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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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 →
Our friend Larry Daloz recounts a time when he explored the Whidbey Institute woods with ecofeminist scholar Joanna Macy. As I recall the story, Larry—who possesses an extensive knowledge of moss—said something to Joanna about his admiration of it. With her hand, she pushed his face into the plush green carpet and held it there. “Now you know moss,” she said. 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
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As representatives of a predominantly white-led organization, we at the Whidbey Institute are wrestling with our responsibility after watching a man murdered—George Floyd, a father and beloved son and the victim of yet another cruel, racialized crime. Our hearts are broken and our sleeves are rolled up. There is hard, vital work underway—the work of coming home to a deeper and better part of ourselves.
We wake again this morning to a nation roiling with the pain of 400 years of structural, institutionalized violence against people with black and brown bodies. A nation founded on the genocide of indigenous people and built by the labor of enslaved Africans. If we are to heal and manifest collective liberation, our systems and institutions must be undone and remade. Our minds and hearts must be undone and remade.
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“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”—Sonya Renee Taylor
In this issue: staffing update, conservation easement update, GiveBIG May 5 & 6, and Journalists of Color on COVID-19.Click to read the issue. Read More →
Click here to read the full issue: https://mailchi.mp/whidbeyinstitute/newsletter-1122357
Transformational learning in the present moment
Transformational learning was once defined by Dean Elias as, “the expansion of consciousness through the transformation of basic worldview and specific capacities of the self.” Through transformational learning, in the words of Jack Mezirow, “ . . . we learn to negotiate and act on our own purposes, values, feelings, and meanings rather than those we have uncritically assimilated from others—to gain greater control ove r our lives as socially responsible, clear-thinking decision makers.” According to John M. Dirkx, transformational learning “challenges our existing frames of reference—the beliefs and assumptions we hold about ourselves, others and the world,” while at the same time “evoking potentially powerful feelings and emotions within the learning experience.” Read More →
In my work life, I am primarily a writer. For almost seven years I’ve written on behalf of the Whidbey Institute, where my colleagues and I string words together to convey the meaning of what we do here—connecting with Earth, and with one another, to grow our collective capacity to live with generative mutuality in an increasingly complex society on an increasingly impacted planet.
That’s a mouthful, and it’s the kind of writing that feels wrong for this moment. Today, my heart is holding to one-syllable words. Food. Home. Health. Rest. Books. Love. Friends. We can take none of these for granted. Read More →
On Friday morning, the Whidbey Institute staff and board awoke to this photo in our email inboxes, along with this tender note from our colleague Thomas, Resident Caretaker:
I’m sitting here in this sweet, tiny, temporary home at 4 am listening to a steady rain pouring down. As far as I know I am the only human on the land in this moment. Goodness, I am wide awake.
On Sunday the machines arrive to assist in the next phase of our transformation. It’s truly happening: this growth, vital to our development, in service to the coming generations seeking resources, connection, nourishment, and resolve. Growth that will allow us to help evolve a wiser and more loving culture. We are doing this thing together. Read More →