Testimonials

“I am grateful that you extended me such a wonderful opportunity. Although at first I was somewhat skeptical about the relevance and appropriateness of a “mindfulness” retreat, I now recognize the tremendous value of the experience you seek to share with the broader social change and environmental activist community.”

Michael Dorsey
Director, Sierra Club National Board
San Francisco, CA

“The retreat experience was exemplary. There were many powerful moments which will positively affect me for the rest of my life. “

Sunya W. Folayan
Founder/Director
The Empowerment Project, Inc.
Charlotte, NC

“Through these retreats, TPL is empowering its staff to create a stronger, more resilient and thoughtful organization. The act of coming together to think deeply about the highest aspirations of TPL’s mission in the world and the obstacles to that mission is helping TPL to become more of a leader in the conservation movement.”

Peter Forbes, VP, Director
The Center for Land and People (Trust for Public Land)
Montpelier, VT

“I had a tremendous experience at Vallecitos which will be one of the most rewarding and positive things I’ve done within my lifetime. I have incorporated many of the things I learned into my daily life and it has been very healthy for me. I had to experience lovingkindness, sympathetic joy and generosity to understand the full power and grace of these profound feelings and actions.”

Debra Susan Abbot, Co-Founder
Stillwater Institute for Social Justice
Charlottesville, VA

“I am more committed to becoming a Buddha in this lifetime by living each and every moment. I am more understanding of others and more patient. I had a chance to get in touch and in harmony with the universe, a moment to rest and glimpses of what it is like to “wake up”.”

Ismail Thoth, Researcher
Health & Environmental Justice
St. Louis, MO

“I returned renewed to the chaotic state of things.  The people I met, my teachers, the fabulous organic food, the land and careful attention of all the staff was absolutely sublime.  It modeled for me how a work culture can be created by centering reflective practice into our day to day lives and our practice of organizing, creating space and shaping a revolution.  The self awareness of mind, body and spirit that one comes away with from Vallecitos is enough to transform our movements.”

Cara Page, National Director
Committee on Women, Population and the Environment
Atlanta, GA

“The retreat was life changing. The experience of Vallecitos validated contemplative practice.  Social justice work isn’t only about fighting injustice and oppression, it is also, and I would dare say principally, about unlearning socially imposed ways of being and reclaiming the kindness, compassion and loving spirit with which we were born, and this is the gift Vallecitos has given us.”

Priscilla Yolanda González, Collective Member
Center for Immigrant Families
New York, NY

“I’m consciously decreasing freneticism. I make more family time. I let go of some pet peeves. I am still renewed by having Vallecitos in my heart and soul and I’m more focused on my work.”

George Cofer, Executive Director
Hill Country Conservancy
Austin, TX

“I have tried to look at work differently and engage others through their connection with the land. Personally, I have tried to be present throughout the day and catching myself when I do otherwise. It was a great experience – the time for reflection, meditation, silence, meeting such wonderful people (participants, instructors and staff) were such valuable experiences.”

Bettina Ring, Executive Director
Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts
Denver, CO

“I am so much more aware of the path I want to be on and the power of the sacred in my life.”

Cristina Mormorunni, Program Coordinator
Asian Pacific Environmental Exchange
Santa Fe, NM

“Immediately upon my return to work, my colleagues noticed a change in my demeanor. They all commented on how calm and peaceful I was and how this energy helped them to feel more at ease in a completely chaotic workplace. This retreat is a very important retreat and has benefited many people of color. This retreat was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Stefani L. Weeden-Smith, Therapist
The Door: A Center of Alternatives, Inc.
Brooklyn, NY

“The time and the space to reflect and cultivate inner calm was so valuable. This was a very healing experience for me, given recent trauma in my personal life. It also started me on the practice of meditating. I meditate every day now, just for 10 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in my everyday life and with work, especially with all the community organizing that I do.”

Swati Prakash, Environmental Health Director
West Harlem Environmental Action
New York, NY

“Since the retreat I am meditating almost every morning. I feel more grounded and positive and hopeful and inspired than I have in years. The hardest part is letting go of my week at Vallecitos – I think we are all struggling to hold on to the experience. Thank you so very much for including me in this amazing experience.”

