For over 35 years the annual Holistic Centers’ Gathering has been taking place and in 2021 we met for the second time in the virtual space, focusing on the theme of Emerging Resilience. 64% of attendees were previous participants and 36% were attending an HCN Gathering for the first time. Nearly 250 registrants represented 50 different organisations and we celebrate online tech making it easier for staff in each center to engage in the various sessions.
60% of folk were from the US and we also welcomed friends from Canada, UK, Bolivia, Brazil, China and the Philippines. The session offered by the HCN JEDI Pod and the keynote with Rhonda Magee were both strongly embraced as awareness grows around the importance of social justice work within holistic centers. The Business of Impact session where money and spirituality meets was also a highlight as more centers recognise themselves as purpose driven organisations. 62% of centers describe themselves as non-profit or non-taxable, 12% as a mission-impact organization, 6% for profit and 20% other (eg. emerging centers). Wisdom and innovation were freely shared in the heartfelt conversations with 72% of participants from established centers and 28% from emerging centers.
Connection via small breakout groups followed by the opening keynote from anthropologist Wade Davis set the tone for the four days. Wade described holistic centers, ‘As incubators of ideas and seeds of hope’ and spoke of the importance of conscious travel post pandemic, rather than the frenetic travel so embedded in the world prior. ‘We travel to be transformed’ and place based centers remain important, ‘To enter that liminal zone between where you were and where you’re going to be. So that you can perhaps get to that point where heaven and earth come together to reveal glimpses of the Divine.’
Realising that the path is not to a destination, but to a state of mind.
His words resonated deeply and strengthened the optimism within the group in these uncertain times. “If you believe that wisdom may be found in all spiritual traditions that people in all places are always dancing with new possibilities for life. That one preserves jam but not culture. Then you share a vision of compassion and inclusion that represents perhaps the most sublime revelation of our species, the scientific realization that all of humanity is one interconnected and undivided whole.” This vision was the thread weaving each unfolding session into the next.
The work of law professor and mindfulness teacher Rhonda Magee helps us develop the capacity to address the fears and anxieties that would otherwise lead us to recreate patterns of separation and division. Only by healing from injustices and dissolving our personal barriers, can we view others with compassion and live in community with people of vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints. Rhonda spoke with love and clarity during her keynote to us all;
I think we’ve come to realize that more than goodwill is needed. And certainly, that intentionality around addressing the legacies of racism in our culture is worthy of our consideration.
Throughout the Gathering we heard voices from a range of centers and also welcomed a third keynote speaker, the author and environmentalist Bill McKibben. “It’s important to keep doing education but that education has to be coupled with action and strong movements of people who have figured out how to make change happen. The most important thing an individual can do is be a little less of an individual and join together with others in those movements.”
That’s why we need institutions like yours playing that catalysing role.
“Look at the way that the Highlander Center performed as an integral part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. We need more than consciousness expanding now. We need political power expanding. One of the things that all movements need are places to reflect, strategize, go forward, to figure out how to be effective as ‘forward operating’ posts,” said Bill. “The work you do is crucial and we need to move up yet one more notch. The planet is way way outside its comfort zone. We need to be outside ours. And for that work, I just cannot give enough thanks. You are all a crucial part of this ecosystem of change.”
Reflections from the Closing Circle offer insight into the Spirit of Gathering
Thanks for a wonderful week! I really enjoyed the Data and Analytics talk – sharing trends in the online programming space.
Congratulations on a wonderful gathering. I know how much dedicated graft you put into making it all work. The JEDI session was powerful.
Thanks again for all you do to make the virtual gatherings so heart filling, and for keeping the ship steered towards a global community of transformers.
Simply Wild Sanctuary
I loved hearing from the HCN board in the Successes and Challenges session and how they bravely recruited to diversify their board and how that has been going since. I am sooo grateful to Christine for gently encouraging us to reengage with the Network and for supporting our ability to attend.
The session on Leadership and Vulnerability was the best one of the whole week!!! These heartfelt sessions are really important as they differentiate HCN from the other networks and webinars. I will carry in my heart many takeaways and put them into action. Congratulations on the selection of the panelists, they’re all different and complemented each other perfectly!
Le Monastere des Augustines
Thank you for all of your hard work, insight, planning, coordination and assistance with my attending Emerging Resilience. I learned a lot and met great professionals dedicated to their work.
La Casa de Maria