Youth Conference on Faith and Nature at Hidden Villa

On April 20, in the spirit of inspiring a just and sustainable future, the organization hosts a youth-led interfaith forum to foster greater understanding of diverse spirituality and to celebrate our interconnected worlds.


As spring blossoms across the beautiful Los Altos Hills, Hidden Villa will be the site of a youth-led interfaith forum Saturday. 

Known for its summer camps and organic farm, Hidden Villa is launching the inaugural event of “The Duveneck Forum” honoring the original owners of Hidden Villa, Frank and Josephine Duveneck, who were also dedicated advocates for social justice, in addition to environmental education and sustainability throughout their lives.

By exploring multiple faiths through workshops, art, nature, community building and dance, this event gives youth an opportunity to discuss society’s most pressing social challenges. “If you get people’s hearts to open, you can talk about anything,” says Bill Dudley, the coordinator of their Youth Development Department.

“Teens have incredible solutions when given the chance.”

Keynote speakers include Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life at USC and author of “Hitchhiking to Alaska: The Way of Soulful Service” and Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Master of Islamic Law and author of “Growing up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam.” 

"Our vision is for this the interfaith conference to be the first of many conferences/events that would fall under a the umbrella of the Duveneck Forum which will celebrate the social justice component of the Duveneck legacy," said Marc Sidel, associate director of development.

The event has been organized by local high school students representing nine different faiths and will be held at the Dana Center on Hidden Villa’s 1,600-acre organic farm and woodland open space.  

The Duvenecks purchased the property in 1924, envisioning a place where people could gather on the land and engage with each other. 

Over the years, Hidden Villa has become a sanctuary for healing and for change. In 1937 the Duvenecks opened a hostel and held retreats for different faiths. After World War II they took in displaced Japanese-Americans released from internment camps, African-Americans and Jewish Holocaust survivors. Inspired by the people they met, in 1945 they opened the first multi-racial summer camp to combat discrimination. Today, their summer camp program serves 1,200 kids from around the Bay Area each year. 

It was at Hidden Villa that Cesar Chavez planned the Delano grape boycott of the United Farm Workers movement. Today their Community Supported Agriculture program provides weekly organic produce to 120 local suscribers. They also provide to low-income families and to the Community Services Agency in Mountain View. Hidden Villa has been operated as a non-profit trust since 1960.

The farm is open to the community for tours, cow milking, cheese-making, sheep sheering, gardening and many other activities. School children visit by the busload and residential internships are available for animal husbandry, sustainable agriculture, horticulture, education and non-profit administration.

The Duvenecks also began a youth development program (YPD) where at-risk youth are provided the space to experience and made the choices that work best for them. This connection defines Hidden Villa: repeat experiences that build upon each other empower young people with the confidence to share and make change. This is the ripple into the community that continues the legacy the Duvenecks started well over 70 years ago. 

Sidel stressesd that this interfaith conference will be an experiential event. “We’re not teaching them what to think. Our mission is to inspire a just and sustainable future. We want to light a spark so they can go back and light their own fires.”

Teens and young adults are invited to come explore and celebrate the diverse faith of the Bay Area on April 20, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

This event is free, but preregistration is required at: http://www.hiddenvilla.org/programs/calendar-of-events

For more information please contact Margaret Fielder at cpintern@hiddenvilla.org or call (650) 949-9704.

Sarah Gualtieri April 17, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Interested in attending the Los Altos Hills Youth Commission Leadership Conference - Sunday, April 21st? High School and Middle School students welcome visit http://www.losaltoshills.ca.gov/documents/announcements/leadershipconf_2013.pdf
L.A. Chung (Editor) April 17, 2013 at 09:03 PM
@Sarah Gualtieri: Sunday, April 21 or April 28? I see the latter on the link.


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