Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

ACTION ALERT: Omega & the Hudson Valley Need Your Help

1 day 7 hours ago

Please help preserve the environmental health, cultural heritage, and beauty of the Hudson Valley. Every voice counts—especially now!

The state Public Service Commission (PSC) has released a proposed outline for moving forward new transmission line projects. The proposal basically starts the whole process over—without addressing any concerns raised by the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC) and its member organizations.

We have until Tuesday, September 2 (extension deadline), to tell the PSC there are big problems with this proposal!

In a nutshell, here’s what it contains:

By January 15, developers may submit their original plan, a modified plan or, with no obligation or incentive, an alternative that stays within existing rights-of-way.

Assisted by the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO), PSC staff will rank each plan based on six criteria, including amount of increased transfer capability, cost to ratepayers, new rights-of-way needed, and assessment of environmental compatibility, including visual impacts. The proposal gives no indication of how these criteria will be applied or weighted. The rankings, along with recommendations for which projects should proceed, will be submitted to the PSC by March 2, 2015. The public will have only three weeks to respond and comment on the recommendations. 

Under this proposal, 90 percent of the cost of any projects will be passed to downstate customers (including Dutchess County residents) and 10 percent to upstate customers. Furthermore, developers will suffer only 20 percent of the risk of going over budget—with ratepayers picking up the remaining 80 percent of the tab.

Here are HVSEC’s main concerns:

  1. Need. The proposal leaves off the table the question of need. To date, there has been no independent study taking into account trends in electricity usage, technological innovation, parallel generation, and advances in demand-side management. Instead, the process starts from an assumption of need.
  2. Context. There are currently many electricity-related projects and applications proceeding simultaneously in New York, each within its own “silo,” none being considered in the context of others. To avoid duplicative, inefficient, or unnecessary development, there should be a comprehensive state energy policy taking into account all of these initiatives.
  3. Uncertainty to property owners. Hudson Valley property owners will continue suffering economic harm from decreased property value, diminished farmland, stifled tourism, and an uncertain real estate market. The PSC is offering reimbursement to developers for their costs in creating proposals, but offers nothing to businesses, landowners, or communities taking an economic hit during this lengthy process.
  4. NYISO. Although the NYISO has the word “Independent” in its name, there are legitimate concerns about the transparency of its methods. Some feel NYISO’s makeup of previous electricity industry professionals inclines it to favor projects beneficial to the industry. Because this perception exists, NYISO should display maximum transparency regarding its evaluation process and methodology.
  5. Ranking. Although it is encouraging to see right-of-way usage, visual impact, and innovative technologies among the six criteria by which projects would be ranked, there is no mention of how the criteria would be weighted in the selection process. What might be most important to the PSC or NYISO could negatively impact the Hudson Valley’s economic vitality.
  6. Cost allocation. Based on cost allocation proposed in the new document, ratepayers in the area to be economically hardest hit by a new transmission project—the Hudson Valley—also must pay the lion’s share of the costs of selected projects, as well as the vast majority of cost overruns and likely all the expenses of unsuccessful applicants. Having the public assume 80 percent of the financial burden of cost overruns incentivizes developers to come in over budget and discourages efforts on their part to cut costs.

Time is short. This Tuesday, September 2 is the deadline for commenting on this new proposal via the PSC’s website.

We’ve created a shortcut for you. Log onto http://tinyurl.com/psccomments and click on “Post Comments” near the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a form where you can state your concerns.'

To submit comments electronically: You can post your comments here, and see others' comments here

Please don’t delay. Let the PSC know today that their current proposal does not address the major concerns of Hudson Valley residents.

Our deepest thanks.

Omega Staffers Building Rain Garden for Fox Haven Organic Farm

4 weeks 4 hours ago

Current Omega seasonal staffer Brandon Sickbert, along with Joe MacDonald, former production crew chief at Omega, have teamed up to design a rain garden for Fox Haven Organic Farm and Learning Center

Sickbert says the experience he gained taking the Barton Kirk and Pete Muñoz rain garden workshop at Omega was instrumental in the project. Both Kirk and Muñoz are teaching another round of participants this year in the Ecological Literacy Immersion Program

“Rain gardens are created to slow water and filter sediment, pollutants, and nutrients before runoff meets groundwater or the creek, protecting our waterways and drinking water,” MacDonald says. “At Fox Haven this rain garden will slow and cleanse the water before reaching the Lewis Mill Creek below, a tributary to Catoctin Creek, which flows into the Potomac River.” 

According to EPA estimates, storm water runoff is responsible for about 70 percent of all water pollution in lakes, rivers, and streams. 

