Movement Building

Collaborative Trainings and Retreats at OAEC

When we opened our doors 30 years ago, OAEC invited movement leaders of key organizations to come to OAEC and make with us a highly unique land-based ā€˜safer spaceā€™ to retreat, rethink, be restored by and depart with new relationships, strategies and networks built. Since then, we have hosted hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of organizers, teachers, land-stewards, tribal members, farmers, policy makers, government agency staff, philanthropists, and advocates from all over California, the U.S., and around the world to plan solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time.

We do this broadly in 3 ways:  Convening, Facilitating and Hosting.

Sustainable Economies Law Center staff retreat. 

Who we work with

Here’s a sample of some of the groups that have held organizational retreats at OAEC:

Featured Collaboration: Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project

Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture. The Project is rooted in vibrant social movements led by low-income communities and communities of color committed to a Just Transition away from profit and pollution and towards healthy, resilient and life-affirming local economies.  Since launching in 2007, MG has engaged over 300 grassroots organizations and annually trains over 3,000 community leaders, activists, and organizers.

Once a year, MG hosts an intensive retreat that brings together a selected cohort of 25-30 local and national leaders of racial, economic and environmental justice movements for a five-day retreat at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center to explore the following themes:

  • What are the economic, cultural, political, and ecological contours of the systemic crisis we face?  Together, with the cohort, we grapple with the scale, pace and implications of the crisis through multiple lenses such as water, food, climate, work, democracy, race, and biocultural diversity.
  • What can we learn from struggles for people and planet around the world? What are the lessons and inspirations we can draw from diverse domestic and international social movements?
  • What role do organizers, activists, and cultural creatives, play in making those connections?

MG and OAEC have also co-organized and co-led ā€œPermaculture for the Peopleā€ trainings in ecological theory and hands-on earth skills for community leaders. Learn more about Permaculture for the People and watch the video. 

Visit MGā€™s website for more information about their other programs. Learn more about this collaborationā€¦

Resilient Community Design

We apply Resilient Community Design methodology with movement groups at their request. Each engagement can be tailored to fit the groupā€™s particular needs, desires, issues, and opportunities but is always focused on 1) deepening ecological understanding of their place, 2) strengthening practices of self-governance through collaborative decision-making, and 3) increasing social cohesion and personal welfare through collective work.

Featured Collaboration: Womenā€™s Earth Alliance US Accelerator Program

In recognition of the central role that women play in environmental and climate movements and the resources they acutely need to grow their impact, the U.S. Grassroots Accelerator for Women Environmental Leaders supports women leaders from the U.S. and U.S. Territories with skills, tools, and networks critical to transforming pressing environmental and climate challenges into scalable solutions for all. This 4-month incubator involves training, skill-sharing, research, fundraising, and networking, and participants focus on furthering their work on a community-based environmental project for which they are in a leadership position.

Kendall Dunnigan, M.Ed. and Director of OAECā€™s Permaculture Program, is part of the design team for the curriculum development of this innovative capacity building project, along with Corrina Gould, Pandora Thomas and Niria Alicia. Kendall brings her depth of experience in both education and ecology as the lead contributor for the units on ecological literacy and hands-on earth skills, and she also serves as the principal host for the week-long skill share and networking retreat at OAEC.

Learn more about this collaborationā€¦

Facilitation and Strategic Planning

OAEC is highly accomplished at convening and/or facilitating challenging but necessary strategic planning and other movement conversations. Several OAEC staff are renowned strategic planning, network management and conflict resolution facilitators and have been sought out by hundreds of organizations to help guide complex questions through to a successful result.

Featured Collaboration: #BreakFreeFromPlastic

Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 2,000 organizations from across the world have joined the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to ramp-down fossil fuel production and plastic production, leading to lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. With decades of experience co-convening and facilitating strategy development for social justice and environmental movements, OAECā€™s Executive Director Dave Henson has served as a lead facilitator and strategy consultant for BFFP. He facilitated the global strategy meeting in Thailand in Summer 2019 and BFFP US national strategy meeting in Philadelphia in Fall 2019.  In March 2020, he facilitated the global BFFP staff as well as the BFFP global communications staff at OAEC for strategy planning meetings at OAEC.

In August 2019 here at OAEC, #BreakFreeFromPlastic organized an Environmental Justice Culture Hack storytelling workshop geared at highlighting the stories of frontline communities who are feeling the toxic impacts of plastic pollution at every level of the supply chain. The workshop brought together environmental justice organizers with communications strategists to creatively shift the narrative of plastics as a ā€œlitterā€ problem focused on individual responsibility to a story focused on corporate accountability for the gross injustices of oil extraction and manufacturing of single-use fossil fuel-based products. Various organizations within the #BreakFreeFromPlastic meet regularly at OAEC to reflect and plan new strategy.

Learn more about this collaborationā€¦

Movement Building Retreat Fund

Many of our partner groups are grassroots, community-based organizations with quite modest budgets but are doing some of the most amazing, impactful work we know of. Many of these groups cannot afford to come to OAEC at our full-cost ā€“ a price that is very reasonable for larger or national non-profits, but out of reach for so many other smaller but still very important groups. With funding for our Movement Building Retreat Fund, OAEC is able to say yes to our small-but-mighty partner organizations doing key environmental and social justice work to hold their trainings and retreats at OAEC and benefit from the unique inspiration, education, collaboration and services that we provide.

If you are interested in making a donation or grant to our Movement Building Retreat Fund, please reach out to us at .