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Conference Vision

This year’s Institute of Reverential Ecology intergenerational retreat will move from Zaca Lake to the high desert of Joshua Tree. The Joshua Tree Retreat Center is set among five hundred acres of picturesque dryscape, with a few large structures and over a hundred cottages, designed by Frank and Eric Lloyd Wright, scattered throughout the property. The striking views and brilliant skies make this location a perfect place to consider the design and practices of desert communities of the future.

The retreat will be organized to encourage participants to help plan all aspects of an integrated community compatible with the site. We will explore community building from the standpoint of politics and poetry, ecology, economy and energy, the arts, natural building and farming, water and transportation. Faculty members will meet with participants in specialized groups during the day to consider activities integral to designing and living within a desert community. The evenings will be devoted to multi-media presentations and short talks celebrating the majesty and magic of Gaia.  

I N V I T E D   G U E S T S / M E N T O R S   I N C L U D E

    David A. Bainbridge, sustainable management strategist, author of A Guide to Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands

    Ed Bastian, scholar of Asian religions, President of the Spiritual Paths Institute

    Sarah Crowell, dancer, community activist, Executive Director of Destiny Arts Center, Oakland

    Hooman Fazly, architect specializing in earthen structures

    Heather C. Flores, Certified Permaculture Designer, teacher, author of Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community.

    Randy Hayes, Executive Director of the International Forum on Globalization

    Scott Horton, permaculture designer/teacher, eco-artist, writer, and editor of the Permaculture Activist 

    Nandini Iyer, Lecturer Emeritus in Religious Studies and Comparative Mysticism, UC Santa Barbara, Co-Founder of the Institute of World Culture, Santa Barbara

    Brad Lancaster, permaculture teacher, builder and author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1)

    Andy Lipkis, environmentalist, President/Founder, TreePeople

    Ariel Luckey, performance artist and community activist

    Art Ludwig, author and designer of sustainable water systems

    DL "West" Marrin, applied scientist, naturalist, educator and author with a strong focus on water issues

    Dennis Rivers, communication skills coach, author, Internet activist, creator of

    Bill Roley, Applied Ecologist, Environmental Instructor and Design Consultant

    Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris is an evolutionary biologist, futurist, author, and consultant to organizations.

    Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan) in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is an activist for indigenous self-determination and environmental justice.

    Adam Wolpert, Founder of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Artist, Activist


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Joshua Tree Retreat Center


For directions to Joshua Tree Retreat Center
visit or call 760-365-8371.

For more information, please contact our Santa Barbara office;
(tel) 805.201-2810  (e-mail)


t r a n s f o r m i n g
m i n d s c a p e   a n d   l a n d s c a p e

c o n f e r e n c e   p r e s e n t e r s

David A. Bainbridge is the coordinator of the Sustainable Management concentration in the MBA and MIBA programs at the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management at Alliant International University. His career in sustainable management has included pioneering work on environmental impact analysis, sustainable building materials, solar research and development, sustainable agriculture, and environmental restoration and management. His latest book, A Guide to Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands will be published by Island Press in 2007. He received the American Solar Energy Society Passive Solar Pioneer Award in 2004. His current research focuses on improving environmental accounting and sustainability reporting.


Ed Bastian, Ph.D. is President of the Spiritual Paths Institute. His Doctorate is in Buddhist Studies and Western Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studied for nearly a decade with Buddhist Monks in monasteries in the U.S., India and the Himalayas. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied Indian philosophy at Banares Hindu University and translated Buddhist scriptures from Tibetan and Sanskrit sources. At the Smithsonian Institution, Bastian served as Director of programs on BioDiversity and Intellectual History.               


Hooman Fazly received his BA in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.  After working in conventional architecture and construction, he began his long term apprenticeship at "The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture" better known as Cal-Earth, in 2004, under the direct tutelidge of Professor Nader Khalili. Since leaving Cal-Earth, Hooman has managed, consulted and trained on projects ranging from low-income housing prototypes in rural north-east Wahington State, relief work in Pakistan in the aftermath of the October 05 earthquake, Disaster Shelter Prototype for Belgian architecture museum, and most recently, construction of the primary shell for the first privately permitted earth dwelling in California.



Heather C. Flores, a certified permaculture designer, holds a BA degree in ecology, education, and the arts from Goddard College. She offers environmental landscape design and consultation services, and is the author of Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community (Chelsea Green 2006) She lives in Oregon.  For more info about her work, please visit


Sarah Crowell, is Executive Director of the Destiny Arts Center. Sarah served for 12 years as Destiny Arts Center's Performing Arts Director, for 8 years as the director of the acclaimed Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, and was named the Executive Director for Destiny in June, 2002. The recipient of 9 California Arts Council Artist-In-Residency grants, she has empowered youth through dance, theater, violence-prevention and youth leadership classes and workshops in Bay Area schools and community centers since 1990. She teaches dance with meditation, choreography, and theater, and a strong emphasis on self expression and exploration, encouraging youth to find their own voice through the arts. 


