Services and Rates
What is Eco-Chaplaincy?
Letters by Sarah Vekasi
e-mail me

Work That Reconnects


              The Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative is offering a day-long workshop on May 5th, 2018 in Black Mountain titled, “The Work That Reconnects,” modeled from the work of the renowned Joanna Macy, PhD. We stand at the threshold between the unraveling and destruction of our planet, or a Great Turning toward a life affirming society. What we do with this time will determine the outcome.

This workshop prepares us to open our hearts and our actions towards the Great Turning, to be a force of active hope, and to go forth with more clarity and purpose. This experiential workshop sets out to help us come alive to this present moment. We will begin by making room for our gratitude, then honoring our pain for the world, which will allow us to see this time through new eyes, so we can go forth. The workshop will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 9:00am-5:00pm in Black Mountain, NC.

              The Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative is a local nonprofit based in Black Mountain that provides support for environmental and social justice activists through pastoral counseling, mediation, facilitation, and conflict transformation. Founded by Buddhist Chaplain Sarah Vekasi, M.Div., the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative has worked with hundreds of people throughout Appalachia, primarily in communities impacted by surface mining and mountaintop removal, as well as throughout the country. Sarah Vekasi is a longtime student and friend of Joanna Macy, and has brought this work to communities all over the region. She will be supported by co-facilitator Banta Whitner, local psycho-therapist with an active practice and a focus on eco-therapy.

About the Facilitators:

Sarah Vekasi, M.Div., is the founder and director of the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, which provides inner resiliency training and pastoral support services to environmental and social justice activists, as well as polarized communities. For the past ten years Sarah has worked as an Eco-Chaplain throughout central and Southern Appalachia, primarily with communities fighting mountaintop removal coal mining and working for a more sustainable future. Currently based out of Black Mountain, NC, Sarah is also a potter. Eco-Chaplaincy comes directly from Sarah's own experience as a direct action activist, a tree-sitter, a longtime community organizer, and several years living in Japan as a Zen Buddhist monastic. Sarah is a student and close friend of Joanna Macy, and brings The Work Reconnects into Eco-Chaplaincy work on a daily basis.

 Banta Whitner, LCSW, has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than thirty years, using modalities that are trauma-informed, inclusive and holistic. She was a co-founder of the community-based Women’s Center of Jacksonville (FL), a nonprofit organization, offering education, support and advocacy to survivors of all genders and ages. Since coming home to Black Mountain, Banta has incorporated ecotherapy and spiritual ecology into her practice. She has studied with Anne Stine, MA, founding director of Wilderness Rites in Ashland, Oregon, and with Joanna Macy, root teacher and founder of The Work That Reconnects. Biodynamic gardener, wheel walker and writer, Banta has written for Plough to Pantry and The Laurel of Asheville, and is author of This Congruent Life: A Spiritual Ecology Practice (2010).