Wisdom Keeper Week 2024 - Rancho La Puerta
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Wisdom Keeper Week

March 2-9, 2024

During Wisdom Keeper Week we celebrate Professor Edmond Szekely’s birthday by exploring one of his core teachings. To enliven and enrich our week-long community it is my honor to invite presenters who embody these teachings.

During this distressing time of conflict, healing is needed in every corner of our lives. The force that my father believed to be essential in bringing harmony and healing to our world, is the principle of “active love”. The presenters this week have been chosen because they have successfully wedded their purpose with their passion. They delightfully, innovatively, and effectively practice “active love”.

When I was a college student, I had a card taped to my wall that said, “Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow”. These words recall the idealism and naiveté of my youth, but as I approach my seventies, I have learned that when the heart leads with curiosity, vision, discipline and love, amazing things can happen. We will explore the ways that courage, commitment, and love are braided together. We will bake challah this week, made of these three strands and share this nourishment.

In the spirit of Rumi, “Let the beauty we love, be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”.

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Featured Presenters:

Sarah Livia Brightwood Szekely, President of Rancho La Puerta
Sylvia Boorstein, Writer and Spiritual Leader
Heidi Kühn, Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace
Joseph Weiss, Clinical Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology)
Dr. Beth Ricanati, Writer and Physician
Trathen Heckman, Founder and Director of Daily Acts Organization
Nina Wise, Writer, Performance artist, and visionary
Peter and Bethany Yarrow, Songwriters & Musicians
Lauren Elder, Environmental Artist & Designer
Veera Sanjana, Hatha Yoga teacher

Presenter Bios

Sarah Livia Brightwood Szekely

Sarah Livia Brightwood Szekely is President of Rancho La Puerta. For forty years she has designed the gardens and cared for the wildlands around Rancho La Puerta. As the keeper of the vision and long-range planner she has preserved the soul and culture of Rancho La Puerta while bringing new programs and reviving the earth honoring traditions that inspired the early years at Rancho La Puerta. She is also President of Fundación La Puerta through which she guides Rancho La Puerta’s non-profit work in the region. In 1984 Sarah established Agricola Tres Estrellas, a diverse organic farm that provides food to Ranch La Puerta’s guests year round and in 2007 she designed and opened La Cocina Que Canta, a culinary center and cooking school to teach commitment to healthy eating and to embrace the joy of harvesting and cooking in community. She is the daughter of philosopher and visionary Edmond Bordeaux Szekely and community organizer and philanthropist Deborah Szekely, the founders of Rancho La Puerta.

Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein has been teaching Dharma and mindfulness meditation since 1985. She is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a psychotherapist, mother, and grandmother. She is particularly interested in emphasizing daily life as mindfulness practice and including informed citizenship and social activism as integral to spiritual maturation. Her books include: It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness (1997); Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat (1996); That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist (1998); Pay Attention for Goodness’s Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness (2003), and Happiness is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life (2008).  She has visited and taught at Rancho La Puerta since 1972.

Heidi Kühn

Heidi Kühn is the Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace. She founded the humanitarian non-profit organization with a vision of turning Mines to Vines. After winning her own battle with cancer, Kühn was inspired to remove an insidious ‘cancer of the earth’—replacing remnants of war with bountiful farmland worldwide.  For more than a decade, she has shown millions of people living in war-torn regions around the world a way forward for restoring peace and prosperity through agriculture.

Heidi Kühn has received multiple awards. Most recently, she was named the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate. She was also given the 2023 Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation. Previously, she was named University of California at Berkeley Alumni of the Year Award in 2002 for Excellence in Achievement. In 2003 she was inducted into the Marin County Women’s Hall of Fame.  In 2005 she was awarded the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations Peace & Security Award. In 2006 she received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2007, she was bestowed the Jefferson Award and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service– the foremost award for American changemakers. In 2019, Heidi was the first American woman to win the Mahatma Gandhi Global Family Seva Medal in India. She is the proud recipient of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Making a Difference Award and was honored as one of IWF’s “Ideas Remaking the World” honorees in 2020. In 2021, Heidi’s visionary leadership was acknowledged with her inclusion in the inaugural Forbes 50 Over 50 “Women Who Are Leading the Way in Impact” List. In November 2022, Heidi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the American University of Afghanistan at a dinner hosted by former First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. In 2023, Heidi was appointed to the Advisory Council of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage.

