About Nils

Nils Palsson is a father, author, teacher, community organizer and former candidate for US Congress, based in Northern California. A social permaculturist and holistic systems designer, Nils serves as Communications Coordinator for Transition US, national hub of the global “transition towns” movement to build local resilience. He is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Writing & Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Born in San Francisco in 1985 and raised in the coastal surfing town of Pacifica, Nils moved to Manhattan at the age of 18, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and English, with honors, at New York University in 2006. Having edited and published an underground newspaper after being censored in high school, Nils went on to become an award-winning writer and editor of NYU’s daily Washington Square News. Working at night, Nils also earned a Certificate in Nongovernmental Organizations from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

Following a life-changing 2010 initiation, Nils moved to the mountains in Northern California’s rural Lake County to deepen his spiritual practice and shamanic studies, and to serve as a holistic healer. There, he founded Transition Lake County to vessel the movement toward community resilience and local empowerment. He also served as a community radio host of the weekly Wake Up & Thrive, founder of the annual Hands Around Clear Lake healing ceremony and tribal gathering, and chief visionary architect of the Rainbow Ranch eco-village. After the birth of his daughter in 2012, Nils began to work toward a secondary teaching credential at Dominican University and became a teacher of people’s history at a rural high school. In 2013, Nils paused an emerging teaching career to complete the manuscript of an intensely personal memoir, and to run for office.

A passionate advocate for social, racial, environmental and economic justice, Nils was attended the US Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007, Detroit in 2010, and San Jose in 2015. He was elected to be a Delegate for Bernie Sanders in 2016, while also challenging a nine-term corporate incumbent for United States House of Representatives in CA’s 5th District, earning over 20,000 votes in the primary. Since his 2016 campaign, Nils has been working with Brand New Congress to co-create an epic victory for planet and people in the 2018 Midterm Election.

During the campaign, Nils was displaced from his home by the historic 2015 Valley Fire. He was recognized internationally for his role in supporting his community through the challenges of this natural disaster, and has subsequently written and led workshops on community resilience and emergency preparedness.

With a multi-dimensional story that begs to be told, Nils is weaving his narrative together into an intimate autobiographical exploration. The book, Go Back and Fetch It, will be published serially beginning in 2017.

Nils lives in Sonoma County, CA, with his daughter, Satya Rose.

Background

Nils has lived and worked in the Fifth District since 2010. He grew up in the Bay Area, with family roots throughout Northern California. Nils graduated from NYU in 2006, with degrees in English and History, and has since worked as a grassroots community organizer holistic healer, radio talk show host, and high school history teacher. He currently serves as communications coordinator for Transition US, a national sustainability and community resilience nonprofit based in Sonoma County. His three-year-old daughter was born in Lake County, where he lived until the Valley Fire displaced his family. Working to ensure all our children inherit a healthy planet, a strong economy, and a just society, Nils ran for United States House of Representatives in 2016, coming in third in the primary with over 23,000 votes, or 12.5% of the total vote. He was a delegate for Bernie Sanders, and he is working with Brand New Congress to ensure a people's victory in the 2018 Midterm Election. Nils lives in Sonoma County, and he is a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in Writing & Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. 

 

Artist Statement

For the last decade, I have documented my lived experience in journals, letters, photographs, and a wealth of scraps of paper and other bits of unrefined ore. In this sweeping autobiographical exploration, which stretches from New York to Northern California, Cairo to China to Peru, I distill these bits of ore — these medicinal ingredients — to their essences, and brew them together into an elixir for the modern soul. As I go back and fetch it, piecing together a traumatically fractured narrative and therapeutically integrating a previously fragmented life, I invite the reader in to witness my initiations and rites of passage, from the highest highs and most sacred teachings to the lowest lows, crises, and growth opportunities — as honestly and authentically as I can.

Evoking the oral tradition of the survivor narrative, my story is revealed intimately — as though shared beside a crackling fire. While my work is guided in many ways by values and ideals such as truth and justice, love and integrity, it is through the naked recounting of my story as a very flawed human being learning the lessons that the deepest teachings shine through. My experience losing my father brings the reader face-to-face with the Angel of Death and heralds the beginning of a spiritual journey. My initiations in shamanism, mysticism and nonordinary reality provide a vehicle for the exploration of the bounds of consciousness and the mythological epicness of our everyday lives. My romantic relationship challenges vessel an exploration of the depths of intimacy, sexuality and love. My tale of fatherhood and family, from the miraculous to the mundane, frames an earnest contemplation of the meanings of life itself. Through it all, my ongoing reckoning with the crises of modern capitalism, systemic inequality and climate change — as I find my place in the struggle and eventually run for office — brings the reader into the modern movement to create a more just and peaceful world.

It is for the revolution, for our people and planet, that I am willing to tell it all. My chief concern is justice — social, racial, environmental and economic — for all: disrupting power and privilege, creating a world of peace, communities of thriving resilience and equitable abundance, and a society that treats all lives with respect, dignity and honor. While I’ve strived to realize these ideals in many realms of service — as a community organizer, a holistic healer, a teacher of high school history, and a candidate for U.S. Congress — I found that to truly live this revolution, my task was to process my own experience and openly share my raw and authentic narrative with the world. And so, I Go Back and Fetch It.

By sharing my story, I invite us all to create more meaning in our lives by realizing the narrative value of all our stories, the common archetypal arcs and universal themes running through our everyday experiences. By exposing the hero’s journey in my own quotidian existence, my work implicitly suggests that that each story is worth telling, each journey mythologically significant.

 

Brief Statement

For the last decade, I have documented my lived experience in journals, letters, photographs, and a wealth of scraps of paper and other bits of unrefined ore. In this sweeping autobiographical exploration, which stretches from New York to Northern California, Cairo to China to Peru, I distill these bits of ore — these medicinal ingredients — to their essences, and brew them together into an elixir for the modern soul. As I go back and fetch it, piecing together a traumatically fractured narrative and therapeutically integrating a previously fragmented life, I invite the reader in to witness my initiations and rites of passage, from the highest highs and most sacred teachings to the lowest lows, crises, and growth opportunities — as honestly and authentically as I can.

By sharing my story, I invite us all to create more meaning in our lives by realizing the narrative value of all our stories, the common archetypal arcs and universal themes running through our everyday experiences. By exposing the hero’s journey in my own quotidian existence, my work implicitly suggests that that each story is worth telling, each journey mythologically significant.

 

Work Samples

On the 2016 Election: May this Missed Opportunity Be a Learning Experience for Us All...

Community Resilience IS Emergency Preparedness: Originally Published on TransitionUS.org & Resilience.org

Showdown in Vallejo: How Mike Thompson Lost the Endorsement of the Solano County United Democrats

More Videos and Additional Writings...

 


What it really boils down to is this: that all life is interrelated.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.