Working From the Heart

Working From the Heart

by Marta Mulholland

I am consistently humbled by the generosity of energy and spirit that people bring to volunteer work.

This was evidenced in full when I received a call in July from Jeanne Jackson (JJ) McMinds, a Whidbey Institute friend and advisor for our Forest Stewardship Plan. She had been on the land a few days earlier and had helped work on a process called Shou Sugi Ban (or Yakisugi), “an ancient Japanese exterior siding technique that preserves wood by charring it with fire. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil.” ( Read More →

September 22, 2021

The World Needs Good Leaders: Matt McSweyn on Powers of Leadership

Matt McSweyn and I were both members of the 2014-2015 Powers of Leadership cohort. Together with over a dozen fellow leaders and learners, and with program faculty Christie Lynk and Craig Fleck, we gathered quarterly to develop as adaptive leaders, capable of addressing those questions for which there are no easy answers. This month, I reconnected with Matt (pictured) to understand how the work still resonates with him seven years later. Read on for my reflections on that conversation. 

—Marnie Jackson
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August 20, 2021

Connecting to What Matters: An interview with Greg Flynn and Shannon Patterson

Last week, I was able to talk with program leaders Gregory Flynn and Shannon Patterson about their upcoming program, Renewal: Connecting to What Matters. I had the pleasure of interviewing them together, which allowed me to watch the exchange of ideas between them—I’m sharing highlights of that conversation here. I hope you’ll join Greg and Shannon at the Whidbey Institute, October 1 through 3.  —Marnie Jackson


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August 18, 2021

Walking a Path | July 2021 Newsletter

This month’s newsletter features an interview with Nancy Neudecker, opportunities for guided labyrinth walks and forest hikes, community announcements, and more. Click here to read the issue!


July 28, 2021

Daring to Love Fiercely

Late in 2019 had an opportunity to connect with program leaders Plácida Gallegos, Akasha Saunders, Steve Schapiro and Carol Wishcamper (pictured above, left to right). Their program, Dare to Connect WE-LAB, provides a space to explore and support participants’ capacity to embrace differences and to connect with one another across those differences with curiosity and love. The program was rescheduled from March 2020 due to COVID. Dare to Connect WE-LAB is coming to the Whidbey Institute in August 2021 and registration is open to all!

During our conversation, I not only got a feeling for the facilitators (a fantastic team) and the program (a wonderful offering) but I also became convinced that there is little the world needs more than work like this. Supporting people across diverse social identities and circumstances in creating brave, vulnerable, and authentic connections can help us begin to heal the rifts of racism, sexism and other oppressive systems in our bodies, hearts, communities, and societies. Read More →

June 1, 2021

2019-2020 Gratitude Report Now Available

This isn’t your typical annual report.

But then, this isn’t your typical year. 

We usually publish a comprehensive Gratitude Report in late April, sharing stories of what you nurtured, supported, and inspired with your donations during the previous calendar year. This late winter and early spring, however, the world was just beginning to grapple with the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, our calendar—usually filled with transformational learning programs—was suddenly wiped clean. In late March through May, much of our team was furloughed and it didn’t feel like the right time to invest in producing a retrospective of 2019. Staffing is currently at about 35% of pre-COVID levels—including our furloughed kitchen team—and we couldn’t be here without you. We are so grateful to our community of donors, without whom our ongoing care of this vital place and our operational core would not be possible.  Read More →

December 3, 2020

An Invitation to Open Retreats

Photo by Tim Philips

An invitation to the land, beginning September 16.  To view all published retreat dates, learn more about this offering, and register, visit our Events page.

A Note from Thomas: Hello friends of the Whidbey Institute! We miss you!

In early March, we hosted our last program before the Big Pause of Extreme Uncertainty. We are navigating this disruption with care, consideration, and a willingness to make some difficult choices in these transformative times. And we have been listening to your requests. It’s clear that many of you need space and time away from the stress of your day to day life to rest, recover, reflect, and enjoy the calm beauty that our campus and woodland trails can provide.   Read More →

August 28, 2020

Leveraging a Shift: August 2020 Newsletter

“In a fractal conception, I am a cell-sized unit of the human organism, and I have to use my life to leverage a shift in the system by how I am, as much as with the things I do. This means actually being in my life, and it means bringing my values into my daily decision making. Each day should be lived on purpose.” —adrienne maree brown

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August 21, 2020

COVID-19 & Reopening Update

Our team has been working to incorporate guidelines from public health officials and Governor Jay Inslee in order to reopen safely. Now that Island County is in Phase 3 of reopening, we are approved to host so long as strict health and safety measures are in place. To keep volunteers, participants, and team members safe, we’re taking these and other measures:

  • Requiring cloth face-coverings in shared indoor spaces
  • Requiring 6′ physical distancing between guests
  • Limiting program lodging to single occupancy, except for members of a household
  • Providing hand sanitization stations throughout campus and posting signage to encourage good hygiene
  • Limiting group numbers to ensure adequate space for physical distancing
  • Adopting stringent housekeeping protocols and frequencies
  • Limiting group sizes to ensure capacity for physically-distanced gathering and dining

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July 15, 2020

Moving Beyond Hashtags

Moving Beyond Hashtags: When #Blacklivesmatter Stops Trending on Social Media

by Christina Malecka

As someone passionate about tech-life balance and off-screen wellbeing,  I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

Yet, over the past month I have learned so much from thinkers like Nicole PearsonSonya Renee Taylor, and Ijeoma Oluo who have challenged me to more deeply interrogate systemic racism and my responsibility to dismantle it. Read More →

July 8, 2020