2022 Spring Together Retreat

Click for more photos. Photos by Jennifer Hale

Part conference, part reunion, part summer camp, the 2022 Spring Together Retreat was your invitation to a multi-day dose of reconnection. We intentionally called it a retreat because we wanted to create space for reflection and re-imagination, deep thoughts and deep breaths, and ideas and inspiration. 

The Spring Together Retreat was a choose-your-own-adventure kind of opportunity across multiple days. Put together the experience you want to have: 

  • Day 1: Tuesday, May 17 – our kick-off took place virtually from 12:00-1:30pm
  • Day 2: Wednesday, May 18 – was live and in person at the Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA. Doors open at 9:00am, and we closed the day with a reception from 4:00-7:00pm. 
  • Bonus Days: Thurs / Fri / Sat, May 19-21 – small groups gathered for optional Field Trips led by our member organizations

Throughout the Spring Retreat attendees experienced:

  • Live, dynamic, and unscripted conversations on stage  
  • An indoor-outdoor event flow that’s relaxing and restorative
  • Activities and meet-ups of many kinds to connect/reconnect with friends and colleagues
  • A birthday bash for TOGETHER member organizations who are celebrating big anniversaries (there will be cake and singing!) 
  • A quiet zone for anyone who needs some downtime between reuniting with colleagues you haven’t seen in 2+ years
  • Field trips! Outside! Together!

This won’t be a pre-pandemic conference at which you sit and listen passively for hours. No plain ole’ plenary. This event will be a vibrant, self-guided, and joyful experience. You will want to be there!


We’re taking a different approach to how we inspire you from the online stage on May 17 and from the real-life stage on May 18. We are curating interesting, unscripted conversations between interesting, multi-dimensional people. And they’ll start conversations that attendees – you! – will be asked to join. Our conversation starters are: 

A Conversation about Collective Action and Land Justice, on Tuesday, May 17

learn about what’s possible with Peter Forbes of First Light

Peter’s life work is about courageous convening of people across differences of race, class and ideology to resolve matters of consequence to their shared future. Peter is the co-founder of First Light, an ambitious effort between 65 organizations in Maine and the Wabanaki people to increase their presence and sovereignty on the land. He is co-leading similar efforts between conservation organizations and Indigenous nations in Alaska and Oregon. Peter was also the founding director of Center for Whole Communities and a vice president at Trust for Public Land. He is the author of 4 books on people and place and the owner of Knoll Farm, an organic fruit farm and community gathering place in the mountains of Vermont where he and his partner, Helen, raised their family.  www.peterforbes.org 


Inextricably Interrelated: People and Nature, on Wednesday, May 18

an unscripted conversation between Jane Kim of Ink Dwell Studio and Jennifer Norris, Deputy Secretary of Biodiversity at the California Natural Resources Agency

Jane is a visual artist, science illustrator, and the founder of Ink Dwell. Her art career started when she was a little girl obsessively painting flowers and bears on the walls of her bedroom. She received more formal training with a  BFA in Printmaking from RISD and then attended California State University Monterey Bay, where she received a master’s certificate in science illustration. She has created large-scale public art across the country, including the Wall of Birds at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and produced works for the National Aquarium, the de Young Museum, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, and more. She is the creator of the Migrating Mural campaign, a series of public installations that highlight wildlife along migration corridors it shares with people. She still enjoys painting flowers and bears, though nowadays she doesn’t get in trouble for painting on the walls. 

Jennifer serves as Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat at the California Natural Resources Agency. She is responsible for overseeing the state’s 30×30 initiative and California Biodiversity Collaborative. She also leads on “Cutting Green Tape” in support of landscape scale habitat restoration. Jennifer has held numerous positions in federal and state government and was most recently supervisor of the Sacramento Office for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. She has a B.S. in Resource Policy and Planning from Cornell University, an M.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of New Mexico. When she is not at work, she can be found exploring wild beaches, forests, and deserts with her family.

Tribal Advisors for Tribal Leadership, on Wednesday, May 18

a conversation about building Tribal leadership and land justice with Geneva Thompson, Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs, CA Natural Resources Agency, and Kenneth Holbrook, Tribal Advisor, California Public Utilities Commission

Geneva E. B. Thompson (she/her/hers) joined the California Natural Resources Agency in June 2021 as the Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs. In this role, Geneva will cultivate and ensure the participation and inclusion of tribal governments and communities within the work of the California Natural Resources Agency.

