“I only wish every single person I know could have access to this. What a better world we would live in. What a difference would it make.”
Retreats in nature are a very well-known, and probably underused, tool for change. For Be The Earth they are powerful places to create space for reflection, outside of our everyday lives and routines. "They give us an opportunity to break patterns and intentionally create new ones, and to build new communities with others on a shared path, to remind us that we are part of something greater, and never alone", according to Seth Tabatznik, our funder and founder.
In October 2021 the St. Ethelburga Centre of Reconciliation and Peace's team put up an amazing programme for a group of radical dreamers at 42 acres. The retreat aimed to offer practical tools for inner and outer resilience, alongside active service to the earth. It combined an unflinching look at the reality of ecological and social breakdown, with simple regenerative action on the land.
Be The Earth's role was to connect these amazing partners and subsidise St. Ethelburga's costs, offering the opportunity for more participants, with a particular care for diversity, to join the programme.
The retreat was structured as a journey into the reality of climate breakdown and out
the other side into an experience of resilience inwardly and in our communities.
"Seventeen participants attended, forming a very varied and diverse group. They included people from a range of cultures and backgrounds, as well as a range of
faiths and none - Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Quakers, Sufi’s and atheists. The
age range ran from 27 to 70. Many of them expressed having come to a crossroads,
and needing to make a shift in their lives, and were looking for different ways of living
through the coming decades. Many were leaders in their communities." says Justine Huxley St. Ethelburga's CEO.
Woven throughout the process that combined a wide range of experiences, from peer-led workshops and experts masterclasses to bonfires and working with the land, the group explored approaches to climate justice and environmental racism, service to the Earth and connection and communion with nature.
“There was a huge benefit to learning about ecology and climate change in much
greater depth. It’s one thing to read a book, but another to grapple with the issues
with others - it brings a much deeper understanding. I have a deep appreciation for
the diversity of this movement. Just look around the room - all the varied
experiences and professions, age, gender, race and cultural heritage - this has been
a huge part of the experience. It’s so helpful to learn from people with lived
experience.”, celebrated one of the participants.
Under the guidance of indigenous leaders, activists and practitioners and also learning from those living and working in countries experiencing social collapse, the group came together in community, taking a courageous look at the future, while getting their hands in the earth. BTE believes in the collective power that arises from learning and experiences that combine diversity, nature and the human spirit.
“We have to move into radical self love and radical self trust, because we have that knowledge in our biology. We have that knowledge in our spirit. We have that knowledge and our connection to all the life that came before, that has the wisdom to draw in what we are so deeply searching for at this time.”, added Pat McCabe, Native American elder that was one of the speakers of the programme.
Also joined as facilitators, mentor and speakers:
- Rabiah Abdullah: deep ecologist, herbalist, and Sufi singer.
- Bruna Kadletz : the Co-founder and Director of Brazilian humanitarian organisation, Círculos de Hospitalidade (Circles of Hospitality)
- Peter MacFadyen: activist and community leader in Frome, co-creator of Flatpack Democracy
- Russell Rigler, Tasha Stevens-Vallecillo, and Arek Adamczak : 42 acres team