NICA Spring Gathering 2020

Since 1993, the Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA) has been holding events which are hosted and organized by, and about intentional communities in the northwestern US and BC, Canada.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was held online. The day included virtual yoga, presentations on various types of resilience, and conversations in small groups.

Spring Gathering 2020 went from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Sunday, May 31. Workshop descriptions and presenter bios can be found below.

  • 8:30 – 9:30 AM Accessible Yoga with Miku Lenentine
  • 9:30 – 9:50 AM  Announcements, Community Updates, Song
  • 10 AM – Noon   Workshop 1: Three Aspects of Healthy, Thriving Community by Diana Leafe Christian
  • Noon – 1:25 PM Conversation Café hosted by Syd Fredrickson
  • 1:30 – 3:00 PM Workshop 2: Emotional Rescue by Diane Biray Gregario
  • 3:00 – 3:30 PM Song / Stretch / Check-in / Break if needed
  • 3:30 – 4:30 PM Workshop 3: Re-membering the Song of the Earth: An Opportunity for Deep Discussion,
    with Patricia Newkirk, Joey Crotty and Anita Higgins
  • 4:30 – 5:00 PM Harvest / Feedback / Closure

Hosts: Anita Higgins and Syd Fredrickson


Inclusive Morning Yoga with Miku

Join us for a morning yoga flow with Miku Lenentine, a certified RYT 200 yoga instructor. This gentle practice is designed for everyone, with all levels of yoga experience and even beginners. Our morning flow will be balanced between Yin inspired postures and flowing breath and movement. It will simultaneously help you wake up and support relaxation as we prepare ourselves for a lovely NICA Spring Gathering Day! We will have chair yoga options for anyone desiring extra balance support. Please bring a mat or blanket if you have one. No experience needed, all welcome!


Miku Lenentine has guided weekly meditation, movement, and community classes since 2013 and facilitated a number of workshops in the greater Seattle area over the years most recently including Soulshine, Songaia, and Star Community. She has also presented mindfulness, yoga, and movement offerings at festivals and gatherings such as Beloved and Northwest Permaculture Convergence.

She has been practicing yoga asana since 1998 and has also trained in tai-chi, qi gong and bellydance. She is certified with the Yoga Alliance for her 200 hour training and completed her training through Synergy Yoga with Tami Hafzalla and Jodi Boone in 2018.
Miku currently offers online community yoga classes (M, W, R, Su) through The Way of Vibrantly. These offerings are one way she is seeking to support community during these challenging times, and are being offered as Free / By-Donation Heart share offerings for all! Please visit the following link for more information about these community offerings:


10 AM to 12 PM
Three Aspects of Healthy, Thriving Community
Diana Leafe Christian

Three Aspects of Healthy, Thriving Community, explores (1) three mutually beneficial, mutually reinforcing activities all communities need (and without which they tend to have more conflict); and, (2) a basic, underlying, foundational community process that underlies and supports these activities. Diana will find out which community topics most workshop participants want to focus on, and the group will choose one or two. These could include one or more of the following topics, including but not limited to:

  1. Support Community Bean Counters!  Why and how communities need to understand, support, and benefit from management savvy community members, including bookkeepers!  
  2. The Idealistic/Visionary  Community Experience Scale Over Time. An evocative visual overview of how communities succeed and thrive by benefit if they establish certain systems at the beginning of their community life, rather than only learning to do so later through bitter experience.  
  3. A Clear, Thorough Membership Process  Why You Need One. Communities can unfortunately experience years of conflict and heartbreak because of their well-meaning but lax, too-open membership process. No community should have to wait years or decades to learn through painful experience that a clear membership process is needed.
  4. Dealing Effectively with Especially Challenging Behaviors. A cluster of exceptionally challenging behaviors can trigger emotional pain and conflict for individual community members and the whole community. Learn to work effectively with people with these kinds of behaviors requires knowing what to expect, and not expect, and what to do and not do.

Diana Leafe Christian lives in an off-grid home at Earthaven, a Permaculture-based ecovillage. She is the author of two books: Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities; and Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community. Diane teaches workshops, offers consultations, and has presented many keynote addresses and workshops for conferences internationally.

In 2017 she received the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s Kozeny Communitarian Award, a lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the U.S. intentional communities movement. She is a Board Member of GEN-US the Global Ecovillage Network-US (, is former Editor of Communities Magazine, and former board member of GENNA (GEN-North America).


