Hollyhock Retreat

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Hollyhock Retreat is a new-age[1][2][3][4] retreat[5][6] located on Cortes Island, British Columbia. It also offers programs in Vancouver at the Hollyhock Room which is located in the Gastown neighbourhood.[7][unreliable source?][8]


Hollyhock was founded by Rex Weyler and 30 friends and colleagues from Greenpeace and the Humanistic Psychology Association in 1982.[9] They purchased the abandoned Cold Mountain Institute—a former learning centre known for its Gestalt therapy practices.[7] Eventually all of the 30 founders donated their shares of the property and in 2010, Hollyhock’s Leadership Institute became a registered charity.[9]


Over the years, Hollyhock has offered a wide range of personal, spiritual,[10] and corporate development programs[1][11] to an international clientele, serving 1,800 to 2,300 guests per year.[9][12] The Centre hosts education and training [13] on topics including activism,[14] video production,[8] creative writing,[8] group facilitation,[8] singing,[8] cooking,[15] painting,[16] drawing,[17] entrepreneurship,[15] dance,[9] photography,[9] leadership,[12][18] social ventures,[19] woodcarving,[20] storytelling,[20] kayaking,[17] animal communication,[19][21] relationships, tantric lovemaking,[1][21] mindfulness,[22] nonviolent communication,[23] spiritual chanting,[23] meditation,[24] Tibetan Buddhism,[19][25] Kabbalah,[26] hara hachi bu,[27] yoga,[28][29] morphic resonance,[19] holistic approaches for dealing with cancer[19] and integrative medicine.[19][30]

Prominent instructors at Hollyhock have included Robert Bateman,[16] Gabor Maté, Jane Siberry, Patrick Lane and Nick Bantock.[19] Hollyhock operates a scholarship fund. In 2008, the centre distributed CAN $97,000 to attendees.[31]


Hollyhock operates a renowned one-acre French-intensive garden on the property. Flowers and food from the garden are used in the retreat centre's meals.[32][33][34]

Political links[edit]

