Gathering Fire

A Facilitation Workshop for Rural Women

Hosted by the Paicines Ranch Learning Center with Christine Ageton and Nikki Silvestri

June 3-6, 2024

Paicines Ranch in Paicines, CA

The NoRegrets Initiative and Paicines Ranch Learning Center, along with a team of experienced conveners, Christine Ageton and Nikki Silvestri, are thrilled to be offering 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: Gathering Fire: A Facilitation Workshop for Rural Women, June 3-6, 2024 at Paicines Ranch, CA. 

Please read below for more details. 


— Background —

Rural places in the United States are in a crucible of change, and our leaders find themselves navigating complex challenges around soil and water health, public health, and shifting cultural, political, and socio-economic landscapes. As of 2021, only 17% of the US population was rural, down from 36% in 1950; and by 2050, that number is expected to drop to 11%. But even as rural populations decline, rural people still steward the vast majority of our land, water, and food production resources; and due to our electoral system, rural Americans wield significant political power even as cultural divides between urban and rural groups grow.

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. 

— 2023 Cohort —

— 2022 Cohort —

— What & Who —

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 to grow your facilitation skills based on your unique convening style and community needs;
  • an implementation plan for a specific event you are hosting in the next year;
  • a community of other women-identifying leaders to be your peers and thought partners as you grow your facilitation to the next level.

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.

— Our Fabulous Conveners —

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.


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.


— Apply for Gathering Fire —

The application period for Gathering Fire 2024 will open soon.

Please sign up below to be alerted once details go live.

— Details & FAQs —

What is the cost to participate?
Thanks to generous support from NoRegrets and the Globetrotter Foundation, this 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.

Start/end time?
Information coming soon.

Are meals included?
Yes! You will be nourished with delicious, organic and locally-sourced breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, prepared by Paicines Chef Carlos & team.

Is lodging included?
Yes! Paicines Ranch has an assortment of private and shared rooms, cottages and full kitchen houses.

Will there be travel stipends available?
Participants are asked to cover their travel to and from Paicines Ranch; however, we recognize that there may be additional financial burdens or other roadblocks to participating, such as travel expenses and childcare. There will be a space to indicate desire for a travel stipend on the application. 

Can I attend part of the workshop?
Participants are expected to attend the full length of the workshop.


* At this time, this workshop will be conducted in English.

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— Location: Paicines Ranch —

Located in central California's San Benito County, Paicines Ranch is a historic 7,600-acre ranch that works to regenerate ecosystems by growing healthy soil, nutrient-dense food and vibrant, diverse communities. Using the practices of regenerative agriculture, the ranch team manages this diverse landscape in partnership with nature and livestock to produce 100% grass-fed-and-finished lamb and beef, and pastured pork, turkey and eggs. Paicines Ranch also grow organic grain, as well as organic grapes in a polyculture vineyard that is designed to be managed by sheep. Over the years, the ranch has become a renown destination for learning about regenerative agriculture through their programs and educational workshops while also serving as a treasured location for hosting weddings, retreats, and events.

— Remaining Questions? —

For questions, please contact [email protected]