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About September's Eldership Workshop Retreat in Italy

Exploring the skills of eldership.

Facilitating your life, your team, your relationships, your community.

Our 2018 annual eldership retreat introduces facilitation as a core attribute of eldership.

Amidst the beauty and calm of Farfa Abbey, in the heart of the Sabine hills, we will explore a Process Work approach to eldership. Process Work, pioneered byArnold Mindell and colleagues around the world, is an open systems approach to training awareness to work with experience. The deep democracy attitude behindProcess Work welcomes all ages, parts of ourselves, states of mind, abilities and experiences in learning to live together joyously, creatively and with dignity, on this planet we call home.  Life experience, personal growth, and social awareness are the life blood of a deeply democratic eldership.

Our retreat location offers a special atmosphere, for our learning community, from nature’s surrounding and centuries of Abbey life. The eldership of place is supportive for tapping into our powers to flourish, space to interact and to enjoy being alone as we discover our mojo anew for our personal path, sustaining best possible health, and contributing meaningfully in whatever phase of life and context we are in.

Madeleine working clay

What is eldership?

We use the term eldership for an almost indescribable attitude of natural curiosity, vitality, and an overall helpfulness in a given situation. Eldership is not a fixed state, but a momentary experience, accessible to anyone. Role models, such as NelsonMandela inspire a vision of eldership, in shining a light on the profound gifts and strengths of others. Such giants remind us of the innate characteristics that anyone of us can develop and use in our own lives, families and communities. At times, life itself seems to push us to the brink, even against our rational will, to discover moments of eldership through the many ups and downs we experience through life.

What will happen in the retreat?

Each day Nader and Julia will offer a short thematic presentation on aspects of facilitation and eldership. As an entire group we will practice facilitation skills using topics of interest to participants. Behind interactions are different levels of experience – the ability to stay grounded in everyday reality and analysis; the emotional bandwidth to embrace tension and complications; and a detachment to allow an impossible situation to move forward, with all the inherent ups and downs. Our group process method invites creative exchange that allows these different levels as well as many sides and aspects of a situation to become visible in fresh and frank exchange, and make space for spontaneous insights and creative solutions to arise. Topics and questions of participants will set the tone for our process.

Madeleine, artist and potter, will guide participants in experimenting with clay, inviting play and spontaneity, while integrating ideas and experiences creatively. Through the medium of Clay emotions and feelings can be expressed creatively where it can be hard to reach with the use of words.

Art, yoga, poetry, literature, and story-telling, small groups and inner work are other refreshing ways we may use depending on the moment, to share what matters, and get to know as yet undiscovered aspects of ourselves, and who we are becoming.  

 The rhythm of the day includes time to rest, to go for walks, to enjoy the local village, to enjoy good company, and the nourishing meals prepared by the nuns at Farfa Abbey. 

A Workshop to Explore Eldership

This workshop is for:

Awareness seekers of all ages wishing to develop eldership facilitation skills to apply in any life situation;

2 Providers and professionals working in the field of care, education and human services;

3 For people of any age desiring a life of meaning with an eldership-informed awareness; and

For those who are searching for mysteries and wonder that lie within & beyond everyday life.

This is the second of four retreat workshops exploring eldership. This workshop is open to awareness seekers eager to embrace the richness, impossible complications and beauty of life in the good company of others. Overall we are inspired to offer this retreat experience to encourage an eldership attitude in each person to blossom. Sometimes this may have an inward flavour. At other times, new directions may pull us to action. And for some, eldership might be moments of enjoy dancing with the ups and downs as they come.

 Attendance at previous retreats is not necessary.

Questions? Email us at

Would you like to Apply to the Workshop? 

We have put together an online form for your convenience!

Fill out the Online Retreat Application

The Workshop at Farfa

Venue: Farfa Abbey- Via del Monastero, 1, 02032 Farfa, in Sabina RI, Italy.

Join us in Farfa, a medieval Italian village, close to Rome. The Abbey is in the heart of the Sabine hills, a place full of peace, serenity and simplicity.

Residential Cost: The fee includes full board & lodging, programme materials & tuition beginning with dinner September 10th until lunch September 17th, 2018.

4-bed Shared Room Option: 

975€ -Register after June 1st

Shared Double Room Option:

$1075€ -Register after June 1st

Single Room Option:           

1175€ -Register after June 1st              

More Info About Staying at Farfa Abbey >>

Working in Italy!

At the Eldership Workshop at Farfa in September, 2017

Meet our Team

Madeleine Cunningham bio
Madeleine Cunningham

Madeleine is a professional studio potter from Wales, creating and teaching in her pottery in the beautiful, Pembrokeshire region. She has facilitated workshops for many years in Greece and Wales. She is a practitioner in Swedish massage and aromatherapy.

julia wolfson phd
Julia Wolfson, Ph.D., PW Dipl.

Julia is a Process Work facilitator and coach from Australia. Julia works internationally in the field of health, social care and human services. Her interest lies in assisting people reliant on support, their teams and organizational leaders to develop innate powers in pursuing a person-centered quality of life. Julia is a faculty member with the global DeepDemocracy Institute. 

Nader Shabahangi, PhD
Nader Shabahangi, Ph.D., PW Dipl.

Nader is a Process Work facilitator from California. As a business entrepreneur and writer he enjoys creating projects for communal living focused on a person-centered model of care. He builds elder communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the author of books on re-visioning aging and a Process Work view of forgetfulness(dementia). Nader is a faculty member with the global Deep Democracy Institute.