Uplands Changemaker Retreats: fostering strategic work, resilience and sustainability

Uplands Changemaker Retreats: fostering strategic work, resilience and sustainability

Grounded in a commitment to social, environmental, racial, gender and economic justice, The Uplands Center’s Changemaker Retreats offer a space for respite and strategic work for groups working to advance positive change.  

For staff or leadership retreats, funder/grantee convenings, trainings or networking gatherings, the space is conducive to a balance between focused, productive work and restorative time. Groups enjoy a range of spaces available for solo reflection, breakout groups and plenary discussion. Participants may nestle in the plush couches of the living room around a fire, gather around flipcharts in the sunlit meeting room or connect in a movement practice in the yoga studio. The east-facing patio allows participants to sit overlooking the sweeping hills or in a circle formulation under the shade of a grove of black cherry trees, while another patio on the west side allows groups to observe colorful sunsets by a calming fire pit. 



A series of trails traverse the 290 acres of sprawling woodlands, meadows, ponds and creeks, leading to sites for solo reflection or private conversations. Farm-to-table meals sourced from the organically-grown garden are enjoyed in the spacious dining hall, surrounded by the landscape and the expansive sky. Deep rest, in luxurious bedrooms with custom-made mattresses and silky linens restores energies for the work ahead.


“[T]he beautiful location, caring support and delicious food went a long way towards creating the conditions for a successful and meaningful retreat. ” (Holly Bartlett, Worker Justice and Dignity Fund, January 2023)

Changemaker retreats at the Uplands draw on a variety of modalities: art, nature immersion, body movement, breath work and other wellness practices, which strengthen collective thinking and broaden perspectives that inform an organization’s work to advance positive change.

Sweeping landscapes support processing and integration of programmatic content. A contemplative rest in the garden, a scenic walk to the Vista shed, detoxing in the infrared sauna or soaking in the pool can  ease the process of deepening into the work ahead. Practices offered by the Uplands, such as a yoga class, sound bath, nervous system self-regulation practice or a bonfire under starlit sky all help participants ground as they advance their work.

“I don’t think we have ever had a more productive retreat and at the same time felt so relaxed and nourished and cared for.” (Participant, Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, July 17, 2022)

The Uplands is also a space to foster and deepen interpersonal connections, strengthen bonds between co-workers, fellow changemakers and movement members. Groups enjoy teambuilding activities, harvesting vegetables in the garden, a whispered conversation on the Anam Cara bench or joining a moonlit night walk.

“The care, planning, and love of the Uplands Center team and the beautiful immersive experience in the forests and fields of upstate New York supported and magnified our mission and objectives… In a place like The Uplands, it is easier to envision a new world and a new way of being; it is easier to imagine what your contribution to that world may be; and it is easier to surrender to the inner momentum of transformation. And, on a simpler note, to be nourished every day by food that was prepared with love from the surrounding land, and to rest every night in a beautiful room… created a more expansive experience than we would have had in a different setting.” (Michaela Cisney, Program Director, Byron Fellowship)

Changemaker retreats support the longevity, and sustainability of those who are fighting for others: building morale and introducing tools for self-regulation and overall resilience. In hopes of contributing to the realization of their organizational missions, The Uplands is proud to support the collective work – and resilience – of those who serve others, and the sustainability of that work, over time.


Interested in hosting a changemaker retreat at Uplands? Visit our Co-create a Retreat Form to get started!


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