The second weekend of April, people gathered in Thomas Berry Hall to convene the Whidbey Spring Gathering, our first community program of this kind since the 2020 Winter Gathering. There were both returning and new faces; curious, excited, anticipatory, and in some cases wary, uncomfortable, not knowing what to expect, but drawn to the land for various reasons.
Special thanks to my co-facilitators Victoria Santos, Diana Sandoval, and Gayle Karen Young. It was an honor to partner with them in this inaugural event. Over the course of three days, they convened, held, and honored our time together with skill, finesse, and grace. Participants were invited to explore and embody questions that are essential for our times: How do we want to live our lives going forward? What might be possible for ourselves and for our communities? What will sustain us and the future we dream of? How do we tend to ourselves and to the collective?
The intention was to offer several Open Space sessions for participants to self-select and gather in smaller groups. As it turned out, we remained as a whole group for the entire weekend and shared the entire experience. Dr. Leticia Nieto led us in a full day’s workshop on Friday using interactive approaches, including Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed. The process concretized our learning and led to a deep understanding of power, privilege, and oppression and how that understanding can lead to creating a more just world.
Other plenary speakers: Mari Shibuya, M. Rako Fabionar, Sonali Balajee, Ruth Yeo-Peterman, and Chelan Harkin, seeded explorations around oppression, power, invisibility, belonging, becoming, and the medicine for our times. Participants were offered strategies and antidotes to inhabit and make their own, including breath and body practices, connecting and concretizing, illuminating the back body, nature, poetry, art, dreams, and discerning when to call off, call out, call on, or call in.
By the close of our time together, over 60 people from various ages, backgrounds, and places came together in reflection and inquiry. We left feeling connected and with a strong desire to stay in communication to further the meaningful conversations.
The Whidbey Spring Gathering team and Whidbey Institute wish to express deep gratitude to all who participated and shaped this gathering and to Rick Ingrassi and Peggy Taylor, founders of the Summer Gathering at Hollyhock Conference Center in 1986 and the first Winter Gathering at the Whidbey Institute in 2011.
We can learn from the Spring Gathering the importance of tending to ourselves and to the collective, asking big questions, exploring and embodying our values, and deepening our connections with each other and with the natural world. We can also see the power of coming together with open, ready hearts and the willingness to learn and grow.
Stay tuned for Whidbey Spring Gathering 2024! Suggested themes for future gatherings are multi-stakeholder democracies, what a resilient community with food and water looks like with ongoing climate change in island communities, our own continual inquiry into what a truly multiracial, multifaceted, inclusive society can look like, and the ongoing conversation about weaving the spiritual and political.