Our Work


Over the past several years, Conversations has brought together small groups of colleagues and friends in the Mid-Hudson Valley for informal dialog on topics that are important in our lives and culture. They provide space to share thoughtful and diverse opinions, and to increase our understanding, appreciation and curiosity. Conversations are focused on issues that can become dimensions of building more positive futures.

Recent conversations have explored:

  • What are the values and beliefs that underlie the liberal and the conservative viewpoints?  Do we understand the other? Is the common ground?
  • Citizenship, what meaning does it have today?  Are an individual’s responsibilities to larger communities (regional, national, global) felt as real?
  • What is the effect of technology on ourselves, on our relationships and society?
  • There have been many cultural and religious traditions that frame the relationship of humans to the earth and “all our relations”.  How do we see this relationship now?  Are we stewards, masters, co-habitants, and what does this mean for responses to climate change, health, and the economy?
  • Ritual and tradition – do they have a role in society and in our lives today?
  • Let’s be futurists just for fun .  Do we think we’re on the brink of a radically new time?  What will it look like in 10 or 20 years and what will be some of  the challenges and new opportunities?

Previous Conversations that have engaged invited speakers include:

An Inquiry into World Citizenship in a Time of Great Integrations and Great Divisions with Nancy Roof, editor and publisher of the journal Kosmos.
Media, Mystics, Musings with Rolland Smith, broadcast journalist and poet.


Healing Our Relationship with Nature: Economic, Environmental and Spiritual Perspectives on the Catskills with Tom Alworth, biologist, Executive Director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development.

Dr. Ariyaratne

Human Development and Peace with Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, Founder and President of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka



RiverTides’ education programs support culture and place-based literacy through consultation, research and curriculum design, as well as through the facilitation of domestic and international cross-cultural experiences. Programs for underserved schools are designed to build strong literacy skills and positive social and cultural identities setting children and youth on a path to be responsible members of their communities. The use of traditional stories and culturally relevant content, and the integration of practices that support healthy, resilient communities are central to the program.

Today’s children are growing up in conditions that will present new and different challenges. They will need to learn new ways, master new skills and recover older, more resilient and enduring patterns of living. Understanding the foundations of healthy community life is a part of this. For schools, it is a time that requires critical review of notions about education. This is especially true for children and youth from marginalized communities or under-served areas as they are likely to be the least prepared and most vulnerable in these transitional times.

RiverTides’ education programs are built on three integrated, guiding principles: a foundation of strong literacy skills, the development of positive social and cultural identity, and understanding of the foundations of healthy and resilient community. Taken together these three aims work to give children a clear voice, formally validate their own experiences in education, foster a greater appreciation for their own heritage and the diverse heritages of others, and facilitate a sense of agency and responsibility both within their communities and in the global community.

School As Community Literacy Project

This program uses the school as the example of community life where history, culture, and people come together to pursue common goals.  It will use critical engagement with books to bring awareness of the values and intricacies of community while developing strong literacy and discussion skills through structured writing and open questioning.  The aim is to get children more involved in thinking about their school as a community and as a reflection of their local culture and history, and also to provide them with the foundations for strong reading and writing skills necessary to succeed in their studies and in life.  Initially, children of seven to eight years of age will be the focus.

The pilot curriculum has been developed and is currently being used in two elementary schools serving distinct student populations in three states (MD and NY).  Evaluation of the program in the initial two schools will begin in late spring of 2014 with interviews with participating teachers and their written evaluations on student progress.

Mustard Seeds

Through the gift of books, Mustard Seeds seeks to open new worlds to children, to strengthen literacy skills and to encourage reading in schools, community centers and at home. Since 2003 Mustard Seeds has been gathering new and gently used children’s books and other learning materials to be sent to underserved schools and community centers in the Espanola area of northern New Mexico where good educational resources are lacking. Making good books available to young students can help build a foundation for learning and growth.  To date, over 10,000 books in addition to other learning materials have been  contributed.

