By Jenyng Wu
I want to share something with you that I truly believe. The calamities of today hold the roadmap to the possibilities of tomorrow for holistic retreat centers.
This letter to you has been long in coming. Since Transitions – Part I was shared, Breitenbush was engulfed in flames. Yet, by the grace of Gaia and commitment of its community members, Breitenbush did not completely smoulder to ash. It will be rebuilt. The outpouring of support both energetic and economic has been heartwarming and healing for those who called Breitenbush home (both residents and guests). In the calamity of the loss, the roadmap emerging is one of community, rebirth and hope.
Last week’s community call was a welcome homecoming for me as it has been a while since ‘Meeting the Moment’, our virtual gathering in May. It feels like an eternity since we all pivoted from preparing to travel and gather at Esalen to connecting online as the world went into lockdown. And since then, our centers have been in a tailspin of truly meeting every moment.
Reimagining The Future
Our centers, including my own, have had to reimagine themselves: from how we operate to who we serve; whether to stay open or to close; planning scenarios for short term survival while thinking about long-term sustainability. The Holistic Centers Network (HCN) has been no different. Facing our own set of questions, HCN has been moving step by step towards both an intentional and emergent transformation of its own. Ironically, this was already in progress before the pandemic.
Many of us are familiar with HCN’s origin story, from the inception of the International Holistic Centers Gathering (IHCG) 35 years ago to the formation of HCN as a 501(c)3 in 2017. Although a young organization, it has deep roots with a wide network of international centers in the holistic movement—from legacy centers to newly emergent ones. We have all been witness to this gradual evolution in the last few gatherings.
In 2017 at Hawaii, HCN convened the IHCG to explore how the network could continue its support to centers in the sharing of best practices and collective wisdom within the industry. In 2018 at Omega, HCN chose a theme for the gathering that was relevant to centers’ work with their constituents: diversity. And in 2019 at Hollyhock, HCN had one of its largest gatherings, with a focus on intergenerational transfer of leadership and social transformation. Together the Board, with leadership from HCN’s executive director, Christine Lines, has listened deeply to and supported the network of member centers.
At the beginning of this year, HCN invited two new board members, Ling (Charlene) Lo of Hollyhock and me from the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. We both represent different generations of Gen X and Millennial, different ethnic and geographical backgrounds, and are transplants from the private for-profit sector of marketing and consulting. Since joining the board, the creative, expansive and brave conversations that have taken place have only served to amplify the transformation of the organization.
Then the pandemic hit and shortly after, George Floyd’s murder. HCN developed its Commitment to Change—to examine our own organization, our role in the holistic movement, and bringing holistic education to all humanity. Transformation is the natural evolution for an organization committed to meeting the moment.
The events of 2020 have thus far tested our resilience as people and leaders of organizations doing movement work. Within HCN, despite the challenges, there have been glimmers of light. In April, the HCN board and ED unanimously agreed to incorporate ‘1% for Humanity’ as a pay-it-forward economic model for change. Our recent virtual Board retreat in August was a regenerative process of acknowledging where we’ve fallen short, recognizing our collective intention, and moving towards creative problem solving. From the retreat, the Board has committed to a four-month process, to review vision and mission, governance and leadership models, and how to sustain a fiscally responsible organization. We will also be strategizing what 2021 looks like for HCN and how to more effectively serve the network and the larger holistic movement. All this with the intention that HCN is in it for the long haul, at least the next 50 years.
The calamities of today hold the roadmap for the possibilities of tomorrow.
A little over a week ago the United States lost a great lady, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG was only the second female and first Jewish justice to serve on the country’s highest court and spent her life and career championing for gender equality. As my children’s school community of mothers grieved and despaired at the meaning of the loss, I saw hundreds of little girls today who will be the RBGs of tomorrow. Then only a few days later, the grand jury’s decision that no one would be criminally charged with the killing of Breonna Taylor was received with disbelief and sadness. As the anger from that decision sparked renewed protests, I saw the light of ‘restorative justice’ entering the landscape of oppression in a way it never could before.
The roadmap is emerging from this year of extreme change.
We are sojourners together and HCN will continue to do what it does best: connect, collaborate and build community for our holistic retreat centers network— all the while sharing our light of holistic learning to make a better world. We invite you to engage and emerge together. Already we are working to deepen our vision and our role in the world with words like just, consciousness, compassion – loving of people and planet.
Thank you, Peter, for your tireless service these past years as president of the board and your unwavering passion in the work of holistic education and the advancement of holism as a movement. HCN will continue to serve its member centers and connect us all.
HCN Board President
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