Susanna Knittel, is a visual storyteller, somatic educator and writer who came of age in the Jungian community in Zurich, Switzerland. After receiving her degree in child psychology and work at the Jung Clinic, she left her homeland to explore the new frontier: America. She settled in San Francisco and became a photojournalist for Swiss Magazines. At Videowest, she made the first short documentary on The Bohemian Grove; it aired on PBS. Robert Frank invited her to be a part of the making of This Song for Jack, filmed during the 30th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s On the road. Her film Legacy premiered at the San Francisco film festival.
Falling for the Mountain Documentary
Impelled by the culture's rapid loss of connection with nature and the body, she returned to her first medium and made her documentary Falling for the Mountain, a love story between people and the land. It documents the move to stewardship on her family’s inherited land in the Swiss Alps; Susanna credits her experiences with tribal cultures and friendships with Native peoples and their indigenous wisdom for shaping her working vision.
Susanna is a Continuum teacher, who was a longtime student of Emilie Conrad. Here, for the first time since her initiation while working in Senegal, she found understanding about the deep connection between ritual, eros and dance. With The Matrilineage Project, an exploration into our female lineage presented in ensemble performance, she synthesized her practices with consciousness studies and dreams. In 2008 she was invited to teach at the Festival Internationale de Theatre Region Tanger-Tetuan, Morocco.
European Center for Council Training.
As an educator concerned with the inner life of children, she introduced the practice of Council in public and private schools. Council teaches and supports attentive listening and authentic expression and now benefits thousands of children in Los Angeles schools and throughout the United States, Europe and Africa. For the International Peacemakers she brought the practice to Italy, Poland, Israel /Palestine and other European countries and established the European Center for Council Training.
In Los Angeles, Susanna turned her attention to parents and children, seeking to emulate the relational qualities she had seen while working in Africa as a student. She designed, manufactured, patented and licensed Kocoona, a multi use carrier that allows freedom for both parent and child and easily and ergonomically integrates work and play. Kocoona’s new look was the title feature of “Parenting” Magazine.
Susanna has used her gift with children to introduce innovative humanistic education, including the integration of children in spiritual practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center summer program. Built a children’s village /program in Leysin Switzerland for one hundred children as part of a large retreat with seven hundred adults, with Lama Tharchin Rimpoche and Emaho, Native American shaman /teacher. At “Heal the World”, World Children’s Congress hosted by Michael Jackson, Neverland she brought in Grandfather Semu, Chumash elder.
Other influences: Improvisation, Performance, Storytelling and Engaged Buddhism. With creativity, movement, innovation and the societal body as principal impulses, Susanna pursues life as an alchemical process, in kinship with her Muslim families in Palestine, Switzerland and Senegal. She has a daughter and lives in Santa Monica. Some summers, she is in the Alps, learning about dowsing, finding water / laying a waterline and sharpening a scythe.
The source of all my work: The inherited alpine lands in Switzerland with spring water, boulders marked by the Ice Age, four hundred year old maple trees, a mountain stream and cattle in the summer, no electricity, encounters with people from many walks of life, undisturbed by city hectic
image: earth to release its life giving water.