All educational materials collected are individually reviewed for quality, general condition and appropriateness of content before being shipped to the Mustard Seeds’ coordinator in New Mexico.  She is responsible for their distribution to schools and community centers that have requested them and have a plan for their use. Among recipients are Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo School), the Santa Clara Day School, La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences (a charter school) and Native American community centers and libraries..

velarde kids

There are 12 elementary schools in a 20 mile radius of Espanola in northwestern New Mexico serving small towns and rural areas. Most students come from families living at or below poverty level and in homes where there are few if any books. In background, the children are Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo.

Mustard Seeds is based on good will and concern about nurturing the imagination and education of children. If you would like to donate books or other educational materials, or make a donation to cover shipping, click on Donate from the sidebar.


Nonprofit Services

RiverTides offers a range of consulting, educational and research services to nonprofit organizations engaged in the challenges and opportunities of these times. We have extensive experience working with organizations in the fields of adult education, professional training, aging, youth services and youth development, and interfaith education and cooperation.

These are the primary areas of our work:

Navigating Times of Change

Strategic thinking and road maps for organization growth and redirection

Organization and community development

Board, staff, and volunteer development

Retreat planning

Needs Assessment (research and data analysis)

Policy Development (recommendations for program and policy initiatives)

Integrative Program Design (concept and design formation)

Strategic Alliances (understanding and forming collaborative partnerships)

Incubator Project

RiverTides’ Incubator Project provides start-up assistance to individuals and groups seeking to establish new 501(c)3 organizations and charitable trusts. Support ranges from guidance through the initial planning phase to establishment as a fully operating nonprofit organization.

Services focus on:

Articulation of values, development of mission and scope of activities

Design and implementation of organization structure

Guidance through legal and fiscal compliance

Strategies for board, staff and volunteer development

of best practices

Development of planning grants and fund raising strategies


Previous Clients

Support Service and Incubator Project clients have included:

Rockefeller Financial Services, New York, NY

The New York Open Center, New York, NY

Ulstercorps, Stone Ridge, NY

Dutchess County Interfaith Council, Poughkeepsie, NY

The Threefold Foundation, Chestnut Ridge, NY

The World Affairs Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie, NY

Imagine Program, New York, NY


The Whidbey Institute, Clinton, WA

Green Meadow Waldorf School, Chestnut Ridge, NY

Global Education Associates, New York, NY

The Plymouth Institute, Plymouth, WI

High Tor Alliance, Spring Valley, NY

The Forge Institute, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Narrowridge Foundation, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY



Salons (NYC)

For over 20 years Salons, which take place in New York City, have covered a wide range of interests including new trends and issues in the sciences, arts, world affairs, human rights, health, architecture and interior design, psychology, education,religious and spiritual dimensions, peace studies, and a number of additional topics.  Salons topics are introduced by a speaker and then opened to discussion.  They serve to deepen assimilation, understanding and appreciation of diverse human perspectives and to foster more integrative responses to critical issues

UN/NGO Activities

RiverTides is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) affiliated with the Department of Public Information at the United Nations. ICIS NGO delegates are particularly focused on climate change, sustainable development, education, the status of women, civic society, and values. RiverTides hosts Salons in New York City and Conversations in the Hudson Valley Region of NY that address international issues and engages international students from regional universities in NGO activities.  Delegates attend briefings and the NGO DPI annual conference.

2014 Salons to date:

When the Ends and the Means Require No Justification: Buddhism, Non-Violence, and Tibet with Tenzin Ganden Tai Thurman, Executive Director, Tibet House U.S.

Ruth Lynford: My Life In Design, with Susan Szenasy, Editor-In-Chief of Metropolis Magazine as Interviewer.

