Nathan “Nth” Bar-Fields
Founder & Dream Director
When I was a kid in elementary school, I was diagnosed with dyslexia by the school’s psychologist, but wasn’t given much in the way of strategies to work with my supposed disability. It was just a weakness to accept. Unsurprisingly, I fell behind in math and writing. However, that all changed by the time I entered 10th grade. There, I was fortunate to have a teacher who noticed that I could be further along than where I was at that point in math. Together, we crafted an educational program for me that would get me from algebra I in the 10th grade to advanced calculus in the 12th grade by taking math courses at the local community college. The school’s administration was not happy with us, and tried to roadblock to some extent, as from their standpoint they didn’t want to see me fail. Thankfully, my teacher’s will was stronger, and so was mine. I had the dream, and she helped direct me on the path toward fulfilling it.
The plan worked exceptionally well, and altered my future trajectory. Instead of working three low-wage jobs to make ends meet, I wound up becoming a nuclear engineering technologist in the Navy. Instead of getting a GED, I was accepted to UC Berkeley and MIT. I even later discovered I qualified for the Prometheus Society and other less restrictive social groups for thinkers. Today, aside from being a social entrepreneur, I’m a data analyst–largely due to my dyslexia, which results in me seeing data in a nonlinear way that most other analysts cannot do.
As the dream director, I work to do for the many kids and adults out there with atypical minds and difficult circumstances what my teacher did for me. This is why I chose to found the Elysian Trust. Our purpose is to identify the talent in people that may be mistaken for weaknesses or overlooked entirely for other reasons, and help them use their talents to achieve their dreams and goals. We don’t see problems, we see trade-offs, and with the right guidance and a little ingenuity, the other Elysian members and I work to maximize humanity’s greatest resource: ourselves.
Co-founder & Investment Officer
As a kid it was said that I was born an 80 year old man. I was always quiet, and would watch out for the other kids. Due to this being the kind of behavior a parent wants, no body understood this was because of my diagnoses of ASD and OCD. This was only discovered years later.
Needless to say, school for me was kind of an endless puzzle. All kind of pattern on people faces, and as an autistic, I knew none of them (spent my early years isolated with my Legos). My time then ended up being spent almost entirely on getting to know and understand all the different behavior that seemed so natural to others. This had some impact on my school performance, and I would get special education 3 times before I left elementary school.
Now however I feel it was a great investment. Now I can read people’s faces, look them in the eye etc. It became my obsession, and I have been able to use it for different areas in my life other than daily survival. I have been a screener for employees. Sitting in on interviews to assess if the person in question is as confident as they claim. Maybe they are lying about earlier drug use. The usual an employer wants to know. I have also used it to make profiles of missing people, to find their personality type and from there find the most likely scenarios that would make that person go missing. I love doing what I do.
I am by most part self-educated. My primary education in school has been economics and semi-higher math. Outside school I discovered my love for physics and all puzzles in general. And a burning passion to always find ways to enhance my capacity to accumulate, and understand information. Whether it be clean logical or emotional data.
This development is a huge part of why I today devote myself to the Elysian Trust. It is all about seeing the trade-off we all have. I was a full blown autistic who now technically can no longer even be qualified as an autistic. Because it is too hard since I can now keep a normal conversation. Focusing people’s minds on that they actually can improve how they function without pills, is a given for me. As a person who has gone through that, and climbed that barrier, I can now help others do the same. And there you have the core of what the Trust is to me. A group with all types of talents as well as problems, and from that sprouts the great potential for people who have lived it to guide you.
President of SOLAR
My doctorate is in Biological Sciences, and I am a member of the faculty in the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Biotechnology Education. I have broad interests in the evolution of complex behaviors and as well as in active learning strategies and online learning and teaching techniques. Growing up neurodivergent, with a high IQ but unchallenged in grade school, I realized that teaching strategies for children did not address their individual strengths and weaknesses. As an adult, I learned to be responsible for my own education during my doctoral training. Now I seek to share what I have learned with my students, as well as promote outreach to the community as a whole, and in particular, to foster the use of active learning techniques among students whose abilities are currently not being realized.
I am a licensed psychotherapist and artist. I’m originally from New York, spent two years in Alaska, and currently reside in San Francisco. In the fourth grade, I became ill causing me to miss most of that grade. As a result, I lost an opportunity to join a special program for gifted children. When my mother learned I had missed the entrance exam, and that my IQ qualified me for the program, she petitioned the school board. I was granted a special interview headed by the superintendent. The questions focused more on divergent thinking, which worked to my advantage as I had exhibited a high level of creativity from an early age. Not only was I granted admission to the program, but the superintendent took a special interest in me and became a strong ally. I didn’t do well in the program, however, as I still missed a great deal of school due to illness. In addition, the environment was aggressively competitive and not terribly creative. Due to my negative experience in that program, I never sought out membership in a high IQ organization. Instead, I focused on the arts and went to college on an arts scholarship. I continue to pursue many creative outlets and enjoy mixing elements from different historical periods and genres. I was invited to become a member of Volant by Nth Bar-Fields and was subsequently promoted to a group administrator. I was very impressed by the level of scholarship, diversity, discourse and civility among the members of Volant. So, when the high creativity group, Interrobang, was formed, I became an administrator for that group as well. My main areas of study are psychology, neuroscience, medicine, sociology, art, literature and music. I have a diverse background in design, the performing arts, music, literature, research and psychology. I appreciate that the Elysian Trust is looking beyond the traditional definitions of intelligence. I am excited and honored to be a part of this community that is seeking new ways of fostering and promoting individuals who demonstrate unique abilities in a variety of areas.
David Lynn Smith
President of Volant
I am first a Christian and a tremendously proud father and grandfather.
I am never so much at home as alone in the swamps and forests and deserts where are the best memories of my youth. The product of multiple generations of mixed-breeds marrying mixed-breeds, and through the vagaries of genetics, the pale-face among my darker kin, I always felt somewhat racially and culturally ambiguous. I come from the backcountry of Southeast Oklahoma but spent my early years all over the American West. Near as I can recall, I changed schools a dozen times by 6th grade, making me constantly the new kid as well as the ‘different’ kid. I did not enjoy school. Some of my best childhood memories are living with my grandmother at the end of the road, in a house with no plumbing, heated by the wood cook stove. Later, my family first managed a ranch and then owned one and managed another for an Uncle.
An underachiever, I graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a B.S. In Biology at a time when there were dozens of us for every job in that field, and few jobs for anyone in any field, so I did whatever was available.
My work history includes; Being a working cowboy as a boy, dishwasher, short order cook, construction worker, cabinet maker, laid shingles and asphalt, cleaned office buildings, Pinkerton Guard, forestry tree thinner, Forest Inventory Technician and Timber Cruiser in the Arkansas ‘bottoms’, carpet cleaner, Survey Aid in the Big Thompson Canyon of the Rockies, Sugar Factory Tare Lab Foreman, Water Pollution Control Benchman, Forest Ranger (firefighter), Water and Wastewater Plant Manager, Materials Engineering Technician, Custom Knifemaker, Environmental Scientist, oilfield support product laboratory technician, Health Inspector, and finally Medical Laboratory Scientist (ASCP) and Hospital Laboratory Manager.
My hobbies include making custom knives, hunting with a handgun, trick shooting, and other assorted arts of the spiral tube. A devout Christian, I have served as a Preacher and adult Bible teacher.
My history allows me to relate to gifted young people who do not come from urban upperclass cultures. I want to help them understand, cope with and develop their gifts and live healthy, balanced lives. To do this, they need access to people like themselves who may not be available in their communities, but can be found in or through the Elysian Trust.