The Mountain's Grateful Gathering

Rethinking Thanksgiving; Guided to New Traditions

November 24 - 28, 2021

The prolonged challenges of Covid have led many people to examine their core values. Consideration of what is most important in life necessitates and evokes fundamental lifestyle changes. 


At The Mountain, striving to live our core values, we are examining our roles and responsibilities related to cultural traditions by offering a weekend event of “Grateful Gathering".


In collaboration with Indigenous representatives, the Grateful Gathering will include an exploration of colonization, history and culture and provide opportunities for participation in decolonization.


In addition to learning about colonization and decolonization, we will provide overviews of permaculture, regenerative farming, Indigenous Ecovillages, native crops and foods and our relationship with the earth.

In our registration system, select Other Retreats then select your 2021 "Grateful Gathering" Package

Read about our Health Measures during Covid. 


About The Grateful Gathering at The Mountain

An Intergenerational Program Thanksgiving Week

We are looking forward to gathering with people familiar with The Mountain, as well as welcoming new people to this special place.   

In a spirit of gratitude, as we are immersed in our extraordinary natural environment, we will learn, discuss, and share ideas and life stories about our individual and group relationships with the Earth and one another.    

The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center is an ecologically-conscious retreat and learning center located on 4,200 foot high granite cliffs on the Eastern Continental Divide in the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by the Nantahala Forest.  We offer a unique opportunity to learn about and enjoy the ecology and geology of the area.  Perched on the Eastern edge of the Highlands Plateau, this temperate rainforest includes an Old Growth Oak Forest, one of the oldest in the U.S.  Our four ecosystems, with the highest flora and fauna diversity (over 10,000 species) in North America, have nurtured multiple cultures including the Cherokee Nation. 

We look forward to you joining us for this Grateful Gathering adventure.

Topics to consider in this gathering are personal and organizational values, gratitude felt and expressed, and learning more about our own and other cultures in relation to living our values.

Program for Children and Youth

 All meals will be with families.  Activities between meals will focus on environmental exploration, creative opportunities, and discussions about our world, the people, plants, and animals.  


Program Schedule 

Wednesday, November 24

1:00–6:00  - Check-in in the main office 

Late afternoon until 5:50 -  Gathering in the Great Room and deck of the Lodge

The Mountain Social Time before dinner typically includes refreshments.  One piece of this program is to consider our relationship with the Earth, including our relationship with food.  We are eliminating refreshments right before dinner, as our kitchen staff are working hard to provide a delicious and nutritious meal for us.  This will be a time to gather and get acquainted with one another.

6:00 -  Dinner in the Dining Hall (across from the lookout tower)

COVID protocol – everyone is required to wear a mask and to use one compostable glove on your serving hand for going through the self-serve area – hot bar, salad bar, and dessert.

Please take only what you will eat, as we strive to eliminate food waste.  You are most welcome to return for seconds or thirds, using a clean plate or bowl.  Meat alternatives are in the kitchen – please ask kitchen staff about this.  We want to assure that everyone is well-fed.

7:30 - Gathering in the Tree House – all ages

    Orientation to The Mountain, Introduction to the program

    Welcome to this place, this land -- Freeman Owle, Cherokee educator

    Introductory activity: values, gratitude, and life choices

Thursday, November 25

8:00 - Breakfast foods will be available in the Dining Hall – breads, fruit, oatmeal packets, dry cereal. 

9:00 - Gratitude ceremony – Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Maskoke Community in The Tree House

10:00 - Brunch – Dining Hall

12:00 - Hike – three options – varying interest and level of exertion

         For all hikes, meet at the lodge

• Down the mountain trail, about ¾ mile and back up (walking sticks on loan at the office)

• Walk around the top of The Mountain with some historical insights

• Children and youth – forest activity

12:00 - Decorate dining hall tables with natural items found on The Mountain

    Guests are encouraged to bring decorative items to share.

2:00 - Film and discussion about food waste related to our relationship with the Earth in the Tree House

4:30 - Gathering – Great Room


5:30 - Dinner -- Dining Hall

7:15 - Storytelling circle in The Great Room

A time to share life stories about adventures, connects with nature, life changes……

The shortest distance between two people is story.

Friday, November 26

8:00 – 8:45 -  Yoga in the Great Room of the Lodge

We’ll lift up to express thanks and bow down to express humility in this 45 minute gratitude practice. This practice is appropriate for all levels and can be done standing or seated.

8:00 - Breakfast foods will be available in the Dining Hall – breads, fruit, oatmeal packets, dry cereal. 

9:30-11:30 - Discussion of the Impacts of Colonization in The Great Room:  

By Marcus Briggs of the Cloud Maskoke CommunityPopular conceptions often maintain that colonization on what is commonly referred to as United States, is of the past.  Indigenous Peoples widely consider non-Indigenous persons are settlers and understand, through lived experience in the present, that colonialism is very much alive. In this session, we will discuss colonization's impacts on historical and contemporary Indigenous Peoples. 

