Miles Sherts, BA, 1979
Sky Meadow Retreat
Type of Business
Retreat Center for Conscious Communication and Insight Meditation
Description of Business or Organization
Sky Meadow is a family owned and operated retreat center hosting small group retreats aimed at fostering personal and spiritual awareness and growth. I lead retreats and workshops in Buddhist Insight Meditation and Conscious Communication as well as working with couples. We host numerous other retreats lead by different teachers and offer solo retreat space with delicious home made vegetarian food much of which is grown organically here at our homestead.
I have just published Conscious Communication - How to Establish Healthy Relationships and Resolve Conflict Peacefully while Maintaining Independence (Langdon St. Press - 2010 - www.LanguageofConnection.com) This book offers simple skills for anyone wishing to improve relationships that foster belonging and individuality.
How did Evergreen prepare you for your professional life?
I graduated from Evergreen State College in 1979. I was one of the last group of students to live at and manage the schools organic farm. I have since become a professional Mediator and founded a small retreat center in northeast Vermont. I manage the retreat which hosts workshops for small groups in spiritual and personal growth, and also lead workshops here in Conscious Communication and Buddhist Insight Meditation – two of my life long passions. (www.SkyMeadowRetreat.com)
I have taught interpersonal communication and conflict resolution skills at the Community College of Vermont and other settings since 1990. I have just published a book called Conscious Communication – How to Establish Healthy Relationships and Resolve Conflict Peacefully while Maintaining Independence. (2010 - Langdon St. Press - www.LanguageofConnection.com)
The afterword of my book contains a personal account of my interest in resolving conflicts and improving relationships through more effective communication. In writing this I realized that the seeds of collective decision making and collaborative negotiations were planted at Evergreen in the two programs I participated in.
In describing my experiences at Evergreen I have told the story numerous times of how our class picked a graduation speaker. I saw a poster for a meeting of seniors to choose a class speaker for graduation and was interested. When I got to the meeting I was surprised to see some students there that I knew, as I had no real idea who at Evergreen was a senior. (an aspect of Evergreen that I loved). I was also disturbed by the process that unfolded at that meeting.
The faculty or administration person in charge was setting us up to choose a class speaker from among us by a process of voting. Whomever was interested in being the speaker was invited to get up and present their case. It began to feel much like a contest or political election with each of us competing against the other to see who could garner the most attention or admiration.
I remember being very upset and interrupting the meeting with my objections (as I was known to do at Evergreen). I suggested that this was not what we did at Evergreen and pleaded for a more collaborative and inclusive process. The meeting seemed split with some students agreeing with me and others wanting a more familiar quick and dirty competition and majority vote. We ended up dividing into two camps and agreed that one group would vote on a single speaker while the other group would continue to meet until we came up with a process we felt good about to choose a second speaker.
Our renegade group, who we felt represented the core values of Evergreen, met weekly and discussed different messages that we would like to see at our graduation. After many meetings we decided our speaker would be three of us – each delivering our own part of a three part medley graduation speech. We felt great, and our speech was a beautiful elegant exercise in the lessons of collective decision making we found so valuable at Evergreen.
I was very proud to be one of the three speakers, walking up on stage in my defiant way, barefoot, as I usually was at Evergreen. I was grateful to the powers that be at Evergreen who allowed us to exercise the part of our education that we believed in most.
I would appreciate a mention of my book and retreat center in the Alumni News and Evergreen Magazine and anywhere else that is appropriate. Attached is an article I have written about conflict resolution and communication skills that I would love to see in the Evergreen Magazine or other publication. I am also available to teach intensive workshops in Conflict Resolution or Communication Skills for students, staff, or faculty at Evergreen.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Miles Sherts – Evergreen State College class of 1979