What are RETURN events?

Events: Each intimate and curated gathering convenes conversations that can only take place in an environment where titles and normal conventions don’t take precedent. At each gathering we'll go deep on the topic, eat well, have a real good time, rest well and leave with a fresh perspective on a topic worth exploring. 

Participants: There are no speakers or content, this is NOT a conference or networking thingy. Every participant is usually a speaker or influencer in their respective worlds. As such there is no audience. Everyone is engaged and involved in every aspect of the experience and conversation. Since everyone is an expert in their own right, there are no masters or leaders who teach the topics we explore. If there were experts on the topic, we wouldn't have a RETURN.

Topics: Each convening topic sets a course for deep inquiry upon a question that has yet to be answered. Our goal is to collectively deepen the understanding and uncover insights for those who influence many in a specific area. We call it social acupuncture. The old stories and institutions that were once the glue of culture have begun to fade away. Reliable social constructs have been unable to adapt to the rapid influence of things like the internet, communication, increased travel, global business and the rapid reorganization of our communities. RETURN explores at the intersection of these forces with those who work within them from an extremely interdisciplinary and unique approach.




A conversation on Trust and Responsibility at the beginning of new era. 

February 23-25, 2018

Esalen Institute, Big Sur

Hosted by RETURN & Habitas

There exists a concept that power will shift from nation-state controlled and regulated economies into a distributed and decentralized world. Assuming all goes according to plan - with this shift comes the burden of trust, order, identity and meaning - all of the things the governed seek from those governing. As a new system begins we invite those leading the charge to gather amongst peers in a location where cultures have been born. We'll take the time to dive into areas of inquiry that have yet to be explored, we’ll eat great food, share some incredible experience and listen to the sounds of talented musicians and the roar of the Big Sur sea.  

This weekend is a highly selected - invitation only gathering of diverse leaders within this uncharted space. There will be no audiences, no guests and no recordings. This is a chance to gather with peers, dive deep and potentially discover a new understanding. Accommodations and experience are complimentary with an invitation. 


Signal to Noise

Community and Identity on the edge of an unwritten future


Esalen Institute, Big Sur

The weekend is inspired by the salon tradition, with a more modern, action forward structure. There will be a series of salon conversations, working sessions, music, casual meals, and somatics to coalesce participants.

It is undeniable that there are powerful shifts happening in the world right now and that the role of community is changing too. The intent of this gathering is to have conversations to better understand what is going on and how we can leverage our networks between communities to drive collective action and support each other.  National politics, geographic regions and traditional religious organizations are no longer the defining structures for communities, while things like conferences, interest groups, music, travel and festivals are beginning to create necessary structures for strong community spirit to emerge.

How can we best leverage our communities and the tools at our disposal to create action, a deeper sense of belonging and further the movement many of us steward?



Religion of No Religion

May 26-30, 2017

HABITAS | Tulum, Mexico

Today, people are forced to cobble together what it means to be spiritual in a world full of shamans, yogis, meditation networking events, stadium preachers, ayahuasca, secular shabbats and temple burns. We are the people offering these options.

This RETURN we gathered within the ruins of a location known by historians to be the spiritual epicenter of Mayan Culture and held a discussion with those at the forefront of modernizing, translating and sharing these practices. There is something going on in the world right now and it’s time we take a step back, look at the bigger picture, see how these new elements are all related and understand what comes next.

Participants included university professors, religious leaders, musicians, technology leaders, large event founders, yoga teachers, tantra teachers, writers, speakers, thought leaders and designers. 


The Attention Economy & The Human Potential

September 30 - Oct 2, 2016

 Esalen Institute, Big Sur

Co-Hosted by the Esalen Center for Theory & Research (CTR)

We live in an attention economy, where products and websites succeed by getting users time and breaking their ability to remain focused and aware.

A small group of technology leaders and thought leaders will set out for the weekend to open a conversation about a new kind of design ethics that puts awareness and maximizing each user's human potential at the forefront.

Participants included a Google Founder, Founder Slack, Founder Tinder, Chairperson Kiva, Burning Man Founder, CEO & Founders of Esalen, Top Tier VC's, Industry thought leaders, writers and speakers, Current and Past Facebook Executive leadership and members of the early Apple Executive team. 


Ritual and Community

August 12 - 14, 2016

Esalen Institute, Big Sur

As technology and industry grow and disconnect us from our innate connection with the natural world, ancient practices of self discovery, mindfulness and ceremony become an increasingly important facet for the current culture of leaders. Come participate in an experience and dialogue centered around postmodern ritual.

We'll be a group 25 community leaders.

Participants included Festival Founders, Musicians, Workshop Leaders, Shamans, Ceremony Leaders, Large Event Producers, Esalen Leadership, Film Makers, Community Founders and Curators. 1 Hippy. 



July 1-3, 2016

 Esalen Institute, Big Sur

An exportation and celebration of Independence as community. 

Saturday the Esalen lawn turns into a music venue on the cliff's edge and our good friends Nahko & Medicine to the People are taking a Big Sur pause from their global tour to headline. 

This is going to be a fun one. 


Relationships, Sex & Modern Community

January 17-20, 2016

Esalen Institute, Big Sur

A 25 person, invitation only, three-day conversation, experience and exploration about what it means to be a man or a woman today and how we relate and connect in the world of airplanes, Airbnb, constant travel and multiple networked communities.

Participants included a Entrepreneurs, Relationship and Sex Speakers and Coaches, Performers, Writers, TV hosts,  Top 5 Tech Company Founders, Several Women's Leaders,  Cultural Photographer. Viewpoints represented from gay, straight, bi, trans, single, straight, married, monogamous, poly and the gray area folks. 1 Shaman a Lawyer and a Doctor.


Movements & the Future

July 18 2015

An evening conversation about what it means to steward culture. We are joined by those who pioneered both the Esalen Institute and the Human Potential movement over 50 years ago. We'll enjoy a farm-to-warehouse experience with sunset cocktails and a fireside conversation about how stewarding emergent culture. 


Independence + Interdependence

July 2015

Fiercely independent yet engaged in a numerous communities. This is the journey of the modern hero. We'll look at how strong community allows an individual to be more free and independent than on their own. The conversation takes place on the day a nation celebrates become free as individuals by coming together as one. 


Curating Nomadic Community

January 2015

A gathering of the conveners and space creators. From Burning Man to Summit Series. From Davos to secret warehouses in SF. What do all these communities have in common? We explored our personal and collective experiences of building  modern nomadic communities and what that looks like in the future. 


Modern Hero's Journey

April 2014

Joseph Campbell’s framework guided us in an  exploration of the myths & stories that create our world.A trail of stories left in the wake of a fully engaged group of humans, is fodder for the great myths of antiquity. Fully connected to a global community with few day to day ties to physical place. 


Incubating Culture

Aug 2013

A 75 person 5-day experience. We explored the question, "What creates an incubator for culture?" We looked at social, spiritual and financial conditions that influence culture. This week featured some special guests, sweat lodges and a cliff-side dance party.