With our signature Residency Program, Windcall places the cultivation of spaciousness front and center in the journey of healing and transformation. Spaciousness is the capacity to be at ease without doing anything specific, not having an agenda, not engaging in any activity. Just simply being. In the hyper-scheduled lives of organizers, it is difficult to carve time to experience spaciousness. Organizers are relational people that thrive on being interconnected.
“I remembered that I am a human BEING, not a human DOING” — Melissa Nelson, WC 2017, The Cultural Conservancy, CA
Taking a sabbatical is like hitting the reset button. Windcall offers residencies specifically designed to experience spaciousness and reflection and can be taken within a longer sabbatical. Our 7-day residencies (Mindful Breathers) are for caretakers and the 21-day residencies offer the amount of time needed to release old habits and explore and set new ones.
Being able to take a one- three- or six-month sabbatical is an incredible opportunity that might come once in a lifetime of organizing work. But there are many other ways to cultivate spaciousness in everyday life that are just as essential. Robert Gass reminds us of the practice of the sabbath, a day every week to put aside all work, which is as old as humankind. We often short-change our weekends with meetings and trainings after unions fought so hard to gain us that right. What would it look like to take the weekends off work?
It can also be as little as focusing on our breath from 1-5 minutes in the middle of the day, or a stressful situation, that can provide enough spaciousness to be able to access other practices or awareness with which to tackle the situation or carry on with the rest of the day. Each of the other eight transformative pathways of Windcall strengthen our capacity to be at ease with spaciousness.
Mac Legerton, WC 1990, Center for Community Action, NC, advises to focus on creating space rather than time throughout the day.
Each Residency cohort is made up of three to four organizers from different movements and parts of the country. Each cohort is almost always majority people of color and majority women. At Windcall, you’ll have the chance to deeply connect with organizers who understand your commitment and what brought you to Windcall.
Nightly leisurely dinners are the major place Residents come together each day, sharing insights and the process of transformation that each person is experiencing. Residents often embolden each other to experiment: trying a contemplative practice for the first time, playfully creating art when they’ve never thought of themselves as artistic, hiking at night even while nervous about it, and or calling their coach for the first time. Because the cohorts are almost always diverse in terms of regions, communities, and movements, Residents can leave with a deeper understanding of what organizers are doing “outside their own lane,” as writer and advocate Michelle Alexander puts it.
Windcall began offering coaching in order for Residents to maximize their Windcall experience and support its lasting and transformative possibilities. Coaching has become a major tool to support Residents bringing Windcall home in multiple ways, helping Residents move past the patterns within their lives, organizations or movements that can block fulfilling Windcall-inspired ideas from moving forward.
Coaching most commonly addresses how to stay balanced and resilient or how to create a different organizational climate, questions about an individual’s role in their movement, and ideas to shift the work or perspective of organizations and movements.
“Windcall coaching was transformational for me. At Windcall, I got the time and space and sense of beauty to stop and feel. During coaching, I translated that into a new understanding about goals for my organizing work, changing and improving the way I do the work.” – Madeline Talbott, Action Now at time of Residency, Chicago, IL
Coaching is also helping Residents prepare to leave their work behind for the Residency, helping Residents delegate and hold the space with others for their Residency. During the Residency, many Residents use their coaches to help them process the lessons they are learning and how they want to think about the remaining time at Windcall.
What is coaching? According to Belma González of B Coaching and Consulting, who advised Windcall on its program, “Coaches work one-on-one with clients to make real, lasting changes to improve their overall sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, to improve performance and achieve goals.” Coaching is a strength-based approach, recognizing that each person has internal wisdom that just needs to come to the surface, be recognized, and be supported in carving out action steps. During a session, a coach will ask thought provoking questions that helps you identify values, core beliefs, solutions, risks, and actions that make sense to you. Like the Residency itself, your truths are respected and come to the surface, with room to explore what that means for what you want as a human being, organizer, and movement builder. A coach will support you and at times challenge you, with your agreement, to explore new terrain.
Each Resident has access to a coach for six coaching sessions, choosing their coach from Windcall’s list of vetted coaches who represent different communities and have different political backgrounds. Many of the coaches are Windcall alumni who have had similar experiences as you; all of them are committed to social justice and have had roles in social justice movements. What you and your coach discuss is completely confidential. Sessions are generally for about an hour and over the phone.
