submitted by Rachel Blalock
NEWiP’s Organizational Retreat
The leadership circle of Northeast Womyn in Permaculture (NEWiP) gathered at the Orchard School and Community Center in NH this September. After five years of annual gatherings at the Omega Center for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York, it was time to reflect. Our goals were to clarify and enhance our mission, and restructure our workings to facilitate more abundant harvests for the womyn we serve while accounting for the workload of the organizers.
During the retreat we considered our unique contributions to the Northeast permaculture community. We explored how to increase our capacity to utilize and share our group technologies, such as Open Space Technology, as well as mentor others in their use. Since the beginning of NEWIP, we have used the 8 Shields Model for organizing. We adjusted this model in the context of a new schedule that will offer more opportunities for womyn permaculturalists to gather.
We would like to share with the Northeast permaculture community a glimpse of what surfaced during our time together, as well as invite support and participation from the greater community. At the heart of our new understanding of our organization is the “Landing of the Feminine”.
Landing of the Feminine
There are so many amazing womyn doing amazing things in this region! Each of us has a unique and inspiring story to tell about our life, love, and livelihood. Northeast Womyn in Permaculture is committed to offering space and resource for these womyn and stories to emerge, be witnessed and heard, and celebrated throughout the permaculture community.
We also believe the land itself has stories to tell, and that we are bound in reciprocity to listen deeply, with open hearts, and allow those stories to shape us equally, if not more, as we shape the land. For the land misses a more balanced humanity. We hear it calling to us. We hear its deep desire for us to be a part of a separated landscape that many people may only view from a far away window, never sharing joys and sorrows.
When we form a meaningful relationship with the land, the base permaculture principle of “Observe + Interact” is only an initial step towards regenerative design. The qualities of the feminine are critical to the creation of a strong and resilient framework. In this time of separation and disconnect, we are guided to weave webs of support between the womyn of this region and beyond — to realign our movement in the world.
We are reenvisioning the spirit in which we show up, the ways in which we enter spaces and place our bodies and energy and attention with purpose. We are ready to claim our path with conviction and make space for those elements of our becoming that do not currently receive wholesome consideration. We are womyn in revolution. We are womyn in ceremony. We are womyn meeting the land and each other with reverence and respect. This is the landing of the feminine. This is the rooting of our intentions deep into the soils of this work. This is the weaving of the matriarchal wisdom lines throughout the permaculture movement.
We invite everyone to support and celebrate this vision for radical inclusivity.
If you identify as a womyn or feel called to be present among us, if your heart is activated and you would find value being a part of a radical gathering of healers, stewards of the earth, and weavers of regenerative culture, we invite you to gather with us in vibrant and collaborative community.
We practice radical inclusivity–welcoming all self-identified womyn of any age, race, faith, socio-economic background, and culture– knowing that we grow exponentially stronger and more beautiful when diversified. We stand for food justice and sovereignty. We stand for racial justice. We stand for all womyn’s rights. We stand for the respect and care of soil, water, air and all beings. We practice and develop our leadership abilities through working in alignment with our innate gifts and skills, and through taking turns listening, leading, and mentoring. Through ceremony, we practice gratitude and deepen our connection to the great web of life.
The Northeast Womyn in Permaculture will be hosting multiple gatherings each year at womyn’s homesteads across the US Northeast. At these gatherings, we will share and learn from each other’s stories, passions and skills while also meeting and listening to the land and offering our gratitude.
If you have interest and capacity as an organizational leader or a host site, we want to connect with you now, email us! Or, connect with us by joining our listserve for our news and notifications as projects take shape, and for invitations to attend and enjoy our regional gatherings and other events that we support. Please also check our website in the next months as we update our information, share our projects, and offer further details on how to get involved, including dates for upcoming homestead gatherings.
Please witness and help us to enact these goals and projects:
– Host multiple gatherings per year ( a goal of 1 each season) at different womyn’s homesteads
– Create a Radical Systems + Technology Guide and Mentorship to facilitate ease of planning and coordination of each gathering.
– Form a NEWiP Zine, filled with creative and detailed guides to our favorite social technologies: Safe Space, 8 Shields Model of Organization, Market Place, Open Space, PechaKucha, Red Tent, Skills Share, and other radical tools for clear and inclusive communication, holding space, and crafting ceremony. This zine will be available for organizations to utilize and grow with!
– Offer more programming comparable to the successful “Decolonizing Permaculture” online panel event that we hosted earlier this year.
– Continue to expand the Dismantling Oppression Resource List
– Host a public Zoom call for the extended NEWiP community to discuss what’s going on and how to be involved. (Contact us if you’d like to join the call!)
– Develop a criteria sheet for how to be a host site for a NEWiP gathering.
– Create a database of women-owned and or managed properties, businesses, and community groups in permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and agroecology.
– Develop more thoughtful relationships with allied organizations.
– Update NEWiP Website (Check out our current website here) with a more detailed herstory of the organization, a page for previous organizational team recognition, a bio page for the current leadership team, a timeline and host site list for upcoming annual gatherings, as well as a running list of NEWiP-aligned events and ongoing projects. We are also starting a blog to share and highlight the stories and voices of the land and the womyn of the homesteads we will be visiting during our gatherings.
– Write grants and other financial outreach to secure funding for payment of our Eastern technology-based shield work, as well as for our new North Guild, the folks in long-term service to this organization.
– Shift our 8 Shields Model of Organization to include a North Guild and a West Guild to increase our capacity to accomplish long-term projects and goals, holding more regular gatherings with less work for each individual overall. We see this model enhancing through involvement from the greater NEWiP community and carrying us joyfully into the future as an organization. (For a quick peek at our evolving 8 Shields Model, go here) A more detailed write-up, with descriptions of each shield’s roles, responsibilities, and commitments is on the way. We will also be detailing this model in our upcoming zine–so stay tuned!)
In respect and appreciation,
The 2018 Leadership Circle of Northeast Womyn in Permaculture