Re: community-wide retreats
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 08:43:07 -0700 (PDT)
We hold our annual retreats in our common house every March. There is a very high expectation for everyone to attend and we get almost 100% attendance of adults. Usually we just arrange childcare for the kids, but this year, we actually got a retreat-type program organized for them so they could contribute to the visioning process we did this year.

The stated purpose of our retreats is "to reconsider the "Big Picture" topics (where we're at as a community, the nature of the community, and our Core agreements) and to work on core community skills (communication, conflict resolution, etc.)." Every year we choose a different theme or topic.

We begin on Friday evening with some kind of welcoming / introduction circle. We move downstairs to the home theater rec room and watch the Heartwood Movie, which is a highlights film of the community for the previous year. It's always a big hit and gets the happy, connected vibe going. We then do some kind of brief closing. On Saturday, the adults spend the day working on whatever the theme of the retreat is for that year. Snacks, lunch, and dinner are provided. The kids join us for dinner and this year they joined us for part of the afternoon to share with us what they came up with during the kids retreat work. On Saturday evening we hold the annual Gong Show, which is a very raucous talent show, with some real talent and lots of spoofs and making fun of ourselves -- another big, fun celebration of being together in community. On Sunday, we usually go for just part of the day to wrap up.

Every other year we facilitate the retreat ourselves and every other year we bring in an outside facilitator. We budget $450 for food every year and $2000 every other year for facilitation. It all comes out of community funds.

Overall, I think the retreats are very valuable to strengthen our community fabric. IMHO, our outside facilitators have been kind of hit and miss. Some have taken us to some really great places where we had some really sweet connections and sharing of dreams, visions, etc and others presented their stuff, which wasn't always what we needed, nor did it necessarily have lasting benefits.


Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing
Southwest Colorado

"Give up your small ambitions. Come and save the world."
          - Saint Francis Xavier

On Aug 19, 2008, at 8:52 AM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 18:22:25 -0700
From: "Sally Wright" <shwright [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ community-wide retreats
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <00ca01c9019a$0a08ccb0$6401a8c0@R108807>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"

To Existing Communities:
If you have held community-wide retreats, we'd like to hear from you!
Some questions:
- Did you go off-site? If you didn't go off-site, how did you create an
environment that feels special?
- Where did funds come from? Individual contributions? Community funding? A
- What specific topics have been most successful? (Note: we have no specific problems to focus on, but would like to deepen the community experience)
- What did you do to attract high attendance?
- Did you use outside facilitators? Or if you used internal facilitators,
what are some suggestions?
- How did you incorporate kids in your program?
- Do you hold them annually?
- What hasn't worked?

Our seven-year-old community has never held an official retreat, although we've had spectacular annual camping trips where typically half the members
attend. To build on these successes, we're considering offering a
community-wide retreat. We'd love to learn from others' experiences!

Pleasant Hill Cohousing
Pleasant Hill, CA
925   288   1666

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