Healing Arts Retreat

Sustainable Activism home

In Defense of Animals and Compassion Arts present

Find Your Voice, Live Your Heart: Narrative Healing Arts Retreat

"The entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you." – Rumi

The following programs may be booked individually as a single workshop or together as a retreat weekend.

Saturday, October 5, 9am – 8pm

Find Your Voice Narrative Arts Workshop at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

A True Storytelling Workshop led by TMI Project and sponsored by Compassion Arts, this narrative arts program is for animal advocates, animal caregivers, rescuers, and educators to discover storytelling tools for healing and for cultivating empathy about animals. The workshop includes a sanctuary tour, vegan lunch and dinner, and music at the end of the day.

Sunday, October 6, 10am – 4pm

Live Your Heart Activist Healing Retreat at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Psychotherapist, author, and activist April Lang provides essential techniques to dissolve anxiety, manage stress, and build personal resilience so you can help animals without depleting yourself. Join in a support circle and healing ritual to celebrate our relationships with other animals, and unite as a compassionate community. The retreat includes a sanctuary tour, vegan lunch, yoga, and music.

This retreat is co-hosted by Compassion Arts and In Defense of Animals.


Retreat Options and Prices

Before September 1 Retreat Registration Price:

$150 for Saturday 10/5, 9:00am - 8:00pm (one day)
$100 for Sunday 10/6, 10:00am - 4:00pm (one day)
$200 for Saturday 10/5 & Sunday 10/6 (both days/weekend)

September 1 – October 3 Retreat Registration Price:

$175 for Saturday 10/5, 9:00am - 8:00pm (one day)
$125 for Sunday 10/6, 10:00am - 4:00pm (one day)
$250 for Saturday 10/5 & Sunday 10/6 (both days/weekend)

NOTE: Retreat prices are more expensive for Saturday than Sunday because the program is longer.

Early bird registration before September 1. Regular registration from September 1 through October 3. Registration is required by October 3.

The retreat fee includes all activities listed in our online program, sanctuary tours, and catered vegan meals. Full refund is available before September 15; 50% refund thereafter.

Both sanctuaries offer on-site lodging. Stay at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary's Gray Barn, Catskill Animal Sanctuary's Homestead, or find other local options. Use the discount code ACTIVIST19 to book a room by September 1 at The Gray Barn for 10% off during our retreat. Contact the Homestead Manager to book a room by September 1 at the Homestead for 10% off during our retreat.

Register Now - 3 options:

Option 1 - 2 Day (10/5 & 10/6)

Option 2 - 1 Day (10/5)

Option 3 - 1 Day (10/6)

You will receive the payment link to select your retreat option by email after you register. Stay tuned for another email with event details closer to the date.

You're welcome to contact us with questions about your payment or the retreat in general.



Saturday, October 5, 9am – 8pm

Find Your Voice Narrative Arts Workshop at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

9:00am - 9:30am Welcome & Introductions

9:30am - 11:00am Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Tour

11:30am - 1:30pm Part 1 Narrative Arts Workshop

1:30pm - 2:15pm Catered Vegan Lunch

2:15pm - 4:15pm Part 2 Narrative Arts Workshop

4:15pm - 4:30pm Short Break

4:30pm - 6:30pm Part 3 Narrative Arts Workshop

6:30pm - 7:30pm Catered Vegan Dinner

7:30pm - 8:00pm Music & Closing Circle

Sunday, October 6, 10am – 4pm

Live Your Heart Activist Healing Retreat at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

10:00am - 12:00pm Catskill Animal Sanctuary Tour

12:00pm - 1:00pm Catered Vegan Lunch

1:00pm - 1:45pm Understanding and Managing Compassion Fatigue with April Lang

1:45pm - 2:15pm Yoga Class

2:15pm - 3:00pm Support Group with April Lang

3:00pm - 3:45pm Activist Healing Ritual with Lisa Levinson

3:45pm - 4:00pm Closing Circle

Program Description

Find Your Voice Narrative Arts Workshop

Sponsored by Compassion Arts, this all-day True Storytelling Workshop led by TMI Project gives voice to your experiences with animals who have touched your life and shares tools to use the voice of their personal stories for cultivating empathy about animals in others. The TMI Project workshop is divided into three two-hour sessions. For a detailed workshop description, please visit Compassion Arts Find YourVoice event webpage.

Optional: You will also have the opportunity to share or contribute your stories from the workshop later in the month for a staged reading, Animal Story, of selected writings about animals and the ways they change us, in a presentation on October 25 hosted by Michael Harren for Compassion Arts Festival NYC. Find festival details on the Compassion Arts Animal Story event webpage.

Understanding and Managing Compassion Fatigue with April Lang

Anyone who cares deeply about animals and advocates for them may at some point be susceptible to developing Compassion Fatigue. Through talk and experiential exercises, you can better understand what triggers and feeds compassion fatigue while learning techniques to help when you're feeling overwhelmed.

Activist Healing Ritual with Lisa Levinson

We can acknowledge the suffering of others and offer support without taking on their suffering. As we heal, we build resilience and embrace community care. Join us for a healing ritual with music and activities that unite us as a community and honor our relationships to other animals.


