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.

Carla Goldstein to Speak at Womensphere Global Summit

6 months 3 weeks ago

Carla Goldstein, cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center and chief external affairs officer at Omega will speak at Columbia University in New York City on Monday, September 30th at the 6th annual Global Summit & Awards. The theme of this year’s event is “Creating the Future: Evolution + Revolution,” and brings together international leaders in education, business, policy, foundations and NGOs, entrepreneurship, and social innovation.  The speakers and delegates at the Summit are divided into nine councils, according to their topics of expertise. Carla Goldstein will be speaking about “The Future of Women & Girls.”

The Womensphere Foundation seeks to advance women’s leadership on a global level. During the Summit, speakers will address questions that are crucial to the progression of women as innovators, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and key creators of the world’s future. Among the many ideas discussed, the Summit hopes to answer important questions about how participants can collaborate to create enlightened leadership and how global stakeholders can unite to create a world that is inclusive and sustainable, in which women play an active part.

President Bill Clinton to Deliver Keynote Address at Omega Conference

6 months 3 weeks ago

Where We Go From Here Conference Will Examine Sustainability as a Question of Values & a Challenge of Systems Design—Now Including Conference Live Stream

RHINEBECK, NY—Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy demonstrated just how real the threat of climate change is, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) is hosting Where We Go From Here: Opportunities & Solutions for an Interdependent World, a conference that addresses the imperative for examining sustainability issues from a holistic perspective based on the interconnection between human behavior, economic and social systems, and the environment. The conference will be held October 4–6, 2013, and will feature keynote speaker President Bill Clinton, 2005 MacArthur Fellow Majora Carter, environmentalist Paul Hawken, economist Jeremy Rifkin, and other major leaders in sustainability. The conference also will be available free to the public via live stream on Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6.

As the problems of climate change and dwindling resources manifest themselves more clearly and urgently, the conference will assess the shortcomings of current sustainability efforts—and create a road map for going forward that places whole-systems thinking front and center.

“With ever more frequency and intensity, we are seeing the effects of being out of balance with the earth and each other. We cannot solve this problem without considering the whole—understanding the big picture and finding our place within it,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). “We are thrilled that President Clinton will deliver the keynote speech. Omega is proud to initiate the discussion about where we go from here, and to serve as a model for a whole-systems approach to sustainability.”

Founded four years ago, the OCSL includes the first green building in America to receive both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certifications, and has evolved into an emerging environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega Institute is integrating similar designs into other facilities on its Rhinebeck, New York campus. A recent addition to the Omega Women’s Leadership Center is the first commercial project in the United States to meet Passive House certification standards—the building uses very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75%.

“Recognizing our interdependence—to each other and to the planet—is key to finding solutions to our pressing environmental challenges,” said Backus.

Where We Go From Here will include keynote talks, panel discussions, stories from the field, and a tour of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

Leading economists, environmentalists, philanthropists, designers, architects, and activists round out the list of speakers, including:

  • President Bill Clinton, Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice, and led the U.S. to the longest economic expansion in American history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. After the leading the White House, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. clintonfoundation.org
  • Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, is an authority on economic sustainability. His books include The Third Industrial Revolution and The Empathic Civilization. foet.org
  • Janine Benyus, a biologist, consultant, and author of six books, including the classic Biomimicry, is cofounder of the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs. biomimicry.net
  • Majora Carter, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 when few were talking about sustainability, and even fewer, in places like the South Bronx. Since 2008, her consulting company, Majora Carter Group, has exported climate adaptation, urban micro-agribusiness, and leadership development strategies for business, government, foundations, universities, and economically underperforming communities. majoracartergroup.com
  • Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, author, and entrepreneur who founded some of the first natural food companies in America to rely solely on sustainable agriculture. paulhawken.com
  • Bob Berkebile is an influential sustainable design architect and community planner, a founding principal of BNIM Architects, and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Global Community. bnim.com
  • Robert “Skip” Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). He helped lay the foundation for Omega’s environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation, and 100% sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.
  • Carla Goldstein, JD, is Omega Institute’s chief external affairs officer and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state, and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women’s rights, poverty, public health, and social justice.
  • Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, composer, philanthropist, and author of the New York Times best-seller Life Is What You Make It. peterbuffett.com
  • Maya Azucena is an award-winning singer, activist, and cultural ambassador. At the 2010 United Nations Summit, she was selected by the Office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the exclusive performer at the Every Woman, Every Child event. She is also a cofounder of the multimedia website MDGFive.com, which raises awareness for maternal health. mayaazucena.com
  • Rob Hopkins, author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff and The Transition Handbook, is cofounder of the International Transition Network, a charitable environmental organization. The Independent lists him as one of the top environmentalists in the United Kingdom. The Observer calls him “one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals.”

Speakers are subject to change.

People can join the conversation about where we go from here on Twitter @Omega_Institute (conference hashtag #OCSL2013), and on Facebook.com/Omega.OCSL.

For complete details or to register, visit eOmega.org/ocsl2013 or call 800.944.1001.

