Five Questions With The Whole Life Network


The Spy recently had the chance to speak with Bonnie Keating about the Whole Life Network. Keating created this organization with the aim to help educate the community about living a healthy lifestyle. The discussion below should help people who are wondering what, exactly, the Whole Life Network does.

What is the Whole Life Network? What is its mission? How did it get started?

The Whole Life Network is a group of community members focused on creating better lives for all of us, with interests including access to integrative medicine and to healthy, organic, local food, protecting the environment, and alternative energy. Bonnie felt that there was a growing interest in, trust in and need for holistic perspective (looking at things from a “whole picture” view). To get at what areas of interest people had, some informal preliminary meetings were held. Many topics were mentioned, but the common themes were a desire for “healthy,” “local,” “sustainable” practices and services in all areas of our lives. After those meetings, a core group formed and came up with the idea to start with educational events to begin to meet the needs we heard about and hopefully foster more interest, conversation and the formation of core groups of individuals interested in pursuing the creation of the services desired and needed.

Whole Life Network Founder Bonnie Keating

Whole Life Network Founder Bonnie Keating

I understand that Bonnie Keating is the founder of the Whole Life Network. What is her background with practicing and teaching a holistic lifestyle?

Bonnie is best described as a healer, mystic and visionary.

Bonnie trained in massage, Cranio-sacral Therapy, Somato-emotional Release, Chakra Balancing, Core Transformation and a host of other energy medicine modalities and has been practicing these therapies for more than 25 years. Through the years, she has worked with psychologists, physical therapists and chiropractors. She has taught workshops in massage, understanding the chakras energy centers of the body, and shamanic journeying. In the early years of her practice she began having mystical experiences and with much prayer and faith, said “yes!” to the urgings of the Divine in her life and practice.

Are there opportunities and challenges of getting this sort of lifestyle movement off the ground that are unique to Chestertown and this region?

One of the great opportunities is having Washington College here. We are being sponsored by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College and this affords us a wonderful space in which to hold events and not have to charge.  We think our main challenge lies here as well, though. Many local people seem uncomfortable with going onto the college campus to attend an event. There seems to be a disconnect between the college and the town. I hope events like ours will begin to bridge that gap. We’re a very approachable bunch!

Bonnie Keating (left) and Dr. Lark Eshleman in dialogue during the March event at Washinton College.

Bonnie Keating (left) and Dr. Lark Eshleman in dialogue during the February 19 event at Washinton College.

Your first event was held on February 19, hosted by Washington College. What was it? How did it go?

We had originally planned to show “Food Inc.” as our first event, but after the school shooting in Newtown, we decided to move up another event that had become particularly timely.  Local resident Lark Eshleman Patterson, a world-renowned expert on childhood attachment, adoption, and working with traumatized children, spoke on the subject of youth violence.  Her thought-provoking presentation discussed the warning signs of youth violence, how the brain develops and how traumatic experiences at a young age can affect that development – and sometimes lead to violent behavior – and more.  About 40 people attended, and everyone went away with much to think about.  We’re grateful to the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College, which co-sponsored the event.

What’s the next step? Any plans for the future that you are particularly excited about? 

We are working now to build this new organization from the ground up, with a particular focus on recruiting volunteers, planning exciting and interesting events, and getting the word out about the Network and its events.  We’re also working on a website, which will be posted at  Some of our volunteers have already donated the funds to purchase our web domain and web hosting, but we are raising funds to build the website.  Anyone who is interested in contributing to the cause can send a check made out to Whole Life Network to 208 Princess Anne Dr. Chestertown, MD 21620.  Contributions of any size are welcome and appreciated!  (However, we are not – at least not yet – a nonprofit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible at this time.)

The immediate next step is our second event, which is coming up this Tuesday, March 19. (Please note that some posters were accidentally distributed with the wrong date – the event is on March 19, not March 17!)  We will be showing the fabulous documentary “Food Inc.” at 7:30pm in the Norman James Theatre (in William Smith Hall) on the Washington College campus.  This is event is co-sponsored by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College, as are the other upcoming events in our food series:

April 16: Screening of the film “Forks Over Knives”

May 21: Bill Schindler speaks on “The Prehistoric Diet in Context”

All of our monthly events take place on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm.  We plan to have an event each month this year (except November and December), and some special events at other times.  One of the ideas we are working on is a homesteading workshop, which we are very excited about.  We don’t have a date for that yet, so stay tuned!

Anyone interested in learning more about, or getting involved in, the Whole Life Network can email for more information or to join the email list.  You can also find us on Facebook at, and on Twitter

A network is a living, changing organism. What it is, how fun it is, what it provides and how it nourishes is up to each one of us. Come join us and help create a resource that meets your needs!

Letters to Editor

  1. Bonnie’s work as a healer is well known to me. I am grateful she has taken the initiative to do the hard work of bringing like minded people together to make our community and our world a more connected and healthy place to lead our lives. I look forward to being part of the mission and vision of Whole life Network as it evolves and grows.

  2. Caitlin Patton says:

    Thank you for this article. I can’t wait to see Food Inc. tomorrow!

    • Thank you, Chestertown Spy, for the great article! The Whole Life Network has much to offer our community and I felt truly honored to be its first presenter. Thanks to all who attended, and all who are making the WLN a force for positive change on the Eastern Shore 😉

  3. Rob Etgen says:

    Way to go Bonnie!

  4. Nancy Neely says:

    I’m looking forward to learning more about integrative medicine in Chestertown. There are many therapies which complement traditional medicine and I’m interested in learning about these modalities and how they can benefit the citizens of our town. Welcome to Chestertown, Whole Life Network!

  5. jenifer emley says:

    Brava, Bonnie. You are amazing!

  6. It will be wonderful the watch this idea take off and
    create wonderful changes in many peoples lives.

  7. Stephanie Spangler says:

    These events sound great! I wish we had something like this in my area.

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