From Wren: I’m passing on this early announcement of an exciting new Summer Camp. I was asked to help organize it, but my schedule didn’t sync up this year. Still, I’m very excited by what Teryani Riggs and friends are creating. Please check it out! –WT

Hi folks,

Just wanted to let you know of an amazing event coming up in late August 20th-29th in Floyd, VA.

For those of you who’ve been to other Summer Camps, please notice that this camp is far from a carbon copy of either SC East or West.  We’ll be focusing on much more than human relationships.  At this point our camp not only includes standard Camp fair such as HAI, NVC, Erotic Edge, and daily Forum, but also Rewilding, Elements of Symbiosis, Beyond Patriarchy, Reconnecting with the Earth, World Cafe, Theater of Change, as well as interweaving art, dance, and music throughout the entire camp.  We also have a really strong and talented organizing team, a wonderful site and host community (Anahata), and a HUGE commitment to social change.  Please check out our vision statement and see if it excites you:

Join a dynamic and experimental group of social pioneers as we embrace the opportunity to be the change that facilitates personal and global breakthrough.

We are all aware that the world is at a momentous tipping point at which global ecology and culture will either break down or break through.   At points like these, small groups can have influence far beyond their size. There are no ready recipes for building new ways of living—the inner and outer devastation of the planet and its peoples has become far too pervasive, and the challenges far too complex.  Yet, we must take responsibility for our future—for ourselves, for the Earth, and for the future generations of all beings.

At CulturEvolution Summer Camp, we’ll embark on a 10-day experiment in creating a space for breakthrough in our individual, social, and potentially global dynamics.  Through creative group endeavors, we’ll be exploring

-    Our intrinsic connection to the entire web of life—how to better understand and augment the symbiotic connections among all beings. How can we align our actions to support both ecological and social sustainability?

-    Creativity as “community glue.”  Using art, music, and theater, we’ll dive into the depths of our primal beings and our creative source, and from these depths bring into being the world we want to evolve into.

-    The nature of love, Eros, and conscious human relationships.  What do we need to create true connection, within ourselves and with others?  What skills do we need to build to make relationship choices out of love and joy, rather than fear?

Our intent for Summer Camp is not merely about co-creating a fun, interesting, heartfelt group experience, but also to leave folks with clear direction, skills, hope, and connections for further transformation.  Whether your focus is ecological sustainability, permaculture, community, conscious relationships, alternative economics, spirituality, and/or creating peace, we hope that CulturEvolution camp can be a springboard for your work in the world.

Registration will probably open in late March.  Please note: this year we’re keeping camp to a max of 40 campers (in addition to the 20 or so organizers and presenters) so we may very well sell out.  We’re really committed to going on a deep journey together and are hoping for folks who will commit to the entire time.  At this point we expect to have a “closed” camp (no new campers arriving mid-camp).

Feel free to pass this along to anyone who would be excited by it.  If you’re interested in coming or have any questions, please let me know.


“…to defend and conserve oneself as a human being in the fullest, truest sense, one must defend and conserve many others and much else. What would be the hope of being personally whole in a dis-membered society, or personally healthy in a land scalped, scraped, eroded, and poisoned, or personally free in a land entirely controlled by the government, or personally enlightened in an age illuminated only by TV?”    Wendell Berry

Teryani Riggs
The Living Awareness Institute

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Shut Up and Talk to Me

Wren on June 29th, 2008

Wow, talking bes hard. The communi in communicate is so true–If you don’t get the other person to buy in to finding a solution to the problem or conflict between the two of you, then you’re an unhooked battery, all charge and no current.

Intentional Community is a laboratory for communication and conflict resolution.

At Heathcote Community, all members agree to a flexible process for addressing conflicts in a timely manner, and we agree on certain rules of engagement. If I have an issue with Jane Heathcoter, I’ve agreed not to carry it around, stewing in my juices. I must ask her for a “checkin.” Depending on the voltage of the charge, Jane and I might

  • sit down one on one
  • ask another Heathcoter to mediate or
  • take our issue to the entire community for help and support.

This is what new members can’t always prepare for in advance: Intentional Community is a fishbowl, a small one. Everyone else sees your baggage. They’ll be impacted by it and call you on it. Processing this is the deepest, hardest, most sacred work of community. Sustainable living, beautiful scenery and community dinners are in a way just the trappings of it.

Some people have the self knowledge that this is work they dream of doing. Others have the wisdom to know it’s not for them. Some believe intellectually that they want this, but are shocked by how hard the work is, how bruising to the ego, and how hard that ego is to put down. Good communication is a skillset, not just good intentions.

In my thirteen years of observing communication and conflict resolution at Heathcote and other communities, I’ve come to recognize these components in successful processing:

  • each speaks her or his truth without agenda or manipulation, sticking to facts and speaking from experience, putting down that ego and the need to be right or wise
  • each listens so as to understand the speaker’s experience, walking that mile in her or his moccasins–”Oh, that’s how it is for you…” putting down filters, not preparing for debate
  • everyone looks at all the cards on the table, looking not for the solution they had in mind at the beginning, but for the win/win that arises from new understanding and acceptance of each other

Even after thireen years in the fishbowl, I still fall into all the traps of bad communication. But I try hard and, because of the sacred work we’ve done, I’ve created trust and mutual respect with my long time community mates. I have enough safety to bring them just about any subject and speak with transparency.

At Heathcote we’ve brought in outside trainers to improve our skills in conflict resolution and consensus, as well as meeting facilitation. We’ve added to our communication “toolboxes.” Many of us have found processes like Zegg Forum, Non-Violent Communication and Imago very powerful and helpful.

Are you seeking community where you can have lovingly honest relationships with your friends? Do you want to learn skills of sharing and listening without agenda, noticing when you get triggered and looking at the causes?

Do you live in community now? I’d love to hear your adventures in conflict resolution!

I often say that Intentional Community is the toughest gift you’ll ever be glad you opened. If you’ve been considering seeking community, I’m inviting you in. Now that you know about that secret gift, welcome to the fishbowl.

Meet you in the deep end!

–Wren Tuatha

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