This page is currently geared to adults and families interested in the Weaving Earth Immersion. If you have a question that isn’t included on this page, whether about the Immersion or any of our other offerings, please contact us.

Weaving Earth Immersion

Who is the WE Immersion for?

The WE Immersion is a nature-based mentoring program intended for adults and families who are looking for tools to foster healthy, regenerative and reciprocal relationships to place, self and community.

What ages does the WE Immersion serve?

You must be at least eighteen (18) to participate, unless your parents or guardians are also participating in the Immersion. Over the years, we have been fortunate that people of many life stages (even up to early 70s) have participated in the program. We have found that the curriculum serves people at all life stages and that this multigenerational aspect to our village creates incredible mentoring opportunities and beautiful alliances across the decades. If you would like to speak with someone your age who has been through the program, please contact us.

Do students work while in the Immersion?

Yes. The type of work varies, but the majority of participants are actively employed during the year. Given our schedule, a flexible work environment is important. Time and again, working professionals have managed to arrange their schedules to make it possible to attend the program while staying on their current career path. Additionally, many participants have pursued part-time restaurant jobs, farming, nannying and other forms of childcare, retail work, part-time work with nonprofits, freelance writing, consulting, massage therapy, landscaping and permaculture design, among many other things. We make a strong effort to put participants in touch with job opportunities that come through our extended community. If you would like to speak to WE Staff or graduates about how others have made this work, please contact us.

Are there scholarships/financial aid options available?

There are currently no scholarships available, but there are financial aid options. We are actively pursuing funding for scholarships in order to ensure that money is not a barrier to participation. Currently, many of our students do their own fundraising, (“Community Supported Education” via crowdfunding applications), or they use the financial aid payment plan option, through which tuition can be paid off over multiple years. To speak to someone about fundraising and financial aid, please contact us.

Where do people live?

Many of our participants move to this area from out of town, or even out of country. The majority end up living within 50 miles of our program site in Occidental, CA. Overall, we have found that participants enjoy being close to the program site, both for the ease of commuting and to engage more fully with the community of participants during the portion of the week when we aren’t in session. Because local housing options are best discovered via word of mouth, we make an effort to forward housing options that come through our extended community to current Immersion participants. Many in the extended community love to have WE Immersion participants as their renters! Craigslist and WACCO are other great online resources to find housing. Additionally, every year, a small number of participants commute from farther away: Santa Cruz, Mendocino, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, and even Los Angeles. To speak to someone about housing, please contact us.

What kind of work does the Immersion lead to? What do your graduates do?

Given our focus on the practices of deep nature connection and the ecological wisdom of permaculture, some of our graduates follow one or both of these paths—which can look a lot of different ways. Graduates have started nature connection programs in their home communities. They have joined already established programs around California and in other parts of the country. Some have ventured into the business world as permaculture designers or sustainability consultants. Most participants have applied what they’ve embodied through the Immersion to a pre-existing career or path, whether it is organizing farmer’s markets, working with the elderly, offering marriage and family counseling, teaching kindergarten or working as a field biologist.

We are committed to working with each participant in the Immersion individually and relationally to clarify their gifts, passions and visions. Given that, we are not training participants for any particular profession or life path, but rather working to discover more fully where the participant’s greatest calling and the world’s greatest need intersect. Because our work lies at the broad intersection of deep nature connection, ecological design, social justice, community building, and conflict resolution, our goal is to equip participants with embodied skills that are applicable and effective in a wide range of contexts. Ultimately, we believe that what the world needs now is collaborative leaders who are connected to place, who know themselves, and who know how to connect and work well with others. To speak with someone about career paths, please contact us.

Do recent high school graduates ever do the Immersion as a gap year?

Yes! A growing number of participants are coming to the WE Immersion after high school and using the experience as a gap year (or years) before going to college. We are heartened by this trend! There are many gifts in academia, AND we believe that other styles of education—including the relational, experiential model that we practice—are essential for healthy growth and development. Many who are fortunate enough to attend college go into the experience without a clear sense of themselves or why they are there. The WE Immersion builds leadership skills, a sense of life purpose and a relationship to one’s passions and goals that are invaluable assets to carry into a college experience when the time is right. To speak to someone about coming to WE after high school and/or joining the program for a gap year, please contact us.

