What is the Oika Practice Course?
The Oika Practice Course is an entry-level program for cultivating an enhanced relationship with nature. It is a place-based journey of cosmic, ecological, and personal self-discovery. With nature as our guide, this course also generates new sources of creativity, friendship, joy, well-being and wisdom. This course is as big as the cosmos and will expand your sense of self as far as your imagination can take you.
Why Should I take an Oika Practice Course?
People should take this course for the same reason they would take any health or intellectual self-improvement course such as meditation, Yoga, surfing or other active retreats. You can also expect to re-align with nature, find community (including non-human friends), get in shape, improve wellness, and create new peace of mind.
Who Takes the Oika Practice Course?
This course is designed for anyone 21-years or older (we have other programs for kids, teens and early-career adults). Oika Practice works particularly well for mid-career professionals and those open to low-impact physical challenges but high-impact emotional and intellectual stimulation.
What is an “Oika Connector”?
An Oika Connector is someone from the local place with a particular interest in nature, health or outdoor subjects. An Oika Connector takes the course for free. The Connector will communicate in advance with the instructor and facilitator to help advertise and assemble a cohort of 10 students to take the Oika Practice course. The Connector then works with the Instructor and Facilitator during the course to help organize and administer the class. After taking an Oika Practice course, an Oika Connector becomes eligible to apply to be an Oika Facilitator.
What else do Oika Connectors Do?
Oika Connectors are responsible for managing local group communication, including maintaining a place-based Oika Facebook Page. They may also lead optional group activities (according to their own specialties - i.e. Yoga) during the course and may charge students directly for these optional outings.
How can I become an Oika Connector?
Assemble some friends and speak with Rich.
What is an Oika Facilitator?
An Oika Facilitator is a former Oika Connector who participates in Practice courses from a distance (i.e online only). Facilitators are professional level participants who bring their own unique talents, passions, philosophies and wisdom to the student experience (examples, Yoga, healthy eating, science, painting, surfing, photography, technology, etc.).
Oika Facilitators are essentially “Instructors in-training” who work closely with the Oika Instructor to help deliver the Oika Practice course. Facilitators are participators who guide students, answer questions, tutor on technological issues (such as Trello and Earth Stories, etc.). Facilitators are paid on a by-student basis commensurate with their experience and chosen level of participation.
Facilitators usually seek to bring the principles and practices of ecological intelligence into their ongoing career. Sorry, NO SUPERNATURAL and NO PSEUDOSCIENCE fields because these contradict the full power of connection to nature.
How can I become an Oika Facilitator?
Those seeking to become an Oika Facilitator must first take the introductory Oika Practice course. This gives you a clearer picture of what Oika is all about and gives us a chance to get to know each other better. It would be smart to let us know your intentions either before or while taking the Oika Practice course.
I am into New Age Mysticism, psychic healing practices, channeling ancient aliens, chakra therapy, etc. etc. Can I become an Oika Facilitator?
We hope so, but probably not. While Oika requires an open attitude and commitment to challenging fundamental assumptions, it also calls for equally robust critical thinking skills. We have learned that some traditions have built-in narratives about human separation from nature that are impossible to reconcile with science-based knowledge and very difficult to unlearn. Thus, while anyone is free to take an Oika course, we cannot accommodate NEW AGE, SUPERNATURAL or PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC thinking within the course. Nor can we collaborate with practitioners. We have tried, but ultimately learned that these fields contradict the full power science and connection to nature.
How is the Online part of the course delivered?
Each Oika Practice course is delivered through an online Oika Board. The Oika Board provides a visual progression through the course. Students do not edit or upload anything on the Trello board, it is primarily a source for course content. The course Facilitator and Instructor will generally maintain the Trello board (add content, advance student cards, etc.).
In addition to the Trello Board, course content is generally delivered through a Weekly Oika Briefing (WOB) emailed by the Instructor or Facilitator using DirectMail. There will be at least four WOBs and one completion notice sent during the course (see details below).
How is communication between students and teachers handled?
Direct communication between students, Connector, Facilitator and Instructor is generally via a group email thread and the Oika Campfire Call (OCC) on Appear.in.
What is an Earth Story?
An Earth Story is a moment of Oika practice that can be shared. Typically this means a photo, video clip, sketch or drawing, or poem or other writing. The idea is to share these moments as close as possible to when a student feels Oika happening. But capturing an EarthStory should never replace or otherwise inhibit the actual practice of connection.
The style and content of an Earth Story is guided by the ecological situation in which it arises. Sometimes it will be appropriate to include your live-recorded voice or narration. Other times they will be silent. Editing and other artistic license is up to the student and the ecology of the moment.