Retreat Partners

Retreat Co-host, Compassion Arts is an all-volunteer arts and education initiative for advancing the understanding of and compassion for animals and the earth we share. Based in Massachusetts with new chapters starting in New York and Los Angeles, it hosts an annual Compassion Arts Festival, now in its fifth year. Its founder and director Ellie Sarty, is an animal advocate and singer-songwriter who began exploring ways for merging animal advocacy with the creative arts through a grant from the Culture and Animals Foundation years ago. Compassion Arts hosts programs that explore our connection with all life and cultivate respect for other animals and nature, through empowering creativity in advocacy, using education to reflect on our complex relationship with and treatment of animals, and providing a platform through the arts.

TMI Project is a Hudson Valley-based nonprofit transmedia organization that offers transformative true storytelling workshops and live storytelling performances that invite storytellers and audience members to explore new perspectives. Regardless of background or experience, TMI Project storytellers become agents of change for social justice movement building by bravely and candidly sharing the “too much information” parts of their stories, the parts they usually leave out because they’re too ashamed or embarrassed.

Since 2010, TMI Project has led approximately 90 true storytelling workshops and staged live storytelling performances by more than 1,750 storytellers, which have been presented to audiences of nearly 50,000 people in schools, colleges, prisons, mental health clinics, theaters, community centers, and the United Nations. For more information, visit


Instructor Bios

In addition to leading TMI Project workshops, Micah Blumenthal serves as the manager at GWI's (Good Works Institute) Greenhouse Kingston, a yoga teacher at Mudita, and creator of DAY 1 (a New Year's Day community event). He is on the board of Wild Earth (a non-profit Wilderness School), Radio Kingston, The Center for Creative Education, and O+ (a nonprofit health and wellness festival for artists and creators).

In addition to leading TMI Project workshops, Seth Davis Branitz is a storyteller, singer and songwriter, and acclaimed plant-based chef. He has produced four albums and his essays have been published in the Weeklings and Longreads magazines. He writes about his experiences with mental illness, addiction, fatherhood, and loss. He has won multiple Moth Story Slams and has done readings from Brooklyn to Boston.

EC Lorick is a distinctive and soulful contemporary folk musician and storytelling songwriter based in New York. His poignant, haunting, and deeply moving personal songs about animals, the earth, holistic non-violence, and social justice, reflect on the lives we perceive as "other", and quietly compel and inspire us to examine our relationship with those we share the planet with.

Susan Hu is an RYT 500 based in the LES of NYC. Drawn to the teaching of Bhakti yoga and Ayurveda, she committed deeply to the practice and transformed her life. Susan was born and raised in Shanghai, where she won the title of Miss Shanghai. A gypsy at heart, she lived all over the world and received two master’s degrees in Journalism/Communications before following her heart to LES in NYC. She offers Hatha, Vinyasa, yin, and restorative yoga along with Ayurvedic self-care. Connect with Susan on her website.

April Lang, LCSW, SEP is a psychotherapist based in New York City and has been in private practice for twenty years. Part of her practice is devoted to working with ethical vegans and animal advocates, as well as people who are suffering from the loss of their animal family members. She is also an animal advocate, humane educator, and writer. April currently writes a column called, “The Relational Vegan” for the on-line magazine, LA Fashionista Compassionista and is the author of the book, Animal Persuasion: a guide for ethical vegans and animal advocates in managing life's emotional challenges. Connect with April via her website.

Lisa Levinson directs In Defense of Animals' Sustainable Activism Campaign, offering emotional and spiritual support for animal activists via a helpline, support groups, and online events. Lisa organizes Vegan Spirituality events to explore veganism as a spiritual practice and the Interfaith Vegan Coalition to help places of worship go vegan. She is also an expressive movement therapist with 17 years of professional experience.



Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary rescues farmed animals to give them care and sanctuary, to connect animals with people, to advance veganism, and to advocate for animal rights in alliance with other social justice movements. The Sanctuary welcomes visitors to come and meet animals who are most commonly exploited, abused, and killed in animal agriculture. Animal residents are given lifelong sanctuary and are treated with respect as individuals. Giving farmed animals the chance to live their lives with dignity and by sharing their stories, the Sanctuary advocates for veganism and aim to reduce suffering for all.

Please note: Companion animals are not allowed at the Sanctuary (registered service animals are allowed by law).

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Catskill Animal Sanctuary rescues farmed animals and champions veganism. The Sanctuary is a 148-acre refuge in New York's Hudson Valley for eleven species of farmed animals rescued from cruelty, neglect, and abandonment. Between 250 and 350 residents call the Sanctuary home at any given time. Looking an animal in the eye and seeing someone — not something — looking back is one of the most profound shifts human beings can make in their understanding of the world and their place in it. As the very best way to end animal suffering, improve our health, and heal our ailing planet, Catskill Animal Sanctuary advocates veganism and provides support and encouragement through a culinary program.

Please note: Companion animals are not allowed at the Sanctuary (registered service animals are allowed by law).

You can support our work by donating