12:00 - Lunch – Dining Hall

1:30–3:00   Presentation on the Ekvn-Yefolecv Maskoke Ecovillage in the Tree House

Ekvn-Yefolecv is an intentional indigenous ecovillage community of Maskoke persons who have reclaimed ancestral Maskoke homelands and remain committed to practicing linguistic, cultural and ecological sustainability.  

Marcus Mvto ce kicis Briggs-Cloud and other members of the Ekvn-Yefolecv will share their work in the ecovillage.

3:30-5:00 - Farm Harvest and Work Session 

Meet at the farm – craft barn beside the parking lot

Join the crew of Many Hands Peace Farm for a harvest and/or work session down on the farm. Fall is the time of nutrient storage which is the perfect time to harvest dandelion and chicory roots for roasting and tea-making. Fall is also a good time to give perennials like trees and berry bushes an extra good layer of carbon in the form of leaf or wood chip mulch. Help us tuck in the trees with a nice story to get them through the cold months ahead.

5:00 - Gathering  - Great Room


6:00 - Dinner in the Dining Hall (across from the lookout tower)


7:30 - Friction Farm Concert in The Tree House

Saturday, November 27

8:00–8:45 -  Yoga in the Great Room of the Lodge

We’ll lift up to express thanks and bow down to express humility in this 45 minute gratitude practice. This practice is appropriate for all levels and can be done standing or seated.

8:00 - Breakfast foods will be available in the Dining Hall – breads, fruit, oatmeal packets, dry cereal. 

9:30–11:00 - Discussion of Decoloniztion in The Great Room:  

By Marcus Briggs of the Cloud Maskoke CommunitySometimes persons that are unfamiliar with decolonization are disturbed when they hear someone utter the term. In this session, we will discuss some of the ways in which Indigenous Peoples are decolonizing their communities as well as ways in which non-Indigenous persons can decolonize their lifeways.  

11:15-11:45 - Implementation of Decoloniztion 

Consider The Mountain, home communities, individual lifestyles, what are the implications of change?  Do we want to change?  What is “change?”    How do we change?    

12:00 - Lunch in the Dinning Hall


2:00–4:00   Farm Tour and Regenerative Agriculture Talk     

Meet at the farm – craft barn parking lot

Join Joey Kyle, the manager of Many Hands Peace Farm on The Mountain in an interactive farm tour and discussion on regenerative agricultural practices. Many Hands Peace Farm is a chemical-free teaching farm providing food and education to guests on The Mountain and members of the greater Highlands community. Many Hands Peace Farm is based in permaculture which is a design philosophy that focuses on viewing the farm as an ecosystem.  On the tour, you'll get to see the diverse flock of poultry, a budding edible orchard, and veggie garden. The tour will pay homage to native plants and peoples who have been practitioners of permaculture for thousands of years.

5:00 - Gathering in The Great Room

6:00 -  Dinner in the Dining Hall

7:30 - Fireside chat for sharing gratitudes, embracing decolonization principles, and making our hopes and dreams a reality for the future of The Mountain.

Sunday, November 28

8:00 - Full service hot breakfast – Dining Hall

9:30 - Morning service with Friction Farm in The Great Room

10:30 - Clean up and Check out. 


UUA Resources 

Harvest the Power 2020 & Upcoming Events 

Harvest the Power Convergence & Teach-In Opening Ceremony: Celebrate the start of the Harvest the Power Justice Convergence and Teach In with the Opening Ceremony, weaving together worship and grounding conversations for the week ahead. This program will be led by the Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) Native Caucus members, Rev. Dr. Clyde Grubbs, Rev. Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, Kia Bordner, Sangye Hawke, Ian McAlpin, and Rev. Gary McAlpin. View on YouTube.

Worship Service "Thanksgiving Reframed": This worship service will include musical and spoken word from Hartman Deetz, Wampanoag artist and activist, and a sermon from UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. There will be an offertory special collection for the Create Climate Justice – Indigenous Solidarity Fund with the UU Ministry for Earth. Worship leaders: Ann Gilmore, Nina Lytton, and Aly Tharp. View on YouTube.



  • November 24 - 28, 2021  

  • Wednesday - Sunday

  • Registration now open


Reservation Fee includes

  • Lodging

  • Meals

  • Use of assigned facilities

Make sure to reserve your spot early; participation is limited

 5 day / 4 night event

     Adults: 4-nights         ... $480.00

     Youth 12-17                ... $210.00

     Children 4-11             ... $160

     Toddler 3 & under are FREE


4 day / 3 night event

     Adults: 3-nights        ... $375.00

     Youth 12-17                ... $165.00

     Children 4-11            ... $120

     Toddler 3 & under are FREE