Fox Haven adds, “The garden will be planted with native flowers, shrubs, and trees that will provide valuable habitat for birds, butterflies, and other pollinators—including plants like milkweed to help support a struggling Monarch butterfly population.”

OWLC Attends Netroots Nation

1 month 4 days ago

Omega board member, Jamia Wilson, and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center and chief external affairs officer at Omega, Carla Goldstein, attended the 9th annual Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, Michigan. At the gathering, more than 3,000 people convened to attend over 80 panels and 40 hands-on training sessions, a film screening series, and other events covering technology, politics, and activism "designed to educate, stimulate, and inspire the nation’s next generation of progressive leaders." The speakers included Elizabeth Warren, who gave the keynote address. 

Netroots Nation aspires each year to bring "thousands of bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices, and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about."

Over the weekend, Carla and Jamia also participated in a walk to raise awareness of the ongoing water crisis for Detroit residents. 

 

Omega’s Eco Machine™ Inspires Sustainable Schools Start-Up

1 month 1 week ago

Hundreds of individuals and groups have toured the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) building and Eco Machine™ since the facility opened. Recently Schools for Sustainability (S4S) visited, describing the OCSL in a Huffington Post blog, as “a shining example of green building at its finest.” 

S4S says, “we envision our schools to possess many of the same qualities as the [OCSL]…a vibrant learning environment, a model for positive impact living…a place that exemplifies a healthy interdependence between humans and the planet.” 

Schools for Sustainability, based in Philadelphia and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is establishing a residential farm school in Monte Plata on land donated by former president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández. There they will, “combine education and local food production with comprehensive integrated water, waste, and energy management, that can be demonstrated to the surrounding community.”

One of the aims of S4S is that the model established in this first school will be copied globally. 

S4S cofounder Alyssa Ramos-Reynoso says, “Touring Omega was the perfect chance to learn about an environmentally net-positive water purification system, a technology that we will emulate and teach in our schools.”

Learn more about the OCSL building.

Yoga Service Conference Gets Write Up in YOGAChicago

1 month 1 week ago

Yoga teacher Carol Horton writes about her experience attending the third annual Yoga Service Conference (YSC), copresented by Omega and the Yoga Service Council, in the July/August issue of YOGAChicago. A volunteer teacher with Yoga for Recovery, a nonprofit offering yoga to women in Cook County Jail, she is also cofounder of the Socially Engaged Yoga Network, which supports yoga service and outreach in the Chicago metro area. 

“Having attended every YSC conference since the first one in 2012, it was a pleasure to reconnect with old friends, revisit the beautiful Omega campus, and re-engage with the energy, passion, and commitment that permeates this very unusual yoga gathering,” Horton writes. 

This year’s conference offered panel discussions and workshops to help explore how yoga philosophy and practice can have a bigger impact on social justice issues like inequality, discrimination, and privilege.

The conference created opportunities for those in the yoga service community to build skills and get inspiration from leading teachers who work with people in underserved communities every day. See how yoga has influenced some of their students in this slideshow

Read the full article

Learn more about the Yoga Service Council

Mindfulness Practice Growing Mainstream

1 month 2 weeks ago

Omega to Offer Mindfulness & Education Conference and More in 2014 

RHINEBECK, NY – Is mindfulness practice the next revolution? According to Time magazine, it may be. From stress reduction to work performance, from the classroom to the boardroom, from relationships to the dinner table—the benefits of mindfulness are now widely recognized. Omega, a leader in the field for more than 35 years, today announced it will hold an important conference and several workshops on this topic in 2014.

“For years we have seen people from all walks of life reap huge benefits from learning how to bring mindfulness practices into their lives, at home, at work, in schools, and in the public arena,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega. “The promise of mindfulness is that we can be more reflective, resilient, and compassionate toward each other as individuals and as a human family,” concluded Goldstein.

The practices of contemplative education, Social and Emotional Learning, and mindfulness are being widely explored in schools throughout the United States. Research continues to show that mindfulness practice decreases stress, attention deficit issues, depression, anxiety, and hostility in children, while also benefiting their health, well-being, social relations, and academic performance.

The Mindfulness & Education Conference, July 25–27, brings together influential leaders in the fields of mindfulness and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), including psychologists, educators, administrators, and teachers, to explore practical ways to teach mindfulness techniques to children grades K through 12. Internationally renowned speakers will address topics such as implementing mindfulness programs in schools, ways to support Social and Emotional Learning, cultivation of resilience, at-risk youth, and practices that support utilizing the methods of interpersonal neurobiology. Tiered Pricing and continuing education credits are available. Omega awarded 39 full and partial scholarships to the conference, thanks to funding supported in part by the 1440 Foundation, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

 

Additional upcoming programs in the field of mindfulness include:

Urban Youth Yoga & Mindfulness, July 2026, with the founders of the Holistic Life Foundation—Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez, along with guest teacher Sharon Salzberg. This workshop shows you how to teach yoga and mindfulness to high-risk and hard-to-reach urban youth. Tiered Pricing and continuing education credits are available for this professional training.

