As we know at Cottonwood Institute, difficult times often present us with our greatest opportunities for growth. How do we show up when things get tough? How do we use struggle to deepen our connections to one another? Amid the challenges, this year has given us the chance to reflect on ourselves, our communities and our society at large, and to begin the deep work of creating new and more inclusive futures.
On Saturday, September 26th, CI brought board members, staff and instructors together for a day of learning and dialogue at our Fall Retreat. From workplace culture to strategic planning to dialogue about equity, every moment was packed with meaningful conversations (and maybe a little friendly trivia competition) between the many folks that make up the heart of CI. This is a year in which our cheese has undoubtedly moved, and this retreat gave us an opportunity to re-imagine the ways we will operate in the year to come.
The highlight of our retreat was undoubtedly a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) workshop run by Parker McMullen Bushman, Colorado State University Director of Extension for the City and County of Denver and facilitator extraordinaire. Using a mix of engaging metaphor and masterful storytelling, she illustrated complex concepts from implicit bias in the outdoors to inclusion in our organizations. Throughout our morning, Parker created space for thought-provoking discussion and critical examination– conversations that are essential for the ongoing work of learning (and unlearning) to rethink “business as usual.”
It’s not easy to make an 8-hour Saturday Zoom meeting an inspiring experience, but the invigorating energy of our Fall Retreat is a testament to the talent and commitment of our whole team here at Cottonwood.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to gather as a community, and we’re excited to move forward from this moment better, more thoughtful and more connected than ever!
Written by NVHS CAP Instructor Chelsea Tossing