HERSTORY

dancing our intentions into being

1980’s-90’s

Starting in the late 1980’s, in Port Angeles, WA, a group of women, brought together and inspired by Connor Sauer, informally pooled their resources to hold Long Dance–a sacred and ceremonial women’s retreat for prayer, purification and healing–dancing the heart and soul’s intentions into being. Facilitated by volunteers, Long Dance grew into an annual gathering, co-created by the 50 women who attend each year. Profoundly positive impacts in women’s lives began to ripple out into families, work, and community life. Many women began to ask, “How can we share the ways of wisdom we are learning here?”

2000

In fall 2000, 75 women gathered at Dry Creek Grange in Port Angeles to share dreams and brainstorm a feast of possibilities for bringing our gifts to the world. The idea of Woman’s Way Red Lodge (WWRL) was born.

2003-04

In 2003, a trio of women initiated correspondence to explore foundational concepts and ideas for grounding the vision. At the spring 2004 Long Dance Wisdom Council, these ideas sparked more interest and the first Hearth Jar was created to start gathering funds for the dream’s fruition. By the fall, a group of 8 women stepped up to form the WWRL Working Group. In November 2004, the first WWRL Wisdom Council was held at Longbranch, WA, exploring interest and commitment towards forming an organization.

2005

In February 2005, the entire community of nearly 300 Long Dancers living in several states was encouraged to attend or send input to the WWRL Wisdom Council on Vashon Island. Here, the Working Group presented an outline for possible WWRL structure. By consensus, all present agreed to organize as an educational nonprofit. Draft vision, mission and purpose statements were approved that focus on serving our communities through sharing woman’s way wisdom and sustainable life skills. With much liveliness, we brainstormed 15 Principles We Share.

On June 27, 2005, Articles of Incorporation were filed in Washington State. A Welcome Packet was created to share our development. WWRL Wisdom Councils were held on Whidbey Island and at Sahale Retreat Center, WA to share updates about our nonprofit application, come to consensus on Vision, Mission, Purpose, and seek input for leadership and decision-making processes.

2005 lodge - herstory

At the December 2005 Wisdom Council, we transitioned to an Interim Board of Trustees with 3 Officers and 6 Chairs of Board Councils. Heading to birth our nonprofit together, 35 women engaged in strategic planning, setting priorities to write and submit the nonprofit application, develop internal communication systems, launch eNews, produce our CD of community songs, and plan an Open House inviting women in the Long Dance community to join, participate in and celebrate Red Lodge.

2006-07

In 2006, the Interim Board drafted and approved bylaws and developed guidelines for budgeting, accounting, nominations and election procedures. We opened a bank account to hold informally pooled donations gathered since 2004 in our Hearth Jar. Membership circles were established. In June 2006, thanks to our fantastic all-volunteer web building team, we launched a beautiful website: www.womanswayredlodge.org

Our Conflict Evolution Council initiated communications and leadership training and provided mediation services to WWRL Councils and individuals. We produced MoonSongs for the Goddess Soul – our CD created by Long Dancers to share music we love to sing. In addition to hosting ceremonies and rituals celebrating rites of passage, WWRL began sponsoring and producing programs. In September 2006, more than 40 people gathered to celebrate Red Lodge’s Opening the Door festival in Gorst, WA.

Our first official Board was elected at the Annual Meeting of December 2006 with terms beginning January 2007. In June 2007, Woman’s Way Red Lodge was approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Drumming a 24-hour peace and earth healing vigil at Summer Solstice 2007, we heard a big call to make our Red Lodge community drum. Born from the lineage of the Long Dance mother drum, Otter Woman, a new drum was created from the hide of bison, a maple frame and water buffalo sinew lashings. The drum was honored and awakened and after listening to her for a year, we heard her name, Buffalo Heart. A community prayer pipe carved of elk antler with a maple stem was gifted through Buffalo Heart to Red Lodge.

2008-present

Since becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the dreaming of Red Lodge into our lives and into the world evolves.

We have published an online guide to weaving intergenerational women’s hoops and now support hoops across the United States. There are Red Lodge drum circles to share drum medicine and wisdom teachings in a sacred context. We sponsor regular sweat lodge ceremonies and gather four times each year for seasonal medicine wheel celebrations. We publish Hearth Letter each season – an online journal of news, reflection and creativity to share our voices and experiences. We have produced and sponsored numerous workshops – both to share knowledge and old wisdom in the making of sacred tools and to share and practice new and re-membered life skills and teachings.

We are weaving a web of fertile relationships with other groups and nonprofit organizations. We support service projects in our communities and internationally. We offer mentoring or sideby support for personal transformation and new skills. And we support and encourage women in the development of right livelihood. See this page for details on donating to or applying to our Leadership Fund.

With creative diligence, we are excited to be adapting the intuitive consensus decision-making and leadership empowerment processes that arose organically within Long Dance to the business of sustaining a nonprofit. Side-by-side, we are becoming collaborative, visionary leaders.

In 2009, in response to an action research project surveying members, we simplified our organizational structure and spent a reflective year re-imagining Red Lodge as a web of communities. We see a shower of sparks igniting from our members’ enthusiasm to enliven the divine feminine in their own communities.

Now, we are listening deeply. This time of profound change asks us to be quiet and put aside assumptions, judgments and expectations. We are showing up and moving with Red Lodge to bring balance into our world by enlivening the sacred feminine.As positive agents of change in these transformational times of Great Turning, we are called to expand our consciousness and make new choices that sustain life.

As Red Lodge grows and evolves, we reflect and give gratitude for all that we have created together, all that Red Lodge brings forth in our personal lives, in our community and in the larger world which includes the voiceless and unseen ones.

Incredible journey – honoring beginnings

It has taken many years and many women’s prayers and dreams for Woman’s Way Red Lodge to be born. Thank you to all the women who attended the “Red Lodge, A Gathering in the Woman’s Way for a Feast of Possibilities” workshop in 2000 and offered such rich and deep dreaming. Thank you to the Red Lodge Working Group who received these offerings and furthered the effort to bring Red Lodge to the fertile soil of the East. And thank you to all the women that stepped up to committees and attended the first series of Red Lodge Wisdom Councils. It has been an incredible journey that requires a tremendous amount of effort. Heartfelt gratitude to each and every woman who has contributed her prayers and energy as Woman’s Way Red Lodge rises to new ground and new possibilities.

Our herstory continues to be revealed! To share your Red Lodge story contact: hearthletter@wwrl.org