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Better Selves Fellowship

at knoll farm

Focus • Reflection • Renewal

a place of refuge for leaders


“peaceful shelters to expore inner + outer nature - serene - bucolic - intentional -

Dear Friend,

The challenges facing our communities are so vast that more work, more information, faster and lon-

ger hours cannot be the only answer; what’s needed is for us to be our better selves: clear-headed, compassionate, courageous, wise. We believe that everyone needs time to refill their wells, to return to a personal practice, to have time to reflect and to make sense of things in order to be our better selves. Building upon a long history as a refuge in the mountains and a place of learning and transformation, Knoll Farm launched this year our inaugural season of the Better Selves Fellowships by providing time and a healthy place in which to reflect to 30 leaders from 11 states. We awarded fellowships to those who stood to benefit the most from the chance to slow down, to focus, to read, to write, to work on a particular problem, or simply to get their heads back on straight by the experience of living on a healthy working farm. Each fellow arrived with certain goals and intentions for the self-directed experience, which they pursued alone on the hill, working in a packed conference room, on walks in the woods, over a meal at the long table in the barn. What I never expected was what emerged as group energy around reading their work to each other at night, taking breaks together, and how they created for themselves -individually and collectively- a transformational experience. This was an exchange between people in which everyone benefitted. We practiced radical hospitability by opening our farm to these fellows, and they enriched this land with their stories and presence. Our larger community – especially my own family- benefitted from the example of their lives of service. I sat knee-to-knee with almost every fellow for a few hours each morning helping them to consider this moment in their lives and what their work asks of them. I, in turn, connected to people and efforts for change all over our country. At a time when the nation’s narrative seems to be about walls and divisions, together we practiced reciprocity, connection, and relationship. Everyone here those two weeks knows how different that tastes. Here are some of their words. Warmly,

“a long deep breathe in an era of hyperventilation”


encouraging campfire chats - powerfully resorative time - radical hospitality”

“I felt nutured by sense of community evident at Knoll Farm. The morning body movement, meals together, the chance to just share thoughts, feelings and ideas unencumbered (were) all great. The opportunity to have even a fleeting sense of the rhythms of the farm were enriching.” - Tom Grasso 2016 Fellow Senior Director with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program


“I was looking for a place for some rejuvenation from the non-stop pace of a new position, for a place to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the land, which is a feature of my work, but something I felt very disconnected from.” - John Wang 2016 Fellow Regional Director of The Food Project North Shore Boston

“During my time at Knoll Farm, I shifted from thinking about how to escape, to thinking about what I want to move towards. I am taking away the concept of being an “edge-walker” and musing on what that role has meant to my professional life to date, and what it might drive me to do next.” - Rebecca Ruggles Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network Photography Credit: John Wang, Peter Forbes & Vanessa Fry

700 Bragg Hill Fayston, VT 05673 802.496.5686 www.knollfarm.org

Betterselves Fellowship Brochure