In Their Own Words

My work at OAEC:

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.

My background:

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.

My passions:

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.


Adam teaching

Facilitation for Group Decision-Making course

Adam Wolpert

photo by Jacob Katz

Why my work matters:

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.

My favorite resiliency resource:

Quiet time observing Nature.

What gives me hope?

The optimism, glee and boundless energy of my daughter.

What community means to me:

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.