Vela Foundation programs operate at the interface of mapped and unmapped cultural terrain.
Sailing brings out the best in us. It calls forth the noblest elements of our humanity: our care for one another, our lucid perception of the world around us, our gentle hearts opening to a reality beyond words. The world is a lively place, however, and simply sailing around feeling groovy strikes us as a pretty insufficient expression of our capacities. Thus we are moved to ask:
- What kinds of meaningful activities can we pursue on sailboats, and in the uniquely remote locations which they can reach?
- What kinds of activities might be especially amplified in this context?
- What singular gifts can sailors offer to the world?
Overview & Examples
At its heart, Vela develops participant-driven programs. Foundation leadership maintains a strategic vision regarding the kinds of programs the organization will sponsor, but doesn't define them directly. Instead, participants propose programs with reference to our central values. These values then guide leadership as we evaluate, approve, guide, and coordinate the organization's activities. Thus our programming remains flexible and open-ended while clustering into three primary areas of endeavor, which themselves fall broadly along the lines of our values.
Given our adherence to a decentralized programming model and our current very early stage of growth, we face a bit of a chicken/egg conundrum when it comes to discussing future programs in detail. Still, despite the challenges it can occasionally present, we see the fluidity that animates our programming model as our greatest strength, the priceless sapphire at the heart of our citadel.
Let's imagine some possibilities.
The ancient pursuits of seamanship and navigation are perhaps the most exquisite of human endeavors. These disciplines summon and strengthen a remarkable cross-section of our highest potentials.
The challenges we find at sea are complex, continually emergent, and potentially life-threatening. By pushing the limits of a group's capacity, engagement with this body of practical knowledge forges antifragile and effective teams. It binds shipmates into cohesion, integrating individual and collective responsibility.
Sailing is also great fun. At its best, it encompasses not only focused social intimacy, but an experience of the natural world at a level of immediacy rarely encountered under other circumstances. A sailing voyage can and should include shared home-cooked meals, music, conversation, swimming, stargazing, silence, sunrises, sunsets, creatures wild and free; an experience of bountiful essentials and scant cruft. A happy ship is the happiest of all possible places.
Imagine a crew who relate to one another with kindness, who meet enormous challenges with skillful wisdom, who enjoy the ineffable grace of life with blissful enthusiasm. These people can fulfill great works.