The invitation: Frontier Retreat 2017

You are invited to a frontier conversation on the Montana prairie.

A deep breath, a long view, room to inquire

For the third year, we are gathering a few people in Montana simply to be in the same place at the same time, away from offices, deadlines, and project teams. We trust that the important stuff will emerge because of who’s there and what we are experiencing, and so far that trust has been well-placed.


We begin with dinner on the 26th of July, end with sunset on the 29th, and offer breakfast before parting.


We are capping this at ten people. If you feel you are living on one or more of the frontiers being created by the transitions in the world, in your work, or in yourself, and if it appeals to you to sit by the fire, walk the river bank, cook breakfast, and explore this conversational landscape, then you are invited.

Many of those who attended past retreats had some relationship to the world of design. But this isn’t a design gathering. We’ve been joined by people from agencies, universities, associations, architecture firms, and government agencies. 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 much more than your biography.

What to expect

This isn’t a workshop. There is a schedule, but there is no agenda. The days have a rhythm of 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.     

On the first evening we’ll get acquainted with one another, and start to find our questions.

In the mornings, you choose what to do before breakfast, when to wander into the kitchen for coffee.

At 9:30 each morning we offer a thought, provocation, or reading as a way to providing a new input into the conversation. And at least once a day we will suggest some kind of art- or writing-based reflection.

Each day will have an adventure. We’ll pile into our vehicles and head out into Montana. There will be a half-day float down the Missouri river, seeing what Lewis and Clark saw, unaltered. We’ll walk through a mile of native grass, and top Frenchman’s Ridge. We’ll watch the sunset from the slopes of Shepherd Butte, after a dinner around the fire.

If it’s hot, we’ll indulge in a swim. Sunsets are often spectacular. So are moonrises. The stars are gobsmacking. Take your time.

Some of us might be a little road-weary and cubicle- blind from the pace we’ve been maintaining. At this gathering, no one is expecting anything of you.

And there will be food. You will be in company of a few good cooks. There is a good restaurant in the old hotel in Fort Benton, with tables on the river bank. We’ll have a lot of stuff to drink, and I hope I’m not the only amateur bartender in the group.