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OCSL in Action

2nd Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award Goes to Scenic Hudson

3 years 5 months ago

Omega CEO, Robert "Skip" Backus presented the second annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award to Scenic Hudson on October 5, 2013, during the Omega Center for Sustainable Living Conference: Where We Go From Here. The award includes a $10,000 grant and an organizational development grant for a strategic planning retreat at Omega.

The largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley, Scenic Hudson has preserved numerous sites, including Storm King Mountain, and has worked tirelessly for the protection and restoration of the Hudson River. Upon receiving the award, Ned Sullivan, executive director of Scenic Hudson, said, "We will take heart and inspiration from our partnership with Omega in our work for a sustainable Hudson Valley."

Learn more about Scenic Hudson

Omega Awards $10,000 Grant To Scenic Hudson, Largest Environmental Group Focused On Hudson River Valley

3 years 6 months ago

Omega Elevates Environmental Stewardship with 2nd Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega Institute, home of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), today announced the second recipient of their Annual Leadership in Sustainable Education Award. The award recognizes nonprofit peers who exemplify leadership in sustainable education and who share Omega’s commitment to building a more just and sustainable world. This year, Omega recognizes Scenic Hudson, an organization working to protect and restore the Hudson River and its landscape. Scenic Hudson will be honored with the award at Omega’s annual Where We Go From Here conference, October 2–4, 2013.

“Last year, Omega created the Leadership in Sustainable Education Award to further our commitment to environmental stewardship, and we are thrilled this year to advance the conversation around sustainability and environmental protection by awarding the second annual award to Scenic Hudson,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

Founded four years ago, the OCSL originated as the first green building in America to achieve both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification, the highest standards currently available in sustainable architecture. The OCSL has since evolved into an environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega is integrating similar designs into other facilities on campus. The new office of the  Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) is the first commercial project in the United States to meet Passive House certification standards. The OWLC operates using very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75%.

“A true crusader for the Hudson Valley for 50 years, Scenic Hudson has been fighting day in and day out for the protection and restoration of the Hudson River. They have a strong emphasis on educating the community on the importance of the natural world and living by an environmental ethic,” concluded Backus.

“Omega is a world renowned institution that brings together people concerned with the environment and sustainable living. It’s a great honor for me to accept this award on behalf of all the people who make Scenic Hudson’s success possible. The support and partnership Omega is providing to us will inspire and catalyze our work to make the Hudson Valley a model of sustainable living in an ever-evolving world,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.

Scenic Hudson is credited with saving the Storm King Mountain from a proposed power plant and with launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement in the 1960s. The largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley, the organization uses a combination of tactics, including land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools, to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public, and preserve the valley's inspiring beauty and natural resources.

In addition to the $10,000 grant, Scenic Hudson will also receive an organizational development grant for a strategic planning retreat at Omega, to help strengthen their organization and further its mission.

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.eOmega.org

About Scenic Hudson—Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary in 2013
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the Hudson Valley since 1963, today we have more than 25,000 ardent supporters and are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 60 parks, preserves, and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved over 30,000 acres. www.sh50.org and www.scenichudson.org

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Omega Staff Member Launches Company that Helps the Environment

3 years 6 months ago

Kristen Hess worked at Omega as a seasonal staff member for two months in the summer of 2010, an experience she describes as “fun, educational, healing, and uplifting.” During her time at the Rhinebeck campus, she met a number of environmental luminaries, including Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man, and Deborah Eden Tull, author of The Natural Kitchen. Hess expanded her awareness of ecological sustainability and received her first introduction to permaculture.

Upon leaving Omega, she said, “I was so inspired by the environmental lifestyle that I began working on a project with my Dad to help boost participation in composting.” Over three years that project has evolved into a fantastic company called CompoKeeper. Kristen Hess and her father developed special bins that streamline the composting process. The end result is an effective, cleaner, and simpler system that will allow more people to make kitchen composting, like recycling, a routine part of their lives. Kristen’s next step is to raise the funds that will make it possible to manufacture the CompoKeeper on American soil, in order to reduce the company’s carbon footprint as much as possible (a guiding philosophy of permaculture).

Hess recently shared with us her story about CompoKeeper and how her work as seasonal staff at Omega helped inspire it. “Omega has shaped my life and guided me to devote my energy toward helping others and the planet,” she said.

We are proud to have been a part of this remarkable staff member’s journey and are in turn inspired by the ingenuity, determination, and integrity of her work. Thank you, Kristen, for demonstrating Omega’s mission to “awaken the best in the human spirit.” Check out CompoKeeper’s Facebook page to learn more about Kristen’s work and the evolution her company.


