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An Amazing Conference at Omega Institute: Press Release

Picture from the Omega Institute catalogue for 2013

Picture from the Omega Institute catalogue for 2013

Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. Beginning tomorrow there will be an amazing conference on Sustainability. President Bill Clinton is giving the Keynote address. It can be live streamed for free. (details are below) I will be attending on Saturday and perhaps a bit of Sunday. I do love it at Omega. The reason is because of their ethics, principles and mission. The individuals from the top down care about the planet and embrace this care in every aspect of Omega Institute: people, practices, lifestyle. When I say care, Omega’s mission is a sacred one; it is obvious the moment one steps onto the campus. I pray that more places will follow their example. One step…who was it that said great things have little beginnings? Omega may appear to be at a turning point, but they are striving to make a difference which they have done for years. They are a global model for sustainability. This conference is more than a beginning.

This press release is courtesy of Chrissa Pullicino

This photograph of President is from the Omega catalogue for 2013...courtesy of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

This photograph of President is from the Omega catalogue for 2013…courtesy of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact: Chrissa Pullicino

September 25, 2013                                                                          Office: 845.266.4444, ext. 404

 

President Bill Clinton to Deliver Keynote Address at Omega Conference

 

Where We Go From Here Conference Will Examine Sustainability as a Question of Values & a Challenge of Systems Design—Now Including Conference Live Stream

 

RHINEBECK, NY—Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy demonstrated just how real the threat of climate change is, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) is hosting Where We Go From Here: Opportunities & Solutions for an Interdependent World, a conference that addresses the imperative for examining sustainability issues from a holistic perspective based on the interconnection between human behavior, economic and social systems, and the environment. The conference will be held October 4–6, 2013, and will feature keynote speaker President Bill Clinton, 2005 MacArthur Fellow Majora Carter, environmentalist Paul Hawken, economist Jeremy Rifkin, and other major leaders in sustainability. The conference also will be available free to the public via live stream on Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6.

 

As the problems of climate change and dwindling resources manifest themselves more clearly and urgently, the conference will assess the shortcomings of current sustainability efforts—and create a road map for going forward that places whole-systems thinking front and center.

 

“With ever more frequency and intensity, we are seeing the effects of being out of balance with the earth and each other. We cannot solve this problem without considering the whole—understanding the big picture and finding our place within it,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). “We are thrilled that President Clinton will deliver the keynote speech. Omega is proud to initiate the discussion about where we go from here, and to serve as a model for a whole-systems approach to sustainability.”

 

Founded four years ago, the OCSL includes the first green building in America to receive both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certifications, and has evolved into an emerging environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega Institute is integrating similar designs into other facilities on its Rhinebeck, New York campus. A recent addition to the Omega Women’s Leadership Center is the first commercial project in the United States to meet Passive House certification standards—the building uses very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75%.

 

“Recognizing our interdependence—to each other and to the planet—is key to finding solutions to our pressing environmental challenges,” said Backus.

 

 

 

Where We Go From Here will include keynote talks, panel discussions, stories from the field, and a tour of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

 

Leading economists, environmentalists, philanthropists, designers, architects, and activists round out the list of speakers, including:

 

·         President Bill Clinton, Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice, and led the U.S. to the longest economic expansion in American history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. After the leading the White House, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. clintonfoundation.org

 

·         Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, is an authority on economic sustainability. His books include The Third Industrial Revolution and The Empathic Civilization. foet.org

 

·         Janine Benyus, a biologist, consultant, and author of six books, including the classic Biomimicry, is cofounder of the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs. biomimicry.net

 

·         David W. Orr is a professor, founder of the Oberlin Project, and author of Ecological Literacy. oberlinproject.org

 

·         Majora Carter, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 when few were talking about sustainability, and even fewer, in places like the South Bronx. Since 2008, her consulting company, Majora Carter Group, has exported climate adaptation, urban micro-agribusiness, and leadership development strategies for business, government, foundations, universities, and economically underperforming communities. majoracartergroup.com

 

·         Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, author, and entrepreneur who founded some of the first natural food companies in America to rely solely on sustainable agriculture. paulhawken.com

 

·         Bob Berkebile is an influential sustainable design architect and community planner, a founding principal of BNIM Architects, and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Global Community. bnim.com

 

·         Michael E. Reynolds is an architect and founder of EarthshipBiotecture. earthship.com

 

 

·         Robert “Skip” Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). He helped lay the foundation for Omega’s environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation, and 100% sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.

 

·         Carla Goldstein, JD, is Omega Institute’s chief external affairs officer and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state, and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women’s rights, poverty, public health, and social justice.

