I recently had the opportunity to connect with Themis Gkion, a Creative Empowerment Facilitator with Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE). Connecting via Zoom between Greece and the United States, we enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about the PYE approach to learning, about larger trends in education, and about what is possible when the power and potential of young learners are unleashed. As an outcome of our conversation, I’ve been personally inspired to take an online Creative Facilitation 1 course from PYE in June. —Marnie Jackson Read More →
Making Magic: A Conversation with Themis Gkion
Note: this Featured Program story was excerpted from our 2019-2020 Gratitude Report.
We asked program leader Victoria Santos how, with Debra Baker, she concieved and co-hosted the 2019 Nourishment Retreat. Here are her reflections:
The Nourishment retreat came out of my own realization that women of color, and black women in particular, needed a space to recharge, to be nourished, to heal, and to share their stories. I know the healing power of the Whidbey Institute—the intention with which the space was cultivated, the way the land is stewarded, and the way the food nourishes. I wanted to put all of that in the service of BIPOC women.
By Marnie Jackson
A few months ago, I got an email from Daniel, a Duke University student, about a new nonprofit called You Change Earth. Its stated mission: “Millions of caring people could be making a difference for our environment, yet simply don’t know how. We are dedicated to helping every one of these people find their role in the climate solution.”Daniel wondered if I might be interested in learning more, or helping spread the word, about You Change Earth. Read More →
The Whidbey Institute Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Marnie Jackson has accepted a position as Co-Executive Director of the Whidbey Institute. Marnie joins Heather Johnson, current Executive Director, in the role. Marnie has a deep commitment to our mission and has repeatedly demonstrated her capacity for skillful and effective co-leadership as a core member of our team since 2013. Read More →
On Wednesday, June 3 we launched an Open Zoom series. These lightly facilitated, social calls are open to all and run from 10 am to 11 am weekly through the month of July.
Three folks attended our first Zoom call, and conversation focused primarily on racism. As white people we discussed how to overcome our own internalized white privilege, how to help other white folks be less harmful, and how to be authentic, repair, and heal. We talked about the role of trauma as a root cause of so much violence, and we talked about the death of the illusion of individuality and the myth of American exceptionalism.
A quote from the call:
“We need to make the journey from head to heart.”
A resource mentioned during the call: The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
We recently welcomed non-profit professional, frequent volunteer, and inspiring collaborator Dani Turk to the Whidbey Institute Board of Directors. This week, Dani and I connected about her background, her interest in serving, and what she sees as possible in partnership with the Whidbey Institute team and community. Here’s that conversation. —Marnie Jackson Read More →
Our March 2020 quarterly learning group was unlike any our team has held before: fully online. Some folks had major Zoom fatigue after spending a full two weeks in remote conversations, while others were just getting used to connecting through the computer as a new part of daily life. Still, we managed to learn, laugh, grieve, play, work, and reflect together and by the end of our three-hour call we felt collectively nurtured and restored. Good work, humans—it’s an honor to be in this work with you.
The close of 2019 brought changes to the Whidbey Institute board as four board members completed their terms and new board officers were elected. Larisa Benson was elected Board President, stepping into a role formerly held by Kate Snider. Joining Larisa on our executive committee are Vice President Mark Forman and Treasurer Casey Dilloway. Kate continues to serve as a board member-at-large with a special focus on our ongoing Whidbey Institute 2020 Capacity-Building Initiative. Read More →
Our autumn board/staff retreat, brilliantly facilitated by incoming Board President Larisa Benson and staff member Meg Gluckman, gave the Whidbey Institute team an opportunity to reflect on the life cycles of our work. We played with questions of germination, emergence, growth, harvest, and death. We looked at what’s being nurtured from seed to seedling, what’s abundantly mature, and what’s being composted to nourish the new. We looked at the projects, ideas, and ways of working that we’re ready to let go of and the projects, ideas, and ways that want to emerge.
One thing that is abundantly clear to me in my communications role is that telling a true story—in the moment, as it unfolds, with all its beauty and flaws—matters more than telling a perfect story. So much has changed at the Whidbey Institute since I arrived six years ago, and how we share what we’re up to needs to change too. It’s time for our blog to take center stage, as a place where you get the day to day stories from behind the scenes.
Whidbey Institute is unfolding its butterfly wings as a transformational learning center, truly embracing its values of transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability. We learn better when we learn together, unafraid to be imperfect on our collective journey of growth and change.
You can expect to see changes on our website in the coming months, harvesting our work, our learnings, and the gaps between what is and what can be in the areas of equity, climate action, self-organization, and more. You can expect to see regular blog posts from me and my colleagues, and you can expect to see programming that aligns more and more with our deep purpose to nurture the conditions for transformation in service to a future in which people and planet thrive together.
I, for one, can’t wait. Thank you for being on this journey with me.
Sommer Bowlin started working with us in October 2018 with a role on our housekeeping team. She’s a major part of the team keeping our lodging and gathering spaces clean, fresh, and inviting.
In addition to her work with the Whidbey Institute, Sommer loves spending time with family. She’s a homemaker with a six-year old stepson, Reece, and a partner, Jason. They have two dogs and a cat, and enjoy baking, cooking, board games, and movies. In addition to work and family time, she keeps life in balance with beach walks, art, and activism on behalf of our southern resident orcas, a critically endangered population. Read More →