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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Veterans Tap Into the Healing Power of Music

7 months 14 hours ago

Music is known for its ability to soothe souls and mend broken hearts, but research is showing that it can also heal the brain after trauma. A current example of how this works is found in Musicorps, a restorative program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which rehabilitates injured veterans through music. Since music involves several integrated aspects of brain functioning, Musicorps offers wounded veterans a chance to heal mentally and emotionally.

"Music involves so much brain geography,” explained Arthur Bloom, the director of Musicorps, “it can help an uninjured part compensate for an injured part or [even help] an injured part heal.”

Watch the video

Learn more about Musicorps

Explore Omega's veterans programs

Learn about other alternative therapies for veterans

Omega Awards $10,000 Grant To Scenic Hudson, Largest Environmental Group Focused On Hudson River Valley

7 months 2 days ago

Omega Elevates Environmental Stewardship with 2nd Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega Institute, home of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), today announced the second recipient of their Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award. The award recognizes nonprofit peers who exemplify leadership in sustainable education and who share Omega’s commitment to building a more just and sustainable world. This year, Omega recognizes Scenic Hudson, an organization working to protect and restore the Hudson River and its landscape. Scenic Hudson will be honored with the award at Omega’s annual Where We Go From Here conference, October 2–4, 2013.

“Last year, Omega created the Leadership in Sustainable Education Award to further our commitment to environmental stewardship, and we are thrilled this year to advance the conversation around sustainability and environmental protection by awarding the second annual award to Scenic Hudson,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

Founded four years ago, the OCSL originated as 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 has since evolved into an environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega is integrating similar designs into other facilities on campus. The new office of the  Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) is the first commercial project in the United States to meet Passive House certification standards. The OWLC operates using very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75%.

“A true crusader for the Hudson Valley for 50 years, Scenic Hudson has been fighting day in and day out for the protection and restoration of the Hudson River. They have a strong emphasis on educating the community on the importance of the natural world and living by an environmental ethic,” concluded Backus.

“Omega is a world renowned institution that brings together people concerned with the environment and sustainable living. It’s a great honor for me to accept this award on behalf of all the people who make Scenic Hudson’s success possible. The support and partnership Omega is providing to us will inspire and catalyze our work to make the Hudson Valley a model of sustainable living in an ever-evolving world,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.

Scenic Hudson is credited with saving the Storm King Mountain from a proposed power plant and with launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement in the 1960s. The largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley, the organization uses a combination of tactics, including land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools, to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public, and preserve the valley's inspiring beauty and natural resources.

In addition to the $10,000 grant, Scenic Hudson will also receive an organizational development grant for a strategic planning retreat at Omega, to help strengthen their organization and further its mission.

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

About Scenic Hudson—Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary in 2013
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the Hudson Valley since 1963, today we have more than 25,000 ardent supporters and are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 60 parks, preserves, and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved over 30,000 acres. www.sh50.org and www.scenichudson.org

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Omega Staff Member Launches Company that Helps the Environment

7 months 3 days ago

Kristen Hess worked at Omega as a seasonal staff member for two months in the summer of 2010, an experience she describes as “fun, educational, healing, and uplifting.” During her time at the Rhinebeck campus, she met a number of environmental luminaries, including Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man, and Deborah Eden Tull, author of The Natural Kitchen. Hess expanded her awareness of ecological sustainability and received her first introduction to permaculture.

Upon leaving Omega, she said, “I was so inspired by the environmental lifestyle that I began working on a project with my Dad to help boost participation in composting.” Over three years that project has evolved into a fantastic company called CompoKeeper. Kristen Hess and her father developed special bins that streamline the composting process. The end result is an effective, cleaner, and simpler system that will allow more people to make kitchen composting, like recycling, a routine part of their lives. Kristen’s next step is to raise the funds that will make it possible to manufacture the CompoKeeper on American soil, in order to reduce the company’s carbon footprint as much as possible (a guiding philosophy of permaculture).

Hess recently shared with us her story about CompoKeeper and how her work as seasonal staff at Omega helped inspire it. “Omega has shaped my life and guided me to devote my energy toward helping others and the planet,” she said.

We are proud to have been a part of this remarkable staff member’s journey and are in turn inspired by the ingenuity, determination, and integrity of her work. Thank you, Kristen, for demonstrating Omega’s mission to “awaken the best in the human spirit.” Check out CompoKeeper’s Facebook page to learn more about Kristen’s work and the evolution her company.

 

Omega Hosts Food Quality Gathering

7 months 5 days ago

Omega recently hosted a gathering to talk about food quality. Judith D Schwartz reported on the event in The Guardian: "When it comes to eating well, the advice we get is that fresh is better than processed, fruit and veg are better than fats and carbs, and organic is best of all. But what if the food we eat is not truly feeding us? Many choose to buy organic to be assured food doesn't have the 'bad stuff' in it. But how do we know it's got the 'good stuff' in it—flavor, wholesomeness, vitamins, minerals?"

