hailing from England, Cymru (Wales), Scotland, Germany and the US. Our core team currently consists of three members. Together we are learning to cultivate earth-centric inner-led ways of working together as a collective organism, in relationship with myriad collaborators and allies.
Read more about our origins here.

Core Starter Culture Team:

Claire Milne

Claire (she/her) is one of Starter Culture's co-founders. She has a long history in activism, global social justice campaigning and helping re-localise our food systems. She is an intrepid traveller amidst the treasure trove of her own inner/relational world - and guides programs supporting others to harvest the rich pickings on offer when we re-member how to surrender to an embodied power so much greater than the individual human self.

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As a wild ally to all that is marginalised, Claire intuitively works at both depth and scale in reciprocal relationship with the wild others, spirit and soul. She draws on a wide variety of lineages, teachings and approaches to composting power-over culture, inner-led change and soulcrafting including; embodied awakening and shadow work with the Movement of Being, underworld and soul initiation guiding with Bill Plotkin and Animas Valley Institute; Process-oriented psycho-therapy with Process Work UK and The Work that Reconnects at Ecodharma.

Claire previously worked as the Inner Transition Coordinator for Transition Network - coordinating the integration of an inner dimension into the international Transition Towns Movement.

Prior to that she lived and worked at Ecodharma, a buddhist community and education centre in the Cataunyan Pyrenees where she facilitated retreat-based programs for activists experiencing burnout and buddhists wanting to engage more in activism.

In the more distant past Claire spent ten years pioneering the creation of local food systems across Bristol, including as both Food Sustainability Coordinator for Bristol City Council and Coordinator of the infamous No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign.

Claire also worked as a global social justice campaigner for Global Justice Now! and War on Want and as the Food Poverty Program Coordinator for Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

Claire has a Masters in Social Anthropology from University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies and a degree in Psychology. Read more about Claire and her relationship with inner-led change here.

Sara McFarland

Sara (she/they) is a Soul Initiation and Wild Mind Guide and mentor for Animas Valley Institute, a SoulStoryteller, a ritual singer and a ceremonialist who, amomg other things, creates the podcast and the storytelling events for Starter Culture. Sara is a Death Doula for the Great Dying, asking the question- what is Earth up to and how can I and we support the transformation afoot?

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As a mentor, Sara welcomes all humans who long to awaken to their ecological belonging and compost their inner participation in Modernity with honesty and curiosity and loving fierceness in deep reverence of Earth’s dreaming. She is a queer both/and creature who is not afraid to accompany you on visits to your inner depths, your domesticated areas and inner wild forests. Along the way, you will be supported to heal the trauma of civilization and developmental trauma through Sacred Wound Alchemy and practices remembering your belonging to Earth Community. You will discover how you particularly love the world in order to fully participate in Earth’s cycles of Life, Death and Rebirth in these times of collapse and renewal.  

Sara was born and raised in north eastern USA on the unceded lands of the Siwanoy and Mohegan people, she is of celtic and slavic descent and currently lives in Germany.

Ava Osbiston

Ava is the newest member of our core team, starting with us in May 2023. She is an Integral Development Coach, maker, events coordinator and a dedicated community connections weaver. She is passionate about creativity as a way of processing and coping with the complexities of modernity. She is a core member of the Dark Mountain Project team- helping to make their biannual books and run all their online events.

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In her Coaching Practice Ava holds a space for her clients for exploration and integration of all the different parts of themselves. She is dedicated to her own inner work and has spent many years delving deep into parts work with Internal Family Systems, and is deeply informed by Non Violent communication.

As an artist and maker Ava is primarily focused on creating textiles based pieces and following her own creative inner compass to explore new techniques, and to create beautiful commissions.

Her work with Starter Culture is primarily focussed on strengthening our connections with our collaborators and creating our outward communications.

Ava is on-goingly involved in the production of the Issues of Dark Mountain every 6 months,- a creative anthology journal documenting creative and authentic responses to the collapses of our times. She manages the submissions process and supports the editorial team as well as doing some production and art editing.