How is the Immersion different/similar to Anake? Other outdoor schools?

Wilderness Awareness School is a sister organization and their Anake program is a beautiful offering. We are in full support of their work and are committed to helping any potential WE Immersion participants who are also considering Anake figure out which program is the right fit for them.

The WE Immersion and Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake program are in the same lineage and share common influences. Both are greatly influenced by the work of Jon Young, the 8 Shields Mentoring Model and the many mentors and guides that Jon has had along the way: Norman “Ingwe” Powell, Gilbert Walking Bull, Jake and Judy Swamp, Paul Raphael and Tom Brown, Jr. In addition to these influences, Weaving Earth has also been shaped by a number of other teachers, including Penny Livingston and James Stark, Nicole Young, Sobonfu Some, Joanna Macy, Gigi Coyle and Win Phelps, Jeanette Acosta, Martin Shaw and many others. See our Guest Instructors page for more information.

The WE Immersion is semi-residential—we camp together onsite two nights a week, and program is in session for the Beyond Boundaries track (Year 1) from 7 pm on Wednesday night until 5 pm on Friday evening. The Anake program meets Tuesday through Thursday from 8 am or 9 am until 3 pm, with a number of extended overnight trips throughout the course of the year.

Additionally, given that both Anake and the WE Immersion are nature-based programs, the land itself is a major influence. Duvall, WA is quite different from Sonoma County, CA. This holds true for any similar program, regardless of whether it operates using the 8 Shields Model. If you are deciding between multiple programs, we suggest reading program websites, talking to staff and engaging with past or current participates to get a feel for the experience and decide which path is right for you. To speak to someone about the difference between the WE Immersion and the Anake program, please contact us.

If I am physically limited, can I still participate?

Yes. We are committed to making the Immersion accessible to those who want to participate. Some activities, however, may be difficult or impossible to engage with depending on the specifics of a participant’s physical condition. We spend extended periods of time in rustic settings, moving across uneven terrain, working with the elements and engaging as directly as we can with the landscape. If the planned activity is too difficult for you physically, we will do our best to work with you to create adapted exercises that allow you to still be a full participant in the learning village. Diverse experiences and abilities are a part of what makes the Immersion such a rich learning environment. To speak to someone about the physical nature of the WE Immersion, please contact us.

I have special dietary needs. Will the catering work with my needs?

Yes, if we are able. We strive to balance the needs of participants with ease and simplicity for our wonderful kitchen staff. We currently accommodate a range of food allergies, vegetarian diets, gluten-free diets (including participants with Celiac disease), and dairy-free diets. If you have specific needs beyond that, let’s have a conversation to explore options. Please contact us.

Which meals are catered?

Five (5) meals are catered during regular sessions of the WE Immersion, which run from Wednesday through Friday: breakfast, lunch and dinner on Thursday and breakfast and lunch on Friday. The following special sessions of the WE Immersion ARE catered: Peacemaking in Practice (Week 9), the Permaculture Design Intensive (Week 15), and the Bird Language Intensive (Week 21). The Buckeye Gathering is partially catered—breakfast and dinner are provided, lunch is not. The Wild Tending Immersion and the Bioneers Conference ARE NOT catered.

What is the weekly program flow?

Beyond Boundaries (Year 1) participants join the village at 7 pm on Wednesday evening. Our evening program session is usually spent around the fire, telling stories from our week. We rise about 7 am on the following day—earlier if we are doing a bird sit. Following breakfast, we typically begin with the day’s activities at 9 am, break for lunch around 12:30 pm and resume around 2 pm. Dinner is at 6 pm, followed by an evening session. Friday looks similar to Thursday, except the program concludes at 5 pm.

What does an average WE week look like?

Our curriculum is broad and multifaceted. Each week, we build upon teachings from previous weeks and also respond to the needs of the moment, whether they are emerging from within the village or without—for example, a major rainstorm that necessitates water diversions on the land, a recently sighted bobcat that we can track, a thrilling nighttime activity that asks for a slower morning, or the need to further integrate from previous weeks’ experiences. We typically follow the program flow laid out in the previous question, but from that form, a great range of creativity and diversity emerges. Contact us to hear more about the daily life at the WE Immersion.

