Humanitarian Danielle Bogardus actively works on making life better for people in less-developed countries and inspires us, along the way, to connect to our deeper roots, to nature, and to each other.
Danielle Bogardus grew up in and around Seattle, Washington, and now lives just a ferry ride across the bay on Bainbridge Island. She also spends months at time overseas for work – and just returned from a stint in Ethiopia.
On Bainbridge Island, she happily immerses herself in nature and with her dogs and horses. She’s described the island town as a happy medium between the countryside and the city: “I have access to almost anything! I have hiking in all directions, amazing rock climbing gyms, and a community that supports me, but challenges me to be better. To be active.” Sounds like a truly happier place and community!
A recurring theme in Danielle’s work and passion is a connection to nature. Something that resonates strongly with the Happier Place mission of inspiring people to be happier by having fun in nature. A main takeaway from her experiences in the USA, third world countries, and less-developed regions, has been that we’re all human, with our stories, and ups and downs, but also that there has been a loss of connection. Now she is inspiring all of us to find and nurture that sense of connection (again).
In 2014, Danielle started an independent research project that took her to the Las Piedras region of Peru. According to Danielle, “this region was the last stretch of undisturbed Peruvian Amazon. So dense and uncharted, it protected itself until the Interoceanic Highway pushed through, connecting Brazilian ports to Peruvian ports, the Atlantic to the Pacific. Development was inevitable. I dedicated my first trip to understanding my surroundings. I believe that communities around the world struggle to sustain themselves in the face of environmental, infrastructural, and health stresses.”
Based on this research, Danielle launched the non-profit Connect 3.
Danielle Bogardus – what do you do?
I have started a non-profit, Connect 3, and work for an orphanage in Sodo, Ethiopia: Uryadi’s Village. Both ventures have been incredibly formative. It has changed my perspective on the world, and my perspective on my own values and ethics.
I work on sustainable community development in remote communities, from Peru to Ethiopia. I focus in on education, waste, and water systems. The pillars of a resilient community. But really, more of the work has been on communication and inviting in the space to be able to have the conversation with the necessary stakeholders to ensure that people are receiving the resources that they have a right to.
Also, I climb and hike as much as I can. I find clarity in that space. A space to think and ground myself. A lot of my climbs have been for a purpose, like raising money for MS and Breast Cancer. I find that a lot of good can come from bringing attention to these activities, seeing as it is a metaphor for so many in their everyday life to climb a mountain. I hope to find reason beyond myself for my bigger climbs.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do to challenge myself. This is a journey of learning and exploration. And with everything I do in my life, I recognize it as a new experience. There will be some things that I like and some things that I don’t; but both are valuable.
I have been lucky to find what lights me up at an early age and I just hope that I can help others find and kindle their light. But we all need to look closer at where our own roots are; and that starts with our relationship with nature.
General Happier Place category?
Mountains. I find that to be able to find the most mental clarity, I have to push myself physically. I find meditation in the process of a climb. From the planning to the putting one foot in front of another for hours on end, to the feeling of elation at the top, to the recognition that you still have to go down. It makes me work through the ups and downs and continually reminds me that there is beauty in both of those things.
Specific Happier Place locations?
My happiest of places is a beach on Bainbridge Island. This beach was a childhood staple and through the ups and downs, it always was a place of peace and beauty. It has so much to explore!
What do you always bring out into nature with you?
Water. It may sound silly, but water is a staple and it allows me to keep exploring. I always go out prepared, no matter how simple the hike may be. Nature and its power should be respected. Being prepared is the best way to feel like you can let go and enjoy yourself in environments so different from your everyday.
Happier Place tips or hacks?
Always download your maps. You never know if or when cell service may go out – or just not be available where you are. And always have a little treat for yourself. Whether it be a little token to remind you of a loved one or a piece of chocolate, those little things can be invaluable to keeping up your strength and morale.
A dream destination?
There are way too many places that I want to go. And I have found that it is so much more about the situation that invites me into the place, than it is the place itself that makes it special to me.
Words of inspiration?
Find Danielle Bogardus and her humanitarian work online
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Let’s inspire each other!
Have you been to any of the places where Danielle has lived or worked, e.g,, Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Peru, or Ethiopia? Tell us about your time there. Do you have any experience with non-profit organizations? Share your stories of giving or receiving support. Maybe you’ve also participated in climbs, walks or bike rides for charity? Any thoughts on the work Danielle does? Do you have any questions for her? How about that Chinese proverb (which happens to relate strongly to reasons why we launched Happier Place)?
Please leave a comment below – inspired by these questions or whatever you’d like to share or ask…
In closing, a few words from Danielle we found especially inspiring – about her work with children in Africa.
All photos courtesy of Danielle Bogardus.