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Awakening the Courageous Heart of the Activist Elder




Co-Sponsored by the Conscious Elders Network and the Stepping Stones Project


A 5-day Retreat in Joanna Macy’s

The Work That Reconnects

August 19-23, 2015

River's Bend Retreat Center 
Mendocino County, Northern California

With Molly Young Brown & Constance Washburn

Special Guest Teacher Joanna Macy will join the retreat for a day to share, from her deep wisdom, new insights and practices in the Work That Reconnects

The Work That Reconnects helps us discover and experience our innate connections with each other and with the healing powers of the web of life. Pioneered by Joanna Macy in the late 1970’s, this highly experiential and interactive work draws from systems thinking, deep ecology, and many spiritual traditions. The spiral of the work moves through GratitudeHonoring Our Pain for the WorldSeeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth.

Read more about:
          The Work That Reconnects and The Great Turning
Why this work is important

Join members of the Conscious Elders Network and the Stepping Stones Project as we confront the challenges in our world and find our courage for the times ahead. We will inspire and support each other as we explore how, working together, we can build a healthy world for future generations.  

General Registration: $580 - $950

For members of Conscious Elders Network, Conscious Aging Alliance, Stepping Stones Project:  $530 - $900

The fee you pay depends on the lodging option you choose (see the list below).
For descriptions of the lodging options listed below, click here.
All lodging options include home-cooked, fresh-from-the-garden meals.

"I was humbled by the clarity, brilliance, and breadth of both the leadership and participants in the “Awakening the Courageous Heart” workshop. It was a breath of fresh air for heart and mind that has left me opened up to give and receive more of life."   Ron Kearns

“The most valuable part of the workshop for me was discovering the incredible passion and intensity in the hearts and minds of its participants. Finding out I'm not alone in my desire to make a positive difference was life changing. Thank you for your excellent work in this regard.”  Johnnie Painter

For more testimonials, click here.

Download a flyer here.

Molly Young BrownMolly Young Brown M.A., M.Div. co-authored, with Joanna Macy, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. She brings ecopsychology, psychosynthesis, and systems thinking to her work writing books and essays, teaching on-line courses, phone coaching, talks and workshops. She also authored Growing Whole: Self-realization for the Great Turning and Lighting a Candle: Collected Reflections on a Spiritual Life.

Constance Washburn

Constance Washburn M.A. is a facilitator of the Work that Reconnects and has been training with Joanna Macy since 1994. She has been a Buddhist practitioner since 1968. She has over 35 years of experience designing and directing education and outreach programs. She brings her nature connection, mindfulness training, theater and education backgrounds together to create opportunities for people to reawaken to their interconnectedness. 

“Molly and Constance have spent many years with me learning and exploring The Work that Reconnects. Given their understanding and experience, as well as their vitality and smarts, I am delighted that they are bringing this life-changing work out into the world – and doing it together.”     Joanna Macy


Rivers Bend Retreat Center is very lovely and immersed in Mother Nature. You will be at home, fed well, inspired by the Work That Reconnects, and happy to be in a community gathering of intrepid souls, willing to share and work to create a better world. What could be better?

The teachings are offered freely and donations for facilitators will be gratefully accepted.

Why the Work That Reconnects?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, helpless, burnt out, or lonely in your love and concern for our world, the Work That Reconnects will be medicine for your soul. If you are actively working for a sane and livable world, you'll find inspiration and support here; you'll find more of your tribe.

The spiral of the Work moves through Gratitude, Honoring Our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth. This progression allows us to open our hearts, feel our grief, fear, and rage so we can also feel our love for the world and our passion for justice. We then take a new look at our ways of understanding the world around us so we can find new ways of working for the healing of the earth. We then go forth with plans and passion for building a sustainable living culture.

The Work That Reconnects is highly experiential and interactive. Practices include deep dialogue, meditations, small group interactions, time outdoors to reconnect with the natural world, art, music, and movement, along with presentations and conversations on concepts such as systems thinking, deep ecology, and the state of the world.

Aims of the Work
The central purpose of the Work That Reconnects is to bring people into new relationship with their world, motivating and empowering them to take part in the Great Turning, reclaiming our lives and our planet from corporate rule.
In order to do this, the Work That Reconnects:
● provides practices and perspectives drawn from systems science, Deep Ecology, and spiritual traditions that elicit our existential connectivity with the web of life through space and time.
● awakens stamina and buoyancy to live with full awareness of both the Great Turning and the Great Unraveling, and to embrace the uncertainty.
● affirms that our intention to act for the sake of all beings can become the organizing principle of our life.
● helps us identify the strengths and resources we can mobilize in our commitment to the self-healing of the world.
● presents the Great Turning as a challenge that every one of us, in collaboration with others, is fully capable of meeting in our own distinctive ways.

More testimonials from the previous Awakening the Courageous Heart of the Elder Activist retreat:

"The Work that Reconnects intensive led by Molly and Constance was transformational. I was drawn to this program because I was longing to be an elder activist but felt lost, overwhelmed and confused. Moving through the spiral of this profound and provocative process, I emerged with a fire in my belly. The circle that formed during those five days remains connected and supportive. Only a month after the workshop, I notice I am beginning to walk the walk, to talk the talk and to engage in conscious activism in my community. As a workshop leader, I enjoyed watching the way that Constance and Molly worked together. They guided and held our group with ease, joy, and a deep familiarity and confidence in The Work that Reconnects." ~Margo Frank

"Shed your despair, Elders, awaken into the real presence of other passionate Elders and the very meaning of that word. The 'Work That Reconnects' went right into my heart and into the hearts of those around me, whom I did not know at all when I first entered the room. Our very first exercise, just introducing ourselves to each other brought tears to my face and inner joy that never stopped. Our common desire to make a difference in the world that we find ourselves, our common grief and our shared love for life was all that the leaders needed to take us through the amazing soul wrenching work of the Joanna Macy, Molly Brown and Constance Washburn team.

"Becoming part of the CEN and now joining a national team for Climate Change has given me a cadre of colleagues to work with who are inspired, energetic and knowledgeable.
If you are serious about doing something valuable with the time you have here on this blessed planet, this workshop is the place to start." ~Mike Lerner

Resources for learning more about the Work That Reconnects:
● Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we’re in without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, 2012.
● Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects, by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, 2014
Both books are available at bookstores everywhere.
● web sites:;;;

August 19, 2015 at 3:30pm - August 23, 2015
Rivers Bend Retreat Center
18450 Ray's Rd
Philo, CA 95466
United States
Google map and directions

Choose your lodging (indicate number of people by type):

$950.00 Lodge or Vintage Cabin Single Occupancy
Your own private room in a group lodge or vintage cabin
$860.00 Rustic Cabin Single Occupancy
Your own private Rustic Cabin - walk to shared bathhouse
$830.00 Lodge or Vintage Cabin Double Occupancy
Shared room in a group lodge or vintage cabin
$740.00 Rustic Cabin Double Occupancy
Shared room in a Rustic Cabin - walk to shared bathhouse
$700.00 Private Tent Cabin
Your own spacious canvas tent on platform with futon cushion(s) or bed(s), shared bathhouse
$625.00 Shared Tent Cabin
Spacious canvas tent on platform with futon cushion(s) or bed(s), shared bathhouse
$580.00 Tent Camping - one small RV space only
Walk-in camping in an adjacent, protected meadow