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.

Omega To Award $10,000 Grant To Clearwater

2 years 1 month ago

Omega Breaks New Ground by Offering its First Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award

HUDSON VALLEY, NY, June 8, 2012 – Omega Institute, home of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), today announced the creation of a new annual award to acknowledge nonprofit peers who exemplify leadership in sustainable education, and who share Omega’s commitment to building a more just and sustainable world. Omega has chosen environmental champion, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, as the first recipient of the $10,000 cash award. Omega will present the award at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, 2012, during Clearwater’s annual music and environmental festival at Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

“To further our 35-year commitment to environmental stewardship, Omega has created the 2012 Leadership in Sustainable Education Award to recognize a nonprofit organization that has demonstrated significant leadership in sustainability education,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

Omega, a nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning through innovative educational experiences, launched the OCSL, an environmental education center and natural water reclamation facility, in 2009. The OCSL is the first green building in America to achieve both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification, the highest standards currently available in sustainable architecture. Furthermore, the OCSL, a key initiative at Omega, serves as the umbrella to a wide variety of sustainability efforts on Omega’s Rhinebeck, New York campus, including a number of sustainable education programs offered annually.

“For more than 40 years, Clearwater has played a vital role in the Hudson River region with educational programs that inspire leadership in sustainability. We are proud to support Clearwater’s mission and recognize their outstanding leadership with our first annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award,” concluded Backus.

“Clearwater is honored to receive this recognition from Omega Institute for our work to create a healthier, greener, more sustainable and equitable Hudson Valley,” said Jeff Rumpf, Clearwater Executive Director. “Clearwater is working to carry forward Pete Seeger’s legacy, cultivating new and diverse environmental activists with environmental education, watershed awareness, and stewardship training. Along with Omega Institute and our partners, we are building a green, sustainable future, one that empowers communities with opportunities for green jobs and puts the “eco” into the economy.”

Clearwater’s Green Cities Initiative supports and educates Hudson River communities on how to incorporate principles of sustainability into all phases of municipal and community planning. The Green Cities initiative also calls upon civic and political leaders to consider the environmental impact of long-term policy and infrastructure decisions and how they may affect the health of Hudson River and the long-term economic vitality of the region.

In addition to the $10,000 grant, Clearwater will also receive an organizational development grant for a strategic planning retreat at Omega, to help strengthen their organization and further its mission. Clearwater will also be honored at Omega’s annual Design By Nature conference, October 19–21, 2012.

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 195 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. The Omega Center for Sustainable Living is an environmental education center and natural water reclamation facility on Omega’s Rhinebeck, New York campus. The OCSL is the first green building in America to achieve both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification – the highest standards currently available in sustainable architecture. The OCSL brings together wastewater recycling, clean energy, green architecture, and other sustainability elements that can be replicated locally and globally and provides sustainability education for students of all ages, professionals, policy makers, and developers. eOmega.org

About Clearwater
For over 40 years, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champion of the Hudson River, working to pass landmark legislation like the Clean Water Act, providing innovative educational programs, environmental advocacy, and musical celebrations, including the renowned annual Clearwater Festival, to inspire, educate, and activate millions of people. Founded by music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger, the organization began with the launch of the sloop Clearwater in 1969 —a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 106-foot-long sloop is among the first vessels in the U.S. to conduct science-based environmental education aboard a sailing ship, creating the template for environmental education programs around the world. More than half a million young people and hundreds of thousands of adults have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard Clearwater. The organization's strong connection to youth, environmental education, and its agenda to create the next generation of environmental leaders, are all part of building and strengthening a Green Cities Initiative for a green economy and a more inclusive and diverse environmental movement. Utilizing the greatest natural resource in the region, the Hudson River, Clearwater has become the grassroots model for producing positive changes to protect our planet. Clearwater.org

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Strategies for a New Economy: A Free 3-Day Live Web Event

2 years 1 month ago

What would an economy based on principles of fairness and sustainability look like? How do we collectively strategize to fully implement it? What are the implications for our culture, our society, and our health and well-being?

These pressing questions will be addressed at the New Economics Institute’s free 3-day live online conference from Bard College. More than 20 speakers will gather together to reshape our economic system by working together to achieve a common goal. We invite you to be part of the solution.

Omega Moment: Robin's Nest on the Dining Hall Porch

2 years 2 months ago

Our Rhinebeck campus is located on 195-acres in New York's historic Hudson Valley. It is a wonderful place to get in touch with nature and discover what sustainable living is all about. Earlier this month, we discovered a bird's nest filled with beautiful blue eggs lying in wait in a window box on the Dining Hall porch. This week, we welcomed three baby robins into the world!

Our environmental stewardship of the campus serves both Omega and our local community, which is well-known for its natural beauty, farms, vibrant art communities, and cultural innovation.

Learn more about Omega's sustainable solutions

 

Carla Goldstein to Speak at NetRoots Nation This Friday

2 years 2 months ago

Carla Goldstein, director of the Omega Women's Leadership Center, joins Sharon Salzberg, Leslie Salmon Jones, and Mallika Dutt for a panel discussion called Love, Compassion and Other Outrageous Forms of Activism at Netroots Nation in Rhode Island this Friday.