Joseph B. Weiss, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF

Joseph B. Weiss, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, is Clinical Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology) at the University of California, San Diego. He graduated from the Wayne State University School of Medicine, completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California at Irvine, and did his clinical and research fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of California, San Diego. He is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Under the auspices of the World Health Organization and others, he has pursued interests in Tropical and International Medicine and Public Health with stays in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Dr. Weiss is also an accomplished humorist, professional speaker and the author of many acclaimed books on the topics of health, wellness, digestion and nutrition (To Air is HumanGot Guts: A Guide to Prevent and Beat Colon CancerArtsy FartsyA Digest on DigestionThe Scoop on Poop; and more at www.smartaskbooks.com). He has presented at international conferences, universities, medical centers, Fortune 500 companies, YPO/WPO, Bohemian Grove, Esalen, Aspen Brain Forum and international spas and resorts. He has co-hosted a popular health radio talk show, “Health News and Views” and truly enjoys educating and entertaining his audiences!

Nina Wise

Nina Wise is a multifaceted writer, performance artist, and visionary known for her extraordinary ability to merge words, movement, and thought into a harmonious tapestry of creativity. Described by a New York Times columnist as “a metaphysical vaudevillian for the new millennium,” Nina Wise, founder of Motion Theater, is an artist who has invented a compelling form of physical autobiographical theater. Her unique performances thoroughly integrate movement and narrative in a seamless unfolding that brings one to tears, laughter and deep sighs of recognition about the human condition. Audience members and critics alike comment that they have not seen anything quite like Wise’s work before and are driven to blended comparisons—Martha Graham mixed with Robinson Jeffers; Lily Tomlin mixed with Jules Feiffer—and use words like “fresh,” “moving,” and “deeply human.”Ms Wise is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Marin Arts Council, and her performance works have been honored with seven Bay Area Theater Critics’ Circle Awards. She teaches around the world workshops in creative expression, writing and meditation. Her book, A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life, was published by Broadway Books and her stories and articles have been published in numerous anthologies and journals.

Peter and Bethany Yarrow

Peter Yarrow’s commitment and life’s work have been framed by his awareness that music of conscience can be extremely effective when used as a source for inspiring and uniting efforts to heal and create a better world. As a performer and social activist, Peter has used music in just that way, bringing people together to create a more just, peaceful, and compassionate society. Through such efforts, beginning in the early 1960’s, the music of Peter, Paul and Mary became, for literally millions of people, the genesis of their activism and commitment to advancing positive social change. Peter’s gift for songwriting has produced some of the most moving songs in the Peter, Paul & Mary repertoire including “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” “Day is Done,” “Light One Candle,” and “The Great Mandala.” One of Yarrow’s efforts is focused on the non-profit, Operation Respect (OR) with its classroom-based program called “Don’t Laugh at Me” (DLAM) that utilizes music and the arts combined with social/emotional learning curricula for elementary and middle school children, now utilized in over 20,000 schools worldwide. Peter believes that DLAM and other such programs that build community and catalyze positive attitudinal and behavioral change, can enable today’s children to break the cycle of hatred, bias, racism and bullying, helping them to envision and create a more just and peaceful world.

Trathen Heckman

Trathen Heckman is the founder and Director of Daily Acts Organization and author of Take Heart, Take Action, The Transformative Power of Small Acts, Groups and Gardens. He has helped found and lead numerous local, state and national resilience and sustainability coalitions, alliances and networks. For 21 years, Daily Acts has inspired positive environmental action, spreading solutions and empowering youth and community leaders. This includes implementing over 1,600 programs; catalyzing tens of thousands of resilience-building projects; installing demonstration gardens for fire survivors, homeless veterans and schools and catalyzing stronger environmental policy to help make the City of Petaluma and Sonoma County California state and national climate leaders. Trathen’s life and leadership are deeply informed by time in the garden and wild places and with inspiring people. He utilizes his skills and resources to empower communities toward reclaiming the power of their actions to regenerate self, nature, and community. He has presented and lead at numerous local, regional, state, national and international conferences. Trathen lives in the Petaluma, California with his wife, daughter, chickens and cats where he grows food, medicine and wonder while working to compost apathy and lack. www.dailyacts.org

Veera Sanjana

Veera Sanjana approaches her yoga practice with gratitude, reverence and love. Veera is a certified Hatha Yoga teacher and her teaching style is best described as ‘meditation in motion’. Veera’s unique yoga teaching style stresses a strong fluid practice with emphasis on mind, body and breath connections to direct our attention inwards. She sets a rhythm that allows her students to explore their own inner world.