She recently served as Associate General Counsel for the Yurok Tribe, where she practiced environmental and cultural resource law and represented the Yurok Tribe in tribal, state, and federal forums. She also served as Staff Attorney for the Wishtoyo Foundation, and clerked with the Department of Justice Indian Resource Section, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

Geneva graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, with specializations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. She has published several law review articles and has served in leadership positions across multiple bar associations, including the National Native American Bar Association, California Indian Law Association, and the American Bar Association.

Geneva is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and enjoys beading, gardening, and hiking with her spouse in state and national parks.

Appointed in 2020 as California Public Utilities Commission’s Tribal Advisor Kenneth Holbrook serves the CPUC through his advisory role within the agency and as the CPUC’s main point-of-contact with the Native American Tribes of California.

Kenneth is a member of the Atsugewi Band of the Pit River Tribe, as well as the Maidu Tribe of Northern California and has extensive experience working with and facilitating California’s Tribes in their shared goals of reacquiring land, ensuring access to safe, clean, and affordable utility services and infrastructure, and driving Tribal community development initiatives.

Mr. Holbrook is currently working closely with CPUC Commissioner Darcie Houck to consult with Tribes across the State in an ongoing CPUC proceeding known as the Tribal Policies Order Instituting Rulemaking, or as it often referred to, the Tribal OIR, which will have lasting benefits for the State’s Tribes who seek to reacquire lands that investor-owned utilities like PG&E seek to sell off. Ken also works closely with the Governor’s Office of the Tribal Advisor and the California Energy Commission in his role at CPUC.

Kenneth lives in Davis, California where he enjoys gardening, hiking and the local Farmer’s Market.

Taking Collective Action for Healthy Lands, People, and Communities, on Wednesday, May 18

an unscripted conversation between José González of Latino Outdoors and Annie Notthoff, vice chair of the board of the State Coastal Conservancy

José G. González is the Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors. He is an experienced educator as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. As a Partner in the Avarna Group and through his own consulting, his work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields. He is also an illustrator and science communicator.

His commentary on diversity and environmental/outdoor equity has been featured by High Country News, Outside Magazine, Earth Island Journal, and Latino USA, among others. He has been recognized with several honors, including the National Wildlife Federation Environmental Educator Award, Grist Magazine “Grist 50”, and The Murie Center Spirit of the Muries, among others. 

He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching coursework was at the Bilingual, Multicultural, Education Department at Sacramento State.

He serves as a Trustee for the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Trustee for the National Recreation Foundation, Resource Media Board Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project Board Director, Councilor for Save the Redwoods League, and as an advisor to Blue Sky Funders Forum, among other such leadership volunteer roles.

Annie Notthoff retired from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) at the end of 2020, after nearly 40 years. From her base at NRDC she was a leading voice in the California environmental movement. Internally, she helped build the organization into a respected force for environmental and climate equity in California and the west. As the senior director of western advocacy she provided strategic direction for a broad range of campaigns in California and throughout the west to promote climate action, public health and environmental protection. She led NRDC’s efforts to get many of California’s nationally significant environmental laws enacted, including the Marine Life Protection Act, the Clean Car Act, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Sustainable Communities Act and water policy reforms. She’s led campaigns on many statewide ballot campaigns including the successful bipartisan campaign to defeat Prop 23 to defend California’s climate program. 

She is currently vice chair of the board of the State Coastal Conservancy and chairs LandWatch Monterey County, a regional group focusing on the intersection of climate and housing. Ann was a leader of the board of the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV, now CA Environmental Voters) for more than 20 years. She has served on several state ocean and water related state and federal advisory committees. In 2015, she was honored with CLCV’s Environmental Leadership Award. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She has two grown children and lives with her husband and dogs in Carmel Valley.


Day 1: Tuesday, May 17, online

12:00pm – Welcome to the Spring Retreat!

12:30-1:15pm – Conversation on stage:

    • Peter Forbes, First Light

1:15-1:30pm – Everybody Knows Somebody introductions and connections for the rest of the Retreat and beyond

1:30pm – Close 


Day 2: Wednesday, May 18, Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA

9:00am – Doors open! Come early for coffee, conversations, and activities including:

    • Create with Nature Station. Unleash your imagination with a hands-on natural loose parts play area designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, connection to the natural world, and to each other. Learn about the new resources developed by colleagues in San Francisco to help you effectively design nature play & exploration into your sites and programs. With Presidio Trust, San Francisco Rec & Park, San Francisco Children & Nature.