OMEGA AWARDS GRANTS TO 25 NONPROFITS FOR UNIQUE STRATEGIC PLANNING RETREAT

2 years 2 months ago

Omega Flagship Program Kicks Off - 8th Annual Service Week to Focus on Reinforcing Hudson Valley Social Safety Net Services & Nonprofits Working to Empower Young Women & Girls

RHINEBECK, NY – As service-oriented nonprofits struggle to survive in the current economy and carry out their missions in spite of reduced funding and budget cuts, Omega has offered grants to 25 nonprofit organizations, many of whom serve young women and girls throughout the region, to participate in a retreat at Omega’s 195-acre campus in Rhinebeck, New York. At a time when nonprofits providing safety net services to vulnerable populations are forced to do more with less, the grant from Omega provides a rare opportunity and resources so organizations can take the time to plan, network, build capacity, and develop paths for future collaboration.

“These are extremely challenging times for nonprofits and the people they serve, as service demands and needs are high and resources are down. Omega's Service Week offers a unique opportunity for grantees to meet organizational challenges through reflection, teamwork, planning, and networking,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega and director of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center.

Grantees will attend two-day, two-night organizational retreats that include free room and board, a private meeting space, use of all the facilities at Omega, and a consultation with Omega’s partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits, at an on-site Nonprofit Wellness Clinic.

“Omega’s Service Week, which now includes the Women Serving Women Summit, has had a unique, profound and deeply positive influence on the nonprofits that have participated over the years," said Doug Sauer, chief executive officer of the New York Council of Nonprofits. “This year’s focus on nonprofits that are providing and protecting safety net services in the Hudson Valley, along with the bringing together of organizations that support young women and girls in particular, reflects the potential of Service Week to contribute to systemic change,” said Doug Sauer, chief executive officer of the New York Council of Nonprofits.

“Our grants recognize the power of collaboration and allow organizations to come together for the greater good. The Women Serving Women Summit is a new program of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC). The summit brings together nonprofits that work to support and empower young women and girls,” concluded Goldstein.

The program has two parts:

  1. The 2nd Annual Women Serving Women Summit, May 28-30.
    The only nonprofit leadership retreat of its kind, the summit includes a pre-event site visit from the OWLC, which will inform and shape the gathering in May. Through this initiative, the OWLC is also gathering information about the current state of young women and girls nationwide, as well as the challenges and missions of the organizations who serve them. The summit is a key component of the new OWLC, a groundbreaking expansion of Omega’s core commitment to support lifelong learning, thought leadership, purposeful and inspired living, and community building. The OWLC will formally launch September 21, 2012, at Omega’s bi-annual Women & Power conference.
  2. The 8th Annual Service Week, May 30-June 1.
    By bringing together social service organizations based in the Hudson Valley, Omega provides a de facto planning conference for some of the region’s most critical nonprofits, many of which have lost or been stripped of any funding for strategic planning. Grantee organizations can utilize the time to develop strategic plans, cultivate relationships among their board members and with other nonprofits on campus, re-engage with their mission statement, deepen staff cooperation, and enjoy some much needed peace and relaxation. Service Week is funded in part by a grant from the Dyson Foundation.

Service Week will feature a welcome keynote address from John Elstrott, chairman of the board of Whole Foods. Elstrott will focus on ways that organizations can expand their reach in the community and form partnerships with businesses and other social change organizations.

“Despite current economic pressure and rising demand for service, nonprofits still have a responsibility to operate sustainably. I look forward to working with Omega Service Week grantees to help them achieve a greater level of sustainability for their organization,” said John Elstrott, chairman of the board of Whole Foods.

Omega is pleased to award 2012 Service Week retreat grants to the following organizations, which are actively engaged in creating a more compassionate and sustainable world: Women Serving Women Summit Grantees

  • Alternative Network for Employee Wellness (ANEW-NY)
  • Black Women’s Blueprint
  • Children’s Media Project
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension—Ulster County
  • Girls for Gender Equity (GGE)
  • Holistic Moms Network, Dutchess County Chapter
  • Hollaback!
  • Human Rights Project for Girls
  • Lower Eastside Girls Club
  • Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG)
  • The TMI Project
  • 2020: Project Women
  • YWCA of Ulster County

7th Annual Service Week Participants

  • The Children's Home of Kingston
  • The Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CADVSA)
  • Council on Addiction Prevention and Education of Dutchess County (CAPE)
  • Dutchess County Community Action Partnership
  • Hudson River Healthcare (HRHCare)
  • Mental Health America of Dutchess County (MHADC)
  • Newburgh Community Action Committee, Inc. (NCAC)
  • Nubian Directions II, Inc.
  • Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP)
  • Safe Homes of Orange County (SHOC)
  • Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY)

“It is with profound gratitude that Safe Homes of Orange County thanks the Omega Institute for this opportunity to work on enhancing our goals and objectives to take our agency to the next level in providing comprehensive, culturally competent, and compassionate services—all while indulging our senses in an environment that embodies peace and tranquility. This experience will enable an organic process, building on a foundation free from outside stressors of everyday life,” said Kelly Kostyal, executive director of Safe Homes of Orange County.