Topics from 2013 Salons

  • Mediation Through Understanding with Jack Himmelstein, Co-founder and Co-director of The Center for Understanding in Conflict
  • The Terezin Legacy: Resisting The Nazis with Beauty, Wisdom, Courage and Hope with Murry Sidlin, Creator/Conductor of The Defiant Requiem Project, President/Founder of The Defiant Requiem Foundation, Creative Producer/Music Director of the Documentary film Defiant Requiem
  • Black in China: So Far From Home, So at Home with Me with C. Jama Adams, Associate Professor and Chair, Africana Studies Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY
  • The Future of Global Aid: Turning Beneficiaries into Changmakers with Sasha Fisher, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Spark MicroGrants, a nonprofit organization developing novel models for catalyzing locally driven development

Previous Salon topics include:

  • Human Rights in a Connected World: Progress, Fragility, and Illusion with Peter Godwin, award-winning foreign correspondent, author, documentary-maker, screenwriter, and current president of PEN American Center
  • The United Nations Today: Its Relevance as as Global Player with Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
  • Storytelling Through Documentary Film: Giving Voice to the Voiceless with Chandler Griffin, Founding Director, Barefoot Workshops
  • Empowering Architecture with Michael Murphy, Founding Partner and Executive Director, MASS Design Group
  • Transcending Boundaries and Inspiring Spirits Through the Performing Arts with Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
  • The Simplicity and Complexity of Human Rights with Jesse Hawkes, Executive Director, Global Youth Connect
  • Stimulating Young People To Learn About the World with Roberta Seret, Ph.D., President and Founder of International Cinema Education
  • Tackling Violence Against Children with Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Violence Against Children
  • Holding On To Humanity in a Hospital Setting with Theresa Brown, RN
  • The Creative Journey to Self-Discovery: A Conversation with Linda Freeman, Artist and Documentary Film-Maker
  • We As A Human Genetic River with Professor Janis Roze, Evoluntionary Biologist
  • The Crisis of Depopulation: Will Culture Thrive? with Robert Cancro, Med.D.Sc.,M.D., Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Psychiatry and Chairman Emeritus, New York University Langone Medical Center
  • Make Poverty History! with Cay Hehner, Ph.D., Director of Education, Henry George School of Social Science
  • Coping Well with Adversities: The Remarkable Life of Albert Ellis and the Application of His Wisdom to Our Own Lives with Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis
  • “Thinking Maps: From Rote to Reflection” with David Hyerly
  • China’s Conflict in Tibet: A Crisis of Interpretation with Robert Barnett, Director, Modern Tibeten Studies Program, Columbia University.
  • Dumbing Down and Talking Up with Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize Winner.
  • Journey’s End – Going Home or Final Exit with Cheryl Avellanet, Jeanne Dennis and Irene Seeland.
  • The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We can Do About It with Joshua Cooper Ramo, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.
  • A Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin with Conductor Murry Sidlin, Dean of the School of Music, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
  • The World Before Racism with Professor Lisa Farrington, Founding Chair, Art and Music Department, John Jay College, The City University of New York
  • Learning Together – Living Together: Integrated Bilingual Multicultural Schools at Hand in Hand, The Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel with Maura Milles, Director, New York Office, Hand in Hand
  • To Begin the World Anew: The Global Influence of the American Constitutional Experience with A.E. Dick Howard, White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Climate Change and the Nature of Collaborative International Relations with Richard Jordan, Recent Chairman, 60th UN NGO/DPI Conference on “Climate Change: How It Impacts Us All”.
  • Affiliation vs. Alienation with Carole Malsin, Psychotherapist.
  • Human Trafficking: Raising the Profile of Child Sexploitation and Implementing Practical Solutions – Using the Media and the Entertainment Industry to Effectuate Social Change with Guy Jacobson, President, Priority Films and Red Light Children.
  • American Buddhism: Origins, Essence, Attractions and Potential with Tenzen Ganden Tai Thurman, Executive Director, Tibet House U.S.
  • The Culture of Peace with Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations (1996-2001) and United Nations Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States (2002-2007).
  • Is It Possible to Apologize for and Forgive the Unforgivible? The Meaning and Value of Political Apology with Jean-Marc Coicaud, Head, The United Nations University.