Bell Selkie Lovelock

Bell has been rooting into Cymru for 26 years, rewilding alongside 40 acres of ex-chemical dairy land in a multi-species cooperation called Daear Ydym ni ! We are Earth ! She writes a regular Blog for Starter Culture called 'A Wander in Hinterland- From Inside in to Inside Out'.

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Her rooted knowing that humans are Earth is why all she does orbits the self healing and wholing of modern humans and reconnection to our kinship with non-humans..

She resecrates (restores to sacredness those who have been desecrated) land, people, rivers, trees, practices of living, language and has been weaving together inner and outer worlds for 25 years, with much practical experience of creating strong physical, emotional and cultural " baskets" in which folks can unravel in order to tend to the wounding that is within us and around us.

Her work with individuals and groups, Bewilder, is inspired by Bill Plotkin and Animas Valley Institute for whom she's a Wild Mind Guide. She leans into 20+ years experience as a BACP accredited counsellor with a stamina for emotional intimacy that home educating six children over 22 years consolidates. 

She has co-founded a housing co-operative and organic farm co-operatives and worked as mediator/facilitator for Radical Routes. 

She co-founded Regenerative Cultures in Extinction Rebellion to develop and track  the "how to do things well" in an organisation focused on action and the  "what we do" of things. 

She also casts word-spells as a poet/writer and has an MA in Creative Writing.

David Crook

David supports us around our funder-facing work seeking to help make significantly more funding available for inner-led change.

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He has worked for over 25 years on partnerships and resource mobilization with non-profits and foundations. He has practiced Buddhist meditation and ethical training since 2005, and his main area of interest now is working to facilitate greater awareness and participation in initiatives that promote inner work (for example contemplative and embodied practices) within social and environmental change movements.

With Starter Culture David is focusing especially on exploring how inner led perspectives are showing up within the work of funders and their grantees, and on encouraging more awareness and support from funders for inner work’s flourishing. Having personally experienced the impacts of inner work, David became convinced of the need to encourage a bringing together of inner and outer change efforts, so that we and our institutions and cultures can renew and embrace a more whole, and whole-hearted world view.

Alongside his work with Starter Culture, David has also been assisting a number of other initiatives that are advancing inner led change agendas, including efforts to address stress, burnout and toxic working cultures within international humanitarian organisations. 

David is originally from the North West of England but settled with his wife and three children in Lewes, East Sussex, where he delights in the area’s unique blend of traditional and modern cultures and the majestic South Downs. 

From 2009 to 2020 he led the partnerships functions and institutional fundraising efforts of sister organisations Stars Foundation and Philanthropy University, both of which aimed to support the leadership of locally led development and rights organisations across Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Since 2020 he has been enjoying his first stint as an independent consultant with a main ongoing commitment to Empower, The Emerging Markets Foundation and their efforts to elevate the leadership of adolescent girls and youth. 

Alnoor Ladha

Alnoor is an activist, journalist, political strategist and community organiser. He is the co-author of Post Capitalist Philanthropy: Healing Wealth in the Time of Collapse, co-convenes Transition Resource Circle and is the Council Chair for Culture Hack Labs. Alnoor is a strong ally within our work with funders and philanthropists and the Decolonising at Depth thread of our approach to change.

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From 2012 to 2019 he was the co-founder and executive director of the global activist collective The Rules. He holds an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics.

Ruth Gordon

Ruth is a grief tender, musician, song-catcher, nature-lover and community being who will be co-facilitating our grief circles.

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She was born in England and followed her dream of community-building to Portugal, where she lived in the Tamera community for 6 years, working as part of their online and onsite education team. She completed the "Apprenticing to Grief" journey with Sophy Banks of grieftending.org in early 2023 and is currently on her own journey of learning how to facilitate grief spaces for others after many years of working with her own grief at depth. She has also actively studied racial justice with a group in Tamera since 2019, working with bodies of work from Layla Saad, Resmaa Menakem, Robin DiAngelo, Miki Kashtan, and Vanessa Machado de Oliveira. She has a particular interest in understanding how the active dismantling of white supremacist structures can contribute to creating healthy functioning communities.