“Our Health Center Managers are looking forward to this retreat. They oversee Hudson River HealthCare's 20 practice sites, directing health care activities at the center. Our patients are often uninsured and in need of comprehensive health services. The nurse and operation managers work hard everyday to get the patients everything they need. This retreat represents an opportunity for self reflection and renewal. It would not be possible without this generous grant from the Omega Institute,” said Katherine M. Brieger, RD, CDE, chief operating officer at Hudson River HealthCare, Inc.

For more information about Omega’s annual Service Week event and the grant program, please contact Marta Szabo, at 845.266.4444, ext. 403, or by email at MartaS@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 195 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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Skip Backus: OCSL Presentation at the Living Green Symposium

2 years 2 months ago

Omega Instutite's CEO, Skip Backus discusses how Omega decided to handle the problem of water management while reducing our carbon footprint on campus by created the LEED-certified Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL).

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Stephan Rechtschaffen: The History of Camp Boiberik

2 years 2 months ago

The property Omega purchased for its home had been abandoned after its previous incarnation, Camp Boiberik, had closed in 1979. Boiberik was a Yiddish cultural camp founded by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute, an organization devoted to Jewish education in New York City and the metropolitan region. (Sholom Aleichem is one Yiddish literature's most beloved authors. Born in Russia in 1859 as Solomon Rabinovitz, he died in New York in 1916. He created many memorable characters, including Tevye, a character who appeared in the adaptation of his work in Fiddler on the Roof.)

Boiberik was established to imbue Jewish children with "the educational values of wholesome fun, recreation and cooperative living" and to give campers a "consciousness of Jewish belonging and have the feelings arising there from translated into meaningful activities," according to its founding director Leibush Lehrer, who died in 1964 (although one of the campers remembers singing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and "Roll Me Over in the Clover"). The camp was named Boiberik after a mythical summer place referred to in one of Sholem Aleichem's stories. The folk institute bought the Rhinebeck property, which had also been a camp, in 1923.

Today, several of the buildings from that first camp remain—the main hall, the dining hall, many of the cabins, most of the dorms at the northeast corner of the campus, and many of the smaller classrooms—although all of them have been renovated and updated. In 1998, Omega hosted a reunion of some 200 former Boiberik campers, and some of them occasionally come to Omega to take workshops.

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Permaculture Homesteading: How To Live Off the Grid While Staying Connected

2 years 2 months ago

The confluence of peak oil, loss of biodiversity, and widespread pollution from carbon-based industries all point to the growing need for an alternative to our way of living. Using natural, scientifically based approaches, the worldwide permaculture movement addresses these issues to develop a healthy, vibrant, more sustainable model we can all use—right at home.

During this 5-day workshop, leading permaculture teacher Andrew Faust shows us how to live off the grid, while staying connected to our communities and the world. We learn to:

  • Turn our home, farm, or cabin into a self-sufficient, low-energy-use, off-the-grid dwelling
  • Use natural energy supplies like passive solar and gravity-fed water systems
  • Detox our home and clean indoor air with plants
  • Develop organic, biodynamic, and biointensive home and rooftop gardening techniques
  • Turn wastes into resources with gray-water sumps, composting for home and garden, and eco-outhouses

 

What's in a Name? The Meaning Behind "Omega"

2 years 2 months ago

Why call it Omega? Elizabeth Lesser shares the significance and meaning behind the name based on the works of the Teilhard de Chardin.

People often ask us about the significance of Omega’s name. Our name was chosen from the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, a visionary Jesuit priest, scientist, and philosopher. Born in France in 1881, he served as a stretcher-bearer for four years on the frontlines of World War I, studied and taught paleontology and biology, and received his doctorate from the Sorbonne. His interest in evolutionary science troubled his Jesuit superiors who banished him to China for 22 years. During those years he became an expert on Asian paleontology and was among the discoverers of the Peking man. Forbidden by the church to publish, his posthumously published books marry science and religion, technology and ecology, and psychology and spirituality. Teilhard’s interest in the unity of all thought, faiths, and cultures inspired us in the early days of conceiving Omega Institute.

Teilhard believed that humans and the Earth itself are moving toward a state of planetary unity ruled by the power of love—what he called “the Omega point.” “The day will come, he wrote, “when after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Late in life, Teilhard de Chardin was sent by his superiors to live in New York. He died suddenly, on Easter day in 1955, and was buried on the grounds of a forgotten Jesuit monastery on the banks of the Hudson River, far from his native Paris. When we found the property that is now Omega’s Rhinebeck campus, we had no idea that we would discover, just miles down the road, the gravesite of the man from whose writings we had taken our name. It is one of those wonderful synchronicities that Teilhard de Chardin would have found meaningful.

Earth Day Celebration with Oakwood Friends School

2 years 3 months ago

In honor of Earth Day, students from Oakwood Friends School helped out in the garden and took a tour of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, one of the greenest buildings in America.

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