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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.

Thank You: The PSC Responds to Community Input

3 years 5 months ago

Dear Friends,

I want to thank all of you who took the time to post a comment concerning the construction of transmission power lines. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has clearly heard and responded to our concerns.

The PSC will encourage transmission line developers to conform their proposals to Governor Cuomo’s policy that any new power lines stay completely within existing developed corridors.

While this is a move in the right direction, there is still a long process ahead of us with what I am sure are many twists and turns. I honor the PSC’s commitment to open process and their desire to reach the highest and best solution, keeping in mind our concerns for both the economy and the environment.

Thank you once again for your commitment to protecting the Hudson Valley's natural assets, communities, and businesses. I will stay in touch as this important issue unfolds.

With appreciation,

Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute 

Omega Rises for Women

3 years 5 months ago
On February 14th, the Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) participated in Hudson Valley Rising's 2nd Annual One Billion Rising event at State Universtity of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. The event was held in conjunction with V-Day's worldwide One Billion Rising, calling for the end of violence against women and girls, and provided an opportunity for local students to come together with residents of all ages in the community to stand up for a common cause.  
Co-organizer Mary Goggin was inspired to found Hudson Valley Rising when she heard Eve Ensler's public announcement of One Billion Rising at Omega's Women & Power Conference in 2012, where Goggin was a partipant. Co-organizer Johanna Longbotham noted that the event took root in the community this year. "There were boys and men here. I feel the impact deepening."
More than 250 men, women, and children of all ages were in attendance. Families, coworkers, and community activists milled and danced before Goggin enthusiastically welcomed attendees. Assistant District Attorney of Ulster County Elizabeth Culmone spoke about the predicament of women and children facing domestic violence, a One Billion Rising video was played depicting global women rising in collective survival and triumph, and a flashmob of the anthem "Break the Chain" was led by SUNY Residence Life Director Corinna Caracci. Finally, Drew's Energy Dance Company from Kingston offered dance lessons and Hudson River Playback Theatre reflected on attendees' experiences of the event through improvisational theater and music. 
OWLC manager Sarah Urech said that in spite of "enormous piles of snow everywhere," the event was a success. She continued, "I feel so moved to be part of it, as an OWLC representative, a dancer, a supporter, and a performer with Hudson River Playback Theatre. RISING feels different than fighting, or protesting. All of these actions are important, but there is something about framing this as RISING that makes my heart sing, lifting me out of the sorrow and rage, and letting my spirit soar." 

CEO Request: Immediate Action Needed on Behalf of Omega & the Hudson Valley

3 years 5 months ago

Please help preserve Omega’s Campus and the environmental health, cultural heritage, and beauty of the Hudson Valley.

Every voice counts—especially now!

Dear Friends:

As the CEO of Omega Institute, I am writing to urge you to stand together with us to protect the Hudson Valley and the Omega Rhinebeck campus. You can help by adding your voice to the public comments before Thursday, February 20, by clicking on the link below in the “What You Can Do” section of this email.

First, let me explain. We have joined the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition to avert the new construction of outdated high-voltage power lines that could forever damage the Hudson Valley’s natural assets, communities, and businesses—including Omega’s Rhinebeck campus. Four proposals are in a competitive process, seeking to build power lines with towers that could reach a height of 165 feet. In total, the proposed projects could span 150 miles and pass through 13 counties and 38 towns—including 24 towns in the Hudson Valley.

One of the proposals under consideration would run new lines through the Omega campus, taking down tree lines and impacting the overall natural beauty of our Rhinebeck home.

Community feedback to the Public Service Commission (PSC) is critical at this juncture. The PSC will meet on Thursday, February 20, to decide how and if the proposed Hudson Valley projects will comply with the Governor's recommendation to keep power upgrades within existing power lines footprint.

What You Can Do

I am asking you as a member of the Omega community to add your voice to the public comments Here are three easy ways to help by using our model comments below (electronic submission is fastest):

  • Submit comments electronically—post your comments here, and see others' comments here
  • Email the PSC at
  • Mail comments to the Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, New York State Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350.