Israh Goodall

Israh is a midwife, expedition leader, somatic coach, mentor, rites of passage facilitator & mother of two sons - a life’s work exploring life’s transitions and the thresholds we cross along the way. Israh coordinated our Rites of Passage with young people Cups of Tea process with rites of passage guides from across eight countries - and is passionate about co-creating community-based rites of passage processes.

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Inspired by a childhood living in different cultures and communities around the world, her journey has taken her to live and work as a midwife with remote tribes in the Afar region of Ethiopia, Pakistan, Zanzibar’s bush hospitals, and the NHS in the UK; she has led youth rites of passage expeditions in remote parts of the world; assisted with the School of Lost Borders in the USA; and runs rites of passage programmes in the UK. 

Israh is co-founder of Transitions and Thresholds, an international series of gatherings for Rites of Passage guides; and has undertaken several research projects considering the role of rites of passage in modern times.

Israh brings somatic coaching, nature connection and rites of passage to her work, tapping into the power of the natural world to guide and hold us in times of change. Held by a strong sense of gratitude and reciprocity in the unseen she brings this sense of reverence into her personal and professional life.

Israh has also been establishing a small regenerative farm on Dartmoor, UK, which is home to her family as well as a new venue for nature-based retreats.

Elizabeth Mpysi

Elizabeth coordinated our Radical Leadership amongst People of Colour Cups of Tea process. She is a bilingual Barrister (non-practising) who previously served with the United Nations for over 25 years as a Human Rights Advocate protecting refugee rights in such diverse places as former Yugoslavia, Mozambique, West Africa, and in Geneva Switzerland as the Senior Ethics Officer. 

Read about Elizabeth

In Summer 2016, she attended the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation to study secular Mindfulness and has not looked back since. She embraced Buddhism in 2020 and became a “Mitra”, a friend of the Triratna Order, where she is fully engaged with People of Colour Groups, Women Champions, Mindfulness Addiction Recovery, Reading Circle as well as RDI project at North London Buddhist Center to improve access and inclusion for “hard to reach” communities.

Mum of two grown daughters, Elizabeth still finds time to sit on a number of Boards as Trustee - the Desmond Tutu Foundation UK. 

She carried out a Starter Project research project on 'inner growth', among a number of Black leaders and this has flourished into a self-reliant Community of Practice, wherein Radical Leadership is manifest through a serious linking up of Black, Brow, Asian Women sharing their experience and supporting each other in building up businesses, charities along the principles of UBUNTU (I am because you are).

Si Griffiths

Si coordinated the Cymru Cups of Tea process with Lucy and Julia. He is a poet, chef, coordinator and workshop facilitator living in Machynlleth.

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Raised in Walsall, and from a working class background, his poems, essays and short stories have appeared in Spelt, Lumpen, Sarai Reader, Unthology, Permaculture Magazine, Flesh: Bodies and Technology, Clean Slate and Sparks. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa and has worked within a variety of editorial collectives and publishing projects.

He is currently completing a pamphlet Debone and Fold, which focuses on the catering industry, exploring our relationships with what we eat and those who produce and serve it. Twitter: @ontheoutbreath

He has a proven track record of writing successful funding applications, combined with experience of project management and delivery. He has experience delivering and organising events and workshops.

Julia Forster

Julia coordinated the Cymru Cups of Tea process with Si and Lucy. She runs Write Within from Machynlleth, a coaching service specialising in working with authors, poets and creative individuals.

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Elsewhere, she is Co-Director of The Literary Consultancy’s Being A Writer which assists writers in persisting with their works-in-progress. In addition, she works in Public Relations for poets and authors, helping them to reach the readership their books deserve. In 2023, Julia is launching a writers’ cabin as a creative sanctuary for authors of all disciplines to work on their inner-led creativity. She completed a Diploma in Spiritual Development in 2021 with Dr Brenda Davies and works as a volunteer with Eginiad Cymru, assisting the core crew.  

She is passionate about working with individuals to bring their creative work to larger audiences and readerships and working with them to sustain their creative ambitions because she has experienced first-hand the depths of uncertainty and leaps of speculation necessary to finish a full-length enquiry, and believes deeply that creatives should be afforded holistic support throughout the course of their emergent work. 

