Whole Thinking Retreat Description Why Whole Thinking? We live in a culture that produces more malls than high schools, more prisoners than farmers, and paves 267 acres of earth per hour. This world is shaped by divides: between races, religions, and classes; between urban and rural concerns; between organizations; and between people and nature. All of these divides deeply affect the health of the land and the health of our communities. Whole Thinking Retreats offer the opportunity for those of us working toward wholeness in our communities to come together, create a safe space for dialogue, nurture our deepest wisdom, and begin to build more meaningful bridges so that we can reweave our world â€“ for ourselves, our communities, and the land itself. Our curriculum is designed to bring together concerns about the environment and concerns about the social fabric of our communities. We believe these are inextricable. Our work springs from the recognition that no action intended to benefit the land, whether wilderness designation, land conservation, or biodiversity preservation, will succeed in the face of a suffering humanity. Nor will any project to alleviate human suffering ultimately succeed on a damaged or poisoned landscape. We seek to address how we live together on this earth using a whole thinking approach.
Retreat Purpose The broad purpose of Whole Thinking Retreats at Center for Whole Communities is to significantly strengthen the environmental and social justice movements in this country by: Helping specialized groups to re-think their work together, in terms of whole systems and in terms of addressing root causes as opposed to symptoms. Initiating values-based inquiries that will help movements better understand and communicate the values that hold them together and, later, will inform better tactics and strategies. Creating a space in which all participants can engage in a safe and productive dialogue about the role of race, class, gender, power, privilege, ideology and geography in their work and communities. Introducing new definitions and measures of success that foster greater collaboration, link social and environmental objectives, and offer a clearer vision of what a whole community is and how to get there. Rejuvenating strength and wisdom through nurturing, reflective and creative practices that open the door for more authentic relationships, deeper dialogue and new ways of leading.
Retreat Faculty Each retreat is led by three members of our faculty, who include: Adrienne Maree Brown, Mohamad Chakaki, Anushka Fernandopulle, Carolyn Finney, Peter Forbes, Samara Gaev, Steve Glazer, Toby Herzlich, Wendy Johnson, Cynthia Jurs, Stephanie Kaza, Matt Kolan, Ginny McGinn, Melissa Nelson, Kavitha Rao, Enrique Salmon, Santikaro, Deborah Schoenbaum, Mistinguette Smith, Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, Jesse Maceo VegaFrey, Helen Whybrow and Larry Yang. We encourage you to visit our website to learn more about our faculty: www.wholecommunities.org/programs/faculty.shtml. Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm, 700 Bragg Hill Road, Fayston, VT 05673, www.wholecommunities.org Contact: Tatek Assefa, Program Coordinator, (802) 496-5690, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Retreat Experience Each Whole Thinking Retreat is seven days long and brings together up to twenty individuals from organizations and communities connected to the land. Participants’ professions include urban and rural land conservationists, environmental justice advocates, community development practitioners, farmers, artists, faith-based activists, wilderness and farmland advocates, biologists, writers, educators, and elected officials, to name but a few. The retreats provide participants with tools to bring change into their organizations and communities. Essential among these is the process of dialogue, in which participants create a safe place to speak the truth and learn together, understand the transformative power of whole thinking to our on-the-ground work, seek shared values as well as respectfully hold the tension of difference, and test the language and stories that most effectively reflect our visions for the world. We spend part of each day in silence, renewing our ability to listen and respond deeply while learning the practice of contemplation. We learn from one another as we work together on the land, spend time by the pond or in the kitchen, and engage in dialogue. The retreats provide participants with a time and space for sanctuary, to be creative, to nurture intuition, and to be in community. Nearly everyone leaves with renewed commitment and clarity to shared values and purpose, along with new personal and professional relationships. During a Whole Thinking Retreat at Center for Whole Communities, you can expect to: Receive and practice tools that help you stretch across sectors and build new relationships with people and organizations that may be different from your own. Awaken and reinvigorate your capacity as a leader. Examine your personal relationship to race, power and privilege, and talk openly about how forces of oppression affect or limit all of us and our work. Participate in a group process, sitting with fellow participants as a community, regardless of what surfaces. Use your hands and explore personal creativity. Spend seven days living on a piece of land where you will experience changes in weather, landscape, day and night, sun and stars, and explore your own physical comfort and discomfort. Rejuvenate your strength and wisdom through nurturing, reflective and creative practices that open the door for more authentic partnerships, dialogue, and ways of leading.
