Frontier Retreat 2016

This post partially duplicates the content of the PDF brochure for the retreat, which we recommend reading if you’re interested in more detail. If you would like to join us, please fill out the short form at the bottom of this post. 

Bring your frontier to the Montana prairie

Many of us are on a personal frontier of one kind or another: work challenges, career choices, sense of purpose and direction, dealing with old wounds and difficulties, shifting old patterns and seeking to create something new. Leaving behind the familiar things that now seem too small. Standing on the threshold of something that feels more True, though we can’t quite see it and it feels a little scary. That’s the frontier feeling, and that’s why we invite you to the land of Lewis and Clark, Charlie Russell, Plenty Coup, Medicine Crow, A.B. Guthrie, Ivan Doig, and Little Big Man. It’s William Kittredge’s “Last Best Place.” A good place for the in-between, a good place for reflection, a good place to explore the way ahead.

What to expect

This isn’t a conference or seminar. There is a schedule, but there is no agenda. We will offer some ideas, but it won’t feel like “teaching.” You will learn some new ways to gain perspective and some art-based reflection methods but most of the value will come from the chance to put your thoughts in conversation with others and with new contexts.

The days will have a rhythm of lazy openness and shared experience. The conversations will happen as we take our time in this amazing Land together. The invisible outcomes are the ones that matter most.

The days have a loose rhythm that starts with breakfast (or earlier if you want to get out by the river before you eat), followed by the morning “provocation” — an idea, a question, a point of view, and a conversation. Then we set out for the day’s adventure. There will be a half-day float down the Missouri river, seeing what Lewis and Clark saw. We’ll meet some horses, we’ll see dramatic landscape, visit with local people, maybe take a swim. At least once a day we will engage in a short reflective activity involving art or writing. And we’ll eat great food.

That’s it. The principle is this: when people take time together to stand in a large perspective, the necessary conversations will happen.

What happened last year

You can read a report on last year’s Frontier Retreat here, and see a gallery of photos as well.

Who will be there?

We keep the group small, limiting it to ten people. Already some have signed up, but there are a few spots left.

We are inviting people who seem to be living on one or more of the frontiers being created by this transition, and with whom we would love to sit by the fire, walk the river bank, cook breakfast, and explore this conversational landscape.

At last year’s retreat, the majority of people had some relationship to the world of design, but this isn’t a design gathering. We were joined by people from agencies, universities, associations, and architecture firms. Nearly half were between jobs. Some were pondering whole new chapters in their career. Some had just finished degrees, and one was at the door of his fourth career.

On the frontier, your questions matter more than your biography.


Dates: Arrive on July 13 in time for dinner, stay through the evening of July 16.

If those dates don’t work, but you would still like to attend a Frontier Retreat, please add yourself to our contact listWe don’t send out much info to that list, but when we do it’s for something like this.

Location: Our home base is Fort Benton, Montana. The nearest airport is Great Falls (GTF), about an hour drive away.

Lodging: You’ll fold into the caring arms of either the Lark and Laurel Bed and Breakfast or the historic Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton.

Partner and host: Hosting, planning, local coordination and access to people, places and adventures is provided by Northstar Tours.

Cost: The Frontier Retreat costs $1950. This includes everything except your flight to Great Falls:

  • four nights lodging
  • all meals, snacks and drinks
  • airport pick up and drop off
  • all activities and guides

Interested? Let us know!

We just need to check…
This is a gathering of people who would like to step away from their usual rhythms to gain new perspective on their situation — the stories in which they’ve been participating, the stories they feel invited to join, the inward or outward frontiers on which they are standing. So it isn’t for everyone.

That’s why we’re asking this question: to help us make sure that what we’re planning is lined up with what you’re looking for.


By | 2017-06-28T18:44:05+00:00 April 22nd, 2016|Categories: Workshops and Events|0 Comments

About the Author:

Marc’s career spans 35 years in business, design, education and technology. His work as designer, researcher, and educator has put him on the frontier of applying design methods to social and strategic questions. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Design for Social Innovation program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Practice at the Carnegie Mellon University Graduate School of Design. Marc’s interests include cultural immersion, language, cooking and photography.

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