Model Comments:

Please send comments below as is—or increase the impact of your comments by putting them in your own words.

  • I agree with Gov. Cuomo's recommendation that transmission upgrade projects should remain entirely within existing rights-of-way in length, height, and width. If power lines must be constructed, this is clearly the best way to minimize landowner and environmental impacts.
  • I urge the PSC to solicit proposals for demand-side management, newer micro-grid technology, and environmentally sound local power generation in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City to replace the need for more traditional power line infrastructure.

Thank you! Your effort means a lot and we appreciate you helping Omega protect and preserve our Rhinebeck campus and the Hudson Valley.

By submitting your comments you're joining concerned citizens who know that a healthy and beautiful Hudson Valley is important for our quality of life and for lasting economic opportunity for us and future generations.

With appreciation,

Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute

Omega Celebrates International Women's Day

3 years 5 months ago

On March 8th, the world will once again honor International Women’s Day, celebrating women's achievements while also acknowledging the challenges that women still face. 

Calling for solidarity as women continue to work for equal rights, the Omega Women’s Leadership Center is cosponsoring the 4th Annual International Women’s Day Walk at the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. Organized by the Women's Leadership Alliance of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the event will begin on the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge at 9:00 a.m.

Inspiring Change is this year’s celebration theme. A theme that Mecca Santana, the newly appointed New York State Chief Diversity Officer, will address in her remarks prior to the bridge walk. We invite you to join us as we walk in solidarity with women across the globe. 

Register for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce's event at Walkway Over the Hudson

Learn more about International Women's Day 

Women & Power Participant Develops Go Beyond Greatness Programs

3 years 5 months ago

The Kingston Times recently featured 2013 Omega Women’s Leadership Center’s (OWLC) Women & Power Retreat participant Ashley Knox and the Go Beyond Greatness educational and empowerment workshops she was inspired to develop for both children and adults. Knox credits her time at Omega with helping her move ahead, and inspiring her to help others do the same. 

Sarah Urech, OWLC Manager, met Knox during a workshop at Omega’s Women & Power Retreat. “The retreat theme this year was Find Your Own Strength, and it inspired Ashley to offer a series of workshops to stimulate personal growth and communication skills,” said Urech. “I really enjoyed her workshop—she is so full of enthusiasm for life and belief in people’s capacity to enhance their own well-being. She skillfully guided people through a series of exercises and left people wanting more. With her natural talent for community building, I’m excited to see what she does next.”

Knox explains, “The purpose of ‘Go Beyond Greatness’ is to inspire people to bring out their best qualities to achieve personal and academic goals…Our program offers skill development training for college and career readiness with an emphasis on critical thinking and good decision-making for greater results in academic achievement and life success. [The program] specializes in leadership development, effective communication, and social awareness to motivate people to place passion, pride, and commitment toward themselves and the communities they live in.”

Read the full story

Learn more about Omega Women's Leadership Center

Omega's Chief Executive Officer Speaks at the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference

3 years 5 months ago

Robert "Skip" Backus, chief executive officer of Omega Institute, spoke about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) at the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference hosted by the Living Future Institute. The event, which took place February 4–5 in San Francisco, California, brought together leading experts from around the world to develop net-zero energy and water concepts through the restorative framework of the Living Building Challenge, the world's most rigorous green building standard.

Learn more about the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference

Learn more about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL)

Offshore Freshwater Aquifers: Which Law Will Apply?

3 years 5 months ago

This past December, vast groundwater reserves were discovered off the coasts of China, Australia, North America, Greenland, Suriname, Nigeria, and South Africa, raising hopes that these resources could offer a solution for water-scarce regions. However, there are technical and legal issues that must be resolved before these transboundary aquifers can be used.

Renee Martin-Nagle, a visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC, and secretary/treasurer of Omega's board, addresses the pressing legal implications.