During the orientation, you will have a chance to participate in a sample coaching session so you can experience how coaching works if this is new to you. Windcall staff can also work with you individually to help you choose a coach or understand how coaching might benefit you.
Nature Immersion and Learning
The Residency Program is situated in beautiful, natural settings. You’ll find that you’ll learn quiet lessons from the soft and slow rhythms of each day and the balance between stillness and movement, silence and sound, solitude and community, receiving and expressing, and just being and gently becoming. The stillness, sounds, smells, rhythm, and beauty of nature that will surround you have a transformative power and impact.
The experience induces a deeper feeling and awareness of the unity and community of all life and all beings as interdependent and reflective of the same source of beauty and harmony.
Multiple cultures highlight nature as source of learning and powerful metaphors, ones that Windcall organizers take into their thinking about social change. Science is increasingly backing up why we see this impact, showing that exposure to nature affects basic brain functioning and decreases stress, increases cognitive abilities, and helps people form emotional bonds and focus less on the negative. Windcall Residents deeply experience these benefits.
At Windcall, you may find one spot that is rich for you and tune into the beauty that is there. You may want to explore nature in new ways, walking or hiking more than you ever thought you would, or sitting in a canoe on the water for hours. You may want to twin these experiences with writing or creating art. Regardless, you will find plenty of land and space to immerse yourself in nature’s gifts.
Windcall gives you the chance to connect with multiple intelligences: your own inner wisdom, intuition, emotions, consciousness, and imagination. Some of these qualities erode over time in our work. Reclaiming them can reconnect us to our purpose in a deep way, tap into our strengths, and help us inspire others through a different kind of organizing presence.
“Windcall dramatically transformed my ability to read my own meter and go deep inside. Since coming back, people have asked me what happened. I say I have been to the mountaintop.” – Soffiyah Elijah, Correctional Association of New York, New York, NY
A major way to build relationship with your own wisdom is through formal contemplative practices such as meditation or yoga. There are several different types of contemplative practices and schools within them. Many Windcall Residents use their Residency to deepen a practice they are already engaged in or to try one out for the first time. Being at Windcall provides an ideal opportunity to do so and to create a practice habit to bring home with you. There are other practices that are also contemplative in nature such as journaling, a variety of exercises, creating art and music, and experiencing nature. Windcall encourages these practices as well.
Windcall connects Residents with local teachers who can support contemplative practices at its sites or nearby. You can feel free to bring materials that support your practice and talk to others in your cohort about what they might be bringing or practicing themselves. Once you are selected, Windcall will talk with you more about your interests.
Creative Expression and Play
Windcall offers an opportunity few adults have: the chance to create in a playful and joyful way, without judgment and without worrying about what it means to anyone else but you. The practice of creativity de-stresses, helps process reflections in different ways, heals, and can generate ideas completely disconnected from what is being created. The themes that emerge in creative work also provide metaphors for our organizing lives.
It is not uncommon for Windcall Residents find themselves creating in ways they never would have imagined. We have many first-time poets, painters, sculptors, and more in the Windcall ranks.
“At Windcall, I made up for all the art and music I didn’t have time for in past. In particular, I drew mandalas. Drawing turned out to be the best vehicle for me to express myself. I’ve never done a lot of drawing since a high school drawing course but my mom gave me set of colored pencils to take with me to the Stone House, the paper was there, and then I came upon a book about mandalas. My right brain had been practically dead for so long all I could do was just draw circles at first! Then the images started to come to me and I ended up drawing many mandalas symbolic of family, nature and finally, the balance I was seeking so desperately. Once I could envision and draw what I wanted, I felt more confident that I could achieve it. After being consumed with mobilizing, policy advocacy, organizational management and politics, to know that I still had color, shapes and art within me gave me a new sense of energy that I can draw from — no pun intended! I realized sometimes balance comes from developing the underdeveloped creativity, rather than trying to do just less work. When I came home, I made an art corner in my living room and painted on the wall with a big paintbrush, the word “make,” to create space for art in my house and in my life, and to help me and my children remember to create. It’s my new favorite word, “make,” and for me, a path to balance and harmony. Without Windcall, I would not have had this wonderful discovery!”