"This question was among those taken up last week at a meeting on food quality at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in the Hudson Valley, New York, attended by farmers, educators, researchers, and activists looking to bring quality into discussions of food, nutrition, and agriculture. The Hudson Valley has become a food destination due to its many small farms and celebrated chefs (and because the famed Culinary Institute of America is located there)."

Read the full story

Omega Hosts 7th Annual Camp Lightheart for Kids

7 months 1 week ago

Having a parent with breast cancer can be frightening for anyone, but especially for children. In an effort to help children navigate such a difficult time, Breast Cancer Options, the largest provider of breast cancer services in the Hudson Valley, created Camp Lightheart.

A free sleep-away camp for children ages 8–14 who have a parent with breast cancer, Camp Lightheart was launched in 2007 on Omega's campus in Rhinebeck, New York. Each summer since, Camp Lightheart has created a safe, nurturing, and fun-loving experience for children of breast cancer survivors.

This year's 7th annual Camp Lightheart was sponsored by Omega Institute, the United Breast Cancer Foundation, Ulster Savings Bank, and generous donations through Breast Cancer Options.

Learn more about Breast Cancer Options

Learn more about Camp Lightheart

Equine Therapy: How Horses Help Trauma Survivors Recover

7 months 1 week ago

Military women and women veterans face particular challenges, in their military and post-military experiences, including when they seek treatments for PTSD. One highly effective trauma treatment is not necessarily new, but is being approached in a whole new way: equine therapy.

More than 30 Veterans Affairs medical centers around the United States are now using some form of equine-assisted therapy for treating veterans. Equine therapy is effective because horses can sense human moods and can help trauma victims reconnect with their bodies, and remain connected in the present moment.

In programs like Freedom Farm in Minnesota, a free equine therapy program for female veterans, those who are recovering from sexual trauma can harness the healing, calming power of horses, while learning to reconnect with their own power. Omega also offers special programs for veterans—such as Healing From Military Trauma, a retreat for military women and women veterans—which often uses equine therapy to assist in the healing and recovery process.

Read more about Equine Therapy at Freedom Farm

Learn more about the Healing From Military Trauma retreat

Explore Omega's veterans programs

Learn about other alternative therapies for veterans

Omega’s Women & Power Retreat Aims To Redefine Strength & Leadership For Women

7 months 1 week ago

Weekend Retreat to Include a Free Live Stream Opening Night: 

Elizabeth Lesser in Conversation With Brené Brown & Joan Halifax Roshi

RHINEBECK, NY—The Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) today announced its biennial Women & Power Retreat—to be held September 20–22, 2013 on Omega Institute’s Rhinebeck, New York campus—will focus on helping women cultivate their strength and define it in their own terms. This year’s retreat will feature leading voices on the importance of combining personal development, self-care, and leadership skills as the foundation for making lasting and meaningful change, at home, at work, and in the world.

For the first time ever, the opening night will be available via a free live stream. Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of Omega and the Omega Women's Leadership Center, will discuss the importance of having an open heart and a strong backbone in life, and will lead a conversation with Brené Brown, author and research professor, and Joan Halifax Roshi, author and abbot of the Upaya Zen Center. Together, these leaders will explore whether there is a uniquely female kind of strength, how vulnerability can make us stronger, and how we can courageously walk our talk.

“Since 1977 Omega has provided an integrated approach to personal growth and social change for women at every stage of the lifespan. Over the years more than 600,000 women have come through our doors, and we’ve learned firsthand that women are able to live and lead with greater compassion and impact when they take time to slow down, and nurture their inner lives,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center.

Featuring an extraordinary line up of teachers and presenters, the event begins on Friday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. and ends Sunday, September 22 at noon.

Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research, will also be featured keynote speakers. Saturday evening participants will be entertained by humorist and activist, Kate Clinton, author of Don't Get Me Started and What the L?.

In addition to hearing from renowned presenters, participants will also have multiple opportunities for hands-on activities, breakout sessions, and open classes ranging from memoir writing to drumming and dance, self-defense strategies to yoga, hiking to meditation, and more.

To connect via social media, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/OWLC.Omega and on Twitter at @omega_institute. Use #OWLC when referencing the event.

This year’s retreat includes a new Tiered Pricing option. For additional information, or to register, please visit eOmega.org or call 800.944.1001.

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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Finding Home Wherever You Are

7 months 4 weeks ago

Environmental lawyer and Omega board secretary and treasurer, Renee Martin-Nagle, has found her home in a wide variety of places, from Baltimore to Cambria County, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to Paris. But in the end, she has found the whole planet is her home.

Recently, she spoke to students at her alma mater, Mount Aloysius College, about the life changes that led to her passion for discussing the ethics of water on the global stage. She also encouraged students to strengthen their connection with God to help them create home wherever they are.

Read Renee’s full remarks 

Renee Martin-Nagle will be talking about apportioning water fairly among cities, agriculture, and ecosystems at World Water Week in Stockholm, September 1-6, 2013 

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