I am a new student in the Visionary Practice and Regenerative Leadership Ph.D. In late August and early September I had the privilege to participate in my first residency. It is titled “Seeking” and it kicks off the PhD program and allows us to connect with each other, the faculty, and the program overall. This year, Seeking occurred at both Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico and the Southwestern campus in Santa Fe.
From the onset of arriving on campus to meet with everyone, the environment immediately felt comfortable and unlike any other learning experience I’ve ever had. I have a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from larger universities and only in my creative writing courses have I had the opportunity to sit in circles to encourage discussion or was given the option to sit or lay on the floor during activities so that I could be in a more physically comfortable environment. Our leaders for the week, who the cohort lovingly dubbed our doctor aunties, Ann Filemyr and Marna Hauk, made us feel comfortable to be who we were, while simultaneously challenging the systems and beliefs that may be harmful to us and our future research.
For me, and I know for many others in my cohort, this was also a time to reconnect with my love of the land and my love for meeting others interested in their personal growth. Being at Ghost Ranch entailed a significant amount of walking from one place to another, and, without wifi, cell service, or television, I spent a lot of time walking in silence, reflecting on who I currently was, what I want to be in the future, and who I want to walk beside me through that journey.
The “Seeking” residency was filled with group work allowing us to connect and work with each other on brainstorming, mind mapping, collaging, reflecting, and so much more. It was during this group work that I realized that I need to dive deeper into my vision seed, or research focus. My vision seed upon entry to the program was “using regenerative techniques to fostering belonging in nonprofit workers.” During a conversation with my peers, a vision seed that was buried within me resurfaced. I, and my peers, took the time to ask difficult questions and riff off each other in a way that was organic, reflective, and insightful. We dove deep into a topic that I have been interested in while in my undergraduate psychology program, but I was told was not something that could be studied because there was no one in the field working in that space. But, here at Southwestern, we are encouraged to work on what we are passionate about instead of worrying about what academia is currently working on or what we “should” be studying. At this point, I believe my vision seed is “how our feelings of belonging and attachment as children impact those feelings that we have as adults.”
I’m sure with the continued support of the faculty and my fellow classmates, in conjunction with the digging that I continue to do in my classes, that my vision seed will continue to evolve. That is the thing that I appreciated most about Seeking. It was a true time of reflection with the support of caring faculty that fostered inspiration and our passions. I can’t wait to experience more in the next years as I continue my work here.