OAEC supports diverse communities to design their own regenerative systems at the regional and local scale.
Our cookbook is a collection of inventive recipes inspired by seasonal eating from our biodiverse Mother Garden, orchards and Wildlands Preserve.
Experience the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center through a video tour and beautiful photographs of our Guest Houses, Meeting Room, Bathhouse, Kitchen & Dining Room, Mother Garden and more.
Our 100% Certified Organic plant nursery specializes in open-pollinated perennials including edible landscaping plants, rare and endangered food crops, drought tolerant ornamentals and habitat plants - all tested in our onsite gardens and appropriate for our bioregion.
OAEC offers the longest consistently running two-week Permaculture Design Certification course in the West. Immerse yourself in information, ideas and inspiration on how to design sustainable, regenerative systems in balance with your home ecosystem.
Our School Garden Teacher Training supports schools to integrate the school garden into multiple subject areas using place-based, experiential learning.
Adam Wolpert is a painter, teacher, facilitator and one of the co-founders of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. He has lived in community for over 30 years and, since 1996, has co-facilitated OAEC’s Starting and Sustaining Intentional Communities course. He leads workshops in group process and facilitation at OAEC and elsewhere, and has worked as a facilitator and organizational consultant with dozens of non-profits, communities and foundations since 1999. A passionate artist from an early age, Wolpert explored the media of performance, ceramics, sculpture, and collage before turning seriously to painting. After a rigorous 2-year training in classical realism at Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, Italy, where he immersed himself in the work of the great European masters, Wolpert completed an MFA at UC San Diego. He has had major gallery representation since 1988, including many solo exhibitions and group shows throughout California. He also teaches art to adults and has published and presented on the subject of Art and Ecology in Resurgence, Permaculture UK and other publications. His work can be viewed at www.adamwolpert.com.
On Staff Since: 1994 Phone: x109
Over the last 20 years, I’ve done all kinds of things at OAEC. I’ve taught a number of courses and held the Arts thread, which runs through all the things we do here. I have been the co-facilitator of our Intentional Communities course that we have taught here for over 15 years. I also work in the field of facilitation and group dynamics, and bring that material to several of our courses and trainings, including a dedicated 3-day course on Facilitation for Group Decision-Making.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I was interested in art and philosophy from an early age and completed my degree in both at UCSB. After college, I started living in community with some of the current members of Sowing Circle, the intentional community onsite here. After some years of community living in San Francisco, my interest in painting took me to Italy, where I received a traditional education in naturalistic painting techniques. After returning and securing gallery representation, I became more interested in teaching and in 1990, started an MFA program at UC San Diego. In 1994, a group of dear friends and I started OAEC, which gave me an opportunity to bring my life and work together. In the early years, OAEC offered residential courses in traditional painting techniques and continued to offer landscape painting courses until just a few years ago. My work as an artist has become ever more profoundly integrated with my thinking about ecology and permaculture. Over the last 20 years, my art career has been on parallel track with my work as a facilitator, educator and consultant. I have facilitated decision-making and conflict resolution, and have offered consensus trainings to a wide variety of organizations, foundations and communities.
Painting and drawing, gardening, cooking and relationships. I love to observe and participate in Nature and natural processes. I am endlessly fascinated by groups and group processes as well as methods to intervene to make those processes easier, more effective and more meaningful. I am also passionate about being a father to my daughter and a husband.
I see great value in making and teaching art. When we make art or engage it, we remember what it is to be human. The activity of art-making is also , in my opinion, profoundly integrative. Art brings together mastery and mystery, qualities and quantities, the known and the unknown, control and surrender. Art-making teaches us about ourselves and how we construct reality. Art challenges us to define and question our values and priorities, our attractions and repulsions. It is a form of creative problem-solving and fosters mental agility, fluidity and resilience.
My work with groups and processes matter because if we cannot communicate and make decisions together we cannot get anything done. In this time of global challenges, failing systems and climate chaos, we need more than ever to be able to hear and understand each other. We need to value diversity, and need effective strategies to reconcile differences, solve problems and realize visions together, and learn to listen deeply.
Quiet time observing Nature.
The optimism, glee and boundless energy of my daughter.
Seeing that we are all connected and make up one living, whole system. I have come to see that our sense of separateness is an illusion.