History

Windcall: A Gift from the Movement to the Movement

Windcall was founded in 1989 by long-time social justice funders Albert and Susan Wells (Abelard Foundation of the Common Counsel Foundation) and housed at their ranch in Montana. They were spurred by having met many organizers who were exhausted, or who had left the field prematurely due to burnout or because of coming to a crossroads in their role in the social justice movement and not having a way to navigate change. The Wellses decided to offer organizers a restorative retreat at the guesthouse on their ranch.
Albert and Susan Wells

Albert and Susan Wells

“Running Windcall was a joyous experience for both Albert and me.  It truly was a work of our hearts, and as such, it gave back in equal measure everything we brought to it.”
– Susan Wells, Windcall Co-Founder

The program soon proved to be transformative for organizer after organizer – far beyond the expectations of the Welles and the social change leaders leaders serving on the Windcall Selection Committee. With feedback from Windcall alumni, the Wellses, the Selection Committee, and staffer Joy Sue Hutchinson (a former community organizer with Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and the Center for Third World Organizing) developed the program over the years to make more of an impact. Susan Wells, at the urging of Windcall Residents, wrote a book, Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal, which tells the story of the first seventeen years of Windcall and the organizers who were transformed by it.

The New Windcall

In 2006, the Wellses retired from hosting and funding the program. Having announced their plans in advance, Windcall’s alumni came together to build the new Windcall. The new Windcall, with leadership by its alumni, has:
  • Developed its capacity to deliver Residencies that include a full orientation process, three-week sessions that offer eight key transformative elements, and support after that intensive learning experience to help organizers incorporate Windcall’s lessons into their daily practice.
  • Organized weekend long gatherings in the Central Valley of California and in North Carolina as well as shorter alumni gatherings elsewhere to create connections between alumni focused on sustainability and transformative leadership.
  • Launched Windcall’s coaching program to support Residents implementing their Windcall-inspired ideas.
  • Built meaningful partnerships with programs and individuals who donate facilities, land and staffing for the Residency Program.
  • Built a strong grassroots fundraising base; most of Windcall’s support comes from its alumni, community and labor organizers, and allies.

25th Anniversary

Over the course of 2015, Windcall alumni, allies, and partners celebrated its 25th anniversary and provided multiple ways for everyone to participate in this gift from the movement to the movement.
Join us!