Design Your Self Retreat: Up the Contrast, November 16-18
From: Nance Longley (
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2012 18:34:18 -0700 (PDT)
Design Your Self: Up the Contrast

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it
sweetness.” — John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

What: A retreat to explore the design element of contrast, both in the
contexts of design and of philosophy—how is contrast useful in building our
understandings of self? How does it or can it shape our visual, physical,
and emotional experiences? What would our lives look like if we "upped the

When: Evening of November 16 to noon on Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where: Shalom Hill Farm, Windom, Minnesota (about 2.5 hours southwest of
the Twin Cities)

Our first retreat in August on the topic of white space generated interest
in putting together this next one, and some of us met and came up with the
theme "Up the Contrast". Contrast is often thought of in dramatic terms,
like black and white, hot and cold, rich and poor. But the definition
doesn't always have to be so stark. Contrast can help us bring blurry
things into focus if we look hard enough. The nuances of contrast in a
visual composition and in our lives can provide some of the most
interesting things to talk about.

Join us the weekend of November 16-18 for some good conversation, good
food, great stories, and art-making about where we find contrast in our

Some background: Peter Shea and I, two instructors for the University
philosophy course Lives Worth Living: Questions of Self, Vocation, and
Community(Philosophy Camp), had a brainstorm/conversation during last
spring’s course about playing with the intersection of design and
philosophy by looking at one through the lens of the other. To further
explore this idea we decided to initiate a series of occasional weekend
retreats, playing with design elements and concepts like contrast,
hierarchy, proximity, etc. We do hands-on design activities and use design
concepts as metaphors for telling and listening to stories from our own and
each others’ lives.

The format for the weekend follows one used in a series of “folk school
retreats” that helped develop the ideas that eventually became Philosophy
Camp. In the spirit of “design it yourself”, participants work together to
design parts of the retreat. Everyone is invited to help with meal
preparation and clean-up and there are open times when participants are
able to create group or individual activities.

Participants can attend one retreat or may be inspired to attend several,
depending on their interest and availability — each retreat will be a theme
that is independent of the others, so it won’t be necessary to attend them
all or in sequence to get something out of the experience.

Rough schedule for the retreat weekend:

Friday, November 16

Arrive in time for 6 p.m. dinner (arrive around 4 p.m. if you would like to
help with cooking). After clean-up we’ll do an introductory story circle
and evening design activity

Saturday, November 17

Breakfast will be a self-serve assortment of baked goods, granola, fruit,
and yogurt. Eggs are also available. We’ll meet at around 9 a.m. for a
story circle, then break to prepare and eat lunch. After lunch there will
be a hands-on design activity. Later in the afternoon there will be free
time available to go for a walk, take a nap, do some sketching, or
whatever. We’ll start preparing dinner around 5 p.m. After dinner and
dishes are done there will be more open time for conversations, walks,
and/or group-generated activities.

Sunday, November 18

After breakfast we’ll have a closing story circle, then be ready to leave
by noon.

Cost for the weekend is on a sliding scale: $72, $92, or $112.

The actual fee of $92 includes a single room for two nights and all food.
Pay the lower fee of $72 if that’s what you can afford, or the higher fee
of $112 if you can afford to provide a scholarship. If you share a room
your fee will be $10 less for the weekend ($62, $82, $102).

We can accommodate up to 20 participants.

Shalom Hill Farm is a modern retreat facility on a historic farm near
Windom, Minn. The surrounding landscape of restored prairie, wetlands, and
wide-open skies provide a peaceful and rejuvenating experience. Although
it’s not a working farm, there are chickens (and fresh eggs), sheep, cats,
and Otie, the Jack Russell Terrier (who loves to go on prairie walks).

RSVP to Nance at longley [at], by Friday, November 9 and then we’ll get
information out to you about driving directions. Let me know if you have
any dietary restrictions so we can plan the food accordingly. Meals will be
simple and vegetarian, with a vegan option if needed.

Contact me at longley [at] with any questions. Feel free to forward to
anyone you think may be interested. Hope you can make it!

Organizers: Marisol Brito, Nance Longley, Martha Megarry, Mary Ellen Shaw,
Peter Shea
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