Inner Activist: A Unique Multi-Disciplinary Program Launches at The Haven

By Ellery Littleton & Wendy James

Several years ago, Ian Curtin had a germ of an idea – one of those ideas that get hold of you and won’t let go. So he shared the idea with Brad Jarvis, Frank Quinby and Karen Stephens, and soon the idea became a vision – and thus the “Inner Activist” program was born.

The program – which is aimed primarily at people wanting to make a difference in the world – evolved after a five-year period of research and development. The five-module Inner Activist Program is a complex multi-disciplinary personal growth program – which incorporates many of the elements of The Haven philosophy, as well as the philosophies of several other notable personal growth institutions and programs around North America.

The first eight-day module of the program – “Building Personal Mastery” – took place at The Haven from June 12 to 19 2011, with 31 participants and eight facilitators. Although the program is aimed primarily at change agents, it would appeal to anyone interested in an intense in-depth approach to personal growth and transformation.

“The essence of the training is to learn to lead with strength from within,” says Ian, who is the Project Director. “In order to successfully lead as a change agent, and engage in the challenging process of social change – and avoid burnout – you need to develop an awareness of your strengths, limitations, motivations and intentions.” In other words, you need to do your own personal work, at a deep level, in order to survive what is an intensely demanding environment.

“Who are social change agents? The kind of people who imagine a better future and actively work for change in the community. This includes, for instance, people in environmental work and social justice; people who work for trade unions; groups who support immigrants or minorities, battered women, and aboriginals struggling against mining companies; people who oppose corruption and violence, helping marginalized people anywhere in the world. And people who don’t consider themselves the activist type – but who are active agents in the world who seek change and social justice.

“Our intent is to help you find ways to bring your personal awareness into broader application beyond yourself; a marriage between the political and the personal. This includes deepening your appreciation of diverse points of view to expand your understanding of our present predicament. None of us has the whole picture.”

Inner Activist – A Unique Amalgamation of Several Personal Growth Philosophies

The content of the program is an amalgamation of key concepts from several institutions that build upon one another. All the institutions involved have established track records, and have come together to support this unique initiative. Along with The Haven, the institutions include “Process Work” (based in Portland, Oregon); “Learning As Leadership” (San Francisco); “The Work That Reconnects” (drawing on the work of Joanna Macy); “Non-Violent Communication” (Marshall Rosenberg’s work); and “Anima Leadership” (Toronto).

The Inner Activist Program, which consists of five modules, takes a total of 15 months to complete (not necessarily all at once; there are four to five months between modules). The second module – “Building Strong & Respectful Relationships” – will take place at The Haven from October 11-16, 2011. “Building Personal Mastery” will be repeated from November 28 to December 5, 2011.

The third module – “Building Conscious Use of Power” – is planned for February 17-21, 2012 and March 13 – 17, 2012, to be followed by the last two modules, “Building Common Ground & Capacity for Change” and “Building Sustainability.”

Details about the program’s curriculum and goals, and extensive biographies of all the principals are available at

Here’s what participants are saying about Building Personal Mastery.

‘It is life enhancing. Personal Mastery changes who you are in the world so that you are more effective and more grateful on a personal and professional level.’
Bobbi Owens, Executive Director of the Mini 12 House, Los Angeles, CA

‘Transformational, essential work, time well spent in a beautiful setting.
Guaranteed to be moved, to grow, to connect, to have your ultimate “ah ha” moment(s)
Don’t wait. Earmark the dates and strike your budgets now!’
Catherine Talbot, Consultant, C. Talbot & Associates, Burlington, ON

‘This was an excellent program, with good modalities presented, good leaders and great vibe among the participants. Successfully integrates a diversity of approaches and leadership styles.’
Ian McLachlan, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Victoria, BC

‘Doing one’s work best requires a solid deep and curious outlook on one’s self. The work shop provides very useful tools for developing self-understanding.’
Christine Fletcher, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Victoria BC

‘I would recommend it highly – Stimulating, challenging, relevant and growthful.’
Thomas Hackney, Vice-President of Policy, BC Sustainable Energy Association

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