I have some scheduling conflicts. Is it ok to miss some of the program?

Yes. While we strongly encourage participants to show up for every session, scheduling conflicts—both planned and unplanned—are inevitable. Nevertheless, the consistent and sustained participation of every member of our program is a critical component of what makes the experience what it is.

Here is our policy: if you miss five (5) days of the Immersion, we will sit down and have a conversation about attendance and what, if any, support you need in order to continue showing up. If you miss ten (10) days of the Immersion, we will have another conversation to determine if continuing in the program is the right path.

If you are aware in advance of scheduling conflicts that would have you miss five (5) or more days of the Immersion, please let staff know so we can assess whether your conflicts align with key weeks not to be missed and also discuss whether the Immersion is the right path for you at this time. To talk to us about your scheduling questions and needs, please contact us.

Can I do the Immersion with my family? How about if I have young children?

Yes. We love having families participate in the Immersion! Children ages five (5) and older are enrolled in the Wild Tenders homeschool program, which runs alongside the Immersion on Thursdays and Fridays. For parents with children ages 1 to 4, we work with you to find additional support and supervision for your young ones during some of the program time. They may spend much of the time with the adult program, in their parent’s lap or being cared for by the group as a whole, and we have found it important to have a point person on hand for when it’s time to go out on an adventure, or go down for a nap, etc. Please contact us for further details on how we can welcome you and your younger children into the program.

How much does it cost?

Full tuition for the Beyond Boundaries (Year 1) track of the WE Immersion is $9750, which includes catered meals and admission to all special events—unless otherwise noted in our calendar.

Why does it cost what it does?

We recognize that the WE Immersion is not cheap. Our tuition structure was calculated to cover the costs of running the program—with very little profit margin. Your tuition goes to pay for the following: site leasing fees, catering fees, guest speaker fees, group tuition for non-Weaving Earth events (Bioneers, Bird Language Intensive, and the Buckeye Gathering), staff salaries and course material costs.

Tuition gets cheaper for each successive year of the program. The intention behind this is to make additional years of the WE Immersion more accessible to those who have already invested financially in the journey. Additionally, we recognize that the current tuition is a barrier to many who might participate if money was not an issue. We are committed to finding ways to make the Immersion more accessible to these individuals as well. We are pursuing funding from outside sources to create an endowment for scholarships and financial assistance. To speak to someone about how people have managed to pay for the program, or to discuss financial assistance, please contact us.

Can I get college credit?

Yes, on a case-by-case basis. Participants have received credit through participating universities in the past, which requires approval through your academic advisor. Accreditation is a part of our vision and we are moving towards it—with some exciting possibilities on the horizon. More information forthcoming!

How much work is required outside of program time?

There is very little “required” work outside of program time. We do ask participants to complete a minimum number of practices related to the core aspects of our curriculum before the end of the year, in order to develop a basic fluency. Other than that, there is no required work. However, we strongly encourage participants to set and maintain regular practices to more deeply understand, embody and integrate the teachings on offer. It is generally the case that a participant who goes to their sit spot every day is going to go on a deeper journey into the realm of connection to place, bird language and other ecological understandings than the participant who goes a handful of times over the course of the year.

Where does the program take place?

The WE Immersion takes place on a 350-acre Farm and Wildlife Sanctuary located in the serene coastal hills of western Sonoma County. The site offers a rich variety of programs and experiences for people of all ages. Nature trails lead visitors through rolling ridgetop grasslands, rugged canyons, oak woodlands, and redwood groves hosting fields of colorful wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife. The gardens offer a profusion of blooms, wafting scents of herbs and flowers, and an oak-shaded picnic area. Breathtaking views sweep from Mt. Tamalpais to Point Reyes and up the coast. We feel blessed to get to run our program in this magical place! To speak to someone about the program site, please contact us.

What are the sleeping accommodations while on site?

Our program site offers ample space for camping. Participants often sleep out under the stars in one of the camping meadows. We recommend tents or tarps in the event of rain.