 

·         Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, composer, philanthropist, and author of the New York Times best-seller Life Is What You Make It. peterbuffett.com

 

·         Maya Azucena is an award-winning singer, activist, and cultural ambassador. At the 2010 United Nations Summit, she was selected by the Office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the exclusive performer at the Every Woman, Every Child event. She is also a cofounder of the multimedia website MDGFive.com, which raises awareness for maternal health. mayaazucena.com

·         Rob Hopkins, author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff and The Transition Handbook, is cofounder of the International Transition Network, a charitable environmental organization. The Independent lists him as one of the top environmentalists in the United Kingdom. The Observer calls him “one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals.”

 

Speakers are subject to change.

 

People can join the conversation about where we go from here on Twitter @Omega_Institute (conference hashtag #OCSL2013), and on Facebook.com/Omega.OCSL.

 

For complete details or to register, visit eOmega.org/ocsl2013 or call 800.944.1001.

 

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations

David Henry Hwang, Nick Flynn, Rosary O’Neill: Writers Giving Back to Writers

Writing I worked on during a workshop at Omega Institute.

Writing I worked on during a workshop at Omega Institute.

The Paradigm Shift

The long needed paradigm shift for authors is here. Like never before, successful writers of all genres are available to their fans and others as many discard traditional publishing routes that were profitable to everyone but the writer.  Self-publishing and direct to the source return the profits back to authors. As social media, blogs and e-zines trump traditional media, and streaming (House of Cards) Youtube (plays and shows) and Google Hangouts (live music shows) become widespread, TV venues that formerly preyed upon the division between the creator and the passive audience are dying. It’s about interactivity.  As a result writers are relying on interactions with followers on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, etc., to promote and sell their work, engage their readers and update them on their latest triumphs. To remain current, they must stir the pot and trouble the waters of innovation and artistry. How else can they benefit from the currents of cultural resplendence? If they don’t connect, they will eventually be choked off as is happening to old line venues for the cultural arts.

Authors Stay Juiced Through Workshops and Master Classes

Nick Flynn at work during the workshop at Omega Institute.

Nick Flynn at work during the workshop at Omega Institute.

Another way noted writers are connecting is by giving back in workshops, conferences and master classes.  It is particularly rewarding when brilliant authors are sure footed guides who can shepherd their fellow writers up the mountain of difficulties regarding word-craft to unlock inspiration. Fluid workshops are settings which inspire writers to share their work without fear. They encourage spontaneous, authentic writing. They help authors learn new techniques and allow them to bathe in the creative flow of juiced writing.

Three noted writers and authors whose workshops and classes I took in the last months were particularly helpful and each was extremely generous. David Henry Hwang, successful Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright, Nick Flynn, poet and memoirist, and Rosary O’Neill, playwright, screenwriter and diverse author reached into their bounty of spirit and shared liberally. Reflecting back on the process with these exceptional writers, I now see that the exchanges and connections offered unique experiences that are helping me hone my craft and provide direction for my writing projects.

MASTER CLASS WITH DAVID HENRY HWANG at the Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC

David Henry Hwang graciously speaking with us and staying for pictures after the class at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

David Henry Hwang graciously speaking with us and staying for pictures after the class at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

I absolutely adore this man, this stunning screenwriter, librettist and multiple award-winning playwright best known for M Butterfly, Yellow Face and Chinglish. I have seen much of his work on Broadway and Off Broadway. The first time I saw M Butterfly (I saw it twice.) starring John Lithgow and B.D. Wong, I remember telling my cousins after the performance that it was a happening.  Thrilling and alive, it was like seeing Venice for the first time or tasting my first sip of vintage wine from a bottle that cost more than $150. Poor similes, I grant you, but I was gobsmacked. Taking this class with him I was anxious to understand his technique. I had seen his development and knew early works like Dance in the Railroad. I and was looking forward to seeing his Kung Fu at the Signature Theatre in March of 2014. What would he share?

The writers/students in the master class with David Henry Hwang were at various stages in their writing careers; their backgrounds were motley. Wang enjoys people and he interacted with us after getting a general feel for this large group who was there to breathe the same air as this multiple award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee. He of course, is unassuming, disarming and a sponge of humility you could just hug and squeeze. Despite the large  numbers in the group, David Henry Hwang put us at ease and somehow created an intensity and intimacy during the session, a talent in itself.

David Henry Hwang and me.

David Henry Hwang and Carole Di Tosti.

Move toward the unconscious.

The master playwright encouraged us to continually transcend the conscious mind and write frequently, overriding our conscious censor. For example, when thinking “I’m not good enough,” or “Why should anyone care about what I’m writing,” that is the nihilistic self-critic. Inspire yourself and unblock using various techniques; some suggestions are below.