And exhibitors including:

10:00am – Conversations on stage:

    • Jane Kim, Ink Dwell Studio, and Jennifer Norris, California Natural Resources Agency
    • Kenneth Holbrook, California Public Utilities Commission, and Geneva Thompson, California Natural Resources Agency

12:00pm – Lunch and activities including:

    • Music! Since land and community health are deeply rooted in culture, join us for a lunchtime jam for both the musically-inclined and anyone who appreciates live music. If you have an instrument, bring it with you! We’ll share original songs that are thematic to our shared work, and likely sing some old and new songs together. You will be invited to get up on stage later to sign happy birthday to some TOGETHER Bay Area members. All are welcome! 
    • Trauma-informed Community Engagement with State Coastal Conservancy. As we work to engage historically excluded or underrepresented communities, we need to consider how to modify traditional engagement to serve folks of diverse backgrounds and experiences. How can community engagement efforts reconcile past traumas and how can we make sure to do no harm in the present? Learn about some helpful strategies to incorporate a trauma-informed lens to your work, and connect with peers who are trying to do the same. 30 minutes at lunchtime.
    • Communications & Marketing Community Meetup. Whether you’re a seasoned communications professional or someone shoved a hashtag in front of you and told you to tweet, let’s connect to support each other and create more community (in person, woohoo!). We’ll introduce ourselves, do group Q&A, and figure out how we can support each other individually or as a group in the future. 45 minutes at lunchtime.
    • Bay Trail BirdwatchingBring binoculars or tune up your eyes and ears! This lunchtime birding expedition led by a retired EBRPD naturalist/Golden Gate Audubon Board Member will be a great way to get outside and explore the Bay Trail surrounding the Craneway. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for sun and weather exposure. Among the diversity of birds, we hope to catch a glimpse of Rosie and Richmond – Ospreys nesting atop a 75’ high WWII maritime crane. Hatching of their three eggs is likely to occur in mid-May! 

2:00pm – Conversations on stage:

    • José González, Latino Outdoors, and Annie Notthoff, State Coastal Conservancy board member
    • Birthday Bash for TOGETHER members celebrating anniversaries

4:30pm – Reception with drinks and food and fun

    • Meet-Up: TOGETHER’s Policy Committee. Let’s meet each other in person after two years of Zoom! Come ready to share your favorite ice breaker question we’ve shared at the start of our meetings. 30 minutes during the reception.
    • Meet-Up: Fire & Data Working Group. Let’s meet each other and swap stories and plans for how we’re preparing for this year’s fire season. 30 minutes during the reception.
    • More to be announced!

7:00pm – Homeward bound

Field Trips: May 19-21

Field Trips led by TOGETHER Bay Area members! 

Thursday, May 19
A Coastal Transformation – Building a Farm and County Beach Park from the Ground Up with Peninsula Open Space Trust

Visit a beautiful stretch of California’s coast to see Tunitas Creek County Beach and San Gregorio Farm—two projects from POST and partners Ryan Casey, San Mateo Resource Conservation District and San Mateo County Parks.  At Tunitas Creek, get a sneak peek at existing conditions, the design plans, and the work required to realize a community vision before construction is projected to begin Fall 2022. At San Gregorio Farm, gain a richer appreciation for the intersections between agriculture, natural resource protection, and infrastructure.

Behind the Scenes tour of Thriving California with the California Academy of Sciences

Join us at the California Academy of Sciences! We will explore California biodiversity by taking a trip behind the scenes in the aquarium and collection rooms, and then heading to the Naturalist Center, and the new Wander Woods nature play area. Thriving California is a major new Academy initiative that harnesses scientific data and mobilizes diverse communities to fight climate change and stop biodiversity loss. Together, we create a vibrant future where healthy, resilient human and natural communities thrive.

Tour of San Leandro (Lisjan) Creek with the David R. Brower, Ronald V. Dellums Institute for Sustainability Policy Studies

Walk the soon to be built urban Greenway connecting Deep East Oakland to the San Francisco Bay – a significant achievement for connecting underrepresented communities to natural areas and connecting the Bay Trail to the Ridge Trail. Along the way, we will meet some of the engaged community members who will make the first phase of this rare hills-to-bay connector trail culturally relevant.