Veera was born in India and was schooled in the ancient yoga traditions from a very early age. Veera is able to bring alive the essence of ancient wisdom teachings for modern seekers, in a way that allows students to connect deeply with their own authentic power and spirit.

In her classes, she skillfully weaves together the teachings and time tested practices of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda and Vipassana Meditation to create a dynamic and integrated practice, that help us lead healthy, happy and effective lives. Each class is unique, based on a theme related to body, mind and spirit.

Under the guidance and grace of her teachers, Veera has taught many types of yoga, including gentle yoga, prenatal, postnatal, restorative, yin yoga, yoga for kids, yoga for seniors and therapeutic yoga. Veera’s passion and visionary presentations grow out of her extensive experience as a instructor of Yoga, Meditation, Compassionate Touch, Ayurvedic Healing, Eastern Dance Therapy, Herbs and Nutrition. From her home base in California, she enjoys teaching classes, seminars, writing for magazines. She travels often and offers workshops and retreats that integrate meditation, yoga wisdom, ayurveda and spiritual life-skills.

Dr. Beth Ricanati

Dr. Beth Ricanati has spent her career focused on improving the well-being of her patient’s lives, in traditional medical clinics, wellness programs, and now as an author/speaker.  She has worked at the Center for Women’s Health Center at NY Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center and at the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Health Center and in the Clinic’s Wellness Institute as Medical Director for a lifestyle modification program. Today she volunteers weekly at the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, the largest clinic in the country for the underserved.

For the last several years, she has been speaking (both live and digitally) around the country, based on the premise of her award-winning book, Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs. Dr. Ricanati lives and works in Southern California.

Instagram: @bethricanatimd
Facebook: @BethRicanatiAuthor
Website: www.BethRicanatiMD.com

Lauren Elder

Lauren Elder is an award-winning environmental artist and designer who develops place-making projects with and for host communities. Her practice dances on the border between landscape design and public art and includes small parks, school and community gardens and small structures. She is a Spanish speaker and works throughout Latin America and in the San Francisco Bay Area. When not in the field, narrative drawing series have become her principal medium. Elder received her BA in Fine Art/Sculpture (UCLA) with further studies in Landscape Architecture (UCB-Extension). She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Eureka/Fleishhacker Fellowship for Sculpture, three Isadora Duncan Awards for Visual Design, multiple NEA grants, two SF Bay Guardian Critics’ “Best of Year” awards, three Potrero Nuevo Environmental Awards, California Arts Council Individual Artist Award among others. Individual artworks have been exhibited at the SF Contemporary Jewish Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, UCB Art Museum, Walker Art Museum, Moscow General University (Russia), the Havana Biennia as well as in smaller galleries and cultural centers in the Bay Area and beyond. Elder’s artworks are in the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum of California, the David Brower Center, and the Tessie Cleveland Social Services Corporation.

The Ranch Program

In addition to all the Wisdom Keeper Week events your week at Rancho La Puerta, your week will include classes that will energize your body, calm your mind, lift your spirits and get you ready to taste some of the freshest cuisine Baja has to offer

Every week at Rancho La Puerta you will enjoy:

  • Guided hikes on 40-miles of mountain trails each morning.
  • More than 40 daily fitness classes, including Pilates, Pickleball, Barre, TRX, Hydro-Fit, yoga, and Zumba.
  • Three farm-to-table meals, sourced from our organic garden and other local farms.
  • Eleven gyms, four pools, a running track, as well as tennis, Pickleball, basketball and volleyball courts.
  • Three full-service spas offering massage, facials, wraps, scrubs and other holistic therapies.
  • Art classes, including painting and sculpting.
  • Presentations on music-making, nutrition and brain health.
  • Mind-body classes such as mindfulness, meditation, Feldenkrais and sound healing.
  • Live evening concerts and entertainment with world-class performers.



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