She is the author of a coming-of-age novel, What a Way to Go (Atlantic Books), a non-fiction book on muses which looks at inspiration through the lens of quantum science and she is currently finishing her poetry collection.  



Lucy Morus-Baird

Lucy coordinated the Cymru Cups of Tea process with Si and Julia. She is a qualified therapist practising Compassionate Inquiry and Kinesiology in Mid Wales where she lives with her family.

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She has been facilitating and teaching for almost 20 years. She graduated as a Minister from the Center for Sacred Studies in California in 2011, where she works as a mentor. She holds regular Cacao ceremonies and dance sessions that align with the Celtic calendar.  She has practised and studied many traditions of healing and martial arts before becoming a therapist. She is now continuing her studies with Gabor Maté’s approach to health in the mentorship program and working as an intern. 

She has also been a student and passionate advocate of divination tools for almost 20 years and teaches about Tarot and intuition. She is an advanced Welsh learner, living within a Welsh speaking family.

Anthea Lawson

Anthea is a writer and editor and worked with Starter Culture on our report ’Supporting a hidden movement: Why fund inner-led change?’ 

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She is also an activist who is interested in the connections between our inner worlds and the outer worlds of politics and culture, and whose work seeks to break down the polarising barriers between them.

Her book The Entangled Activist: Learning to recognise the master’s tools (Perspectiva Press, 2021), about why activists can end up recreating the problems they are seeking to change, was a Times Literary Supplement book of the year.

She trained as a journalist at The Times before working for human rights and environmental campaign groups investigating the arms trade and how banks and tax havens fuel corruption, conflict and environmental abuse. At Global Witness, she launched a campaign that changed the rules on secret company ownership and resulted in new laws in dozens of countries.

Anthea does freelance writing, strategy and communication work for change-making organisations, bringing an ability to speak the language of both ‘outer’ and ‘inner’. She is an editor at Dark Mountain, and is working on a new book about the psychology of activism.


Co-Founders of Starter Culture

Claire Milne

See Claire's Bio at the top of the page in the Core Team Section

Eva Schonveld

Eva is a Co-Founder for Starter Culture.

She was working with Claire and Jo for two years to build the early stages of Starter Culture (in connection with many others, and her husband Justin).

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Working fairly intuitively, she was drawn towards politics - our collective decision making system - with the firm belief that it must be possible to co-develop and re-learn better ways to do this together, ways that bring out the best of our human nature and enable us to live meaningful, abundant lives, while regenerating the natural systems we all rely on for our survival. 

The fruits of this were the article Politics, Trauma and Empathy and the project Grassroots to Global, which aims to find ways to put the ideas in the article into practice.

Eventually a choice needed to be made, as her time in both projects was becoming stretched and she left Starter Culture, which remains a much valued sister project to G2G.

This work is developing in exciting directions: in assembly processes in Scotland, where we’re exploring how to bring a more self-reflexive, deep listening approach to community contexts; and in a series of international events focusing on relationship building and shared learning; and in a growing pile of writings.

Eva has felt a deep connection with the other creatures we share this planet with her whole life.

Although she's always had a need for emotional and spiritual exploration, for several years she kept her activism for change and those deeper parts fairly separate, but, as happens for many of us, a severe bout of burnout helped her realise that the social problems we face - and their cure - are deeper and more intriguing than imagined.

Eva began to see the extent to which we, and the social and economic systems we have inherited, are conditioned by a mindset of materialism and control/domination, passed across generations and colonisations, often so deeply buried in our assumptions and cultural habits that we can’t see them in action, even when we’re trying to change their results in the world.

Jo Hamilton

Jo is an activist, researcher, facilitator and musician. 

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"I’ve found group work approaches such as The Work That Reconnects a powerful way to connect with my deeper feelings, and a safe space for me to acquaint myself with and transform the feelings of anger, rage and grief that I didn’t know how to work through in other ways. These experiences have inspired me to facilitate processes where the more painful emotions are welcome, not excluded, where they can be explored and moved through". 

Read more about Jo and her relationship with inner-led change here.