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History

In addition to the recent history of the the Whidbey Institute and the Chinook Learning Community before it, we acknowledge the longer arc of human history in this place. We honor the Lushootseed people and members of the Suquamish, Snohomish, Swinomish, and Lower Skagit tribes whose ancestors loved this land long before European settlement began, and celebrate the ongoing vitality of native communities and the wisdom of those who have called this place home before us.

 

 

The Chinook Learning Community

The story of Whidbey Institute began in 1966 when founders Fritz and Vivienne Hull purchased a late nineteenth century Finnish farm on south Whidbey Island. In 1972, the homestead and surrounding land became the Chinook Learning Community.

Over the next 24 years, the Learning Community operated as a retreat center where gatherings and workshops convened individuals who hungered for community, a place for reflection, and a connection to nature in a place that felt like home. Our original 501(c)(3) non-profit status as a religious organization supported our exploration of matters relating to Earth, Spirit, and the Human Future.

Photos from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s at Chinook

The Whidbey Institute

In 1993 the Community founders, together with new collaborators, gathered on the Scottish island of Iona to envision a new organization. Its mission was to cultivate and nurture personal development and community vitality. Two years later, the Chinook Learning Community merged with this new organization, which was named the Whidbey Institute.

While the emphasis was new, the guiding principles and core values adhered to the organization’s founding vision of thriving individuals, communities, and ecosystems. In 1997, the Whidbey Institute obtained new 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit educational organization. Today, the Institute continues to serve the bioregion through its commitment to programs that support and enhance adaptive leadership skills; just and resilient communities; and thriving ecosystems. While the Institute brings together people to engage with the most serious issues of our time, we do so with a spirit of optimism and a shared joy in our collective work to build a more vibrant, just and peaceful world.

Photos from the construction of Thomas Berry Hall and the Sanctuary