FAQs on Windcall Residencies and Mindful Breathers

Why Windcall Might Be Right For You

If you’re working to make social, environmental or economic change, you know it’s an endless struggle…a struggle that can leave you exhausted even when your work is fulfilling. You might need a chance to step back and catch your breath – in a place where you can stretch out and see the far horizon..

Now more than ever, movement organizers understand the need for healing from the impact of trauma from the lack of social justice in their lives and for strengthening mind/body/spirit for long term sustainability. They see self-transformation as an integral part of the social transformation they work towards.

Since 1989, the Windcall Resident Program has been a place of retreat, renewal and re-sparking for people engaged in work for social, environmental and economic change as community or labor organizers. Over 500 people have had a chance to reflect and find inspiration – even transformation.

Windcall Residency and Mindful Breather Program Description

Who should apply?

Windcall Residents and Mindful Breathers are organizers and leaders in local and national efforts to achieve social, economic and environmental justice in the United States and Puerto Rico. We give first consideration to grassroots community and labor organizers working in communities of color and low-income communities.

We also accept applications from cultural workers, advocates and activists. If you’re an advocate or activist, your application will be enhanced if you can demonstrate how your work substantially engages other people in taking collective action for social change. If you’re a cultural worker, please tell us how you work with and in communities. If you work for an organization with a strong social service focus, please describe how you engage your community in creating change.

All Residents and Mindful Breathers must have at least five years experience with organizations demonstrating their long-term commitment to social change.

More on Windcall Residents

All Windcall Awardees

Windcall is for individuals only, although spouses and/or partners who are both qualified for the program may attend Windcall at the same time, as long as they each put in an application, qualify and are accepted. Residencies do not accommodate children.

Windcall Mindful Breathers are designed for individuals who have caregiving obligations, such as children and elderly family members. The individual is able to attend the Breather by themselves or take up to 2 family members.

When and how long are the Residencies?

In 2017-2018:

  • Residencies will be in September and October 2017, and May 2018. Each Residency is for three weeks.
  • Mindful Breathers will be in January and February of 2018

Some Residents take more time to travel to come to Windcall, giving them a head start on decompressing. Windcall also strongly recommends that you give yourself a few days without working once back home so you can slowly come back into the work.

A word about the length of the time away, given how hard you may find it to envision being gone for that long:

Research indicates that at least three weeks is needed to both unwind at the most basic level and achieve a higher level of insight – a level that could make your one-time Windcall experience truly transformative and positively impact you and your work for the long haul.

The payoff of taking this time to reflect and recharge is palpable. Residents (and their colleagues) notice the difference when returning. Residents are more patient, clearer on their own and their organization’s objectives, and more encouraging of work/life balance. These qualities are needed, more than ever, in hard times. So while you and your organization will have to be creative about how to cover your work while you are gone (and Windcall’s coaches can help you with this), the payoff will likely be you returning with the energy and vision your organization needs at this time.

Please bear in mind that you have worked hard for many years – you deserve this appreciation from the social justice movement – and your work (and you!) will benefit immensely.  As one former Windcall Resident said,

“I came back clear and relaxed about a lot of different things in my organization. My time at Windcall gave some other staff the opportunity to step up and take more responsibility. I came back clear on the direction I want to go in this organization and in my life. Windcall came at the right time as I’m thinking about my life and my career.”

Does Windcall cost anything?

Windcall is a gift from the movement to the movement and Windcall welcomes Residents at no cost during their stay.

The cost of each Residency is $6,000 and Mindful Breathers at $1,500. These are funded through alumni gifts, donors, site donors and foundations. We welcome your gifts and those of your organization, union, association or funders to help us cover the costs. (You can donate by clicking the donate button on the page header.)

For Residencies: Your lodging and meals are completely covered as well as a menu of optional activities to explore transformative practices. Car rental during the sabbatical is also covered. Your costs include: roundtrip travel to your Windcall site and your part of fuel costs to travel within the Residency area. Those costs vary depending on the site and your own wishes.

For Mindful Breathers: Your lodging and car rental are completely covered as well as a menu of optional activities to explore transformative practices. Your costs include: roundtrip travel to your Windcall site and your part of fuel costs to travel within the Breather area, as well as meal costs. Those costs vary depending on the site and your own wishes.

Windcall provides a sample fundraising letter for use in raising funds for your Residency or Mindful Breather and your organization’s funders might be open to supporting your sabbatical as well.

How do I apply?

Prospective Residents apply through a short application, including a personal statement about why you think a period of reflection would be beneficial, and three references. The application is here.

How are Residents Selected?

Residents are chosen by a national Selection Committee comprised of former Windcall Residents who are familiar with the challenges faced by social, economic and environmental justice organizers. The Committee will read your application and possibly contact one or more of your references to find out more about you and your work.

What does the Selection Committee look for in considering the applications?

When reviewing your application, our Selection Committee will ask the following questions:

  1. At this point in your life and work for social change, why would a period of reflection, removed from the demands of day-to-day life, be beneficial to you?
  2. To what extent have you taken a leadership role in social change issues?
  3. To what extent do you engage other people in taking collective action for social change?
  4. Do you work (paid or volunteer) in a community-based/membership/organizing/advocacy organization or union? Can you demonstrate how your social change work is central to the mission and goals of the organization/union?
  5. How long have you worked on a particular issue? Windcall requires applicants to have at least five years experience as an organizer or activist. You need not have worked for five years at the same organization, but you should demonstrate how your commitment to specific issues is significant, focused and long-standing.

Please see the application to answer those questions. We ask you to provide two references and may interview you as well.

Where are the Windcall Residencies and Mindful Breathers located?

The Residency programs are held at a variety of locations and sites vary from year to year. Sites have been in Washington State, Upstate New York, New Mexico, Montana, Vermont, and California.

If you are selected, we will send you more information about the specific sites. Not every site works for everyone and we will work with you to match you to the best site according to your available dates and the best location for you.

Most Windcall Residents are people of color who have been tremendously and positively impacted by Windcall. We strive to create an environment that is supportive of them given the limitations of the locations, which are not in areas where people of color are the majority. A major way we do that is creating cohorts where the majority or all of the Residents are people of color. Many of our coaches are people of color and they are also a resource to you during the Residency. We encourage you to bring up any concerns or issues you encounter during the Residency or Mindful Breather.

All Windcall sites have comfortable accommodations in pristine natural settings.

For the Residencies: you will have a private room and shared common areas, as well as cozy private areas like porches, lofts or even a tree-house. The kitchen is stocked with basics for breakfast and lunch. A cook prepares the evening meals. We serve food that is largely vegetarian or vegan for those who prefer it. We also accommodate Residents with food allergies. The Windcall cooks aim to please, and are generally open to suggestions as well as requests that reflect the cultures and regions of the Residents. Windcall Residencies are offered in a smoke-free environment, with limited designated smoking areas.

For the Mindful Breathers: you will have either a cabin, a country house, or a private section of a country inn with their own kitchen facilities. Each site is able to accommodate up to 3 people (or 4 with a small child). Each site includes access to hiking trails, outdoor activities, or cozy fireplaces for indoor renewal.

Some Windcall sites are partially accessible to people with disabilities. Please inquire with us regarding current sites and their level of access. You can send an email to Viviana Rennella, Windcall Director.