Winter Gathering at the Whidbey Institute, WA


I write from the town of Langley on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. I just attended the Third Winter Gathering at the Whidbey Institute. The Gathering is led by my long-time friends Rick Ingrasci and Peggy Taylor. Life partners, they have led the Summer Gathering at Hollyhock on Cortez Island in British Columbia for 27 years.

The Gathering explored a vision for resilience in the “decisive decade” ahead:

  • The threat of climate change
  • Great transition stories — the power of story to find our way through this time of transition
  • Digital technologies for interactive communication of the new stories — like the Whidbey Geodome to tell the Universe Story
  • The Transition Movement and thriving resilient communities
  • Skillful group process that strengthens collaborative communities of practice.

Rick and Peggy are masters of skillful group process. Ingredients: 20 minute “Ted Talks,” break-outs, art, music, movement, and more.

Why am I here? Honestly, I felt called, as I felt called to found Commonweal 36 years ago.

Perhaps this is why:
South Whidbey is to Seattle what West Marin is to San Francisco.
Langley is to South Whidbey what Bolinas is to West Marin. The Whidbey Institute is on South Whidbey what Commonweal is in West Marin. Fritz Hull, co-founded the Whidbey Institute and its predecessor, the Chinook Learning Center, 40 years ago. I co-founded Commonweal 36 years ago. (I just recorded a three-hour conversation with Fritz Hull; see our website.)

I know I have work to do here. The work is to build a bridge between our work at Commonweal and the remarkable community of like-minded souls on South Whidbey. The start is a series of “Whidbey Tapes” for The New School. We’ve already recorded Rick Ingrasci, and Whidbey Institute friends Sister Miriam MacGillis of Genesis Farm and Mary Evelyn Tucker, the great interpreter of Thomas Berry’s universe story. There will be many more.

Michael Lerner

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