Randy Hayes, ( one of the nation's most effective and celebrated eco activists, is the founder and board president of the groundbreaking group, Rainforest Action Network, and was recently named executive director of the International Forum on Globalization. A former president of the City of San Francisco's Commission on the Environment and, more recently Oakland's director of sustainability in Mayor Jerry Brown's administration, Randy also created the award-winning film, The Four Corners.


Scott Horton is a permaculturist, eco-artist and writer living in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. He is editor of the Permaculture Activist, and teaches annually at The Farm in Summertown, TN. Each year he also travels to Tlaxcala State in Mexico, where he is a designer and partner renovating the 16th century Hacienda Santa Barbara Chapultepec to become a rustic eco-inn, permaculture and cultural center for the region. 

In his artwork, Scott uses natural materials, patterns and systems in nature to bring human attention to the environment in unusual ways while restoring eco systems. His works with seeds, living plants, soil, natural fibers, honey, water, resins, smoke and the interaction/intervention of animals and climate over time prompted Ripples Magazine to call him the “Handyman of the Unseen”. He has created site-specific works in California, Oregon, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Colorado. His works on paper and fiber are included in private collections in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Wyoming, New York, and Mexico.  


Nandini Iyer is a life-long student of the world's mystical traditions and of the teachings of MK Gandhi. She has taught philosophy and religious studies at the University of Oxford, UC Santa Barbara and at Santa Barbara City College. She is one of the founders of the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara and has been involved with several schools committed to combating religious intolerance.
     According to Ms. Iyer, we need to explore whether and how not only ethics, but spiritual and broadly religious ideals, can be meaningfully taught and practiced, without being grounded in narrow, sectarian religious frameworks. Can we allow the state, as we have sometimes allowed religion, to take priority over individual conscience? Can we educate students into being ethical? These, in her view, are the central problems, challenges and dilemmas upon which we need to reflect.


Brad Lancaster (, the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1, has been teaching permaculture and integrated rainwater harvesting systems since 1993. He has taught for the ECOSA Institute, Columbia, the University of Arizona, Prescott and Berea colleges, Audubon Expeditions, and many others and has designed water harvesting permaculture systems for many clients. Brad lives on an award-winning 1/8th of an acre urban permaculture site in Tucson he co-created.

(bio notes from


Environmentalist Andy Lipkis has orchestrated the planting of more than 2 million trees in a lifelong campaign to implement urban watersheds. Andy is the Founder/Director of TreePeople.

Andy and his wife Kate Lipkis were named to the UN Environment Programme's Global 500 Roll of Honour and they hold American Forests' Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1998, Andy was honored as Founder of the Year at National Philanthropy Day.

Andy and Kate authored The Simple Act of Planting a Tree (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1990). Andy has a chapter in Nature’s Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies by Kenny Ausubel (University of California Press, 2004). Andy also wrote the afterward/call to action for the 20th anniversary release of The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono (Chelsea Green, 2005); Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Matthai wrote the book's foreword.  (more...)


Ariel Luckey (, 27, is an Oakland artist whose community and performance work dances in the crossroads of education, art and activism. He has developed his own unique performance style integrating urban dance, spoken word poetry, hip hop music and traditional theatre.  Ariel's lyrical language and political vision have inspired and transformed audiences from the streets of Seattle's WTO demonstration to Cafe Cantante in Havana, Cuba to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City. His work has been featured at the North Bay Hip Hop Theatre Festival, the Felonious Theatre Series and the Intersection for the Arts' Hybrid Project.  Ariel's community work includes curriculum development, workshop facilitation and diversity training with the Todos Institute, GreenAction for Health and Environmental Justice, Youth for Environmental Sanity, Copwatch, Y-Step, Jewish Youth for Community Action, Camp Winnarainbow, Bioneers, June Jordan's Poetry for the People and the Easy Bay Institute for Urban Arts.  He is currently working on a solo hip hop theatre piece entitled Free Land, that explores the legacy of white privilege and Native American genocide in the West.




Art Ludwig has studied and worked in 22 different countries. He designed custom transport bicycles for people without cars for ten years, and has consulted and written about the design of water and wastewater systems for the past 14 years. He developed the first cleaning products which biodegrade into plant food, has written three books on greywater systems, developed several new system designs, and consulted with New York and New Mexico on their greywater laws. He's recently completed a book on all aspects of water storage. He has worked on the design and implementation of sustainable living systems for an indigenous village in Mexico for the past eight years, including sustainable water supply from reforested watershed to greywater irrigated home orchards, composting toilets, and ecotourism. His web site  includes 300 pages of information on living better with less use of resources.