  • Silence the censor by writing as fast as you can. You can always go back and edit.
  • Cut out phrases from a magazine article and shuffle them into various sequences. Copy a phrase or two priming the pump until it’s flowing. Don’t stop until there is a natural pause.
  • Write out words in free association. Put them in a hat and choose various ones that continue the associations. Write continually and automatically. Follow where the writing leads you; don’t lead it.
  • Of course, David Henry Want suggested to always write what inspires and keeps your interest. The more you have fallen in love with what you are writing about the better.
  • Allow yourself to give your characters free reign. They will lead you to amazing places that you never new were possible on the journey.

NICK FLYNN’S MEMOIR AS BEWILDERMENT at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

Nick Flynn chatting with writers before class.

Nick Flynn chatting with writers before the workshop begins at the Omega Institute.

Nick Flynn is a poet and  best-selling memoirist. He wrote The Reenactments, The Ticking Is the Bomb, and the haunting and beautiful best seller, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City which was published as Being Flynn, the title of the independent film based on the book. The film stars Robert DiNero and Paul Dano. Flynn’s three books of poetry are The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands, Some Ether, and Blind Huber. I was familiar with his memoir Another Bullshit Night... and liked his style of writing.  During the two day workshop, Nick Flynn was generous answering questions about the making of the film (it took seven years) and his writing life. He challenged us, attempting to jar our sensibilities into the unusual because only then could the chaffing break us into the realm of the unexpected to authenticity. As we wrote and shared our writings, elements he uses in his own writing resonated deeply. His wonderful humor carried us through any nervousness.

Use image and object chains from various sources.

  • Flynn encouraged us toward selecting images and objects threading them in our work. Images carry emotional power and weight. These are tied to associations from our unconscious that have meaning beyond what we may not recognize consciously.
  • Write down dreams and the images will more naturally appear to us. Incorporate images or objects in automatic writing which should be spontaneous and  unedited.
  • The writing muscle should be exercised each day, a minimum of seven minutes. Write ceaselessly allowing the flow and trusting it to take you wherever. Dare to risk the journey, the more bewildered the better. Eventually rationality through the concrete image emerges.
  • Create moments of surprise and use them in writing. Look for a science article (NY Times, perhaps) that is filled with images or objects and write about one that has energy and interest. Look through old pictures. List three questions about the people or objects in the photos. Write on each for 7 minutes. Incorporate the results in your work then edit later what doesn’t sing. You’re practicing powerful description and your technique will be enhanced overall with your writing projects.

ROSARY O’NEILL’s SCRIPTWRITING WORKSHOP at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

Deborah Temple, Dr. Rosary O'Neill, and Mary at the Omega Institute.

Deborah Temple, Dr. Rosary O’Neill, and Mary Anderson at the Omega Institute.

Rosary O’Neill, Ph.D. is a playwright, director, screenwriter, writer of narrative nonfiction and a scholar who hails from New Orleans. She was the founding artistic director at Southern Rep Theatre where her plays about family with Southern Gothic themes were produced for many years. A prolific writer and virtual dynamo who has received 7 Fullbrights, and fellowships to the Norman Mailer House, Tyrone Guthrie Centre and other venues, she has studied abroad where she has completed research for a play about John Singer Sargent and a book and play about Degas, to name a few works. With extensive experience in acting and theatre production, she has written The Actor’s Checklist, is currently working on a soon to be published book with new information never before revealed about the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Rosary O’Neill has written 22 plays. Most have been published by Samuel French. Many of them have been performed at the Southern Rep and many have garnered readings at the National Arts Club, the Rattlestick Theatre, The Players Club and in regional theaters like The Westchester Collaborative Theatre and Bard College. Her latest work, an uplifting musical entitled Broadway or Bust with lyrics/music by David Temple, directed by Deborah Temple will be performed at Bard College Black Box Theatre, November 13th and 15th. She has written a TV series entitled Heirs that that is currently being shop optioned. An experienced college professor, Rosary’s class was a joy and steered folks in a different direction, toward writing characters that live and are breathing and vital. This is playwriting/screenwriting at its best.

Deborah Temple, Dr. Rosary O'Neill, Mary, Carole Di Tosti at the Omega Institute.

Deborah Temple, Dr. Rosary O’Neill, Mary Anderson, Carole Di Tosti at the Omega Institute.

Sound character when creating dialogue.

  • When writing characters, think of individuals you know, their high points and dramatic episodes. Ask yourself why you remember them; what strikes you about them? Give yourself a prompt that you think might help you distill who they are in an image, then write about them. Eventually, this can be worked into creating character.
  • Read all dialogue aloud. Make sure it sings. If you are bored and don’t wish to read it, have someone else read it aloud. If it doesn’t resonate to you or the other individual, then drop it and move your inspiration elsewhere.
  • Select a scene where there have been family get-togethers. Dialogue should reveal differences in character, cadences, phrases, accents, content. How are you revealing tonal messages through speech? Act out the lines. What doesn’t fit, jettison.
  • Remain upbeat at all times. Shun negative thoughts. Do you have anything better to do with your life than to create life, through characters, dialogue and plays/films? All dialogue has run through you at one point or another. You are recalling it to your remembrance and shifting it around for greater use. Above all, enjoy the experience.

