Gathering Fire

A Facilitation Workshop

Spring 2022 | Paicines Ranch, CA

Hosted by Christine Ageton, Nikki Silvestri, Elaine Patarini and Jess Daniel Hart

We see rural leaders regularly called to host meaningful and often “hot” conversations in their communities and nationally. Rural areas have never been homogenous, and they are becoming more diverse: between 2000 and 2010, people of color and immigrants in particular were responsible for 83% of the population gains in rural areas. How do we lead through challenge and harness these differences toward a better future? In our experience, one of the most profound ways to transform conflict or stagnation towards social transformation is skilled facilitation of in-person gatherings. In order to protect our soil, water, and air, to build wealth for the most marginalized, to improve health outcomes, to bridge cultural rifts, to build power for rural places, and other transformation we want to see, we believe we need strong conveners in our rural communities. 

To this end, the #NoRegrets Initiative, Paicines Ranch Learning Center, and a trio of experienced conveners are piloting a three-day residential deep dive into facilitation skills, targeted specifically at leaders who identify as women with some prior experience in hosting groups and a desire to deepen their practice.”

Learning Journey-circle-med

This training is designed to provide participants with:

  • skills in facilitation, skills for working with diverse groups, and core theory in group dynamics;
  • a development plan based on your unique convening style and community needs;
  • an implementation plan for a specific event you are hosting in the next year.

This workshop may be for you if you:

  • Identify as a woman. All women (cis and trans) and non-binary folks are welcome.
  • Serve a rural community as you define it: e.g. primary focus on agriculture and land-based industries, population density, “not urban.”
  • Find yourself at the center of important and challenging conversations in your place.
  • Have some experience hosting groups –at your church, at school, professionally, or elsewhere.
  • Are invested in and curious to learn more about promoting equity for marginalized people in your place.
  • Are excited to be in a group that will share openly and aren’t afraid to be a little uncomfortable at times.


This pilot workshop will be offered at no cost to participants. Meals and lodging are included. Participants are asked to cover their travel to and from Paicines Ranch, but some stipends for travel support may be available. There will be a space to indicate desire for travel support on the application.

This pilot workshop will be conducted in English.

For other questions, please contact the team at [email protected]

The Team

Nikki Silvestri

Nikki is the Founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a coaching and consulting firm bringing social and environmental entrepreneurs more impact in their work and joy in their lives. As an entrepreneur and serial non-profit Executive Director, Nikki has invited thousands of leaders and hundreds of business and organizations into more in-depth conversations around the intersection of ecology, economy, and social equity. Her wide-ranging career has taken her from presentations at the White House and negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency to intimate workshops with local businesses and small retail organizing. A nationally recognized thought leader and international keynote speaker, her many honors include being named one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans. Nikki serves as a Board Member for Greenpeace USA and is the Board Co-Chair of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE). She is a Faculty Member at the Food Business School (she co-designed and taught one of their inaugural courses, “Ethical Leadership in Food Business”). She is the recipient of numerous awards including ELLE Magazine’s “Gold” Award and OxFam America’s “Act Local, Think Global” Award. Nikki has a master’s degree in African American Studies from UCLA, and is originally from Los Angeles. She currently lives in Oakland, with her husband and son.

Christine Ageton

Christine is an independent consultant focused on creating transformative convenings toward systems change in the philanthropic, nonprofit, and international development sectors. Christine has over twenty years’ experience in nonprofit leadership, leadership program curriculum design, delivery and transformative facilitation. She was with Common Future (formerly BALLE), from 2010 -2019 where she spearheaded all of their transformative learning and funder educations programs as Chief Program Officer. During this time, she managed a budget of over one million dollars and built a large team of staff and consultants to deliver multiyear programs yielding systems change. Prior to Common Future, Christine headed international development programs for the Clinton Foundation in Peru, and for the United Nations Environment Program in Panama. For three years, Christine was the Assistant Director for the Kinship Conservation Fellowship and led leadership programs for Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society  Christine’s passion and gift lies in designing and hosting transformative experiences for groups and she has deep experience in leadership development, group theory and racial and social equity. Christine has particular skill in successfully convening diverse groups around seemingly intractable problems.  Christine holds two Masters’ degrees in Community Development and Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College. Christine hails from Boulder, CO and can be found spending time with her family and enjoying the Rocky Mountains any chance that she gets.

Elaine Patarini

As a team member of the NoRegrets Initiative, Elaine is working to inspire and empower individuals in ways that move us toward a more regenerative agriculture. She loves to create opportunities to gather community and convene discussions centered on the interconnectedness of soil health and human health. Through the Paicines Ranch Learning Center, Elaine directs innovative programs such as the Learning Journey, Lead with Land, Women in Ranching, Health from the Soil Up, as well as workshops with pioneering leaders in agriculture. Along with her husband, Kelly, she lives and works at the Paicines Ranch and has transitioned from herding sheep and cows out in pasture to herding a diversity of humans into conversational circles. With degrees in nutrition and journalism, she has also worked to grow community nutrition education programs while developing new avenues to support a local foods economy. On occasion, she will share her stories from the ‘Hollywood Years’ working as a photographer and location manager on movie sets in Los Angeles.

Jess Daniel Hart

Jess is a program developer, coordinator, and organizational process designer focused on initiatives that enable people to grow their souls, grow their skills, and work together joyfully to steward a better world into being. Most recently, she was the Managing Director at Common Future (formerly BALLE), overseeing operations and program staff at a fast-growing national organization working to disrupt capitalism and move us towards an economic system that supports all people and all life. Prior to that, she founded FoodLab, a not-for-profit network of 150+ good food entrepreneurs in Detroit that still thrives today. She has more than a dozen years of experience as an intra- and entrepreneur, using participatory methods to propose, design, launch, run, and improve initiatives within non-profit and corporate settings for diverse employers and clients like Google, World Education, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the On Being Project, ROC United, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. She has special expertise in and love for work focused on transformative leadership, just and restorative economics, food and agriculture systems, and spirituality. Jess holds a PhD in Community Sustainability from Michigan State University, a Masters degree in Education and BA from Stanford, and is trained as a birth doula. She spends her time between her current home in Minneapolis and her birthplace in Southern California, where she can be found climbing, hiking, skiing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with her many sweet nieces and nephews.

The #NoRegrets Initative is a relationship-centered approach to land and asset management. Its mission is to improve soil health, foster thriving rural communities, and to grow soil carbon in the agricultural lands of North America. To those ends, they demonstrate and advocate for a Regenerative Assets Strategy that deploys human, ecological and financial capital toward soil health and its effect on climate change. Learn more at


Paicines Ranch and the Paicines Ranch Learning Center are aspects of the #NoRegrets Initiative. The ranch produces 100% free range grass fed lamb and beef and hosts a variety of events, including training classes through the Learning Center. The intention of the ranch is to preserve and enhance both the natural and man-made features of the ranch and make them accessible to visitors, while producing delicious pastured meats. The pastures and row crop ground are all certified organic, and the ranch is managed using the principles of Holistic Management.

Applications for the pilot cohort of the Gathering Fire facilitation workshop are now closed.

If you are interested in hearing about future cohorts and opportunities, please submit the below form or reach out at [email protected]