Learn more about these transboundary aquifers

Omega Announces Grant Opportunity: Women Serving Women Summit, May 28–30, 2014

3 years 6 months ago

Annual Retreat for Nonprofits Serving Women & Girls Now Accepting Grant Applications Online

RHINEBECK, NY – Today Omega announced its annual Women Serving Women Summit, a gathering of nonprofits working to positively impact the lives of women and girls, will take place May 28–30, 2014, on Omega’s Rhinebeck, New York campus, with the theme Nourishing Body, Mind, and Spirit. The Summit is part of Omega’s annual Service Week program, which has offered retreat grants to nonprofits for the past decade. The Women Serving Women Summit grant application is now available on Omega’s website with a deadline of February 10, 2014.

“The Women Serving Women Summit, a program offered by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, extends support to nonprofit organizations serving women’s needs and interests. We are focusing the 2014 summit on helping organizations that rarely get a break from the front lines to pause, reflect, and nourish their staff on all levels, so that they can return to their work with renewed purpose and dedication to their organization’s mission,” said Carla Goldstein, cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center and chief external affairs officer at Omega.

Grant recipients for the Women Serving Women Summit will attend a two-day, two-night organizational retreat on Omega’s 200-acre campus in Rhinebeck, New York. The grant includes free room and board, a private meeting space, use of all the facilities at Omega, and an optional hour of consultation with Omega’s partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON).

Nonprofit organizations can apply to come on their own, or partner with another organization with similar objectives and apply to come together for the Multiple Organization Track. NYCON supports those on the Multiple Organization Track with an enriched program designed to enhance collaborative efforts. The grant from Omega provides a rare opportunity for organizations to take the time to plan, network, build capacity, as well as learn from each other, and develop pathways for future collaboration.

To apply for the Women Serving Women Summit grant, please visit us online at
For additional information, please contact Lys Swan, at 845.266.4444, ext. 414, or by email at

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.



Omega Joins With Family of Woodstock for Staff Food Drive

3 years 6 months ago

Omega staff participates annually in a holiday food drive and contributes to the long tradition of collecting food and goods for neighbors in need. This year, staff collected food items to deliver to Family of Woodstock's Darmstadt Homeless Shelter in Kingston. Family of Woodstock is a recipient of Omega’s Service Week (most recently at the 2013 Women Serving Women Summit) and a valued Hudson Valley organization.

One of the founding influencers of the Omega Institute, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, has said, "If you dedicate yourself to service, the doors will open." Food drives are a wonderful way to serve those in need and open the door to a new year.

Explore more about Family of Woodstock

Learn more about Service Week

Omega Receives New York State Environmental Excellence Award

3 years 7 months ago

Department of Environmental Conservation Recognizes Eight Innovators in Sustainability at the 10th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega Institute, home of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), received a NYS Environmental Excellence award on Tuesday at a ceremony cohosted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Price Chopper/The Golub Corporation. The award recognizes New York's environmental and conservation leaders, who are solving environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships.

“We are honored to be recognized by the state for our environmental stewardship and the development of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. Our goal is to help people better understand natural systems and how to live and work within them, so together we can build a truly regenerative future,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega.

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 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%.

The DEC established the awards program in 2004 to recognize and give visibility to selected businesses, schools, municipalities, governments, and not-for-profit organizations achieving outstanding environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability. Since the program’s inception, the DEC has honored 52 award recipients. Winners have included entrepreneurs competing in global markets and schools empowering future environmental leaders. Municipalities have been awarded for investing in green infrastructure, implementing a cost-effective food waste composting program, and financing an energy efficiency retrofit program. Universities and school districts across New York State have been recognized for developing energy efficiency programs and engaging students and administrators in impressive sustainable practices. Small businesses have been honored for innovative and green technologies, such as a lighting manufacturer that demonstrated how innovative design does not necessarily translate to higher costs.

Omega’s commitment to sustainability also includes recycling, composting, and conservation, powering 100% of campus electricity through the purchase of wind and solar power, supporting sustainable agriculture and local business, and reducing greenhouse gases through shuttle services, ride sharing, and LiveNeutral™ options.

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.

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