-Chung-Wha Hong, New York Immigration Coalition at time of Residency, New York, NY
You might find a lifelong art habit that develops out of Windcall, connect with an art life you used to have, or have the free-form and freeing equivalent of a kid gluing buttons on a piece of paper to form a flower. Go for it!
In terms of playfulness and joy, Windcall provides space to connect with those qualities. You may laugh more and more deeply than you have in a long time. You will probably find yourself playing with and experimenting with all Windcall has to offer in an open, loose and even silly way, with few or no worries about how you are perceived by others and without deadlines over your head. You may realize that you want to bring more of those core qualities of joy, playfulness, and fearlessness back home with you.
At each Windcall site you will find art supplies and often, a distinct area to do create visual art. At many sites, there are writing desks or places on their property that are conducive to writing. If there are forms of expression you gravitate to that require specialized supplies, please feel free to bring them or ship them in advance. At some sites, the Site Host might connect you to a local teacher who can provide a class in an art form accessible to everyone or a practice of art and healing.
Body Awareness and Health
Body awareness and intentional practice to sustain and heal our bodies are essential foundations of transformation. The Windcall Residency provides full space for rest, relaxation, multiple types of physical activity, nutritional food, and optional support services that nurture an embodied approach to being and doing. Just as transformation is felt in the body politic of our communities, it is also felt in our body’s movement, senses, emotions, and spirit.
At Windcall, you will have plenty of time to rest and renew. You will be on your own clock with no place you “must” be other than at dinner each night. Rest alone opens up clear thinking and renewed energy for organizers who arrive at Windcall physically depleted. You will also find abundant opportunities to move and exercise; some Residents challenge themselves in new ways physically, attending to their own physical health and giving themselves another path to reflection.
A highlight of Windcall is the amazing and healthy meals provided for you by wonderful cooks. Your dinner is carefully and lovingly prepared for you each night and Windcall provides breakfast and lunch foods for you. For some Residents, being cared for in this way, after years of caring for so many others, is a restorative and healing gift. At some sites, massage, acupuncture, Tai Chi, Reiki, or other practices that help with physical healing are available.
Solitude and Silence
Windcall Residents arrive coming from highly interactive and scheduled lives. They immediately notice that Windcall is a dramatically quieter experience. Your group is small and since everyone is committed to renewal, you’ll have more quiet time on your own or as a small group.
Your environment will be deep in nature and not in a city or even small town. You will experience silence from the sounds you’re used to and start to hear nature’s sounds.
While you are in a peer group at Windcall, you can carve out as much time and silence on your own as you want. You can completely be on your own, seeing your peers only at dinner. You alone or your entire cohort could decide to be silent for a day or longer. These are very enriching experiences.
Residents often both welcome the solitude and quiet of Windcall AND can be nervous about it or wonder what they could possibly do for three weeks. We will talk about this fundamental concern during your orientation. As one person put it, “I was afraid of what might come up if I was quiet for too long.” Unfinished business from personal and community trauma and oppression that you may have pushed aside can emerge. Rest assured that you would not be the first Windcall Resident to heal in this space. Your Windcall coach, staff, Windcall Residents and your resources back home can support you at this time.
Solitude and silence are supported by another Windcall hallmark – the lack of schedule. On your arrival, the only thing on your calendar is your departure date and dinner every night with the other Residents. While you can start making lists of things to do at Windcall, we will encourage you not to do so and let your days unfold.
Disconnecting from technology is an increasing challenge for organizers and many people in general. However, the Residency is truly enriched for those who do so. Unplugging allows Residents to focus more on their own awareness and process and to experience time connected to their own and nature’s rhythms.
Windcall sites vary in terms of internet access and cell phone reception. Depending on your site, Windcall will engage in a conversation with you and other Residents about the pull of technology, the benefits of leaving as much behind as you can, and tools to help. Fasting from technology is ideal but also engaging in mini-fasts throughout the Residency can also allow you to go deeper into your own process.
Windcall always provides emergency numbers and ways for Residents to communicate with their loved ones. Many Residents have children and others close to them with whom they want to stay in touch. Others are caregivers to elders or other family members and it’s critical to be accessible in case of emergency. We want you to rest easy knowing you can reach each other.