The CEO is Dana Bass Solomon,[35][18][36][37] and the board chair is her husband, Joel Solomon,[18][19][38][39] both of whom have connections to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.[40][41][42][43][44][45] Robertson was the treasurer of Hollyhock Centre Ltd. in 2003 and 2004,[46] and served on the board.[15] A number of connections have been drawn between Vancouver City Hall and Hollyhock, in part due to the number of people hired by the City of Vancouver who have connections to the retreat centre.[38][47][48] Board chair Solomon has responded to such claims stating that Hollyhock provides space to network for like-minded people around social and environmental topics, and have the possibility of making business connections. He has also stated that Hollyhock's programs attracted attendees from across the political spectrum.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Shannon Rupp, "Hollyhock Blends Salt air and Spirituality Lite", Georgia Straight, March 28, 1996.
  2. ^ Walker, James K. 2007. The Concise Guide to Today's Religions and Spirituality. Harvest House Publishers.
  3. ^ Eric Lucas. 2011. Explorer's Guide Victoria & Vancouver Island: A Great Destination. The Countryman Press.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Levinson 2009. An Edible Journey: Exploring the Islands' Fine Foods, Farms and Vineyards. Cuisine Canada's Gold Medal for Canadian Food Culture.
  5. ^ Golden, Zelig (2010-08-31). "Folk wisdom on the menu, next to the fish heads | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". Jweekly.com. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  6. ^ Suzann Panek Robins 2010. Exploring Intimacy: Cultivating Healthy Relationships Through Insight and Intuition, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Plymouth, United Kingdom.
  7. ^ a b "Hollyhocks mark the spot for peace and serenity". BCLocalNews.com. 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Coming to Hollyhock". Vancouver Observer. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Webb, Kate, How the Vancouver mayor’s BFF Joel Solomon is changing the way people do business, retrieved 2013-10-15 
  10. ^ Jeremy R.J. Morrow 2012. "Through the Lens of the Rural Lifeworld: A Phenomenological Investigation of the Rural School Principalship", Doctoral Dissertation, Simon Fraser University Faculty of Education.
  11. ^ Nick Nissley 2011. "The power of place in human resource development: An invitation to explore the link between learning and location", Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22(4):545-555.
  12. ^ a b "Short Trips: Holistic programs work on body and soul", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 21, 2007.
  13. ^ Marion S. Goldman 2006. "Cults, New Religions, and the Spiritual Landscape: A Review of Four Collections", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 45(1):87-96.
  14. ^ Merchant, Brian, Each Year, Canada's Top Activists & Social Entrepreneurs Head to a Remote Island. This is Why, retrieved 2013-10-11 
  15. ^ a b c Solomon, Linda and Moreka Jolar. "Hollyhock Cooks", 2003.
  16. ^ a b Stateson, Alexandra, Hollyhock is good for the soul, retrieved 2013-10-11 
  17. ^ a b Rabinovitch, Simona, Bliss break: Summer gone too quickly?, retrieved 2013-10-11 
  18. ^ a b c Stephen Legault 2010. "Carry Tiger to Mountain: The Tao of Activism and Leadership" ISBN 978-1458783134.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Charlie Smith, "Building Hollyhock’s legacy", Georgia Straight, April 26, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Kallenbach, Laurel, Eco-Retreat: Hollyhock Educational Center, retrieved 2013-10-11 
  21. ^ a b SUSAN SPANOPublished: October 12, 1997 (1997-10-12). "FRUGAL TRAVELER; Mellowing on a Canadian Isle - New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  22. ^ M. Kathleen B. Lustyk, PhD; Neharika Chawla, MS; Roger S. Nolan, MA; G. Alan Marlatt, PhD. 2009. "Mindfulness Meditation Research: Issues of Participant Screening, Safety Procedures, and Researcher Training" Advances, 24(1):20-30.
  23. ^ a b "Spiritual retreats on Vancouver Island respond to life's challenges", Canadian Press, May 12, 2009.
  24. ^ Sameet M. Kumar. 2010. The Mindful Path through Worry and Rumination: Letting Go of Anxious and Depressive Thoughts. New Harbinger Publications.
  25. ^ G. Alan Marlatt 2006. "Mindfulness meditation: Reflections from a personal journey", Current Psychology, 25(3):155-172.
  26. ^ "Summer gone too quickly?", Globe and Mail, April 3, 2009.
  27. ^ Jim Nicolai. 2013. Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living. Hay House, Inc.
  28. ^ Tom Pilarzyk. 2008. Yoga Beyond Fitness: Getting More Than Exercise from an Ancient Spiritual Practice. Quest Books.
  29. ^ "Cortes Island residents seek compromise with loggers". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 2012-12-07. 
  30. ^ Stephan Faulkner 2001. "Two Years in Review", Association of Complementary Physicians of British Columbia News, 1(1):1-8.
  31. ^ Soloman, Dana Bass (2008), Dear Cortes Island Neighbours, retrieved 2013-10-15 
  32. ^ Oliver, Anne (2007), "A Garden of Eden, Nutrition for the Soul" (PDF), DreamScapes Magazine: 27, retrieved 2013-10-15 
  33. ^ Barazzuol, Toby (2010), Changemakers and entrepreneurs jam out at Social Ventures Institute, retrieved 2013-10-15 
  34. ^ Zdybel, Katie (2010), "Replete Retreat" (PDF), Eat Magazine: 20, retrieved 2013-10-15 
  35. ^ "Hollyhock retreat: 'Paradise with purpose'", Surrey Now, May 26, 2009.
  36. ^ December 20th 2007 (2007-12-18). "Van Go: Movers and Shakers Celebrate Year End at Fab Party". Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  37. ^ "Hollyhock retreat offers tool for change, hope and optimism", Canwest News Service, June 26, 2009.
  38. ^ a b Francis Bula 2009. "The Unlikely Revolutionary", Vancouver Magazine.
  39. ^ Derrick Penner. "Hollyhock Board Chair Joel Solomon and Hollyhock Sharegiver Carol Newell Inducted To Social Venture Hall of Fame", Vancouver Sun, November 20, 2012.
  40. ^ "Joined at the hip: The mutually beneficial relationship of a mayor and his closest adviser", Globe and Mail, December 12, 2008.
  41. ^ "Holly moly", Vancouver Courier, February 15, 2011.
  42. ^ Jeff Lee, "Are Vancouver City staff political handmaids of the mayor?", Vancouver Sun, April 11, 2011.
  43. ^ Culbert, Lori, "How Big Money Drives Social Change", Vancouver Sun, August 8, 2010.
  44. ^ Don't count NPA out next year, Vancouver Courier, November 26, 2010.
  45. ^ The Hollyhock primer, City Caucus, March 10, 2010.
  46. ^ Smith, Charlie (2010-10-16). "Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson's associate generated significant income from charity work | Georgia Straight". Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  47. ^ How big money drives social change Green philanthropists are striving to turn Metro Vancouver into a sustainable nirvana, Vancouver Sun, August 8, 2010.
  48. ^ "Vancouver City Hollyhock", City Caucus, March 8, 2010.

External links[edit]