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.
To that end, I started having conversations with folks at the Whidbey Institute and also with my larger community of friends and colleagues. Friends, colleagues, and members of the Whidbey Institute board were able to come together, pitch in, and make the program accessible so no one was turned away for lack of resources. While some participants needed financial support, others were able to pay for their own tuition and even help support others’ participation.
Debra and I facilitated the retreat and hosted a wonderful group of women and gender non-conforming folks. We intentionally invitedlarge group processes, small group processes, and individual time so people could explore their interior selves.
It was wonderful to see some of the participants nourishing themselves—gathering objects from the land, laying in the grass between the gardens, and coming back with stories of playing with the bunnies and the deer. It was a really nourishing experience, and since that time the friendships we formed during the retreat have deepened.
I keep getting asked when this can happen again. We were going to come together again at the Whidbey Institute in May 2020, then COVID-19 hit. We are currently exploring dates for 2021 and keeping an eye on how things are unfolding with this virus. In the meantime, the Nourishment Retreat alumni have formed a Facebook group and are supporting one another, keeping in touch, and growing their connections. To donate or to let us know about someone who could benefit from a future retreat, email [email protected].
Victoria is in the back row, third from left. Debra is in the back row, second from right. Photo by Thomas Arthur.