The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) is an 80-acre research, demonstration, education, advocacy and community-organizing center in West Sonoma County, California that develops strategies for regional-scale community resilience and the restoration of biological and cultural diversity.
OAEC trains and supports “whole communities” — schools, public agencies, Native American tribes, urban social justice organizations, watershed groups and others — to design and cultivate resilience to mounting ecological, social and economic challenges.
Founded in 1994, the Center has developed a remarkably diverse yet interrelated suite of projects and partnerships that address the urgent crises of our time through permaculture and ecological design, biointensive horticulture, conservation hydrology, restoration ecology and traditional ecological knowledge, strategic organizing methods, and democratic self-governance.
OAEC also hosts group retreats for networks, public agencies, foundations and other groups working towards social and environmental change.
OAEC cultivates ecological literacy and builds the capacity of civic and social movement leaders and organizations to guide their own communities to an ecologically regenerative, economically viable, and socially just future.
Inspired by Nature, where diversity is a key indicator of the health of an ecosystem, we assist place-based communities in reorienting human economy and governance towards the restoration and stewardship of biological and cultural diversity. To realize our mission, we invest in projects and partnerships that address the root causes of the ecological, economic, and social crises of our time.
The Center in Action
Since 1994, OAEC’s 80 acres of organic gardens, onsite intentional community, and Wildlands Preserve of grasslands and mixed oak, fir and redwood forests have served as a living laboratory for research, practice, demonstration and teaching.
In developing and caring for the Center, we reveal a place of beauty and inspiration full of examples of practices and appropriate technologies to inspire you to build economically and ecologically sustainable communities. As we seek to model solutions applicable to a wide range of place-based communities, our demonstration site and online resources use DIY (“Do It Yourself”) technologies that readily transfer to urban and international context.
Why “Arts & Ecology”?
Creativity is place-based cultural expression.
The word “ecology” – from the Greek words for “home” and “logic” – means the study of home. Just as reconnecting to natural systems encourages right action in relation to Nature, tapping into humanity’s innate creativity reawakens us to our relationships with each other and with the Earth that sustains and inspires us. In this way, creative expression encourages personal and cultural resilience and can help to build a transition to a healthy culture and economy.
At OAEC, we infuse artistic expression into everything we do, from tending our land to constructing our buildings to creating our meals (take our Visual Tour to see the Center through beautiful photos). We model a fusion of ecological design and creative expression to reawaken our visitors to their interrelationship with their own place. We also host performances to honor the power of the arts to bring communities together and influence thought.
Learn more about our melding of Art & Ecology.
Building resilient communities requires a long-term investment in relationships and place.
In 1994, a group of seven friends established residency on this land, forming a limited liability company (LLC) and community called Sowing Circle. Soon after, the group founded the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that resides in the same place. These two entities have formed a lasting, mutually supporting relationship, one enriching the other in a symbiotic reciprocity that continues to this day.
In observing the modern Intentional Communities movement, it’s clear that there is a revival of an old urge – the desire to weave together the often disjointed core components of our lives: family, work, home, social change, spirituality, celebration and friends. In the tradition of land-based communities around the world, intentional communities organize culture around natural processes, encouraging resource conservation and waste reduction through the sharing of resources.
Learn more about Intentional Community at OAEC.
Since its founding, OAEC has focused on diversifying revenue sources to facilitate long-term financial stability.
We secure income and revenue from a diverse array of sources, including courses, our Plant Sales & Nursery, fiscally sponsored projects, consulting to support other organizations, foundation grants, and individual donors.
Please consider donating to OAEC in support of our work!