Mindfulness in Education Teacher Training, July 2026, with Daniel Rechtschaffen, author of The Way of Mindful Education. This 5-day workshop helps you gain the skills and confidence you need to bring the many benefits of mindfulness to children in grades K–12. Continuing education credits are available for this professional training.

Mindful Self-Compassion: 5-day Intensive, July 27–August 1, with Steven Hickman and Michelle Becker. Self-compassion is a skill that can be learned by anyone. It’s the heart of mindfulness. This workshop is particularly valuable for health-care professionals and nonprofessionals who want an in-depth experience of mindful self-compassion. Continuing education credits are available for this intensive.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): A 5-Day Professional Training for the Prevention of Depression Relapse, August 10–15, with Zindel Segal and Susan Woods. This is an innovative group program designed to prevent relapse in people who have recovered from unipolar depression. Based on the research of Drs. Zindel Segal, John Teasdale, and Mark Williams, and documented in their book Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, this professional training combines the practice and clinical application of mindfulness meditation with the tools of cognitive therapy. Continuing education credits are available for this professional training.

Mindful Communication: The Path of Wise Speech, August 17–22, with Oren J. Sofer. Mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation, the Buddha's teachings on wise speech, and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) collectively form a powerful foundation for cultivating awareness and empathy, strengthening our ability to be skillful in challenging situations, and developing our capacity to listen and speak from the heart. Tiered Pricing and continuing education credits are available.

Contemplative Practice in Higher Education, August 22–24, with Daniel P. Barbezat, Mirabai Bush, and more. Under the leadership of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, colleges and universities nationwide have integrated contemplative practices into a variety of their courses. In this professional training, four leading experts in the field introduce contemplative practices, review the related neuroscience research on meditation and learning, give examples of successful courses, and engage you in thinking about the role of contemplation in your own work.

To learn more visit eOmega.org, or call 800.944.1001. A limited number of media passes are available. To apply for a media pass, visit eOmega.org/press.

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About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world. eOmega.org

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OWLC Advisory Council Member Edit Schlaffer in Zanzibar

3 months 3 hours ago

Recently, Omega Women's Leadership Center advisory council member Edit Schlaffer visited Zanzibar, the island off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, where debates around their constitution and a referendum concerning unity with the mainland are fueling cultural and political radicalization that has especially impacted women and families. Young Zanzibaris have taken to the streets in violent protest led by UAMSHO, meaning the Awakening. Tying together her experiences there with events around the world, Edit reflects on the realities of terrorism, the fate of the Nigerian school girls kidnapped, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and makes a call to action to the mothers and women of these regions while there is still an opportunity to prevent further radicalization. 

 "We can't let the violent extremist hijack the local narrative....This is the entry point to build up the resilience in mainstream society and encourage the strength to stand up and say: 'No, your agenda is not our agenda'....We need to look at the first line of defense which are the families and particularly the mothers. The home is the place where the excitement and frustrations of the adolescents can be dealt with and channeled. This is the only safe place where early warning signs can be addressed and responded to in an empathetic and constructive way....

[Women] need to bring their voice and concerns to the fore. They need to be active in their families and communities to build resilience and create alternatives to external influences, which might lure them into divisive directions. Given their unique perspective and position in the heart of their communities, their expertise needs to be recognized and used across all levels of society both formal and informal.

This is about humanity now, it is time to stand up and defend our fabric of life. If half of humanity is left behind and left out, it won't work."

Read the full article on the Huffington Post

Learn more about the Omega Women's Leadership Center

OWLC Attends "Celebrating Women Breakfast" Honoring Gloria Steinem

3 months 1 week ago

On May 8th, Omega Women's Leadership Center director, Michele Bertran joined more than 2,000 women leaders at the New York Women's Foundation (NYWF) 27th Annual Celebrating Women Breakfast in New York City. At the breakfast, Gloria Steinem, an Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) Advisory Council member, was celebrated as the Century Award Honoree for her exemplary and lifelong human rights commitment. 

Gloria spoke about the unfinished business of the women's movement—including obtaining equal pay for equal work, ending domestic and global violence against women, and calling for a culture of equality, inclusion, and respect. Ana Oliveira, NYWF President and CEO, whose own remarks also addressed inequality and violence, talked about the forward looking and uniting work of NYWF in the coming year. She described the breakfast as "the sitting march of our movement." 

