In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Kyle DeVries one of the founders of Groundswell, a new LGBT retreat center and ecovillage two hours north of San Francisco. Just over a year old, Groundswell is about to begin its first full lineup of queer-focused programs starting with a forestry camp and an artists gathering. Groundswell’s retreat center is a rustic former kids camp set in a stunning natural environment. Across a year-round creek from the campus is Groundswell’s ecovillage, a residential and agricultural complex that aims to model sustainable queer-spirited living. The first program of the year is Forestry Camp held February 18th to 22nd which is an opportunity for people to learn about sustainable forest management and some woodsy crafting projects. In addition there will be an exploration of the connection between our LGBT community and nature around a roaring fire pit with s’mores. Then March 3rd to 6th Groundswell is organizing MUSE: Inspire which is an LGBT creatives retreat. A gathering for LGBTQ artists of all types, MUSE offers skill sharing, artistic inspiration, creative collaboration and plenty of time to connect with other LGBT creatives. This year’s focus is on who or what sparks inspiration and how LGBTQ people inspire the world. MUSE is a community creation and each year extends the opportunity for people to present their passions as an artist. We talked to Kyle about his inspiration for Groundswell and his spin on our LGBT issues.
When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBT civil rights DeVries stated, “As a gay man myself I feel full accomplishment of LGBT civil rights is a very personal means of legal protections for what I consider my extended community. I’ve been doing activism in the LGBT community for over a decade now starting with civil disobedience and community organizing actions like the equality ride and then continuing to do community organizing once I moved to California more in the arts spectrum. And Groundswell is another part of my commitment to LGBT equality because again we are trying to create a space that is advocating for the celebration of that otherness of being gay, or lesbian, or transgender or bisexual.”
Kyle DeVries also manages the nonprofit retreat center, helps care for the many animals and works with wood. Its non-human domestic residents include goats, alpacas, llamas, sheep, chickens, pigs, rabbits, guinea fowl and dogs. In addition to their content another unique aspect of Groundswell’s programs is their accessibility for people of all incomes. Every event offers work trade and scholarship opportunities for those who cannot afford the event registration fees so that financial means are not a barrier to access. The programs and retreat center are run by Groundswell Institute a non-profit that manages this accessibility through donations and renting out the facilities to other groups. The non-profit retreat center is just one aspect of Groundswell. The other is a residential community committed to sustainable, queer-spirited living. Currently with four full-time residents, the community plans to grow to become as many as 30 over the years.
For More Info: groundswell.institute