Windcall’s Journey from Healing Trauma to Transformation
Christine Cordero and Ellen Barry share their experiences.
A Gift from the Movement to the Movement
30 years healing organizers
Windcall Residents Speak
“At Windcall I felt held by the slowness, the consistency, the long life of tall trees, the steadiness of the waves, the grand boldness of the mountains. Being here has helped put so many lessons and gifts shared into perspective. I brought back a more intentional, present, open, patient, rooted, dreaming, direct, loving me to my work, my relationships, my community, and for myself.”
“I remembered that I am a human BEING, not a human DOING”
I had doubts before applying, did I deserve it? The year before was hard, with lots of changes that impacted work and how I was showing up in spaces. By the second week at Windcall I felt very human and felt full and calm deep inside. I did deep crying and it felt so good. I allowed myself to feel every emotion that I didn’t give time to feel before.
I was struck by the feeling of spaciousness and freedom at Windcall. I got to hike a lot and be outdoors. I am planning to do more with staff to create spaciousness.
The whole experience fed and nourished and gave me time to think, spending time alone that I so craved. I walked in the desert every day, journaled, day dreamed. I came back and instituted changes like daily selfcare time and cooking for friends.
En tiempos donde en la era Trump, es un lujo, pero esencial darnos un respiro, es vital el auto-cuidado. Un respiro que aunque de una semana, ayude a mitigar el nivel de stress y los embates del día a día es primordial para poder seguir en la batalla que sabemos, sera a largo plazo. Windcall ha hecho posible, el sustento de organizadoras en el movimiento como yo, en donde ser mexicana es un acto de rebeldía, el portar con orgullo tu color de tu piel y hacer honor a tu origen, es razón suficiente de resistencia. Ese respiro del que hablo, se llama Windcall.
“After recently enduring the most nightmarish and difficult care-taking period of my life, I cannot express how deeply grateful I am for the opportunity to have taken a pause, to refill my own cup. I’m not sure my mind, spirit, and body would have made it out of this time intact, had I not just had my 3 weeks ‘in the woods’.”
“I have been able to reclaim so much of myself and expand learning about myself through body and movement. I found it liberating to run surrounded by nature including majestic snowed mountains and a beautiful and copyrighted lone butte. I hope to honor this gift by making our movement practices much more humane and sustainable, and therefore truly transformational of the systems of oppression that we are trying to eliminate.”
“I came into this program skeptical: ‘What exactly is a program for organizers that is unstructured and focused on healing?’ Unheard of. I was greeted by a cohort of leaders who were in the middle of learning how to show up for themselves and who poured into each other the hard-fought wisdom of survival and resilience. Our movement deserves and needs whole leaders.”
“The first two nights we were kids in wonderland as we waited patiently in the rain to see deer and elk. Lying in the sun – listening – was a liberating feeling… I slowed down, read avidly, discussed organizing and politics… I go back invigorated and excited. Not unmindful of the social sickness, injustice and suffering, but grateful at having the time to just be.”
“When mindlessly racing through the day, it is important to ask: ‘How important is this? Can I cut out some of this stuff and make the quality of my life better? Can I be MORE effective in my work if my life works better?’ This experience has been good for helping me to decide to reorder my priorities, to decide what and who are important in my life.”
“Because of the oppression in our society, it is difficult to remember, as a poor person, that I have something of value to say. Being at Windcall helped me to remember the value of ‘my own words.’”
“Whether we are ‘promoting’ or ‘preventing’ in our work, whether we are ‘supporting’ or ‘opposing’, we are using tremendous amounts of energy. That energy – without disciplined rituals of renewal – becomes depleted. Time often becomes enemy rather than a natural friend. Being at Windcall – just being – was the beginning of renewal. Out of the task-and-purpose orientation, I found a clarity of mind and thoughts blossoming like the flowers around me.”
“The air, the breeze and sun, mountain water, instant storms and just plain colors, stop you dead in your tracks. It’s not that you take it in. It takes you in.”
“At Windcall I realized that I needed to move into something with a broader progressive agenda. The wide-open space fueled my creativity and I began the idea for the SPIN Project. Then the other Windcall residents helped put flesh on the bones of the idea.”
“I came to Windcall needing something desperately. Before Windcall, I felt like I was just spinning my wheels It didn’t seem to matter how hard or long I worked, how much time I gave up with my family and friends: nothing could keep me from this downward spinning motion. At Windcall, I found the beginning of what I was looking for, something that would give the strength and the courage to carry on.”
“I think one of the greatest challenges facing progressives is the longevity of our staff and leaders. Windcall is one of the very few institutions that addresses this issue directly – not in words but in providing the experience for committed activists. I’ve been able to bring the lessons I learned at Windcall in to my mentoring of young and not-so-young organizers.”
“Windcall is where I first thought about starting a statewide progressive coalition. I had time to reflect on the previous eight years I’d spent doing environmental work, how I couldn’t stay engaged in that for the rest of my life, and thought about what was next for me as an organizer in Nevada. Talking with my Windcall cohort gave me some ideas about tying issues and constituencies together and the seeds for PLAN were sown.”
“For the first time since I can remember, I was being taken care of. Time and space far away, with no agenda, no pressures. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. So the emptiness and silence of the first days of Windcall was the greatest gift of all. I went out on an evening walk, and I thought, as I looked over the rolling Montana hills as the sun was going down, how different the politics of this country would be if the people of color really believed that this land was theirs, that they had earned it, and have as much a right to it as anybody. Maybe that was a goal worth working for.”
“I believe that my Windcall experience made me a calmer individual. I incorporated the need for my staff to spend personal time on themselves and not focus 24/7 on the work. I tracked how much staff is working and if I felt they need time away, we negotiate it.”
“I have been inspired by the essential beauty of wilderness, of a genuine silence, of a comforting darkness, but even more by the deep compassion and sense of humanity of my fellow residents. Windcall allows us to surround ourselves not only with trees, flowers, birds and streams-but with the deep-rooted strength of freedom fighters.”
“Many activist leaders deal with grief every day. We see human and ecological injustice. And it hurts. Ideally this pain is transformed into the energy that fuels our work. But often, the intensity of our lives keeps too much of the pain buried deep in our hearts and in our overstressed bodies.”
“Because Windcall is not directive in the way most other spaces like this are, it is a unique place for folks to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to be sustained and renewed in my life and work?’ – and be supported in answering it. Without Windcall, many activists would not have found a way to take care of themselves and think about how to do activism in a more sustainable and effective way.”
“I have made some major life decisions that are all efforts at taking care of myself and doing what is truly important to me. I firmly believe I have been able to take these steps as a result of being at Windcall and starting a healing process that is manifesting itself in my personal and professional life.”
“Organizing is grueling, public, conflictive and draining work. We tend to believe that we want neither thanks nor recognition. But a long distance social justice runner needs balance and self care. If we value the people who do social justice work, then we must invest more in the doers.”