Omega Service Week Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary Milestone of Reaching 4,000+ Dedicated Staff Serving 300 Nonprofits that Impact Millions

3 months 1 week ago

2014 Recipients Announced: 33 Nonprofits Receive Retreat Space for Visioning, Strategic Planning & Networking, May 2630th

RHINEBECK, NY –This year marks the 10th anniversary of Omega Service Week, a program that supports nonprofit organizations and foundations committed to improving the well-being of others and the planet. Omega today announced 33 nonprofit organizations will be awarded two-day, two-night organizational retreats on Omega’s 200-acre campus, including free room and board, a private meeting space, use of facilities, and a consultation with Omega’s partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON).

“The challenges that nonprofits face nowadays are numerous and complex. Omega’s Service Week offers a unique opportunity in a safe, nurturing environment for organizations to step back, breathe, and take the opportunity with one of our expert staff to get the check-up they may have been postponing,” said Doug Sauer, chief executive officer of New York Council of Nonprofits.

Omega’s annual Service Week is comprised of two sessions. During the first session (May 26-28), Omega welcomes organizations from the Mid-Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and New York City, working in health care, the arts, sustainability, and human services. The second session (May 28-30), the Women Serving Women Summit, is presented by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. The only nonprofit leadership retreat of its kind, the 2014 summit will bring together nonprofits working to improve the lives of women and girls in eight different states and will include a series of roundtable discussions, a collaborative art experience, and more. The participation of Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits in Service Week is funded in part by a significant grant from the Dyson Foundation.

“Omega started Service Week 10 years ago as a way to help support our nonprofit peers and to strengthen the safety-net that so many people in our extended community depend upon. We are thrilled with the success of the program, which has directly touched more than 300 nonprofits and 4,000 dedicated people over the years and has an aggregate ripple effect in the millions,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega.

Omega is pleased to award 2014 Service Week retreats to the following organizations, which are actively engaged in creating a more compassionate and sustainable world:

Session 1 Recipients:

Mid-Hudson Valley Organizations:

Astor Services for Children & Families
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children
Habitat for Humanity of Dutchess County
Hudson River HealthCare
Hudson Valley Current
Re>Think Local
Resource Center for Accessible Living, Inc.
Rondout Valley Holistic Health Community
The Children’s Home of Kingston
The Institute for Family Health: Ulster County Healthy Families & Dutchess County Healthy Families

Additional Organizations:

Artreach
New York Memory Center
Wediko Children’s Services, New York Branch
Westchester Institute for Human Development, Child Welfare Services

Session 2 Recipients- Women Serving Women Summit:

Mid-Hudson Valley Organizations:

American Association of University Women, Poughkeepsie Chapter
Breastfeeding Initiative of Ulster County
The Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse
Girls on the Run Hudson Valley
Million Women Drummers Gathering

Additional Organizations:

Be the Change NJ
Care USA
The Center for Family Justice, Inc.
Girls for GLocal Leadership
Girls at Work, Inc.
Girls For a Change
Girls for Gender Equity
Love Heals
Ophelia’s Place
Prevention is Key
The Prison Birth Project
Sakhi for South Asian Women
School of Leadership, Afghanistan
YWCA New York City

For more information about Omega’s annual Service Week program and how to apply, contact Marta Szabo at 845.266.4444, ext. 403, or by email at MartaS@eomega.org.

For information about the Women Serving Women Summit or Omega Women’s Leadership Center, contact Sarah Urech at 845.266.4444, ext. 412, or by email at SarahU@eomega.org.

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world. eOmega.org

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Omega CEO Responds to New York Times Article

3 months 2 weeks ago

Omega CEO, Robert "Skip" Backus, responded yesterday to a New York Times article covering local community reaction to the proposed upgrade of power lines in the Hudson Valley.

In the article titled, "With Power Comes Ambivalence," a number of residents—from farmers to homeowners and real estate agents to business owners—expressed deep concern about the possible economic, health, and environmental impact of the upgrade. They also shared how they are organizing to ensure their voices are heard in the development of the final proposal for the upgrade. 

In his response, Backus said, "We need to be sure to have a full and rich conversation about all the costs involved in this proposal. It’s easy to point out numbers concerning congestion costs to businesses and residents’ utility bills, but other short and long term costs are less transparent. Let’s be sure to understand what best serves all the communities both upstate and downstate."

Read the New York Times article and Skip Backus' full response

Learn more about No Monster Power Lines 

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