DL "West" Marrin is an applied scientist, naturalist, and educator who founded Water Sciences & Insights ( as a forum for presenting people with unconventional perceptions of water and for assisting environmental, entrepreneurial, and educational groups on diverse water-related projects.  He has authored two books (Universal Water: The Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Theory of Water and Altered Perceptions: Addressing the Real Water Crises) and a wide range of scientific papers (e.g., biogeochemistry, greenhouse emissions, water pollutant dynamics).  He is a former Adjunct Professor at San Diego State University and has taught earth science courses through other universities.  His academic background is in the biological, environmental, and water resource sciences, including an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. West lives on the Hawaiian Island of Kaua'i, where he surfs, swims, hikes, writes, and explores Nature.


Clayton Thomas-Müller of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is the Native Energy Campaign Advisory Chair for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He works across Alaska, Canada and the lower 48 States of the US with grassroots indigenous communities to defend their human and environmental rights against transnational oil corporations. Clayton has been recognized by Utne magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 young visionary activists in the U.S..



Dennis Rivers, is a communication skills coach, writer, teacher, peace activist, and Internet programmer/publisher in Berkeley, California.  He coordinates the web-based Cooperative Communication Skills Extended Learning Community,,  teaches yearly courses in cooperative communication skills at the Santa Barbara Community Counseling Center, and edits several large peace and ecology web sites (including,,, and 

Dennis received his MA in interpersonal communication and human development from the Vermont College Graduate Program, after studying sociology and religious studies at UC Santa Barbara, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  His books include The Geometry of Dialogue, The Seven Challenges Workbook, Prayer Evolving, and, most recently, Turning Toward Life, an exploration of reverence for life as a spiritual path.  All of Dennis's books and essays are available free of charge in e-book format from


Dr. Bill Roley, is an applied ecologist, environmental instructor and consultant. He designs strategies to improve sustainable resources for homes, organizations, governments and business. He combines the disciplines of anthropology, biology, architecture, engineering, agriculture, and ecology to address modern challenges of providing for human needs while maintaining ecosystem health. He has consulted and presented internationally on how to incorporate these multifaceted concepts into working sustainable systems. His courses at Universities and Colleges link the social and environmental sciences into an integrated pattern. His teaching and design work at the John Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at California Polytechnic University is a graphic example of this interdisciplinary work. He heads up the Ecological Restoration certificate program at Saddleback College and teaches biology at Soka University.



Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris is an evolutionary biologist, futurist, author, and consultant to organizations. In her unique approach, called "Living Systems Design," she applies the principles of biology and evolution to organizational development so that organizations may become more functional, healthy "living systems," with increased resilience, stability, and cooperation. She is one of a select group of scientists rethinking the classic, mechanistic view of the universe. Her particular goal is to create sustainable health and well-being for humanity within the larger living systems of Earth.
     Her books include EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution (iUniverse, 2000), A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us (John Wiley & Sons, 1998), and Biology Revisioned, co-authored with Willis Harman (North Atlantic Books, 1998). She has been invited to China by the Chinese National Science Association, organized Earth Celebration 2000 in Athens, Greece, and has been a United Nations consultant on indigenous peoples. She was a participant in the Humanity 3000 dialogues of the Foundation for the Future and in the Synthesis Dialogues with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. She consults with corporations and government organizations in Australia, Brazil, and the USA.


Adam Wolpert is a painter, teacher, co-founder of The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and director of the OAEC Arts Program. He has taught classical painting techniques both in Los Angeles and San Diego. His work is currently represented by the Jan Baum Gallery in Los Angeles and can be viewed at

“Changing a vision into reality is the most profound and gratifying process we can engage in. It is the creative process, the process of self-realization, and an inspiration to others. As preconceptions are broken down, you awake as if from a dream to see the boundless potential of life. Suddenly the structures that imprison us can be seen for what they are: simply the manifestations of other peoples’ ideas, no more powerful or important than our own.”

transforming mindscape and landscape
program schedule


    Ed Bastian and Nandini Iyer:
    A Buddhist-Hindu Dialogue on Nature and Human Nature
    Ecological issues have long been a part of the spiritual traditions of India and Tibet.  The principle that all life forms are sacred and should be revered formed the basis of social thinking and practices that began with the Vedic literature and still continue today. These ideas have great relevance for nonviolent living, animal liberation, vegetarianism, protection of indigenous communities, preservation of biodiversity, as well as natural healing, organic farming and sustainable community design. This workshop will explore the core teachings in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy that have enriched these ongoing ecological movements.

