A doorway into the Kincentric Leadership Programme
Are you excited to join a pioneering international learning community addressing the polycrisis and dedicated to conscious collaboration with the more than human world? The Kincentric Leadership Programme is an integral part of our mission to establish a new paradigm of leadership grounded in Kincentric thought and practice - and this retreat is a doorway into it.
During 2023, four retreats will each welcome 20 fully funded participants to the programme. Supported by teachers, wisdom holders, facilitators and mentors from many backgrounds, these 80 people will journey together for 18 months, researching kincentric leadership, applying it in their fields, and testing tools and approaches for sharing it further in the future.
The week at Sharpham House in Devon, UK is the second of these four opportunities to join us in pioneering the field of Kincentric Leadership.
About this retreat
The web of life is in continuous communication in every moment. But humanity has largely lost its knowledge of the old ways that plugged us into this ‘Great Conversation’. To rediscover or deepen our experience of kinship with all life, a primary task is to reconnect to this reality through listening.
Listening is simple but it isn’t easy. The forces of materialism are always there, pulling us towards wanting something, or into a disembodied online world with its thousand distractions. To listen to Earth and all her creatures also means to hear their grief and suffering, and to face our own complicity. Listening means to pass beyond those barriers, to quiet ourselves, to tame our chattering and overly rational minds. Listening brings us back to what is real. It is the beginning of healing, a prerequisite to reconciliation. It’s what makes authentic relationship possible.
Indigenous teachings have long honoured this deeper form of listening to the more than human and the invisible worlds. Traditional cultures recognise that all beings, including rocks and rivers and stars, have their own languages, their own stories, and their own means of communication. Science is finally reflecting this worldview, broadening its understanding to include the chemicals released by leaves or transmitted via fungal networks, the movement signals of bees, the vibrations that accompany the visual display of a peacocks’ tail, and the sounds us humans can’t hear - the infrasound rumbles made by elephants that ‘talk’ across many miles, or the vibrations within the Earth herself. Artificial intelligence is also now recording and analysing vast amounts of data, rapidly decoding the utterances of animals, plants and ecosystems, and showing us just how much we have missed.
Immersing ourselves in these new and old knowledge systems can inspire us to listen differently. To humble ourselves, to get out of the way, to be empty and present in the moment. These are profound practices we need to do over and over in order to liberate ourselves from a conditioned view of the world. Listening can help us reorganise our inner world, making space for new understandings to emerge and take root within us. Respectfully seeking out the voices of the marginalised, both human and more than human, can also help us integrate justice for people - particularly people of colour - and justice for Earth. It is foundational to living our kinship with all life and translating it into action. Kincentric leadership invites us to be constantly returning to that practice, to be leaning towards and consulting both those voices and the silence behind them in all we do, asking how can we serve those voices? How can we co-create with them? How can we open the door to healing?
“To be native to a place
we must learn to speak its language”
- Robin Wall Kimmerer
The retreat will include:
Conversations with cutting edge teachers and leaders, including an indigeous elder, an African wilderness guide, a plant medicine expert and a land rights activist
Simple but powerful techniques and attitudes to help us listen to the more than human world
A dawn to dusk wilderness solo at the heart of the week
Morning meditation, movement practice, silent walking meditation
River listening and wild water swimming
Dawn chorus walks, night walks and star gazing
Learning from each other, sharing inspiration, eating together, living together, grieving together, celebrating together
An exploration of the role of listening in kincentric leadership
Simple home-cooked organic food, grown locally or on site.
We will blend silence and conversation, learning from indigenous, scientific and spiritual ways of understanding nature. There will be a combination of facilitated sessions, guest workshops, solo nature time and community sharing. The aim will be to deepen our own lived experience of kincentrism and sense into how it could be translated into leadership and action in our own field of expertise.
You will gain:
Deeper understanding of the multifaceted and diverse intelligence, agency, and intentionality of the more than human world
Insight into both indigenous and scientific ways of understanding nature
Lived experience of yourself as an inherent and inseparable part of the wider web of life
Tools and practices for nurturing such experiences in yourself and others
A refined sense of your own unique way of being in direct relationship with the more than human world
Insight and practical ideas from inspiring examples of kincentric leadership in practice
A creative and supportive environment in which to explore what kincentric leadership could look like in your context
This retreat is for you if you are...
A leader, individual or collective, in any field, actively engaged in responding to the polycrisis
Committed to cocreating solutions and life-ways that replace systemic violence and totalitarianism towards other life-forms and people with a kincentric approach
Interested in expanding your strategy, activities and ways of working to include the wider web of life
Keen to deepen your relationship with the more than human world
Open to exploring multiple paradigms and ways of understanding, approaching and relating to the more than human world
Excited about joining an 18 month kincentric leadership programme with people from around the world, and able to commit to the whole programme
"If we are to become partners with the Earth, living our shared journey, we have to once again speak the same language, listen with our senses attuned not just to the physical world but also to its inner dimension."
- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth
Contributors & Facilitators
Guest speaker (in-person)
Sicelo Mbatha, or Black Lion, is a wilderness guide, founder of Umkhiwane Sacred Pathways. Sicelo has dedicated his life to fostering deep connections between humans and nature, guiding people on healing paths through some of the most spectacular wild areas in South Africa, including the Imfolozi Wilderness, the Simangaliso Wetland and the towering Drakensberg mountains.. He believes that this medicine is needed to heal the world from the wounds of environmental destruction and social injustice. He invites connection with landscape, nature, and soul and shares generously the indigenous wisdom of his people. His work brings people into contact with the spirit of our collective humanness, or ubuntu. Sicelo’s book, Black Lion: Alive in the Wilderness was published in 2021.