Syd Fredrickson has been living in intentional communities since 1983. She trained to be a facilitator in the context of living in an egalitarian, income-sharing community (Twin Oaks), learning consensus facilitation from Caroline Estes, and exploring Sociocracy more recently with Diana Leafe Christian. She is a former board member and staff of the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC), the most recent past President of the Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA), and for two years was a coordinator of West Coast Communities Conference. In 2019, Syd founded the service, Under 1 Roof –, a resource for cooperative households, intentional communities, and homeowners contemplating the addition of one or more housemates to their homes. She is also a contributor to

Syd Fredrickson will host Lunchtime Conversations between noon and 1:30 PM.


1:30 – 3:00 PM
Emotional Rescue: Climate Change, Transforming Fear, and Building Resilient Communities
Diane Biray Gregorio, Ph.D

Do you feel a humming current of fear, anxiety, and confusion that seems to be all around us these days–whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or climate change? What if this current is, in its essence, creative energy? What if we harnessed this current as a boundless energy source for building resilient communities?
In this session, we will explore the Emotional Rescue 3-Step Method* as a way to utilize mindfulness to transform fear and confusion difficult emotions into energy that empowers us.
Why is emotional resilience necessary for communal and ecological resilience?
We don’t have to look very far these days to see where emotional reactivity stops us from being effective. How are you responding to the fear, anxieties, and uncertainties of this COVID-19 pandemic? How are the people in your community responding? Are our responses building resilience, individually and collectively, so that we can dare to meet the challenges of climate change and ensure flourishing for ourselves and our planet?
In order to build a regenerative culture, we need to: free ourselves from the conditioning of the paradigm that created this current ecological crisis; learn to listen to each other without reactivity; and from there, perhaps we can hear the new story that wants to emerge. Let’s explore these important questions together and see what arises!

*From Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy That Empowers You, by Dzogchen Ponlop. Tarcher Penguin: 2016.

Diane Biray Gregorio, Ph.D. is a research scientist, nonprofit executive, as well as a speaker and trainer. Over a 29 year career, she has focused on global health, mindfulness, gender, poverty, and human rights.
For the last 26 years, Dr. Gregorio has combined meditation, scientific and philosophical studies with engaged action to alleviate human suffering in the world. She has been tremendously fortunate to be trained by some of the greatest Buddhist masters of this day and age.
As a new mom, she feels the intense urgency of the environmental, social, and economic crises of our time. She is passionate about helping families, young people, and kids learn to work with their minds and difficult emotions, so that we all may flourish and become forces for positive action at this critical juncture. Dr. Gregorio believes that intergenerational connections are essential to preserving and sustaining our collective wisdom.

She lives at Songaia, an intentional cohousing community in Bothell, Washington with her wife Lisa, a psychotherapist, and their adventurous toddler. There, she has been actively involved in the emergency preparedness committee, and most recently, the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She feels great joy when fostering deep intergenerational friendships between community elders and the younger generation. Her website is

And her LinkedIn profile is:


3:30 – 4:30 PM
Re-membering the Song of the Earth: An opportunity for a deep discussion
Patricia Newkirk, Anita Higgins and Joey Crotty

The essence of the natural world is diverse, complex, abundant and resilient. Each species is like a section in a vast orchestra. Evolution is a process of song making and the human species has become largely discordant, forgetting our part in the symphony of life.

What can the rest of the world’s orchestra teach us that would re-member us? How can intentional community support us in re-learning our role, our part?


Anita Higgins is a resident and current Garden Steward at Songaia Cohousing Community where she lives with her 9 year old daughter. Her passion currently lies in the restoration of human relationship with the land through cultivation of intimacy with place. She finds herself gravitating toward practices that deepen this intimacy: the study of ecosystems and indigenous ways of knowing, story-weaving, song-catching, community building, and growing food. Anita has served on the NICA board since 2018.


Joey Crotty was eleven when he made a startling discovery in what would become the guiding questions of his life: Why had he no culture, nor any knowledge of or relationship to his ancestors? Why did he feel a hollowed out, pining place within himself where the stories, songs, and traditions of his people ought to be, and why, for that matter, wasnt he sure who his people were?

His life has since been dedicated to unearthing the answers, and along the way remembering nearly-forgotten things. Joey is a teacher who uses the old threads of myth, storytelling, and all that we love about the world (and being human!) to weave new strands of culture, curriculum, and tradition. He is currently the Environmental Educator for Eton Montessori School and a member of the Songaia Cohousing Community. Young people are his greatest sources of inspiration; it is to them his sincerest loyalties lie.


Patricia Newkirk is a member of the Songaia Cohousing Community. She spent eight years as the garden steward evolving the community’s garden and orchards into a permaculture learning space. After passing the work of garden steward on to another, she spent more than a year visiting friends and family around the world, exploring the work of activists who are engaging in multi-dimensional responses. Her most treasured hope is that we can flip the narrative. When we work together with nature the earth can heal and provide an abundant, healthy space for coming generations.