Claudia Echeverria is a teacher and facilitator based in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney. Her work involves various disciplines, groups, partnerships and businesses; heart, hands and nature are the common themes.
Claudia is the founder and designer of, and environmental educator at, Wild Wovenforms Eco-design Studio; and the founder and director of, and teacher at, Kundalini Yoga Radiance – yoga, sacred art and sound therapy. Recently she’s been establishing her office based on concepts such as natural architecture, integrated environmental design and regenerative landscapes.
Locally Claudia has: been joint coordinator of Permaculture Blue Mountains; volunteered in coastal bushcare, growing food at the Katoomba Organic Community Garden; and organised several monthly sustainability talks, mainly focused on growing food, natural building and eco-literacy. Recently she began ‘Talking country’, a cultural awareness series in collaboration with her teacher Uncle Des Dyer elder from the Darug nation, inviting people to walk the land on Aboriginal sites, and helping them understand about local culture and bush tucker, Dreamtime stories and the ways of traditional custodians.
Who are you?
I’m an environmental and social activist, mother of two, artist, professional and teacher. I’ve been trained in architecture, water sensitive urban design, river restoration, permaculture, fibre art, yoga, sound therapy and other related disciplines. It is my honour and privilege to travel, lead and facilitate learning through diverse disciplines; working with people of all ages, backgrounds and genders.
Everything you do seems to be connected, and involves nurture and nature – what inspired the way you live?
I’ve lived in Chile, the USA and Australia: from the sacred Andes Mountains to the east coast of Florida and to the Blue Mountains of Australia; from the coast to the bush. The land and its wonders have offered me many life lessons and the chance to reclaim my connection back to the earth and what’s truly real. I’m deeply inspired by reconciliation and bridging the gap between ancient native ways, sustained in harmony with the environment and our contemporary needs. I believe the answers to pressing environmental, social, economic and political problems can be found by going back to simple local solutions. This involves: living a slower life; reclaiming quality time for ourselves; re-establishing intimate and genuine connections, and sharing with family and community; and preserving earth’s biodiversity, and the soil and water that sustain us.
What are the most important things to you?
I’m driven by a passion for what sustains and regenerates life on earth – physically, ecologically and spiritually: healthy environments and healthy people sustain each other symbiotically.
What were you like as a child?
I grew up in Vi.a del Mar, a coastal city in Chile, with the beach, gardens, parks and nature as my playgrounds. I was curious and fascinated by life, creative and extroverted, never bored. I wandered around looking for adventure, discovering the world, full of questions and talking to everyone. I would spend hours playing with dirt, paying attention to what was around me, tasting flowers, saving seeds, climbing trees and eating fruit, and dreaming of building my own tree house. Later on I realised the deep scars of my country; a cruel social and political reality. We lived under a military dictatorship, and witnessed terrifying social injustice and unrest, bombings and the disappearance of family friends. Capitalism was installed by military force, and the gap between rich and poor increased exponentially. I started asking questions: why were people abandoned on the streets? why would people reject each other by the colour of skin, political views or social class? why was violence considered normal? why was food thrown away if so many people had nothing to eat? I suffered deeply because of this.
Who inspires you?
Rudolf Steiner was a pioneer and strong visionary, and I find his understanding of the natural world, the human mind and spirit fascinating.
You are an architect and a Kundalini yoga teacher – how are these connected, and how does permaculture fit?
I define myself not by what I do but as a creative force driven mostly by intuition. Architecture and yoga are ancient disciplines, which share core ethical principles. Our basic human needs for shelter, food, relationships and wellbeing have shaped our settlements and daily rituals for thousands of years. Architecture, yoga and permaculture each stem from caring for people and the environment.
What’s in the future for you?
I want to assist people to become leaders and teachers for a sustainable tomorrow. I have a vision to bring what I do into one location, to found an off-grid holistic eco-centre in a natural setting, with residential programs to train people to live a physically, spiritually and environmentally sustainable way of life, so they can lead others to do the same; a mixture of temple, yoga retreat centre, and a working eco-settlement with an eco-tourism focus.