Wendy Ninteman, Executive Director
Five Valleys Land Trust
Missoula, MT

“Since the retreat the pace of personal breakthroughs has quickened and old dynamics seem to be changing in positive ways. I am better able to deal with previously tense situations and successfully resolve them. I have increased feelings of peace. I’ve also had excellent feedback from my colleagues as well on this program. Thank you for your outstanding work!”

Jayne Cronlund, Executive Director
Three Rivers Land Conservancy
Portland, OR

There are many stresses imposed upon community organizers and activists. The retreat gives you the opportunity to rest, think, plan and regroup ourselves. It is effective against burnout in that you learn how to be more effective using insight meditation and the healing forces of nature.”

Rita Harris
Sierra Club
Memphis, TN

“The space and time to reflect is absolutely invaluable for individuals trying to create change. I gained the inspiration for a re-commitment to the environmental justice movement and being a full member of my community.”

Eric Saijo, founder
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Oakland, CA

I cannot express in words alone how important the retreat was for me. One of the most valuable lessons I learned is the importance of listening to my inner self. Vallecitos provided the necessary environment that makes it impossible not to go inward. When I returned home I hit the ground running, but with a more focused direction and I attribute that to my stay at Vallecitos.”

Khalil Hassan, Chair
Task Force for Sustainable Growth
Hood, VA

“I feel calmer and have been told that my disposition has improved. I try to practice loving kindness and compassion whenever I feel impatient, and find that smiling is the most powerful thing I can do when I’m feeling tense. I am trying to bring more aspects of Vallecitos home to my personal and professional life.”

Nicole Lampe, Senior Public Affairs Associate
The Trust for Public Land
San Francisco, CA

“The silence, the meditation, the food, the company…I’d say the whole experience was extremely valuable. I had wanted to make some lifestyle changes but hadn’t slowed down enough to spend any time really looking. Since the retreat I meditate every morning for fifteen minutes and I am cooking for myself again and trying to take better care of myself. I feel much more relaxed and calm during work and I have a lot more enthusiasm for my job.”

Renee Hoyos, Special Assistant of Watersheds and Outreach
California Resources Agency
Davis, CA

“The meditation and talking circles were critical and life changing – this is what I came here for. The most valuable aspects of the retreat were the opportunity to take time away from the world, the hikes, talking circles, silence and conversation. Since the retreat I am more centered and committed, more mindful and deliberate than ever. Thank you so much.”

Sean Kosofsky, Director of Policy
Triangle Foundation
Oak Park, MI

“Thank you for the once-in-a-lifetime experience at Vallecitos. When I came down from the mountain, I returned healthier and blessed. The blessings continue to abound, as I am discovering deeper spiritual depths… I’m more observant of myself and others. I smile more, even for no reason but to smile.”

Reverend Ralph J. Crabbe
Pastor, St. Paul AME Church
Independence, MO

“The most valuable aspects of my retreat were the solitude, getting a good night’s sleep, overcoming a sense of political isolation and getting back in touch with nature and the Divine. I feel more centered, more focused, less isolated, clearer about my mission and equipped with better coping strategies. Being in nature, with ourselves and in community helps remind us why we do this work.”

Jenice L. View, Executive Director
Just Transition Alliance
Washington, DC

“My personal life is less frayed, less hurried and I have more fluid access to my love and gentleness. I missed my “people” and came back full of love! More dramatically, my professional life is renewed. I feel more creative, and very free in the thought that some hard things, including the limitations of my body, and I am committed to self care and my health.”

Deborah Rogers
Florida Council Against Sexual Violence
Tallahassee, FL

“I believe I am more reflective and have a stronger commitment to the daily practice of meditation. I have a renewed sense of enthusiasm for my work. Thank you very much for the privilege of experiencing the riches of Vallecitos.”

Cynthia Chavez, Executive Director
Eureka Communities
Oakland, CA