    David Bainbridge and Bill Roley:
    Sustainable Cities in the Desert
    One of the great challenges of the next century is improving the sustainability of all cities, and especially cities in the desert. Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Victorville are about as unsustainable as any development on earth. If redesigned they can be made self-reliant – if not self-sufficient. This work is critical to reduce their vulnerability to natural and social disruption. This talk will look at sustainability indicators, opportunities for improvement and overcoming obstacles to progress. It will also examine lessons from more sustainable desert cities of the past, including Petra.

    Ariel Luckey :
    ToxiCity's New World Water: Thirsty for Environmental Justice

    From global warming to Katrina, water privatization to poverty, complex
    social and ecological currents boil within the world’s water issues.
    Through interactive games, music and activities, we will navigate the
    terrain of race, class, water and health to build alliances for social and
    environmental justice.

    Hooman Fazly:
    Super-Adobe Sustainable  Building
    We will discuss information on the history of Super-Adobe, how/where it was developed, the construction process/methodologies, understanding earth as a medium, and site specific considerations, while discussing selected projects built by Cal-Earth alumni around the world. Earth home, retaining wall, and shoreline management technology will be illustrated with slides.

    Clayton Thomas-Muller:
    The Exemplary Indigenous Environmental Network
    Clay will discuss how relentless organizing and alliances on the front lines of resistance are stemming industrial society's juggernaut to exploit unsustainable energy resources from Indigenous Peoples sacred homelands in North America.

    Sarah Crowell and the Destiny Arts Dance Ensemble:
    Moving in the Movement
    Destiny Arts will do an interactive exploration of the ways that dance, theater and martial arts become instruments for personal and community transformation through movement, games, improvisation and group collaboration.

    Heather Flores:
    Action-Based Ecological Design
    Join Heather for an interactive slide presentation and design workshop. During the session participants will define and discuss the concept of proactive ecology, look at a wide range of examples, and learn how to apply an ecological design process to garden and community projects of any scale.

    Randy Hayes and Michael Cox:
    Recreating the California Dream
    Using ecological economics as a key to societal change, the speakers will present
    a two-part workshop focusing on envisioning a fifty-year, whole-systems economic transformation of California’s consumer culture. The workshop series will include identifying key areas that could act as a catalyst for such transformation, a discussion of how much environmental work has already begun to green the state economy, and brainstorming goals and strategies for the next five years.

    Scott Horton:
    Art, Performance and Permaculture
    Visual and performing arts can both reflect and affect social change in deep and lasting ways. This workshop includes a photo survey of eco-artists whose work is transforming the face of design and how we look at and interact with the Earth and each other. A discussion and breakout groups will explore practical and profound ways we can re-incorporate the arts into the fabric of designing the future.

    Brad Lancaster and Art Ludwig:
    Turning Water Scarcity Into Abundance
    This inspiring presentation shares eight universal principles of water harvesting along with simple strategies that empower you to create integrated water-sustainable landscape plans at home and throughout the community. Examples of thriving local food production grown with urban stormwater runoff, cooling of cities with urban forestry, passive strategies dramatically reducing costs of living and energy consumption, simple erosion & flood control, revitalization of dead waterways, bioremediating water pollution, recharging aquifers, community building, the creation of springs, and more. After the presentation we'll go outside, and observe and connect with the natural patterns that show the way to enhancing oases in the hot age.

    Adam Wolpert:
    Designing Sustainable Community: How Can We Learn From the Ancients and Innovate For the Future?
    What are the fundamentals of sustainable communities? What makes them work and last? What is it that has made so many recent attempts at forming communities unsuccessful? How can we design new communities based on the fundamental principles learned form the ancients?

    West Marrin:
    Water: A Mediator of Change
    As we enter the Hot Age, water will ultimately deliver either the consequences or the reversal of rapid global climate change.  Water not only serves as the transformer of solar radiation, it acts as a unique information mediator for both planetary and biological processes.  Moreover, water may represent the observable counterpart and mediator of an unobservable (but manifested) realm and life force.  Water is a force in politics, economics, and energy alternatives, as well as an ancient source of Nature’s teachings.  Designing sustainable communities will demand an expanded perception of and reverence for water that goes well beyond its conservation.

    Dennis Rivers:
    Communication Skills for Sustainable Conversations,
    Effective Work Teams and Peaceful Eco-Revolutions
    As we enter into a time of enormous transformation, we will be tempted to try to negotiate our way toward a better future with the same limited communication skills that have brought us the painful present.  In this workshop, Dennis will explore with participants seven steps toward a grammar of cooperation, the kind of listening, self-expression and question asking we will need to practice as we try to arrange a gentle landing for a world falling apart.  This workshop will include an introduction to the 100-page Seven Challenges Workbook, which is available free of charge on the web and is in use by individuals and organizations around the world in English, Spanish and Portuguese editions.