The Gatherings

We are halfway through what we are calling the Decisive Decade, and a sense of urgency is building. We find ourselves in a critical moment in human history, embedded in a complex living system (Mother Earth) that is far from equilibrium – ecologically, economically, socially, and spiritually. Yet chaos and disorder can be fertile ground for the emergence of creativity and innovation, compassion and empathy, and thriving communities. 

This is why we are excited to incorporate Gatherings to the offerings of the Center for Creative Community. The Gatherings are invitational leadership conferences imbued with a heartfelt sense of community, spirit, and service. Each Gathering builds on a different theme within its community:

Fall Gatherings: The first three Fall Gatherings at Commonweal were extraordinarily successful, bringing together diverse thought and action leaders in a convergence of creativity, reflection, music, movement, and joy. Once a year, new and old faces are invited to share ideas that engage, provoke, and inspire.

Resiliency is Our Community (ROC) Gatherings: ROC creates an inter-generational space to explore meaning, purpose and equity through active listening, reflection, collaboration and service, resulting in more integrated identities and communities. Each quarterly event explores ways to support one another, heal and grow through plenaries offered by community members.

Experienced over the course of several days, the format is one of brief provocative morning keynote presentations, interspersed with music, improvisation, meditation, and short 5-minute flashes of insights. Afternoons are devoted to an open-space format in which anyone can present on anything of interest to them and anyone who wants to attend can join them. After dinner, the evenings are given over to various forms of celebration and joy.

We are committed to cultural, ethnic, and generational diversity. This three-fold diversity brings freshness, hope, and power to our Gatherings. 

The Commonweal Gatherings convene a diverse multigenerational group of creative leaders to:

  • Experience community together
  • Explore how community is showing up in our own lives and in the places we care about
  • Discover together how we might deepen our experience of community
  • Harness the power of community to create a brighter world.

The Back Story

The Fall Gathering builds on the method and tradition created by Rick Ingrasci and Peggy Taylor over 25 years of Summer Gatherings at Hollyhock Conference Center on Cortes Island in British Columbia. Rick and Peggy designed a unique way of bringing people together that maximized creativity and joy – informing and bonding participants in a way that is rarely experienced. A few years ago they added a Winter Gathering at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, where they live.

After experiencing several of these Gatherings at Hollyhock and the Whidbey Institute, we resolved to create the Fall Gathering at Commonweal. Part of what we are consciously doing is building a pilgrimage trail of deep cultural sharing that runs up the coast from Bolinas to Whidbey to Hollyhock, sharing the energies, strengths, and visions that we need in these extraordinary times.

Our intent is to widely disseminate this method in our region so we can all incorporate facets of it in our work. Commonweal is including this method as core to our new Summer Camp for teens, based on Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy’s recently published a book, Catch the Fire: An Art-Full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults, and Communities.

The beauty of these Gatherings is that there is no onerous agenda. Friendships and networks spontaneously form. These in turn lead to all kinds of extraordinary ventures. These “spontaneous outcomes” have proven to be every bit as effective as the outcomes so arduously strategized and planned in typical conferences. The difference is that this process is actually enjoyable – deeply enjoyable – drawing on the resources of spontaneity.

Upcoming Gatherings

Let us know if you are interested in our gatherings by emailing us at