Sustainability Leadership & Serenity: The Shared Purpose Quest

At the second Purpose Quest we listened. The three-day retreat was designed to reconnect participants with their deeper motives and renew their leadership for sustainability, climate solutions and social transformation.  The scene was serene and lush, with the stillness of the pond reflecting the peacefulness of the surroundings.

The leaders of the retreat Edie Farwell and Sander Tideman, brought their experience in mindfulness practice and in practical, results-oriented action. Sander, founder of Triple Value Leadership, former international business lawyer, sustainability entrepreneur and long-time student of the Dalai Lama, calmly redirected us time and again towards simpler and clearer answers to the questions “why” and “how”. At the same time Edie, systems thinker, executive coach, and the founder of the Sustainability Leaders Network, connected the attendees to the strategic applications of their vision with warmth, purpose, and inspiration.

The mornings began with quiet reflections by the pond, where the sounds of nature provided a soothing backdrop. Frog songs, bird calls, and floating dinners on a raft created a sense of calm, allowing participants to center themselves. Nicole Betancourt, a filmmaker from New York City, described her experience: “I re-tuned my vision, realigned with nature, and grounded myself. It is my second time, and I want to go again next year.

From this time emerged the centered, joyful, and reflective states which allowed deeper commitment and clear priority setting to occur. And before and after, seated beside the water, meaningful conversations between filmmakers, executive directors, and climate leaders floated to the surface like the lilies.

Guided discussions, meditations, and nature immersions were integral parts of the retreat. These activities fostered deep introspection and connection. Elaine Kohrman, Director, National Post-Disaster Recovery at the US Forest Service, reflected on the balance and depth of the retreat: “I am very appreciative of the integration between Sander and Edie, the balance of going deep into silence, reflecting and listening to our inner core, and allowing my vision to emerge from a deep place. The sharing with others for feedback and support was amazing and important! Wonderful balancing of deepening and coming out to vision and action!

The retreat also included creative and holistic practices, such as writing, small group dialogues, and moments of stillness. Baylor Odabashian, a musician and music teacher from Philadelphia, PA, described the retreat as a transformative experience: “The Purpose Quest was not only a Waldenish cottage-core pond-side retreat—it was also a supportive environment in which I both grounded and grew. I feel happier, mentally clearer, and more confident than before the retreat, without a doubt, and would happily attend again.”



The workshop climaxed in a three-hour silent meditation beside a verdant pond in the summer landscape of Vermont. Daniella Malin, Senior Program Director at the Sustainable Food Lab, highlighted the workshop’s broader applicability: “This workshop is for anyone interested in establishing a more free way of being in the workplace, in leadership, and in life. There is an inherent sense of purpose in each of us. To unearth and cultivate this is to find our connectivity and courage.

As the retreat drew to a close, the leaders crafted their visions for going forward, and networked for future collaboration. Inspired by the tranquility and beauty of the Vermont summer, they left with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to forge ahead in their respective fields. The peaceful environment and the deep connections formed will undoubtedly influence their work towards a sustainable future.

“I feel lighter and more joyful. Also calmer and more confident in my vision and my calling to serve the world. My leadership capacity has expanded and also my ability to show up as my best self in all areas of life.”

— Kristi Kimball, Founder and CEO, Clean Energy Communities Fund