Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Fall staff working retreat

Yesterday was our annual fall staff retreat; the Committee staff’s annual meeting to touch base with the strategic plan and to have a chance to talk about the year behind us and plan for the year ahead all together. The word “retreat” may conjure something more luxurious than our version, which, this year, included a site visit to the Cain Ranch (home of the Outdoor Experiences program), a meeting in the comfort of Ellen and Duncan King’s home, a potluck lunch, and a jam-packed agenda.

It’s amazing what you can do without the interruptions of phones, meetings, and email. It might be hard to believe, but even though we all work long hours in our little office, it’s rare that we have all twelve of us together in one spot. We were joined by local Mono Lake Committee Board Members Sally Gaines, Andrea Lawrence, and Sherryl Taylor, who are always good at offering challenging questions and important perspectives to consider.

The main retreat topics this year included the future of the Outdoor Experiences program, issues surrounding recreation pressures, the new website, and of course, the changes associated with the current economic downturn. One of my personal favorite things is Erika’s annual slide show recapping the year since the last retreat–a great chance to look back and realize all that we’ve accomplished and worked so hard for together. (This year we also got to see a black bear lumber by during one of the discussions!) Overall, it’s an intense day of big picture thinking and critical anaylsis, but we have such a dedicated and engaged staff, that I think we all came away more inspired than tired, and ready to tackle 2009.