Guest teacher (online)
Tiokasin Ghosthorse is from the Cheyenne River Lakota (Sioux) Nation of South Dakota. He is an international activist on behalf of peace, indigenous lifeways, and Mother Earth. Tiokasin has a long history of indigenous rights activism and advocacy, actively educating people who live on Turtle Island (North America) and overseas about the importance of living with each other and with Mother Earth. He has been described as a spiritual agitator, natural rights organiser, indigenous thinking process educator and community activator. He is the host of First Voices Indigenous Radio and also a master musician performing worldwide on the ancient cedar Lakota flute. He is also an advisor in Cultural Linguistics and Living Language. He has a gift for deconditioning the mind, opening the door to experiencing Earth as a living, animate being.
Guest teacher (in-person)
Suzanna has worked with natural medicine for 22 years. She practices multiple systems - Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese medicine and Western herbal medicine. She is the founder of Northern Herbs, a herbal pharmacy by the sea in North Yorkshire. She loves to make herbal products by hand and to make natural medicine as accessible as possible, combining her practice with teaching and educating about herbs. Suzanna also works with spagyrics a holistic form of herbal alchemy. Plants are first separated into their three basic components: the body (salt), the soul (volatile oils), and the spirit (alcohol). Each component is purified through a specific process, and then recombined in a precise way. The goal of spagyrics is to create a powerful remedy that incorporates the plant's subtle energies. Suzanna is currently creating a herbal retreat centre in Sligo, Ireland.
Jyoti coordinates the policy, lobbying and campaigning work of the Land Workers Alliance, a union of farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers with a mission to improve livelihoods and create a better food and land-use system for everyone. Joyti coordinates UK wide campaigns and England specific lobbying on the agricultural transition. Jyoti is an agroecological smallholder based in Devon, farming sheep, cows & orchards. Agroecology means nurturing soil, insects, grassland, plants, animals and trees on our land to provide healthy affordable food for our local community, and also feeding all living beings on the planet.
As Co-Founder of Kincentric Leadership, Justine's core passion is working with others to awaken humanity to a deeper understanding of our kinship with all life. Justine was previously CEO of St Ethelburga's Centre, where she worked for 18 years, innovating programmes on spiritual ecology, radical resilience and communion with the wild. She has a PhD in psychology and belongs to a Sufi tradition, leading meditation and dreamwork groups for over 20 years. She became a passionate student of animal and plant communication six years ago, after a house plant unexpectedly asked her a question. She is also the author of "Generation Y, Spirituality & Social Change" and runs a unique foundation course Lighthouse in a Storm, building inner and community resilience for climate collapse.
Anna is dedicated to exploring community as a tool for resilience, regeneration and liberation. With a long history of leadership within the Global Ecovillage Network, she until recently lived in the Findhorn Ecovillage - a 60-year experiment in inner listening and cocreation with nature. Deeply in love with the world and its myriad inhabitants, Anna now lives in the Pyrenees with her human and nonhuman kin, hoping to support vibrant biodiversity, rich soils and abundant health for all who share her west-facing mountainside.
Sharpham House, Devon
Sharpham House is set in a majestic location high above the River Dart, a powerful and characterful presence meandering through the land which is in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The river is home to otters, kingfishers and pike. Sharpham is close to Dartmoor, one of the wildest and most beautiful areas of England, supporting many communities of life, including wild Dartmoor ponies, abundant buzzards, red kites and kestrels, shy deer and doormice. Totnes is also nearby, the South West's thriving hub of ecological and kincentric leadership.
The Sharpham Trust's mission is to build a more mindful, compassionate and ecologically sustainable world through offering retreats, courses and events combining mindfulness and nature connection, and through rewilding and conservation work. They also offer projects to support mental health recovery and resilience for the local community.
Sharpham Trust includes over a 100 hectares where you can walk for many hours. The house is an outstanding example of English architechture, and the project includes a permaculture garden, ornamental gardens, farms, woodland, wetland, and acres of rewilded land. The gardens and land exude a sense of peace and tranquillity with breathtaking views. With simple, nourishing, home-grown food, a friendly, relaxing atmosphere, stunning views and abundant wildlife, staying at Sharpham will always be a heart and mind-opening experience.
Sharpham offeres mostly shared accommodation but with some single rooms if needed. All meals are provided and will be vegetarian with vegan/gluten-free options. Please plan to arrive between 2pm and 3 pm on Friday July 14th and plan to depart the retreat centre no earlier than 1 pm on Thursday 20th July.
COVID policy: Vaccination is not required, but we will require you to do a covid test for two consecutive days before you arrive.
Participation, fees, room and board for all participants are generously covered by support from our funder. As a participant, you will still be required to cover all other costs, such as travel to and from the venue, covid testing, etc. If these costs are a barrier to your participation let us know in your application. We have limited travel scholarships and will be able to offer support to a few participants.
How to apply
We can have a maximum of 20 attendees. We are aiming for a diversity of perspectices and lived experiences as well as age, racial, cultural and organizational backgrounds, and will select participants with this balance in mind.
By applying to join this retreat, you are also applying to the full Kincentric Leadership programme, and we ask that you have the interest, time and ability to commit to pursuing it.
Once your application is accepted, you will receive ways to register for the retreat, as well as more practical information.
"The soundscape of the natural world is a rich tapestry of communication, with each species contributing its own unique voice to the chorus."
- David Rothenberg, professor of philosophy & music