Bringing Together Diverse Perspectives The staff, board and faculty of CWC work hard to create a safe space where people with very different perspectives can have honest and sustained dialogue with one another, and ask reciprocal questions: Why do I need you? Why do you need me? The retreats allow diverse people to come together and hear one another’s stories while working through the contradictions and holding the tensions that are created by divides. We strive to ensure that each retreat’s faculty members and participants reflect the true diversity of those working in careers connected to land and community in the United States, whether that diversity is cultural, racial, professional or otherwise. We recognize that our capacity to help people practice “whole thinking” depends entirely on the trust that we build and the diversity of people who come to our retreats. Individual participants are never expected to “represent” a group, whether that group is the organization for which they work, the ethnic group with which they identify, a community in which they reside, or even a religion in which they practice. While attention is paid to the challenges created by divides, we focus equally on the bonds that hold us together. Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm, 700 Bragg Hill Road, Fayston, VT 05673, www.wholecommunities.org Contact: Tatek Assefa, Program Coordinator, (802) 496-5690, email@example.com
2013 Fellowship Commitment As you consider the fellowship being offered to you, we ask you to review the following details to help inform your decision. Fellowship Conditions Committing to a Retreat: The retreat is a gift to you made possible by Center for Whole Communities and our many funders and alumni. It is up to you alone to accept this gift fully. We ask you to take seriously your commitment if you accept this invitation. If you cannot attend the retreat after accepting the fellowship, please notify us immediately so that we can offer your place to someone on the waitlist. Please be aware that if you cancel after June 1, your cancellation usually means that no one will have the opportunity to receive the fellowship spot thatâ€™s been offered to you. Attendance: We want you to be able to immerse yourself totally in the retreat experience, so we ask that you commit to coming for the entire duration of the retreat; anything less would be disruptive to you and to other participants. We recognize how hard it may be to leave work and family for seven days. However, we have come to realize that by committing for this period of time, participants are able to fully engage with the content and place. In accepting this fellowship, we expect you to attend for the full duration of the retreat. Costs: Thanks to several national and regional foundations, program alumni and generous individuals, Center for Whole Communities offers tuition-free fellowships to all who attend these retreats. We will cover all onsite costs of the retreat, including food, lodging and programming. We respectfully ask you to cover your transportation to and from Knoll Farm. Travel Stipends: A limited number of stipends are reserved for participants who are unable, through personal contribution or organizational assistance, to cover their transportation costs. Please contact Tatek Assefa with any questions related to travel assistance by April 15. Exploring Power and Privilege: Because our objective is to explore the many issues that hinder our ability to develop and sustain whole communities, what most notably emerges are issues of difference and/or oppression. During your retreat, the very real, too-seldom-explored, and deeply rooted issues of power and privilege in their many forms may take center stage at times. By addressing these issues openly and beginning to un-do them, participants develop the capacity to understand each other and connect more authentically. Group Process: Central to every groupâ€™s capacity to innovate and transform is time to play, time to express personal creativity, time to experience the poetry of the land, and time to better understand how all of these forces affect the tactics and strategies of our professional lives. We expect you to be willing and open to engaging in group process. Unplug: Our sincere intention is to provide the atmosphere and conditions for you to fully immerse yourself in this experience. To make this possible, we ask you to come to the retreat prepared to be unplugged from your cell phone, computer, and other devices. We recognize that the important work you are doing in the world and in your community, and the responsibilities of home and family, can make this challenging. Rest assured that Knoll Farm has communication capabilities available to you in the event of an emergency, and urgent messages from family and co-workers can be relayed. Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm, 700 Bragg Hill Road, Fayston, VT 05673, www.wholecommunities.org Contact: Tatek Assefa, Program Coordinator, (802) 496-5690, firstname.lastname@example.org
Physical Environment at Knoll Farm Location: Each retreat takes place at Knoll Farm, a working farm that overlooks the Mad River Valley. We are located in Fayston, which is near Waitsfield, Vermont. Accessibility: Knoll Farm is perched on a hillside and we spend a fair portion each day outdoors and walking up and down hills. The distance from one end of the campus to the other is about half a mile, up or downhill. We do provide rides up and down the hill by way of an electric buggy, but it is necessary to be comfortable and able to walk on uneven ground. Our website provides photos of the terrain (www.wholecommunities.org). If you have any questions or concerns about the physical experience, please contact Tatek. Lodging: Many participants breathe a sigh of relief when they get to Knoll Farm and realize that the tent cabins are not the tents they were expecting: think along the lines of luxury camping. Participants sleep on single or double futon beds, in either single or double occupancy tents or yurts. We will ask if you would prefer to share a tent before you come. Our solar bathhouse has indoor changing rooms, private outdoor showers, hot water, and flush toilets. If you have any hesitations regarding our accommodations feel free to contact Tatek. Food: Delicious and wholesome family-style meals are provided, prepared from produce grown here and at other local farms. Our shared meals are a meaningful part of the experience, and we eat in a historic timber-framed barn in the center of the farmstead. Specific dietary needs (such as allergies, gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian) can be cared for, provided we are informed in advance through our confirmation surveys. Getting to Knoll Farm: Center for Whole Communities is located about one hour from Burlington, Vermont, which is served by most major airlines. We will send more detailed travel instructions after you have registered and we confirm your place in a retreat. Communicating your Needs: We strive to make your time here comfortable, and we can accommodate most needs. In the months and weeks leading up to your retreat, we will be asking you about your specific needs and preferences over email and through online surveys. We ask, therefore, that your commitment to this fellowship include a good faith effort to communicate your needs â€“ physical, dietary and otherwise â€“ to our staff. Our ability to care for your safety, well-being and comfort depends on this.
We and your nominator believe that your presence at a 2013 Whole Thinking Retreat would add tremendous value to this program, and to this network of leaders. We sincerely hope that you will accept this fellowship! To Accept or Decline this Invitation: Please fill out the Fellowship Response Form at www.wholecommunities.org/fellows.shtml or contact Tatek Assefa, Program Coordinator, at (802) 496-5690 or email@example.com.
Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm, 700 Bragg Hill Road, Fayston, VT 05673, www.wholecommunities.org Contact: Tatek Assefa, Program Coordinator, (802) 496-5690, firstname.lastname@example.org