About the Wellspring
In 1975, after six years in the US Public Health Service, and completing a residency in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, John Travis opened the world’s first wellness center, the Wellness Resource Center, in Mill Valley, California. His work attracted national attention, leading to an appearance on 60 Minutes with Dan Rather in 1979, and launching the hitherto unknown word "wellness" into the public domain.
In 1978 John teamed up with Regina Sara Ryan to expand his self-published Wellness Workbook iinto a trade paperback with Ten Speed Press. The Wellness Workbook is now in its third edition, along with an abridged version, Simply Well. These books are now the basis of the Personal Wellness area of this website (Simply Well is the "Lite" section).
In 1979 John partnered with his wife and colleague, Meryn Callander. During that same period, he realized that maintaining a center was not his calling. The Center was closed, to be reborn as Wellness Associates, a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to personal and planetary wellbeing.
Several years on retreat in a community in the mountains of Costa Rica, along with Meryn’s studies in feminist spirituality, brought to their awareness the fact that the wellness of an individual cannot be addressed in any meaningful and sustainable way unless viewed within the context of the prevailing consciousness of our world. While the word “wellness” was beginning to find acceptance by the public, it had become equated with fitness, nutrition, and cardiac risk reduction, losing many of the psychological and transpersonal qualities the Wellness Resource Center had promoted.
In 1984, John and Meryn returned to the US, and by 1987 had founded the Wellness Associates’ Network for Helping Professionals. The Network was dedicated to affirming the immanent worth of self and other; developing an awareness of the impact of the prevailing norms on personal and planetary wellness; fostering the norms of partnership and connection to replace those of domination and competition; and honoring the larger journey of life, individually and collectively, on planet earth.
This era of their work was documented in a 400-page book, Wellness for Helping Professionals: Creating Compassionate Cultures—the basis of the For Professionals area of this website.
In 1990 they coauthored A Change of Heart: A Global Wellness Inventory, which is foundation of the Global Wellness area.
At the same time, after reading The Continuum Concept, they realized that infant and child wellness was far more important than the work they had been doing with adult wellness. Preventing much of the estrangement and disconnection that are created by modern birth and childraising methods is a far more effective approach to wellness. In 1993, with the birth of their daughter Siena, they turned their attention to this area fulltime.
In 1997, Meryn launched The Wellspring Guide, synopsizing parenting books that support the practices they had come to recognize as the earliest building blocks of wellness, as well as reviewing children’s books based on the same principles. This expansion of their work led to The Wellspring Online, a project of Wellness Associates, and the predecessor of this website.
In 1999 they co-founded, along with 11 other experts in various disciplines, the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC). The Child/Family area of the website is sourced from both their work with aTLC and Wellspring Guide, which later evolved into an ebook.
Pioneering figures on the leading edge of wellness for over three decades, they have remained unwavering in their belief that professional work in wellness is intimately connected to not only personal growth, but to the wellbeing of the planet.
There is no end point where we can congratulate ourselves for having made it. The ending of one era heralds the beginning of a new. Wellness is the journey, not the destination...
Meryn G. Callander, BSW
John W. Travis, MD, MPH
Regina Sara Ryan