After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Women Changemakers Recharge at Confluence Retreat

Lisa Gibson (left) Darcy Riddell (right) - Photo by Roland Rickus: [email protected]

Lisa Gibson and Darcy Riddell understand that women working for change can be at risk of being over-extended and burnt out. This depletion can occur from working long hours while juggling motherhood, relationships, and care-giving of other kinds. 

In this world, it is often difficult for any of us to return to ourselves, our source of inspiration, and our life purpose.

Although everyone deserves a break from time to time, the Confluence Retreat is specifically tailored to women change makers who need to recharge and replenish their internal resources.

Photo by Roland Rickus: [email protected]

When describing the ideas behind Confluence, Darcy and Lisa refer to the Indian goddess, Kali (depicted below), who is said to be the goddess of both destruction and of time. While often misinterpreted as the goddess of death, her work is about freeing people from their illusions and attachments to the world. She is a powerful and uncompromising figure. Her face is depicted as calm or wrathful - both aspects are part of her power.

Kali evokes an archetype that resonates with many women changemakers. Whether you are working with individuals or communities, as advocates or healers, teachers, social workers, business owners or politicians, you are staking your claim to a world that is more socially just, environmentally sustainable, happy and whole.

“If I want to change how things are in the world, I also have to open myself up to growth and transformation. And, at rare moments, when I walk both paths together, the distinctions between ‘self-change’ and ‘world-change’ dissolve, and totally new possibilities bubble up...” explained Darcy

Darcy’s understanding of “self-change” in relation to “world-change” is rooted in almost 20 years of experience working as a facilitator, environmental activist and educator. Her work is devoted to advancing social change and compassionate leadership. As she completes her PhD in Social Innovation, she is looking at leverage points for change in systems that bridge individual, institutional and global scales.

Lisa Gibson is a community developer and yoga teacher, whose work has included advocating for the health and safety of sex workers and sexually exploited youth. She has also worked in leadership development  in Nigeria, and works with women’s organizations in Nepal to end gender discrimination. The retreat design is infused with the convenors' direct experience of activism and change work.

“I have seen that real transformation comes about when there is an alignment between the external work of social change and interior experiences of freedom and purpose. Truly being present to the challenge, inequity, beauty and possibility is the only way I can do this challenging work.” said Lisa

Without taking time for reflection, leaders doing valuable work run the risk not only of burnout, but also of delusion.


“Those of us who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. We will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our aggressivity, our ego-centered ambitions, our delusions about ends and means.” - Thomas Merton

More in The Ethical Hustle

The emergent landscapes of B.C.'s music festivals

 The BC music festival industry is significant. It is a multi-million dollar influx of annual revenue that creates value for our tourism sector and local creative economy. In BC, there is a...

Can we afford to lose Vancouver's historic Hollywood Theatre?

Although our city is one of the youngest urban centres on our continent, we have some incredible pieces of multi-generational history. As the oldest family-run theatre in North America, an evening at...

Healing while living and dying in Vancouver

In the world of end-of-life care in Vancouver BC, an interesting intersection exists between bureaucratic policies and New Age gurus selling answers to life’s heartaches. Sue Hurd and Sue Wong have...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.