Conversation in the Garden

June 2020:
Coming soon!
After having been on hiatus for a while,
we are getting ready to begin again
by holding space for conversations

among friends around the world
committed to the work of inner and outer transformation,
and cultivating connection among our communities for the greater good.

Stay tuned!


Recent OWL News:

Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle

Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle:
Paula Green

Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.

Building Bridges Across the Hills

Paula Green, Ph.D. — psychologist, peace educator, facilitator, and mentor in the field of intergroup relations and conflict resolution — is co-creator, together with other residents of her hometown of Leverett MA, of Hands Across the Hills, a cultural exchange/dialogue between people in western Massachusetts and coal country in Kentucky.

After the 2016 presidential election, as the U.S. descended into a state of greater polaritzation, distrust, and animosity among Americans based on their political affiliation, Paula felt moved to increase her focus on restoring relations between Americans across the divides.

As they’ve discovered a sister community across the political divide, in another part of the U.S., where people are ready to join with them, Paula and her neighbors in Leverett are literally reaching out their Hands Across the Hills. Through this program, Paula now consults with and mentors other communities that hope to bridge divides in their own cities or elsewhere in the country.

Their partners in Letcher County, KY have come together under the auspices of the Letcher County Culture Hub, a network of community-led organizations that work together to build a culture and economy where people own what they make. Ben Fink, lead organizer for the group in Kentucky, also organizes projects for Appalshop, the Appalachian arts and culture institution that was recently featured on the PBS Hews Hour.

You can learn more about Paula, Ben, and their communities, at Hands Across the Hills.

Part 1 — Paula Green & Sharon Dunn: Group interview

Part 2 — Circle of reflection: Stewart Gill, Libby Traubman, Wendy Berk, Aryae, Stewart, Rita Karuna Cahn

Part 3 — Further comments & reflections: Sharon, Paula, Stewart, Aryae, Len Traubman

Mar. 18 Global Wisdom Circle

Mar. 18 OWL Global Wisdom Circle:
Richard Whittaker

Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.

Art as a Gift of the Spirit

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works and conversations, an arts magazine published in Berkeley, CA that features interviews with artists from all walks of life.

It all started in the early 1990s, when Richard set out to explore artists’ experiences and reflections about their own art making. What came from that was a series of deeply thoughtful interviews with a wide range of artists. And a magazine.

Although modest in its subscription base, the magazine has attracted a growing number of readers touched by a quality of content missing in other artworld publications. Institutional subscribers, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA and the Kandinsky Library at the Pompidou Center in Paris to Harvard, Stanford and Columbia Universities and RISD, The Art Institute of Chicago, CCA, SVA and SFAI, subscribe and have archived all of the back issues in their libraries.

In early 2007, Richard met with two friends at a local Taqueria for a conversation that resulted in a radical change, turning a 15-year-old subscription model into a gift-economy experiment. Now the magazine is offered as a gift; in turn, the subscribers are invited to pay-forward a subscription to another reader. It’s an experiment in generosity, and to this day, the magazine costs are covered entirely by unsolicited donations from grateful readers and supporters.

Richard opens doors to the inner worlds of artists, and the mystery of how the spirit becomes art, through his conversations with them. In a 2006 interview with Robin Henderson, he said,

It’s not unusual when I talk with an artist and ask probing, possibly “stupid” questions, the artist tells me “no one ever asks me things like that! My artist friends and I never talk about these things!” There’s something paradoxical about that. I think that in order to have a real exchange people actually have to cross a line, even a little bit, into sincerity.

When Richard was asked for the best bio of himself for people who want to learn more about him, he said, characteristically, “Use this interview.”

Richard Whittaker is also West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.

Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Initial interview: Richard Whittaker

Part 3 — Group interview: Richard Whittaker

Part 4 — Circle of reflection: Libby Traubman, Len Traubman, James Offuh, Rabbi Diane Elliot, Wendy Berk, Sophie Wu, Usman Inuwa, Julie Durkheimer

Part 5 — Closing reflections from Richard

Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle

Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle:
Rev. Charles Gibbs

Spiritual travelers
from all backgrounds and traditions,
sharing experience — seeking wisdom.

Spirit and Action in the World Today

The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs is an Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet who has dedicated his life to serving the sacred in the world, especially through interreligious and intercultural engagement. His new volume of poetry – Light Reading: Selected Poems from a Pilgrim Journey – is available at

Charles recently became Senior Partner and Poet-in-Residence for the Catalyst for Peace Foundation, providing leadership and support for CFP’s organizational evolution. Building on its eight-year transformational partnership with Fambul Tok in Sierra Leone, CFP is exploring a new phase of regional and global engagement focused on community-based peacebuilding, healthy whole systems partnerships and leadership development.

From 1996 until his retirement in 2013, he served as the founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative ( As executive director, he worked with thousands of colleagues around the world to guide URI’s growth from a vision to becoming the world’s largest grassroots interfaith network.

We invited Charles to initiate a conversation about a recipe for spiritual well-being — and actions that can bring light, love and healing — in today’s troubled world.

Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Group interview: Rev. Charles Gibbs

Part 3 — Circle of reflection: Charles, Len Traubman, Bob Whitehair, Libby Traubman, Teri Whitehair, James Offuh, Wendy Berk, Rev. Susan Strouse, Aryae, Bonita Banducci, Rabbi Victor Gross

Part 4 — Further reflections by Charles, and closing check-ins

October 15 Interfaith Spiritual Travelers Circle

Oct. 15 Interfaith Spiritual Travelers Circle:
Anuj Kumar Pandey

Spiritual travelers
from all backgrounds and traditions,
sharing experience — seeking wisdom.

A Pilgrim’s Interfaith Journey

Anuj Kumar Pandey has been a monk, a protestant Christian brother, a martial artist, a musician, story teller, Silicon Valley tech worker, ServiceSpace volunteer working behind the scenes with the technology that carries voices of the community, devoted spiritual traveler on the Sufi path, and humble spiritual friend to many.

We’re inviting Anuj to share the story of his pilgrimage from his village town in India to the Awakin Circles in the Bay Area and anchor an inquiry in the circle for each of us to reflect on our own. Here’s some guidance he received and shared at the beginning of a recent journey to India with his wife Kara:

Beauty is everywhere – try to hold that in perspective whether traveling to a holy site or in a bustling metro train ride.

Do less, be more – the balance of doing what naturally flows within the cycle of a day out of the necessity to serve, connect and relate in small ways.

Surrender – this may be one of the most common ones that people traveling to India think about doing but has been one of the hardest ones for people like us. We are so used to the life in Silicon Valley that reflects to a certain degree order and an organized pattern (in comparison India is considered chaos)….

Clean your heart every day…as you will your body! 🙂 This one I guess sets the bar for me to practice kindness every wakeful moment to the extent I can…Not successful yet but learning to catch the arrival of negative thoughts a little quicker than I used to.
An additional reflection: Life turning its gaze inward.

Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Anuj Pandey: A Pilgrim’s Interfaith Journey

Part 3 — Group interview

Part 4 — Anuj: Traditional Indian song

Part 5 — Circle of reflection: Adam Coopersmith, Bradley Stoll, Thu NGuyen, Aryae, Rabbi Diane Elliot, Libby Traubman, Dinesh Chandra, Wendy Berk, Len Traubman, James Offuh, James Waite, Adam

Part 6 — Further questions and reflections

Part 7 — Closing check-ins