Never approach wild animals or creatures. The point is to allow them to communicate with you. Always maintain respect, gratitude and safety. Let the relationship dictate what happens.
Sometimes an Earth Story can be told without any media at all. It’s OK to share an EarthStory using only written storytelling or spoken words alone. Always be prepared to forget about capturing or telling the Earth Story in favor of just experiencing it.
How are Earth Stories recorded and shared?
Sharing your Earth Story is an integral part of the practice. How it is shared depends on which method a student is most comfortable with (photo, video, drawing, writing, song, etc). Each Earth Story is posted publicly through a social media platform chosen by the student (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, twitter, personal blog, email, etc).
Is Oika a non-profit?
The priority of Oika is “the ecological restoration people and the places we belong to.” We seek to break the current economic paradigm wherein the for-profit sector breaks the whole ecosystem and then trickles out funding to the “nonprofits” in order to “fix” the mess they created. This never seems to solve the fundamental problems and the model clearly no longer works.
Thus, while we are a not-for-profit, educational program, we choose not to be a 501(c)3. We are an LLC because we prefer to pay taxes while establishing ecological intelligence as a fundamental part of a more holistic and flourishing economic system. We believe we need a new logic, an eco-logical model that operates across the whole economic/ecologic system toward a more sustainable reality, not participate in an old, broken one.
How can I support Oika?
Donations to support OIka programming are fully tax-deductible through our 501(c)3 fiscal partner, The Good Work Institute. Contact Rich in order to arrange for tax-deductible financial support.
Is a physical location, building, or venue required for the Oika Practice course?
No. Oika practices require very little material resources and space. Parks and natural areas are great but they could also happen on the fringes of a golf course, behind the local strip mall, and even your own backyard. However, your local Oika Connector may provide access to a physical location for certain, pre-organized activities.
What is the overall structure of the Oika Practice Course?
The journey begins with time devoted to kind and thoughtful self-examination. This week we’ll be exploring who we are and how we came to be “me”. We will use the idea of story (or narrative) to help shed light on four facets of our selfhood: Journey [j], Power [p], Trickster [t], and Author [a]. This week’s work will set the stage for new growth and the capacity for re-experiencing the world in an empowered and fulfilling way.
The journey through an Oika course could not happen without a new sense of PLACE. During this week we will turn our attention to the places we live and a particular secret spot that we choose to have a new relationship with. The goal this week is to practice the feeling of belonging to our place. This practice will open surprising new capacities for growth and happiness.
During week three we will discover the benefits of practice, and specifically nature practice. We will discover that we have always been in practice, but now that we are mindful of how our stories and places mingle in practice, we’ll experience new sources of beauty, connection and inspiration.
Week four is about integrating all that we have learned and experienced into an accessible and durable source of personal flourishing. There will be time devoted to solo work but we will convene as a group to crystalize all that we learned and gained.
What are the minimum requirements for successful completion of the Oika Practice Course?
* Conversational familiarity means the ability to explain in plain language, the “meaning, power and purpose” of the topic. Successful completion of this requirement will be determined by consultation with facilitator and Rich and/or Fred.
What does “Graduation” entail?
At the conclusion of the course, participants will receive a final (fifth) email congratulating them on their work with a downloadable certificate of completion and inviting them to stay involved and continue support.
How much does the Oika Practice Course cost?
What is the payment/cancellation/refund policy?
Potential participants are given free access to sample Oika content, an actual OCC, and the option to pay by the week. We designed this fully-transparent “preview” process to allow a potential participant to make a well-informed decision beforehand and without any initial cost. Therefore, we will not offer any refunds except under special cases, which will then require documentation of the reason for the refund request before we can consider a refund.
What is your liability policy?
Participants must sign a liability waiver and photo/video/image release prior to participation. There are no third-party commercial operators (guides, tour companies, outfitters, etc) associated with Oika at this time. Any outings organized organically by participants in an Oika Course are not considered part of the course and are therefore at the sole risk of the participant.
The word Oika is an adaptation of the ancient Greek work Oikos (the root of the modern word "eco" as in, eco-logy and eco-nomy). Oikos referred to a unification of "person, place and property." But because Ancient Greece was a deeply patriarchal society, the "person" meant the man of the house; the "place" meant the physical house; and the "property" was all the man owned within his house (including his wife, children, slaves and animals).
Thus, the new word Oika aims to bring a more balance and feminine aspect to the concept. Replacing the "o" with an "a" results is a founding principle that is more inclusive, expansive, and relational as follows:
All of Oika's evolving programs integrate these four principles (plus a potential fifth, Purpose). All Oika programs attempt to realign humans with the intelligence of the Earth’s planetary systems. Oika teaches people how to cultivate new, mutually enhancing relationships with nature and create responses across a spectrum of human domains.