Tag Archives: Cortes Island

Swamp’s Edge

Poem by Anne Haven McDonnell

She studied bat voices, slowing them down
enough to hear, to draw a voice in lines.
Two people can lean into
a crack in night’s breath.
Candlelight on the dock
astonishes the water, licking
the surface of the swamp.
A beaver slaps its fat tail,
a heron scream cuts the dark. A small
wooden bridge leads them to the beach,
a rocky cove where they farm oysters,
wolves watching from the trees.

Continue reading Swamp’s Edge

Hollyhock’s Magic & the Story of ZAG Heartbeats

Content & Featured Image Source: Hollyhock’s Magic and the Story of ZAG Heartbeats : ZAG Group

Hollyhock’s Magic and the Story of ZAG Heartbeats 

Change is like a tree growing from the earth. It starts with the smallest of seeds, and, as if by magic, it grows into a movement laying seeds for others to grow and blossom. ZAG Heartbeats is one such tree, and Hollyhock is the tree from which this magical seed was planted.

In 2014 Steve Curtis the Founder of Zag Group visited Hollyhock’s Social Change Institute. To paint a picture for you – imagine 100 of the most influential leaders behind social, environmental, and political change gathering in a place of heaven. In this perfect environment, they bare their souls, share their struggles, express their joys, and ask for and provide help with full vulnerability and hope. Continue reading Hollyhock’s Magic & the Story of ZAG Heartbeats

My Hollyhock Catalogue arrived!



As I left my house to start my day I stopped at the mailbox to collect my mail.  Amongst the routine brown and manilla envelopes was a brochure, a purple page with a sharp white banner ‘HOLLYHOCK’.  I smiled with joy, my Hollyhock Brochure had arrived, brightly colouring the collection of letters received.

Surprisingly, I chose to slip the brochure in to my bag.  I didn’t want to look at it briefly.  I wanted to savour every page, and that would have to wait until the evening.  I promised myself that I would make some tea and sit in front of the fire that very evening to enjoy the experience.  That is how I turned the pages of the 2015 catalogue, comfortably and relaxed in my living room.

First I read the welcome from Dana and Joel Solomon, CEO and Board Chair.  I browsed each page, enjoying the moments of familiarity – the staff, the gardens, the buildings.  Memories of my time as a volunteer in 2013 filled my mind as I recognized returning Program Leaders and events.  I reached the end of the catalogue, and then started again.  This time my focus was more deliberate.  What was happening in my home town of Vancouver?  If I had to pick  one program on Cortes, which would it be?  I moved between the pages, backwards and forwards, building a mental list of courses that I wanted to take, and spending an imaginary budget on programs and accommodation.  I envied the volunteers of 2015 who will attend Cortes for 6 weeks to help run the facility.  My own trip was four weeks and it wasn’t long enough.  How could I go back again and take programs and volunteer!??

I am convinced that I would not have experienced quite the same joy in researching the catalogue online.  The touch of the paper, the photographs, the living room, the tea.  I am grateful for the catalogue  being delivered to me and brightening my day, just like any trip to Hollyhock brightens a person’s day.

Which program will you take?   Hollyhock Programs 2015

Make A Move

Photo by Natashi Jay, Flikr Creative Commons

The ‘Maker Movement’ is coming to Cortes Island in October. This contemporary subculture has a strong focus using and developing practical skills and applying them creatively.

Etsy, the fast growing e-market place promotes Arts and Craft Makers around the world.  In Canada, Etsy has been on the road this year ‘popping-up’ in cities from the East to the West Coast, joining together local craft makers and Artisans to share their ideas and create local Maker Movements.

Jessika Hepburn is an Etsy Ambassador, a ‘Mover and Maker’, a cheerful activist and a Community Matchmaker.  Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia Jessika and Friends will be visiting Hollyhock to share their talents, their business ideas, their experiences and their energies with us.  Make a Move to Jessika’s web site to read more.


Join Jessika Hepburn and friends for Makers Retreat from October 17 – 22, 2014

I Want to Be a Buddha When I Grow Up

By Hollyhock Presenter Robert Beatty

Years ago I asked my Indian Dharma teacher, Krishna, “How can tell if my spiritual practice is working?” She answered with a question: “Are you becoming more loving?” I had expected a reply that mentioned stages of insight, nirvana, psychic powers, or of transcending the sufferings of human life.

To become loving like a Buddha we must clarify our intentions. We must ask ourselves what this human birth is about, what our particular mission is here on the Earth. Without this clarity we are at the mercy of whatever conditionings we received in our family of origin, from the culture, and from our own natural tendencies toward sense desire, hatred and denial. Intention is the facet of Dharma practice that guides our capacity to aspire, to set our sights, to imagine what and who we might become. It guides our actions, and inspires our practice. 

Whether we are conscious of our intentions or not, our behavior is guided by them. It behooves us to attend to them, to exert some choice, to set our karmic course toward a life of happiness and loving. If we don’t, we can wind up with lots of possessions, sensory experiences, power or self-importance only to discover that we have been chasing disappointing illusions. 

Three central intentions or aspirations that can guide us are: learning to accept life on its own terms, developing generosity, and cultivating lovingkindness in thought and action. 

The intention of accepting life on its own terms is an antidote to delusion. Through acceptance we gradually weaken the natural desire to have a life without pain and suffering. With acceptance we become able to open unflinchingly to our own psychological and physical sufferings as well as those of others. We notice the causes of these sufferings as well as their ceasing. Ceasing to deny and then accepting the reality of death, the passing away of all that we hold near and dear, transforms the fear in our hearts into love. 

Aspiring to generosity includes the practice of renunciation. We can free ourselves from the unconscious greediness of a self that is isolated and self-preoccupied. We rein in our habitual tendencies, fast from acting out, and discover the freedom that lies in letting go, in not always seeking happiness through the satisfaction of desire. By finding ways to practice giving we take pleasure in our connection with life. 

A life holding lovingkindness as an intention is one in which we are able to take delight in our own goodness of spirit and action. Lovingkindness toward oneself grows to include family, friends, enemies and all beings, as the heart opens to our interbeing. Kindness of thought and action begin with the imagination of acting kindly and turn into a major theme in a way of life. 

Cultivating high ideals is admirable, but practicing them in life is where the rubber meets the road. It helps to be very clear, to articulate and frequently refresh our own intentions and aspirations. To grow in the way of the Dharma requires that we bring our highest intentions into our marriages, relationships with children, friends, colleagues, and enemies. They must inform our livelihood and leisure activities. Our intentions shape our actions. Unexamined, they will lead us to our fate. Chosen and cherished, they will guide us to a destiny of becoming loving, a Buddha. Continue reading I Want to Be a Buddha When I Grow Up