2016 Advisor Workshops Outline

A message from the Elk Coast Institute of Mindful Sustainable Innovation’s (ECI) co-Founder, Peter Eisenberger, to all attendees of the 2016 ECI weekend working retreat.


Dear Fellow Earthlings,

I want to personally thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your busy schedules and agreeing to join us in the second and final planning meeting for the Elk Coast Institute of Mindful Sustainable Innovation (ECI). In the 2015 weekend working retreat, we developed some general concepts about ECI which we will build on in this year’s advisory working sessions.

For this weekend working retreat,  our objective is to go from the general concepts to the specific in each of the three areas. Our objective is to use the output of the weekend retreat to provide the basis for kicking off the operations of the Institute in 2017 by hosting the first groups of potential innovators at another gathering in Elk and by launching several innovation efforts. One thing we discussed at the first weekend retreat was the possibility of also establishing a set of courses that would enable others to start similar efforts in other places since the enormity of the challenge that faces our species is at such a scale that no single effort will suffice to meet the need. This aspect will be specified in the Mindful Innovation group at this meeting. (Group 1) Our hope is that some you attending this forthcoming weekend retreat might help mentor some of the groups of innovators in the future and/or participate in them yourselves or decide to launch similar activities in other places focusing on initiatives that reflect your interests and capabilities.  Before that gathering in 2017, we will have established ECI as a legal entity and obtained the funding for its initial operation.  

There is an important aspect of the process that we will be doing together that I want to bring to your attention. ECI is itself a Mindful Innovation,  designed to have a positive impact on the decisions we make and the technology we develop as a species in the future.  Thus as best we can, we want to conduct ourselves by using the main principles that ECI is based upon. They are as follows:

1: We want to think about the long term impact of ECI and how to maximize its positive benefit rather than its short term success or viability. That is why, in keeping with the reason given above, we will encourage others to launch similar activities rather than view them as competitors.

2: We want our discussions to be held immersed in the nature as much as possible. For this reason we have developed three sites on the property away from any sign or presence of human technology. Over the course of the weekend retreat, members of each of the three groups will spend one of their three sessions at each of the three designated sites. Since one aspect of nature is that it is not always predictable you should bring clothes appropriate for full sun and 75 degrees to foggy and damp in the mid 60’s. You will of course appreciate that this is a mild variation compared to the changes that can occur in nature, it still serves as a good reminder for any future innovation: It is true that nature is not static nor always comfortable and I can safely say that some of my best ideas occurred when it was foggy and I believe that the delicate state that produces fog is a powerful reminder of the delicate state of nature generally.

3:  The overall objective of the three groups is to develop innovative ideas of how to proceed with the establishment of the Elk Coast Institute for Mindful, Sustainable Innovation. To that end, we will use the known “growing ideas “ approach to ideas that are being discussed. Namely, any suggestion made for a group to think about will be followed by others in the group first saying what they like about the idea and then identify issues that could prevent the idea from either working or even having a positive long  term impact if successful. The final stage is to think about ways to address the concerns raised. The outcome of that process will be a group decision of whether to make that idea part of what is recommended by the group and will be shared with others on Sunday when each of the three groups report their findings.

You will be assigned to a group based upon your preference and the need to keep a balance of effort in all three areas. Please nominate your preferences on the ECI website via the form below. Some of you may want to participate in more than one group and, where possible, those requests will honored. Each group leader (David Shearer for Group 1: Mindfulness, me for Group 2: Mindful innovation, and Nicholas Eisenberger for the Group 3: Governance/Operations) will contact their respective group members during the week and provide more specifics for their group including the scheduling of the sites for each of the three group sessions.

I am personally very excited and look forward to sharing the physical beauty and mental beauty that we will create together. As great as the group was last year, I believe this year will be even more inspiring.

I am very much looking to re-connecting with a number of you who are returning for the second year in a row and to meeting those I have not have the pleasure of meeting yet.



PS:  My co-founder of ECI, Graciela Chichilnisky, is hosting a life celebration for her daughter on the same weekend so her active participation in this year’s ECI weekend retreat will be minimal. Having said that, those that know her will know that her impact will be felt and has already been felt in her advocating strongly for the inclusion of the education component. Her beautiful daughter, Natasha, loved Elk and was an extraordinary innovator herself in the areas we will be discussing. We will all miss her powerful presence but her influence remains in the extraordinary group of friends gathering on the property for her life celebration who could themselves be future participants in ECI. Towards that end, they will join us in the introductory session and for the Saturday evening dinner party. Some may also  join us for the final summary meeting and the North Coast ‘poke’ style late lunch/early dinner after the summary meeting at 3pm on Sunday.

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