We are excited to welcome Dan McKee and the Warrior Monk Retreats back to the Whidbey Institute! In anticipation of his upcoming program, November 1-5, 2023, I took the opportunity to learn more about his work and his approach to holding Warrior Monk retreats, particularly at the Whidbey Institute.
I know you and your programs have been associated with the Whidbey Institute for a long time. When was the last time you held a retreat here and was that a Warrior Monk Retreat?
Yes, it was another Warrior Monk Retreat in early 2020, not too long before the pandemic-induced hiatus.
We’ve been holding this retreat almost yearly – sometimes twice a year – at the Whidbey Institute since the early 2000’s so it’s wonderful to be coming back.
Can you describe the Warrior Monk retreat, perhaps for someone who has never attended or has little to no background on your work?
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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?
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This past February, as the Whidbey Institute’s Communication Manager, I had the good fortune to go for a walk in the Legacy Forest with Jessica Larson from the Whidbey Camano Land Trust (WCLT). Jessica is a Stewardship Director with the WCLT and helps to coordinate and monitor the Whidbey Institute’s Conservation Easement along with our Forest Stewardship Plan.
I was eager to learn more about the WCLT’s role in protecting the Whidbey Institute’s 106 acres of forest and wetlands and wanted to hear from her about some of the unique aspects of the land and features to look for when traveling the 4+ miles of trails.
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Benjamin Johnston joined the Whidbey Institute team this summer to help care for plants and place. He describes his work as taking care of the land so that people can feel at ease here. From weed whacking and hand weeding to excavating leaking pipes, Ben is willing to engage with any aspect of the work that supports a flourishing place—but his love, and his passion, come through when exploring the relationships of humans with plants and ecosystems. Read More →
A Rooted Roof: Volunteers install living roof on Commons porch
By Marnie Jackson
Photos courtesy Floyd|Snider
As I approached the Commons building on a recent morning, one thing stood out . . . the vibrancy of the living porch roof, still thick and green even under a coating of fresh snow. The sedum mix has been growing in place on the roof since it was installed during an Autumn 2021 workshop, and seems to be thriving despite this cold snap. Fulfilling its promise to add beauty, mitigate runoff, and support pollinator habitat, the living roof is a great addition to our new gathering space. Read More →
To Those Who Love This Place,
We have an update to share. The short version of the story is that, after nearly 12 years of service, I am stepping down as a staff member in the organization. The process began March 16, 2021 and will be complete in March 2022. Filled with optimism for our organization and gratitude for the relationships and communities I’ve encountered here, I take this step in service to the emerging future.
With our solid leadership team, robust system of distributed authority, and clear map for the work ahead, we are well prepared for this transition—and the team and I are parting with a ton of mutual care and regard. We have accomplished big work together as part of the fabric of a fifty-year journey, and I am enthusiastic for what will be made possible in the years to come.
If you’re curious to learn more, a long version of the story follows.
—Heather Johnson Read More →
Why They Give: A Conversation with Lynnaea Lumbard & Rick Paine
Long time Whidbey Institute supporters Lynnaea Lumbard and Rick Paine have given so much—thought partnership, leadership, and donations of time and funds. From 2016 through 2020, Rick and Lynnaea provided essential advice, leadership and funding for the Whidbey Institute 2020 Capital Campaign, which added capacity for lodging, meeting, and operations. We connected with Lynnaea and Rick to learn more about why they give to the Whidbey Institute. Read More →
Guided Group Labyrinth Walks
July 31, August 14, and Sept. 18
Beginners and long time Labyrinth walkers welcome
“A labyrinth walk is a metaphor for life and unique to each individual. Some people get turned around, and sometimes they come back out and then go back in to find their way, just as we do in life.” —Nancy
Nancy Neudecker, a part-time Maxwelton Valley resident and student of labyrinth facilitation, is offering guided labyrinth walks this summer. Last week, she connected with staff member Marnie Jackson to share more about her love of labyrinths. Read More →
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 →
Pictured: a photo by tessie of MadelEine, Anika, and a curious doe. Photos courtesy the Bunnell family.
We were lucky enough to get to know the Bunnell family during spring and summer 2020, as Beth and her daughters Tessie (14) and Madeleine (16) got involved as volunteers on the land. When we asked for their reflections, Tessie and Madeleine both expressed excitement about what they had seen and learned, and eager anticipation of their next visit to the land.
“I look forward to spending more time at the Whidbey Institute and seeing how our trail looks in the different seasons,” Tessie said. Read More →