In Their Own Words

My work at OAEC:

I love to build things, whether it’s physically with my hands—planting, woodworking or home crafting—or whether it’s mentally designing and understanding databases, systems and processes. Creating something from nothing or simplifying the complex inspires and excites me. That’s why I love what I do at OAEC. As Operations and Finance Director, my work is about running a fiscally sound and operationally smooth organization. With all our various priorities, projects and partnerships, our financial and operation systems are designed for synergy. Our success lies in our understanding that we are interdependent as well as independent, both within our organization and through the work we do in the world.

My background:

I was born in Taiwan. My paternal roots traces back to the Ming Dynasty with the first mass immigration of Mainland Chinese to what was then Formosa. My maternal roots have a more recent color with the mid-20th Century Chinese Civil War and the escape of millions of Kuomintang soldiers and their families to Taiwan, one of them being my grandfather. I continue the story of immigration as my parents brought me to the U.S. when I was a toddler. With very little memory of my life before speaking English, we moved around the U.S., settling in the Midwest and then on the West Coast. I made the move to San Francisco for school but decided ultimately to plant roots in Sonoma County after falling in love with the calm serenity of simple country living.  Having known only asphalt jungles and manmade suburbia, I yearned to stand in the natural gardens of earth, watch the wind dance in the trees and listen to the sounds of nature. Now with two little boys, I see how healing and connective the natural world is for human development. Give them a stick and a pile of dirt, and well, the rest is fun.

What calls to me:

The names of animals.

Jenyng at OAEC

Jenyng and kids

My passions:

My 3-year old can’t wait to tell me a story when I crack his bedroom door open in the mornings, and my 1-year old can’t bounce quick enough to standing as he hollers with joy, “MAMA!” They are my passions. They make me see the world as beautiful and full of possibilities. They make me stand and exist in the moment because it is what matters. They fill me with love and joy with their inexhaustible energy and life. They also teach me what hard work can be. Carl Sandburg said, “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

Why my work matters:

I see my job as ensuring the integrity of our facilities and systems as well as the financial health of our organization. OAEC is a complex network of specialties: from our work with the land (garden and wildlands) to being a demonstration site (of an intentional community) to public advocacy. OAEC is also about buildings, beauty, and biodiversity. I love my work because I get to make the complex simple; organize and create systems and structures; and tell stories with numbers. But best of all, I get to do it with amazing people.

My favorite resiliency resource:

The theory of relativity and “even this too shall pass.”

What community means to me:


The secret to life is:

Embracing death. Love becomes deeper. Moments become richer. Life becomes fuller.