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LET'S SOCIALIZE!








A Life with Meaning

Carla Goldstein of the Omega Institute.

Why do people leave the city for the country? Most versions of the story involve a guy who’s always wanted to be a farmer or a woman longing for the simple life. Maybe it’s a family with dreams of chickens, goats and open fields, or an artist who needs to be closer to nature to fuel his or her creativity. They’re looking for peace, quiet, and a little elbow room.

But there are people who move to the Hudson Valley and Catskills not to leave society. They want to change it. And this is where they’re finding their life’s work. There are not one but two farm animal shelters, dozens of environmental groups, and groups devoted to local, sustainable economies.

These residents have moved to the Valley and the Catskills driven by a sense that there is more to life than a paycheck, more than ambition. They are successful professionals and they have no interest in dropping out. Their goal is to align their work with their ideals. They arrive looking for the perfect life-work balance, pursuing work that feeds their souls.

Carla Goldstein is one of those seekers who found what she was looking for in the Hudson Valley. Goldstein is the co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Center at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. She is also Omega’s Chief External Affairs Officer.

An attorney and a feminist, she was working for Planned Parenthood in New York City eight years ago. But she’d been coming to the area for years. She and her husband had a summer home they owned with friends. Then she joined her co-workers at the Omega Institute Service Summit.

“I fell in love with Omega,” she remembered. “It transformed the way the thirty of us who were there worked together. So I brought my family to Family Week and it changed our family dynamic, too.”

Then a job opened at Omega. Goldstein moved into the weekend house full time.

“When my husband and I got married, we promised each other we’d each get a decade. The first decade was his and we lived in the city,” she said. “When we hit year 12, I got the Omega job. I reminded him it was “my” decade. And we moved with our two daughters.”

Her husband, an attorney, commuted back and forth to the city before finally moving upstate full time.

“I was so joyful that a place like Omega existed; a place that was interested in connecting the dots, discovering the interconnectedness of everything.”

Goldstein’s idealism is rooted in her childhood. She described herself as a child of the 60’s and her parents were involved in the social movements of the day – civil rights, human rights, women’s rights.

“I was raised with that philosophy in my water,” she observed. “First it was handed down, then I lived it.”

She was raised by a single mother when divorce was not common. She grew up in Florida where she saw racism and violence. And her pivotal memory was as a young woman at Florida State University where she heard Eleanor Smeal read the actual words of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.

“I heard her, and I had to wonder – what is all this about? Why is this even an issue? I’ve learned it’s about power, insecurity and fear. That’s what holds us back from holding each other with respect and compassion. The more we understand how connected everything is, the more we align our lives to take care of each other.”

Goldstein’s work is ‘big picture’ kind of action. She is creating a global network of empowered women and men, a world of “compassion and empathy.”

She compares her work to building circuitry.

“There are amazing nodes of people trying to change our direction. Omega is one of those hubs. We’re modeling, teaching, voicing how we can live more sustainably. We’re training people to develop their inner core and to change how power is used.”

Power is a theme for Goldstein, one that is explored at Omega’s annual Women and Power Conference. That event brings together influential women from around the world to share insights into global issues and create connections with the goal of finding answers. For Goldstein, power needs to be redefined.

“When we began the Women’s Leadership Center, part of our vision statement included helping women use leadership to change the nature of power. We’ve traditionally thought of power as domination- power over. We envision power as being collaborative – power with. There’s a hunger for shared use of power. The game has rules that were written without women. Instead of learning the rules, how do we change the game?”



 
FOR MORE INFO
Omega Institute
150 Lake Drive Rhinebeck, NY 12572
877.944.2002
www.eomega.org
 
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Published In:
Summer 2013 - Vol 3 No 2
Written By:
Susan Barnett
 
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