Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

Click links below to read articles online, or try the PDF version to view or print an exact replica of the paper newsletter. 

December 2007

Judge: Valley Fill Damages Trump $$$ Lost
20 Years of Standing Our Ground
Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal
Highlights of OVECs History 20 Years of STANDING OUR GROUND
State Supreme Court Upholds Verdict Against Coal Company Over Destroyed Water Wells
Sludge Safety Project Makes Progress on Study
OSM Gets an Earful on Plan to Weaken Mining Rules
65 Percent of Americans Oppose Bush Plan for Buffer Zone Rules 
West Virginia Council of Churches Statement on Mountaintop Removal
Good Blue Dogs Helping to Raise Funds for OVEC This Christmas
Praying for the Land and People Victimized by MTR
Update on Blair Mountain
Strip Mining Damages Nature
A Note from Maria Gunnoe
David vs. Goliath Award Goes to OVECs Boone County Organizer
Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor - Do It TODAY!
Clean Politics = Public Financing - It Really Is That Simple
Clean Elections: Control How You Pay for Politics
Piper Funds Challenge Grant Goal Exceeded! THANKS!!!!!
Eastern Panhandle Woman Pushes for Clean Elections
Why Dont Regulators Do Their Jobs? OVEC Answers
Delegate Wants Public Financing Law
OVEC Works! Thanks!
Public Energy Authority Not Serving Public: Manchins Coal-to-Liquids Energy Plan Gets Little Support
Mingo Residents Gather to Celebrate, Better their County
The Appalachian Adventure
Oh, Yeah, That's A Great Spot for A Mountaintop Removal Mine!
This Summers Story Voices of Those Hurt by Mountaintop Removal Mining
Ink Cartridge Recycling Program Sinks, But You Can Still EAT FOR OVEC
This Cant Happen in America, Can It?  No, Only in Central Appalachia - So Far

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, December 2007     See sidebar for table of contents

Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal

Book review by Janet Keating

Windcall is a retreat program for environmental and social justice activists who have worked in their field for at least five years and are in earnest need of a break.

Nearly 20 years ago, in an attempt to meld her own need for solitude with her husband Alberts desire to support the social and environmental justice community, Susan and Albert Wells established the Windcall Residency Program at their Belgrade, Montana ranch.


"All of us long to be seen and validated. So little in our society recognizes our striving for our finest selves that such moments of affirmation, when they come, are extremely powerful. Windcall sends the residents a forceful message that they are respected, worthy, and valuable. It is spoken in the mere existence of the program and repeated in all its daily details. From the home-baked cookies waiting for them on the first day to the last packet of Windcall pictures mailed to them at home, residents receive concrete evidence of our regard. This affirmation empowers them to take seriously their own need and right to a full and balanced life."

- Susan Wells, Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal

She and Albert fine-tuned this program year after year, as they interacted with participants. Susan has now gathered the stories, experiences, and lessons learned from activists who participated in this much needed retreat program in her book Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal.

When I first began to read Susans book this summer, I started crying not because it is a sad book, but for at least two reasons. First, although my Windcall experience was only three years ago, the stress and the work of OVEC was again taking its toll, and I began to long for the peace and solitude of Windcall to remember my personal remarkable experiences there. Secondly, I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for the lives of Susan and Albert Wells, who had the vision to use their personal resources to develop this program that respects and honors our work in such a unique way.

The gifts of Windcall came to Dianne Bady, Vivian Stockman, and me at a time when we needed it most.

All three of us were still regaining our balance after the traumatic death of Laura Forman, OVECs organizer, who died suddenly at a protest that she had organized against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rubber stamp permitting of mountaintop removal/valley fills.

Not only were we dealing with a deep personal loss, but also we were suffering from traditional burnout a common condition of activists. All three of us were privileged to attend a two-week retreat at Windcall, away from phones, e-mail, and all the numerous demands on our time.

Between the covers of this excellent retrospective, youll read about veteran organizers who arrive at Windcall generally worn out from their hectic, fast-paced, demanding and stressful lives, arriving at a place that offers solitude, community, serenity, beauty and renewal. Susans book presents stories, quotes, experiences, profiles, and many lessons learned from numerous seasoned organizers lessons from which we can all learn. Theres a great quote from OVECs Dianne Bady, too!

A central theme of the Windcall residency program and Susans book is self-care something that many of us forgo, subjugating our own needs to others demands. While that might seem right and altruistic, how in the world can we preach "sustainable environment" if we dont first take the right steps to sustain ourselves? Doesnt all our work first begin with individual awareness and responsibility?

One of my personal discoveries at Windcall was how much I had neglected parts of myself especially the "artist." For the first time in about a dozen years, I had time to paint, draw, write poetry, play the piano, and even try my hand at the pottery wheel, an activity that I found personally gratifying and centering. One late afternoon, I found myself sitting on the steps of the art/office building watching a storm sweep across the vast Gallitan Valley, until I was forced to seek shelter inside. Lying on the carpet, watching the downpour, tears streamed down my face when I realized that it had been literally years since I had taken the time to watch the rain.

Changing Course: Windcall and the Art of Renewal is just one more gift from the heart of Susan Wells to the social change movement. Thank you Susan and Albert! I highly recommend this guide to burn-out prevention which provides practical advice regarding its causes and its reversal from those who know it best.

Please try to find Susans book at your local independent bookstore. If you cant find it there, it is available at www.amazon.com.


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