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.
Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project (MG) 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.
Each year, MG selects local and national leaders of racial, economic and environmental justice movements to attend two three-day justice & ecology retreats at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. The retreats combine in-depth discussion of ecological justice issues with structured presentations and trainings by expert ecologists and organizers. OAEC’s Executive Director Dave Henson is a regular instructor in the retreats, and a member of the Movement Generation Planning Committee.
Permaculture for the People project hosted at OAEC
The Justice & Ecology Project developed out of Movement Generation’s strategy training work among Bay Area organizers of color. As Hurricane Katrina hit, organizers wanted support in better understanding environmental issues and the opportunities and challenges facing working class communities of color in relationship to ecology and sustainability.
In 2007, Movement Generation, in collaboration with the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, developed a set of two three-day training retreats and evening meetings to address this set of questions. The training and discussion sessions were designed to develop practical strategies to address the increasing economic and social impacts of global environmental problems on urban low-income communities and communities of color. We came together looking at issues of peak oil, peak water, losses in biological and cultural diversity, climate change, environmental toxins, food security, sustainable agriculture and food systems, as well as new opportunities for the development of local, sustainable, socially-just economies and participatory democracy.
Since the initial meetings, the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project has engaged over 150 organizations and thousands of change agents (community leaders, activists, and organizers) through intensive retreats, political education, hands-on skills workshops, peer exchange, campaign development, alliance building, strategic support and more. MG’s work has expanded to include the integration of an ecological lens onto existing work within organizations, as well as ongoing work to develop shared strategies that harness the collective power of participating organizations to advance a justice-based approach to ecology.
Annually, MG selects a cohort of 25-30 local and national leaders of racial, economic and environmental justice movements to attend two three-day retreats at OAEC. Combining in-depth discussion of ecological justice issues with structured presentations and trainings by expert ecologists and organizers, the Justice & Ecology Retreats provide transformative experiences for participants. The first retreat focuses on literacy and analysis of local and global ecology, as well as the state of the ecological crisis. The second focuses on strategy and the implications for organizing in working class communities and communities of color.
The Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project builds the capacity of communities to be responsive to changing conditions, both economically and ecologically, as part of a vision of ecological justice. Resilience Based Organizing (RBO) is the idea that people working together to directly meet their needs – through shared work, democratic self-governance and, ultimately, confronting and transforming unjust policy – is critical for ecological restoration and community resilience.
The approach departs from traditional campaign-based organizing in which communities identify a problem/issue and then target a political figure with decision-making power to change rules or implement regulations in order to alleviate that problem, therefore depending on existing structures of power. Instead, RBO organizes people into a collective effort to meet the need at hand through direct democratic decision-making and physical implementation by those who are being impacted by the problem. It often involves intentionally butting up against legal or political barriers to force the question of whether or not a community has the right to self-govern and take right action in their own interests. RBO combines meeting community members’ needs through visionary, ecologically responsive action with confronting illegitimate rule.