by Ria Nochera, Program Logistics Coordinator at The Ojai Foundation
• the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom
This weekend, April 29-May 1, The Ojai Foundation (TOF) will be hosting a “Spring Visioning Retreat” with its staff, board, elders, and wider community. Friends of TOF will be traveling from all over the state for this exciting gathering. In the words of TOF Board Director, Laura Whitney, “The intention of this retreat is to come together - nested circles of staff, board, elders and advisors – to celebrate where we’ve been, to discover who we are (and are not!) and to access alignment and engagement for where we are heading.”
While spring board retreats happen annually, this is the first retreat of its kind in over 5 years. This gathering is especially significant given that it will involve the newly incarnated advisory council which includes members of the council trainers circle, Besant Hill School, Beyond Boundaries, Pacifica Graduate Insitute, and 1% for the planet, amongst others. The weekend will start off Friday morning with ceremony and council, followed by status reports to establish the current “state of our union” and honor who we are now as an organization. Saturday will be a time for open processing and reflection so that by Sunday, the circle can move forward with what has arisen. After stating our intentions and confirming action items, the weekend will complete with a closing council and ceremony. This retreat will incorporate earth-based ceremony, council, and Open Space processes. As one of our elders, Lola Long, likes to say, “No one is not invited.”
Board meetings, visioning retreats, and sabbaticals have been common practice in TOF history, though the form has evolved over the years. For example, our current board meetings occur quarterly and last about 3-4 hours--not so long compared to the 3-day board meetings of the early 80s. See this excerpt from a letter written in June 1987 by brother john, Joan Halifax, and Jack Zimmerman to The Ojai Foundation community:
“It is necessary to draw back the arrow before it can be sent flying to its mark… The land, its caretakers and the growing clarity of our vision as ‘educational sanctuary’ will provide the underlying continuity in the months just ahead… Our intention remains to keep development on the ridge unobtrusive and in harmony with the natural setting appropriate to an educational sanctuary.”
The statement above, though written almost 30 years ago, could not be more relevant today. This upcoming retreat is our chance to “draw back the arrow” before we send our renewed intention and purpose out into the world. Over all these years, the nature and intention of our meetings, visionings, and gatherings has remained the same: to form an in depth connection with the people, land, and vision of The Ojai Foundation. We look forward to what may emerge this weekend from sitting and visioning in circle together. Stay tuned!