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Philosophy Walk: “From Ecology to Excellence”

July 10, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT

Walk Details

Ecology can be defined as a study the natural world that’s based on whole systems in a dynamic balance, where flows of energy and resources are shaped and directed by inner and outer limits.

What happens when we bring this same ecological mindset to our own lives, relationships, and human communities?  What can we learn, by thinking about our human worlds—as individuals, families, workplaces, other communities—as whole systems in dynamic balance, that depend on flows of energy and resources, shaped and guided by various limits?  How can we think ecologically about our own lives?  How does thinking in this way help us, as individuals, to flourish and thrive?

This is not about conservation, environmentalism, or land stewardship.  Those are worthy topics, just not our topic here.  What this is about, is exploring how the ways that ecologists study and learn about wild nature, can also be used to study and learn about ourselves, as human beings in human communities.  It’s about applying what we might call an “ecological method” to human life, to human problems and challenges. 

Instead of some list of “do this, don’t do that,” we’ll develop some basic tools of observation and analysis, that we can use to make our own decisions about how to move effectively through life.  Whatever our other values and commitments might be, these tools can suggest ways of thinking and acting, such that we and the people around us in our community can live well and thrive.

In our conversation, we’ll look at four ecological principles: whole systems, dynamic balance, resource flows, and limits.  And we’ll explore together in dialogue, how we can apply them in our own lives.  Here are some of the questions those principles might raise for us:

  • In what ways is my own life a whole system? What larger systems is my life embedded in?
  • Where are the points of balance in my life, and in those larger systems? What actions can help me to maintain, restore, or adjust those balances in ways that are helpful to me, and to everyone involved?
  • How are different resources (time, money, energy, attention, knowledge, relationships) flowing through my life? How might thinking about these resources in terms of moving currents or flows change the way I use them?
  • How can I work with—not against—the limits I face, in order to manage and apply my resources in the most effective ways? How can I make these choices in ways that will support myself and my communities over the long term?

This is philosophy—the life of wisdom—in a raw, applied, down-to-earth form: Take a method of knowledge and exploration, use it to describe the key elements in the wider world (or in our own inner, private worlds), and then use that clear understanding to respond in the most effective ways, through our choices and actions.

When & Where

This walk led by philosopher David Nowakowski will take place on Saturday, July 11th 2021. No prior background in philosophy is required to participate.

Walk Details

Date: Saturday, July 10th
Time: 9am – 12pm MDT
Trail Location: Prairie Trail & 1906 Loop (We’ll meet at the Mt. Helena Trailhead kiosk)


Registration Info

RSVP: Scroll Down/RSVP Below
Cost: Free (Donations Welcome)
Other:  Bring comfortable walking shoes, water & a snack

Walk Guide

David Nowakowski is as a philosopher and educator in the Helena area whose professional work is dedicated to helping people of all ages and backgrounds access, understand, and apply the traditions of ancient philosophy to their own lives.  David began studying ancient philosophies and classical languages in 2001, and has continued ever since.  A scholar of the philosophical traditions of the ancient Mediterranean (Greece, Rome, and North Africa) and of the Indian subcontinent, reading Sanskrit, Latin, and classical Greek, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 2014.  His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including Philosophy East & WestAsian Philosophy, and the Journal of Indian Philosophy; as well as in presentations to academic audiences at Harvard, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and elsewhere.  After half a decade teaching at liberal arts colleges in the northeast, David chose to leave the academy in order to focus his energies on the transformative value of these ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions in his own life and practice, and on building new systems of education and community learning that will make this rich heritage alive and available to others.


You will receive a confirmation of your RSVP shortly after you register via e-mail.  As the walk date approaches, we will contact you with any additional relevant information.  If you do NOT receive an e-mail shortly after registering, please contact [email protected].

For those who have not been on our walks before, you can get a feel for our walks and what they’re all about by visiting our walk archive page.  In the meantime, here is a logistical snapshot.

Here is  a general overview of what you can expect on our Philosophy Walks:

  • Free to the Public (donations welcome/appreciated)
  • 3 hour walks (opportunities for rest along the way)
  • Casual, positive & supportive experience
  • 1-2 philosophy guides
  • Small group sizes (generally 7-15 people; may be larger for special occasion walks)
  • Ample opportunity to enjoy nature

To get the most out of your experience with us and enjoy a healthy & safe walk, please bring with you on the day of the walk/hike:

  • Water & Snack
  • Weather appropriate attire & sun protection
  • A walking stick/Trekking poles
  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy walks are FREE.  That said, for those who still have the steady income to do so in these trying times, we could really use your financial support right now.  Donations help to cover walk guide honorariums, implementation, resource archiving, and more!  You can make a donation by clicking here or on the button above.  For those facing more challenging financial circumstances, we ask that you please try to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness for your neighbors and community. 


July 10, 2021
9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT
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Mount Helena Trailhead
Helena, MT 59601 United States + Google Map
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Marisa Diaz-Waian
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