Place is important. ReCharge! takes place on the south slope of Oregon’s iconic Mt. Hood (Wy’east). The serenity of huge tall trees, high-altitude air, and the power of this mountain create an environment that helps Delegates unplug, reflect, and engage with an older natural rhythm. The glaciers on Mt. Hood have also experienced significant snowpack loss due to the effects of climate change. Elliot Glacier on the north slope, which the delegates visit during the retreat, has lost 60% of its snowpack since 1982.
The retreat takes place at the historic Mazama Lodge at approximately 4100 ft. The Mazamas is a mountaineering organization founded in 1894. Their mission is to promote mountaineering through education, climbing, hiking, fellowship, safety, and the protection of mountain environments.
Portland, Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge is also an area of the country that is accelerating its energy story toward renewables--which allows Focus the Nation to provide the Delegates with access to candid conversations with community members and energy experts who deal every day with the practical realities of making that transition happen.
During ReCharge! the delegates go on a guided energy tour that takes them to Oregon’s only coal plant (scheduled to shut down in 2020) located in Boardman, OR; visit the Biglow Canyon Windfarm near Rufus, OR and also visit a major hydro-power facility in The Dalles, OR. Physically experiencing energy generation facilities and engaging with the people who work there is a critical educational component to helping young leaders realize the magnitude of our energy transition challenge.
Once we select each year’s cohort of ReCharge! Delegates, we hand pick local and national experts in each of our four Quadrants based on the unique backgrounds and interests of the Delegates. These guests visit with the Delegates throughout the week to help answer questions and share their own stories about how they’ve built a career that’s affecting change on many levels.
Accelerating solutions to big deep systemic problems requires four kinds of highly talented, highly effective people: Technicians, Politicos, Innovators, and Storytellers. We call these our Collaboration Quadrants. Each year’s cohort of Delegates is comprised of 5 students in each of those quadrants. The week-long retreat helps students not only better understand how important their own quadrant is in the larger picture, but also how important each of the other’s is. Our facilitators guide the Delegates through several practices that build collaboration skills among all four quadrants.
Technicians need opportunities to build and maintain the infrastructure of solutions
Innovators need opportunities to create and demonstrate the power of new ideas
Politicos need opportunities to craft and advocate for policies that drive a transformative public agenda
Storytellers need opportunities and content to shape the narrative of their generation's engagement with the clean energy transition
"I actually feel recharged and I have never been this excited about anything. Everyone around me has commented on the air of positivity I’ve had since the retreat. I feel like I have peers and that I’m part of a large network of dedicated and passionate youth."
"[The Energy Tour was] one of the coolest things I’ve ever participated in. An eye-opening experience that left me exhausted throughout the entire week."
"Since being back, I have encountered tons of opportunities and I think that is due to the positive and energetic outlook I left Recharge with. I feel like there is so much that I can do with my life and that I have important things to offer the clean energy movement."
"The retreat also gave me a clearer vision of what my role is and will be in accomplishing a clean energy future for the country. It gave me a clearer idea of how I want to pursue a career in this field because it showed me why my particular skills were valuable."
The ReCharge! facilitators, Enrique Salmon and Stephanie Pollack help guide the Delegates throughout the entire week-long curricula and are provided by our partner, The Center for Whole Communities (CWC). CWC is a land-based leadership development organization based on Knoll Farm in Fayston, VT that has extensive expertise in facilitating diverse groups of people to deepen their sense of purpose. In the winter of 2010, after experiencing their work first-hand at a retreat in the summer of 2009 at Knoll Farm, FTN executive director Garett Brennan engaged CWC’s director Ginny McGinn to help co-design what would become the ReCharge! Retreat. With almost ten years of expertise in retreat facilitation and designing whole-thinking curricula, CWC helped FTN put shape to what had become a glaring unmet need in preparing the next generation for the clean energy transition: how to recharge---so that we don’t burn through our rising talent like we do our fossil fuels.