Coyote Valley – What’s All the Fuss About? with Green Foothills, Peninsula Open Space Trust, and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

Visit Coyote Valley – a 7,400 acre natural and working landscape just south of urban San Jose and find out why this “Last Chance Landscape” is getting so much attention.  Learn about the decades of citizen advocacy that built the momentum, the more recent preservation of 1,400 acres on the Valley Floor, and the multi-jurisdictional collaboration that is aligning land use with protection of the vital natural and agricultural resources in and around Coyote Valley. Tour will include a short, easy hike with a spectacular view of the Valley, a Bring-Your-Own-Lunch at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, and an optional 4-mile hike through the Preserve afterwards.

Friday, May 20
Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Alcatraz with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Golden Gate National Recreation Area

This insiders tour includes a special talk with the NPS bird biologist (while checking out the seabirds), a behind-the-scenes tour with the Manager of the Alcatraz Historic Gardens program (in the height of the spring bloom), and a tour of both the Big Lockup and Red Power Exhibits. This field trip is intended for folks who are relatively new to the field! Join us if you like to meet new folks who are either just getting started or looking at a career in a related conservation field.

Go tidepooling at Pillar Point reef with California Academy of Sciences

Learn more about the incredible biodiversity of this rocky intertidal site and the work Cal Academy is doing to conserve it and places like it along the California coast, and join the community science effort by taking photos of the organisms you encounter during the trip using the iNaturalist app. There’s an incredible low tide this particular morning (-1.3 ft.), offering a chance to see some exceptional tidepool diversity.

Hike the All People’s Trail at the Patwino Worrtla Kodi Dihi Open Space Park with Solano Land Trust 

Join us for a hike at the Patwino Worrtla Kodoi Dihi Open Space Park! Take in sweeping views of the Suisun Valley, beautiful oak trees and the unveiling of our “All People’s Trail”, before it is open to the public. 


Tour a watershed-specific native plant nursery with Grassroots Ecology

Join us for a coveted behind-the-scenes tour of the Grassroots Ecology Native Plant Nursery! We grow rare and threatened native species, participate in native plant research, and supply plants for our own habitat restoration projects, as well as those of major land managers in our region. Come see best practices in action!

Sneak Peek Hike at Cotoni-Coast Dairies with Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship 

The Cotoni-Coast Dairies (CCD) Unit of the CA Coastal National Monument is a 6,000-acre coastal property surrounding Davenport that’s managed by the Bureau of Land Management. SCMTS is working closely with them to build 19 miles of multi-use trails for the public. Come learn about the plans and see first-hand what will soon be open to the public.

Explore the new regional park named for Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall with East Bay Regional Park District

Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50 is a new 2,500-acre park in the heart of Contra Costa County. Formerly the Concord Naval Weapons Station, the East Bay Regional Park District partnered with the National Park Service, US Navy, and City of Concord to develop a world class park. Join park planners to learn about the challenges and pleasures of creating this vital open space and a place to reflect on civil rights, historic land uses and the transformation of the US Military through the 20th century.

Saturday, May 21
Tour Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline – a transformed Richmond shoreline park – with the East Bay Regional Park District

Take a walk with staff from the Park District on a tour of this well-loved resource for residents of Richmond and the greater East Bay. Nestled into the shoreline of Pt. Richmond, the park today is on land which decades ago was used by industrial oil tanks and infrastructure and was the old terminus of the transcontinental railroad. The Park District plans to convert former rail lines into a new segment of the SF Bay Trail. See how the park is used today by fishermen, beach-goers, families and people enjoying the unique landscape with amazing views of San Francisco and the Bay.


Regional level

Ecosystem level

Watershed level

Park level

Trail level

Zander Design

Our team
  • You! You and your involvement are what will make the Spring Together Retreat what it is. Will it be meaningful and special? That’s up to you!
  • Jen Isacoff is our people organizer and is leading the Ambassador program including field trips, activators, activity leaders, and helping hands. Contact her at [email protected]
  • Kelly Aldoph is our registration coordinator and is handling all things tickets. Contact her at [email protected]
  • Stanley Bahorek and Meg Loughran are our strategy and communications leads, and they’re also professional actors and theater producers. Learn more.
  • Jane Kim and Thayer Walker of Ink Dwell Studio are our design team. Learn more.
  • Jessica Little of Conservation Collaborators has really smart ideas.
  • Tom Robinson of Tom Robinson Consulting.