  • A Haven at Journey’s End – Hospice: Then and Now, An Integrative Care Model with Jeanne Dennis, Executive Director of Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Hospice Care; Cheryl Avellanet, Director of Patient and Family Services at Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice; and Dr. Irene Seeland, Psychiatrist.
  • The World Crisis: The Geopolitical Fallout From Wall Street with Bret Stephens, Member, Editorial Board and Foreign Affairs Columnist: “Global View”, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Love of Oneself and Love of Others in the Contemporary World with Jean-Marc Coicaud, Head, The United Nations University.
  • Don’t Lose Your Temper – No One Wants to Find It – Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Anger and How to Harness It with Dawson Ambosta.
  • The Future of Journalism – Can it Survive the Media? with Bret Stephens, Foreign-Affairs Columnist of The Wall Street Journal and a member of the Journal’s Editorial Board.
  • Genocide: ” Never Again” Revisited with Jacqueline Murekatete, herself a Rwanda genocide survivor and internationally recognized for her work as a humanitarian, speaking out for victims and survivors of genocide.
  • The Magic and Miracles Encountered in the Making of the “Ancient Ones” with Hans Li, writer, photographer, architect
  • Corporate Green – A Commitment to Sustainability with John A. Lijewski, Senior Vice President / Interior Designer Executive, Bank of America Corporate Workplace
  • Building Green in America: Stewardship of the Planet, One Home At A Time with Kevin Contreras, Executive Producer and Host of the PBS series “Building Green”
  • Diversity in a Divided World with Wayne C. Winborne – Vice-President, Business Diversity Outreach at Prudential Financial, New Jersey
  • An Inquiry into World Citizenship in a Time of Great Integrations and Great Divisions with Nancy Roof, editor and publisher of the journal “Kosmos”.
  • The Power of Image with Leonid Lubianitsky and Lev Poliakov, international Photographers
  • Media, Mystics, Musings with Rolland Smith, broadcast journalist and poet
  • Creativity as A Way of Life with Erika Landau – psychotherapist and educator
  • The Creative Impulse: Antebellum African-American Women Artists with Lisa Farrington, Ph,D., author and senior art historian at Parson School of Design, New York.
  • Capturing Life Energy – How to Enhance Your Health and Live a Long Life
    with Aristide H. Esser, M.D., psychiatrist, Rye Hospital Center; Research Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the New York University Medical School.
  • Collage, Culture and Society with Pavel Zoubok, art historian and gallery owner
  • Living Vicariously through Opera with Joseph Colaneri, conductor of opera, oratorio and symphonic works, educator and lecturer.
  • Images of Later Life
    with Msgr. Charles Fahey, Marie Ward Doty Professor of Aging Studies, Emeritus, Fordham University.
  • The Web of Life with Marcos Terena of the Terena people of the Pantanol Region of Matto Groso do Sur, Brazil, a leader working for the rights of indigenous peoples both in Brazil and internationally.
  • The Healing Meeting in the Life and Work of Martin Buber
    with Maurice Friedman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of religious studies, philosophy and comparative literature at San Diego State University and author.
  • A Conversation on Science and Consciousness with Hans-Peter Duerr, Board of Directors of Max-Planck-Institut fuer Physik und Astrophysik, Munich.
  • The Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future
    with Irene B. Seeland, M.D. – Psychiatrist, author and lecturer.
  • The Sense of Being Stared At
    with Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., biologist, researcher and writer
  • On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
    with Tony Stern, M.D. psychiatrist.
  • Chaos and Order
    with David Appelbaum and Martin Barrett – Editors of Parabola Magazine
  • On Hope with Lamar Carter, Steven Knoblauch, Ph.D., William J. Paul, Ph.D. and Irene Seeland, M.D., Consulting Advisors and Associates of Hope Consulting Services, ICIS Center for A Science of Hope
  • Reflections on Memory Fields with Slomo Breznitz, Ph.D. – Lady Davis Professor of Psychology and the Founding Director of the R. D. Wolfe Centre for the Study of Psychological Stress, University of Haifa.
  • The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era with Thomas Berry, theologian and author.
  • Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development with Rashmi Mayur
  • Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complimentary Approaches to Cancer with author Michael Lerner.
  • Soul: Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles with author Phil Cousineau
  • The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth with author Joan Halifax
  • To Be Human Against All Odds with author Frederick Franck
  • Ecological Design: Inventing the Future with Chris Zelov (Knossus Project)
  • Spirit, Healing, and the Sacred in the Life of a Native American with Mad Bear
  • Music in the Care of the Dying with Therese Schroder-Sheker
  • Emotional Intelligence with author Daniel Goleman