Center for Knowing Home
Fall Equinox 2021
Essay and program by Whidbey Institute founders Fritz and Vivienne Hull
“Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.”
The call to live in a greater intimacy with the Earth has never been more urgent. Today we feel challenged to respond to this call in ways surpassing what we have known. We have therefore created the new Center for Knowing Home on our land in the heart of the Whidbey Institute. We are seeking a new imagination regarding how we can help deepen humankind’s relationship with the natural world. We want to team with others to craft an educational vision that is radically open to the Earth itself, and that asks for a radical response from us each.
It is clear to us that a wholehearted immersion in nature is required that will bring a heightened consciousness leading to creative action on behalf of the Earth. The center’s purpose is to love, protect, and restore the Earth, linking with other organizations who serve similar purposes. We regard this as soul-level environmental work, open to the pain and struggle of what is now happening in our country and world. This is the time to bring the vision of this new center into form with the quickness now required by the impending climate emergency.
The Whidbey Institute is the steward of a magnificent forest. We feel that the forest is calling us all to wander in its beauty and power, to feel our deep belonging in this intricate system of life, and to understand global warming and its effects on this forest and all our lives. We believe the forest itself will guide and discipline us. It will empower us all in our work on behalf of a sustainable future.
New facilities for the Center for Knowing Home will be located on the uniquely held 5-acres of land near Storyhouse. They will include a bioregional resource cabin, clusters of story boards regarding forest ecology and Native American presence, a teaching shelter, and other low-impact structures yet to be imagined. The existing facilities that comprise Hilltop Retreats will continue to serve retreat guests.
New programs will be crafted that can reach from young people to elders. A Knowing Home curriculum will be created, linked to a knowledge system using the internet, kiosks, storyboards, bioregional cabin, new programs, reading together, shared stories, places, poetry, and more. We will especially partner with those creating a circuit trail. The current Hilltop Retreat program will be expanded to include forest immersion experiences and a scholar in residence program. We are researching a possible Forest Music Festival for summer of 2022.
The new Center for Knowing Home, located along the Storyhouse loop trail, is designed to accommodate participants in its own programs, participants in programs of the Whidbey Institute, students at the Waldorf School, participants in programs at the future youth campus, friends and neighbors of the Whidbey Institute, and members of the wider public who come specifically to walk the trails and visit the center’s displays and resources. Our intention is to conduct educational experiences outdoors as much as possible, celebrating wildness. We will invite people to return again and again, and to feel at home in this forest for the rest of their lives.
We are inviting friends to work as a hub for creative learning and programming that is aligned with themes of earth, spirit and the human future. Fall of this year will be a period of creative input from many people and organizations.
We will keep costs low. We will reach inclusively to people of all races, backgrounds, and life orientations. We will align with the Whidbey Institute’s efforts to become a transforming and multicultural organization.
The center functions as an integral part of the Whidbey Institute, and is joining in the current “re-awakening” at the Institute following Covid. We are creating the Center for Knowing Home in the spirit of an offering to the world, and specifically an offering within the Whidbey Institute.
“Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”