Center for Whole Communities

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Center for Whole Communities is a land-based leadership development organization. [1]

"The work of Center for Whole Communities began on the shoulders of many influential and courageous lives of the past half century. Our sense of justice and public service was taught to us by the life work of Chuck Matthei. Our commitment to equity and compassion has been inspired by Vine Deloria and Van Jones and through being witness to the truth of our own journeys. Our understanding of the collaboration between heart and mind is regularly rekindled by our memory of Dana Meadows. Our comprehension of how the land heals people, and of how people heal the land, was taught to us by Helen and Scott Nearing. Our belief in the power of right livelihood and democracy has been shaped by Bill Coperthwaite. Our faith in inspiration and beauty comes from Paul Winter. Our belief in the power of story comes from Thomas Berry and Arundhati Roy. Our faith in the transformative power of the land has been guided by Jeanette Armstrong, Linda Hogan and Wendell Berry. Our commitment to peace in this world through the love of one place comes to us from Gary Snyder.

"Center for Whole Communities’ work began in 2001 at a single place, Knoll Farm, and in the dreams and vision of two people: Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow. The legal organization was founded three years later in 2004 by eight people: Peter Forbes, Helen Whybrow, Gil Livingston, John Elder, Danyelle Ohara, Torri Estrada, Diana Wright and Scott Chaskey.

"The first grant came from the Merck Family Fund of Boston, which enabled twenty leaders, some of whom devoted their lives to wilderness and others who loved working landscapes, to find common ground and shared courage. Scott Russell Sanders, Wendy Johnson, and John Elder were the early teachers who believed in the vision and lent us their good will and great skill. Their partnership, along with a founding board of directors of nine, launched Center for Whole Communities.

"Our first staff member was Cara Robechek and critical early support came from Ann Day, Tom Johnson, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Panta Rhea Foundation. We experimented with educational formats and types of retreats and settled into the Whole Thinking Retreat as our primary curriculum: by year three we were awarding almost fifty fellowships annually. That year we also launched our other two programs -- the Whole Thinking Workshops and Whole Measures -- and Peter and Helen started getting paid...In 2009, Ginny McGinn of New Mexico moved with her family to Vermont to become the organization’s deputy director. Within a year, Ginny was made co-director as we made the shift t a shared leadership model." [2]


Accessed April 2012: [3]


Accessed April 2012: [4]

"Our work has been deepened by many teachers and facilitators over the years, and we have been honored to have them serve on our faculty and contribute to our learning. We are deeply grateful to them. Marge Bruchac, Scott Chaskey, Roberto Chené, Johari Cole, Mark Coleman, Mike Connelly, Gloria Flora, John Francis, Bill McKibben, Curt Meine, Carolyn Raffensperger, Scott Russell Sanders, Doreen Schweizer



Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Center for Whole Communities About, organizational web page, accessed April 20, 2012.
  2. Center for Whole Communities History, organizational web page, accessed April 20, 2012.
  3. Center for Whole Communities Board, organizational web page, accessed April 20, 2012.
  4. Center for Whole Communities Faculty, organizational web page, accessed April 20, 2012.