Omega Hosts Food Quality Gathering

3 years 6 months ago

Omega recently hosted a gathering to talk about food quality. Judith D Schwartz reported on the event in The Guardian: "When it comes to eating well, the advice we get is that fresh is better than processed, fruit and veg are better than fats and carbs, and organic is best of all. But what if the food we eat is not truly feeding us? Many choose to buy organic to be assured food doesn't have the 'bad stuff' in it. But how do we know it's got the 'good stuff' in it—flavor, wholesomeness, vitamins, minerals?"

"This question was among those taken up last week at a meeting on food quality at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in the Hudson Valley, New York, attended by farmers, educators, researchers, and activists looking to bring quality into discussions of food, nutrition, and agriculture. The Hudson Valley has become a food destination due to its many small farms and celebrated chefs (and because the famed Culinary Institute of America is located there)."

Read the full story

Honoring the Life of Toshi Seeger

3 years 8 months ago

Toshi Seeger passed away on July 9 at the age of 91. While obituaries in the New York Times and Rolling Stone focus on her 70-year marriage to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, those in the Hudson Valley know her as a tireless activist whose decades of work hung on the principle that music and the arts could be channeled as a force for positive change in the world. Guided by this conviction, Toshi and Pete stepped to the forefront of the environmental movement in 1966. 

Horrified by severe levels of oil, sewage, and chemicals that polluted the river near their home in Beacon, New York, they established Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an organization that helps protect and preserve the Hudson River and its ecosystem. The nonprofit has worked to pass significant legislation, such as the Clean Water Act. As a founder of the organization, Toshi consistently involved the local community and invited as many diverse voices as possible, always keeping in mind the bigger picture. For 35 years, Toshi was also a key organizer of the Great Hudson River Revival, a music festival which draws upwards of 200,000 people to Croton Point Park each year, and which benefits environmental causes. 

Omega is grateful to the groundbreaking accomplishments of this incredible and inspiring woman. 

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living Featured in Sustainable Building Advisor Program

3 years 10 months ago
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living is one of several local sites featured in the Sustainable Building Advisor Program offered by the Sustainable Building Advisor Institute and SUNY Ulster. The training prepares professionals to take the CSBA exam, which provides the nationally recognized Certified Sustainable Building Advisor designation. The program is recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a Mastery 400 course and is approved for 100 learning units by the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) AP credential maintenance credits.    
The Sustainable Building Advisor Program is geared toward a wide variety of students, from building professionals to environmentalists and fundraisers. There are no specific prerequisites for the program other than the desire to learn about building better, more energy efficient, healthy, and cost-effective buildings.

Biomimicry Solves Human Problems by Copying Nature

3 years 10 months ago

Bullet-proof skin inspired by spider-silk? Pharmaceuticals discovered by chimps? Self-cleaning surfaces and solar cells based on leaves? This may sound like science fiction, but it’s innovation inspired by nature, also known as the science of biomimicry. Janine Benyus, president of the Biomimicry Institute and part of Omega’s annual sustainability conference, Where We Go From Here, defines this developing field as a “science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems.” A recent article in Business Pundit describes 10 amazing scientific advances due to the discovery of “new and interesting ways to steal Nature’s intellectual property” through biomimicry. 

Read the article

Learn more about the Where We Go From Here conference

Earth Day Every Day

3 years 11 months ago

We love our planet—that's why we think of every day as Earth Day. Omega's teachers agree, and they've got some suggestions for how you can make small changes in your life that will make a difference for all of us. Check out their tips then share your suggestions with us.

Watch the video.

Omega Dining Hall is 3-Star Green Dining

3 years 11 months ago

Meal time at Omega is a community event. Our Dining Hall is a place to join new friends, talk about the day's events, and share unique experiences. And because we're a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant, guests can also be assured we're making the most sustainable choices possible when it comes to sourcing, cooking, delivering, storing, and composting our food.

We are certified by the Green Restaurant Association, who has been certifying restaurants for the past two decades. Potential restaurants must meet certain standards in the following categories:



  • Water Efficiency
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Sustainable Furnishings and Building Materials
  • Sustainable Food
  • Energy
  • Disposables
  • Chemical and Pollution Reduction

Omega Responds to Tight Economy With Tiered Pricing Options

4 years 1 week ago

At Omega, we believe that the benefits of a holistic education should be available to everyone. We also recognize that what is affordable for some will not be for all. We are now offering Tiered Pricing on select programs to help meet the varying financial needs of our community. From some of our big conferences, like Women & Power and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living Conference: Where We Go From Here, to all of the programs in Arts Week, you can choose the price that is right for you. Look for the Tiered Pricing logo (at left) in this year's catalog.

Learn more and view a complete list of programs that offer Tiered Pricing.