Design Your Self Retreat: Creating Balance; February 8-10, 2013
From: Nance Longley (
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:53:13 -0800 (PST)
*Design Your Self: Creating Balance*

"It is the harmony of the diverse parts, their symmetry, their happy
balance; in a word it is all that introduces order, all that gives unity,
that permits us to see clearly and to comprehend at once both the ensemble
and the details."  - Jules H. Poincare, French mathematician and
theoretical physicist, and a philosopher of science

*What:* A retreat to explore the design principle of balance, both in the
contexts of design and of philosophy—how is balance 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 had
"perfect balance"?

*When:* Evening of February 8 to noon on Sunday, February 10, 2013

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

This will be the third in a series of retreats to explore principles and
elements of design through stories, activities, and conversation. In August
we looked at white space, and we met again in November to "up the
contrast". In February we'll make a retreat around balance, looking at what
it takes to create balance in a composition and in our own lives. Balance
doesn't just mean perfect symmetry - to create a dynamic and harmonious
balance is a much more complex process.

Join us the weekend of November 16-18 for some good conversation, good
food, great stories, and art-making about where we find balance 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, February 8*

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, February 9*

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 hands-on design activities. 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, February 10*

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, February 1 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: Mary Boyd Brent, NancyJo Hambleton, Anna Lohse, Nance Longley, Deb
Parker, Mary Ellen Shaw, Peter Shea
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