The Whitman Institute Retreat 2012
By Pia Infante
TWI’s 4th retreat, like many of our previous retreats, was marked by bountifully good weather, rich conversations and connections, and a sensibility of community and renewal.
Yet, something happened this time. Something distinct, and extraordinary. I left, and many reported similarly, feeling powerfully connected, renewed, vibrant and inspired. One participant thought that this year’s retreat was 100 times the potency of the last one. Perhaps the gatherings have simply built momentum over time.
There were certainly some structural distinctions:
- Doubling previous participant cohorts, the group numbered 71 people – including current and former grantees, the trustees and staff, other funders, and kindred spirits.
- It was our most diverse group of participants in terms of experience, region, race, age, culture, affinity, gender, orientation, roles and relationships to TWI.
- More structured elements, where storytelling and topic-based conversations were baked into a more facilitated design.
- The location, Chaminade in Santa Cruz, offered a wonderful blend of shared and private space.
- We sometimes started or ended with the reading of poetry.
Perhaps, too, it is that TWI has recently set off towards a distinct point in time when the foundation will sunset. The inquiry and exploration about the living legacy the Institute will leave behind was a profoundly awakened one.
As Jill Blair noted in a recent email strand about the many sparks of connection and collaboration that have already followed the retreat:
“When we speak about the value proposition for the Institute’s approach, this (collaboration/connectivity) is what we mean. The time we take to talk and to trust is time well spent – it is worth it because it builds better understanding and because it builds a basis for better collective work.”
We are delighted that many of those who joined us are continuing to cross-fertilize, connect, and collaborate in myriad ways. We are also excited to join in, where possible, the proposed regional gatherings and re-groupings that are in the works. Lastly, we deeply appreciate the rich contributions of each and every person who joined us, and will take into deep consideration all that was shared.