Wildland Firefighter



Rest ~ Refuge ~ Renewal

Community of Practice

Wildland Firefighters

The first annual retreat was moved online due to the Omicron wave. There is a strong foundation and commitment from Tassajara to offer this resource in the future. Please return here for ongoing support through 2022, and for information about the Second Annual Tassajara Retreat for Wildland Firefighters.

"If you have these two things -

the willingness to change,

and the acceptance of everything as it comes,

you will have all you need to work with."

~Charlotte Selver

Your Facilitators

Lee Klinger Lesser

I lived at Tassajara as a Zen Student from 1980 - 1983. I have been leading workshops in the mindfulness practice of Sensory Awareness since 1976. My teacher of Sensory Awareness, Charlotte Selver, introduced me to Zen Center. She was good friends with Suzuki Roshi, the founder of Zen Center. For over 40 years, I have experienced how these practices enhance and enrich each other. I deeply trust in all of the life experience that is bringing us together for this groundbreaking work with you and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Chris Fortin

Hi everyone,

I live in the Russian River watershed, in the redwoods of Sonoma County CA. We have a big garden and orchard, it’s paradise - and we’re in fire country. We've been evacuated twice, the Walbridge fire was just up the road last year. My sister lost her Santa Rosa home, actually the whole neighborhood burned to the ground, in the Kincaid Fire of 2019. So, what you do is up close and personal and I’m deeply grateful for each of you and the work that you do. I have been practicing zen since 1976 and am a zen priest and dharma teacher transmitted by Zoketsu Norman Fischer in the Everyday Zen/Suzuki Roshi linage. I lead zen sanghas , retreats and workshops . I worked for many years as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma and as a spiritual counselor integrating psychotherapy and spirituality .

Vanessa Meade

My name is Vanessa Meade, and I live in Anchorage, Alaska. I've been facilitating mindfulness-based retreats, classes, and practices for ten years with veterans, at the University of Alaska Anchorage and in communities here in Alaska. I am a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist, and assistant professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. My own journey to meditation and mindfulness practices came through my experiences as a U.S. Army paratrooper and combat veteran, and Alaska State Trooper. It's been one of the greatest gifts of my life to reconnect with life and living through mindfulness and meditation practices. I am grateful to be a part of this community of support with you.

Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin, and I'm a therapist and a Zen practitioner and teacher with the Zen Community of Oregon. I live in Portland, Oregon with my husband Patrick, and our Golden Retriever Louis. Most of my social work career has been in high-volume-and-intensity community mental health, and I learned about practicing and teaching mindfulness in this setting as well as teaching MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). I've done crisis mental health work and in the past several years have been working with healthcare providers struggling with burnout. I am also noticing a sense of wonder and excitement for this process. I have much to learn about your world, and am so grateful for the opportunity. Thank you.

Your Team Leads

Robert Thomas

My name is Rob Thomas. I worked on several wildland handcrews near Lake Tahoe and with the State of Alaska just outside of Anchorage. I took a season off for a farm apprenticeship with the San Francisco Zen Center in Marin, and I immediately discovered many parallels between wildland fire and Zen practice. After the birth of my son, I assisted Tassajara with their wildland fire preparation for the last 2 years, living and working in the community. I am grateful to be involved with this community of wildland firefighters.

Kimberly Lightley

We all enter this place with a spectrum of wildland fire experiences, ranging from remarkable to tragic. Our minds, hearts and souls carry our experiences in different ways, some with grief, some with anger, some with gladness, and others with fear. On a work-related note, I’m employed with the U.S. Forest Service in Fire and Aviation as a Risk Management Program Specialist. I’ll be joining online from the Deschutes National Forest, Bend, Oregon. I have focused on stress management for a couple of decades now, having taken courses in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Critical Incident Stress Management, and additional mind-fit intensive courses with a focus on mindfulness and trauma impacts. It is a true privilege to be a part of this community of practice.

Kogen Keith

Kōgen Keith has been a resident at SFZC since 2012 where he started out as farm apprentice. He now serves as safety officer. He became a student of fire in 2010 with NPS at Big Thicket, and would later deepen his experience working Tassajara fires and BLM AD handcrews. In the off season he works on fuel reduction and prescribe burns with Fire Forward and the Good Fire Alliance.

He was ordained as a Zen priest and serves in the National Guard as a chaplain. He is finishing his masters of Buddhist studies and chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. He lives at Green Gulch Farm with his wife and daughter, and for fun he rock climbs and plays guitar.

Asad Rahman

Asad has spent nearly 30 years involved in wildland fire management. His passion is education, facilitative learning and fire-line leadership instruction. Shortly after high school, he embarked upon his first overseas adventure, fell in love with international travel and has become a student of global knowledge and values. Through the years he has balanced his two great loves through seasonal changes: wildland fire management during dry season in the States, and International travel in the winter months. In 2004, Asad returned home from a life-changing trip to Southeast Asia and with great energy and passion shared his travel stories and photographs with friends and co-workers. In 2005 he co-founded Project Enlighten to promote education opportunities for underprivileged youth across the globe. Asad is Project Enlighten’s International Project Manager, attending to the many complexities of the organization and its programs worldwide. Now in retirement you will find him on the road touring with numerous International bands and at festivals across the globe