PARTING SHOTS: David Henry Hwang, Nick Flynn, Rosary O’Neill

DHH- Find a way to have your plays read aloud, even if you are getting actors in your living room. It’s the only way to find out if the characters cohere, if the whole thing works.

NF-Only submit your finest work, your best, work, the stuff you’ve edited and crafted and you still find vibrant after reading it 100 or more times. If you don’t want to read what you’ve written, then put a red line through it and circle it. Cut it out. You’re bored with it, others will be too.

RO-Spend a lot of time editing and revising. The work must pop, the dialogue must sing. If it doesn’t, you’ve overwritten. It’s too long. Cut, cut, cut, but still be logical and make sense. You can always add. The editing is hard, but vital to great writing.

All of them:  Keep on writing!

Brian Schorn Exhibit at Omega Institute

2013-06-022

Visitor Center
Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York

Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York is an amazing center for wellness, holistic studies and  sustainable living programs and practices. Omega’s beautiful environs and campus must be experienced to be believed. The institute offers workshops, conferences, online learning, retreats and getaways and  hosts programs in New York City and Costa Rica. Omega encompasses the world; it is a global community that “awakens the best in the human spirit and cultivates the extraordinary potential” that is in all of us.

My first visit to Omega was with a friend, Rosary O’Neill, who is teaching a scriptwriting workshop July 7-12, 2013. With her I had the opportunity to tour the campus and discover more about Omega’s mission and its programs. After my brief time there, I realized that Omega represents everything I embrace and have endorsed for a good part of my life, starting with health and wellness. I especially appreciate their forward momentum in implementing ways to support and integrate a sustainable lifestyle that replenishes, renews and regenerates a culture that is in harmony with the environment.

One of the opportunities open to me as I walked through the gardens and followed pathways over the stream (after a delicious organic cappuccino in the cafe) was to see Brian Schorn’s exhibit at the Ram Dass Library. Brian was one of the individuals Rosary and I met in the cafe and after sharing with us his journey of how he arrived at Omega, I was convinced that this accomplished Renaissance man who has engaged his senses in all realms of the fine arts and media is perfecting his life’s work, and that indeed, his life path is an artistic work unfolding.

To be able to let ourselves release into freedom is one of the greatest achievements we can attain as human beings. Often intense personal restrictions (after psychological cleansing) prevent us from “going over the cliff.” and finding ourselves. Over the cliff is not the great fall to fear. It is the free space allowing us to fly. Sharing time with Brian, I could easily see that he was soaring and I was gobsmacked at his courage to break out from the entangling personal labyrinths, to move to the edge and then leap.

And after the leap? New directions for his art some of which is currently being exhibited at Omega’s Ram Dass Library. Spurred by opportunities to live in the mountains of Colorado and Vermont, Schorn focused on his connection to the natural world. In the seclusion and beauty of various terrains, he could explore and delve into environmental art, deep ecology, natural history and outdoor adventure.  Previous artist residencies included Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI and I-Park Artists Enclave in East Haddam, CT. In a ‘fusion complement’ his experiences with natural environments directly informed a new body of work: audio field recordings, electronic music composition, outdoor performance, calligraphy, sculpture with natural materials, photography and computer-generated imaging.

Brian’s exhibit at the Ram Dass Library is entitled “Lost and Found.” His work includes sculpture, assemblages and calligraphy. To whet your appetite, a few examples are below.

2013-06-012

Brian Schorn
Heaven, Earth & Man Navigating Fear, I, II, III
sumi ink on paper

2013-06-014

Brian Schorn
Dirt Calligraphy I (left)
pine island dirt, smoke on paper
Enso (center)
sumi ink on paper
Dirt Calligraphy II
pine island dirt, smoke on paper

2013-06-11 04.05.34

Brian Schorn
Acorn Yin Yang
wood, acorns, acrylic, enamel

Brian Schorn’s exhibition opened Memorial Day to an enthusiastic reception. The selection of works and their presentation offer Brian’s unique vision and integrated approach employing a dichotomy of natural elements in a juxtaposition of artistic mediums. His works will be exhibited throughout the summer and into September. If you are in the area, drop by the library after availing yourself of a look see at Omega Institute’s Visitor’s Center to check out this phenomenal venue tucked away in the Hudson River Valley. You will thank yourself that you did.

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