Trish Patricia Mikkelson: Co-Founder and Coordinator
My personal mission is to joyfully take actions which will help create a world where all of life thrives. Working to create this ecovillage is the way I want to manifest my mission.
As the coordinator, co-founder, and the one of two members of the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage, 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.
I have been in a process of defining my vision, values, and beliefs since October 2016 when Vegan Utopia Ecovillage (previously known as Jesus Vegans Ecovillage) was born and financial support from a friend was offered. Cliff has recently (January 2019) joined me as co-founder and member.
I changed the name from "Jesus Vegans Ecovillage" to "Vegan Utopia Ecovillage" when I realized that I wanted the community to be open to people of all spiritual paths. I have now joined the Unitarian Church and although I call myself a Christian, most of my closest friends are not Christian! They include Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and disciple of Yogananda. Learn more here.
Cliff Mikkelson: Co-Founder
I am excited about being the co-founder of this wonderful project along with Patricia.
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 disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda for the past 50 years. Yet at the same time, 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.
Scott “Sky” Masters, Mission Circle Member
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 Vegan Utopia 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.
Rob McNeil, Mission Circle Member
I went vegan 2+ years ago after visiting a farm sanctuary and making the connection that ‘we are who we eat’, and spending a summer with an already vegan daughter. A Financial Controller by trade, I plan to apply 3 decades of business experience to help forge the VUE into a strong, stable institution.
A New Zealander by birth, I have lived in Canada for 30 years now. I am an organizer or supporter of several animal rights organizations, including Save, Anonymous For the Voiceless and DxE.
I am intimately involved with a group working on reframing the AR movement to a clearer abolitionist stance, as well as helping lead the fight against a new massive slaughterhouse in his hometown in Canada.
I lead a tour of midwestern USA mega slaughterhouse towns in 2018 and I look forward to touring more in the future.
My other interests include astronomy, anti-capitalism, NVC, guitar and travel.
I am committed to social justice initiatives in general, and activism for animals in particular. These agendas are best advanced by being in community with like-minded people. I think it's very important for ventures like VUE to succeed. In particular, VUE has the potential to blend Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and Healthy Community practices in a new way and rewrite the book on vegan intentional communities. I am excited to help in any way possible.
Previous Onsite Staff
A generous donor paid the wages of all of our employees for a limited time. Everyone who helped us did a great job!
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. He is still available for consulting on our projects.
Chris Mikkelson: Communication & Technology Consultant
"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
"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
"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 including making tent platforms and completing the outside of the common house with Robert's supervision. His skills were so welcome!