Art.
Ecology.
Mindful Action.

The Arbor Institute is a creative non-profit for environmental awareness, combining the arts and ecology with contemplative practice.

Our Story

The Arbor Institute’s mission is to create connection in a disconnected world, inspiring people to care for the planet.

We do this by providing a home for a growing community of artists, ecologists, scientists, and spiritual practitioners to produce and host creative, multidisciplinary events, artworks, installations, and gatherings that combine art and contemplative practice with ecological experience.

The Arbor Institute serves people of all ages and walks of life. We offer creative opportunities to connect, to share in our love for the Earth, and to engage in mindful action during this time of profound ecological change. 

The Arbor Institute’s mission is to create connection in a disconnected world, inspiring people to care for the planet.

We do this by providing a home for a growing community of artists, ecologists, scientists, and spiritual practitioners to produce and host creative, multidisciplinary events, artworks, installations, and gatherings that combine art and contemplative practice with ecological experience.

The Arbor Institute serves people of all ages and walks of life. We offer creative opportunities to connect, to share in our love for the Earth, and to engage in mindful action during this time of profound ecological change. 

Our Culture

One year ago, the Arbor Institute opened its doors with a standing room only “Poetry for the Planet” event celebrating the winter solstice. The pandemic challenged us all to adapt and evolve with empathy and compassion. We asked ourselves one simple question: How can we best serve our community? The way was clear:

  • Connect with the Earth and tend it with care. 
  • Learn and share about the interrelationship of culture, justice, and climate.
  • Support BIPOC artists, leadership and collaborations. 
  • Help people come together safely in whatever way possible
  • Hold space for all emotions – grief and growth, pain and joy

These serve as the ground for all of Arbor’s programs.

The Arbor Institute is dedicated to the care and healing of the planet. This starts with the care and healing of ourselves and our communities.

As a culture, this is our commitment: to explore, grieve, and heal our own disconnection and the systemic racial, gender and social injustice and ecological extinction at the root of the climate crisis.

Our Culture

One year ago, the Arbor Institute opened its doors with a standing room only “Poetry for the Planet” event celebrating the winter solstice. The pandemic challenged us all to adapt and evolve with empathy and compassion. We asked ourselves one simple question: How can we best serve our community? The way was clear:

  • Connect with the Earth and tend it with care. 
  • Learn and share about the interrelationship of culture, justice, and climate.
  • Support BIPOC artists, leadership and collaborations. 
  • Help people come together safely in whatever way possible
  • Hold space for all emotions – grief and growth, pain and joy

These serve as the ground for all of Arbor’s programs.

The Arbor Institute is dedicated to the care and healing of the planet. This starts with the care and healing of ourselves and our communities.

As a culture, this is our commitment: to explore, grieve, and heal our own disconnection and the systemic racial, gender and social injustice and ecological extinction at the root of the climate crisis.

Social Justice = Environmental Justice

The Arbor Institute supports Black Lives Matter and all BIPOC. We will amplify BIPOC voices to push forward social change. We will continue this work, as long as it takes. The arts, environmental, and contemplative communities have long histories of white-dominance in our North American culture. It is our responsibility to actively change this by centering, paying, and promoting the work and voices of BIPOC artists and supporting BIPOC leadership and collaborations in our programs and in our community. To read firsthand personal accounts of racism in the arts, follow @changethemuseum on Instagram. 

As acknowledged by the United Nations and stated on Environment-Rights.org: “the rights of the indigenous peoples are closely related to the right to a healthy environment. Indigenous peoples often hold a special link with land and territory.” We respectfully recognize that we work and gather on the ancestral, unceded territory of the Hinono’ei (Arapaho), Cheyenne and Ute People who stewarded this land now called Boulder, Colorado for generations. To learn more about how to support Indigenous communities in Boulder County and beyond, check out Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund (NARF), the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) at CU Boulder, and Right Relationship Boulder.

For an in-depth look at how patriarchy and colonization go hand in hand, and at how vital gender justice is to saving our planet, check out the Invisible Climate Wars: Climate Destruction as Gender Violence by the Climate Defense Project. For educational workshops and curriculum on indigeneity and gender justice, check out Womxn From the Mountain.

In solidarity with all those unjustly impacted by the ecological crisis, we are dedicated to examining our own conscious and unconscious patriarchal thinking and biases, and to uplifting the voices, lives and livelihoods of Black, Indigenous, People of Color and all Womxn, Queer, Femmes and Transgender, as we find our way toward right relationship with and care for the Earth and all its creatures.

As part of this work, to truly reconnect with ourselves, we must heal the intergenerational racial harm that has been perpetuated across generations in black, brown and white bodies. Our White team members actively participate in racial awareness groups to uncover, take responsibility for, and heal the embedded racism and privilege of whiteness. We support our Black team members and team members of color in their own process of healing as well, in whatever form they choose. Resmaa Menakem’s “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Healing our Hearts and Bodies” and workshops on Somatic Abolitionism are excellent resources for all as well as Ruth King’s Mindful of Race.

  • Diversify our Board of Directors : we seek and invite all BIPOC with a passion for art, ecology or mindfulness to contact us about opportunities to join our leadership team.
  • Continue to develop and host programs and exhibitions in collaboration with members of the BIPOC community, with payment for their skills.
  • Continue to recruit BIPOC folx for staff, internship, and volunteer positions and professional development for careers in the field.

Our People

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David Levitt

Founding Director, Board Member
David's work is a labor of love. After years of creating independent artworks and architecture focused on the embodied experiences of human relationships and placemaking, he felt called to join with others to protect and restore the planet out of his profound love for the earth. | email David

David also leads the architectural firm of Levitt Architects, based in Los Angeles, California and Boulder, Colorado and worked previously on large-scale civic, museum and cultural projects for the international firm of Mitchell/Giurgola Architects. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, David received his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Cornell University and his Master of Architecture degree from Yale University.

Sam Randall 6.2016

Sam Sokyo Randall

Co-Director
Sam is passionate about helping people learn, heal, create and connect with each other. She is the director for exhibitions and events Arbor Institute downtown gallery and leads communications for all Arbor programs. | email Sam

Sam brings over 30 years experience with creative programs, community organizing, design and installation art to the Arbor community. Prior to Arbor, she was the Creative Director for madelife in Boulder, CO, counter of circa|design, and faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture in Austin, TX. She has also served on the board of multiple non-profits locally and nationally and as the program manager at the CU Collegiate Recovery Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Sam received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design. Sam is a certified recovery coach and senior student with the Eon Zen Center in the White Plum Lineage.

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Jane Saltzman

Co-Director, Board Member
Jane coordinates the programs for Middle Way Garden and provides services for organizational development and fundraising for the Arbor Institute. | email Jane

Jane’s diverse background spans a career starting in Chicago politics which compelled her to train as a criminal defense lawyer and ultimately into mediation. From there she transformed her law background into running successful non-profits. Jane co-created Earth Vision Institute, launched alongside the documentary Chasing Ice. She was the Executive Director of Boulder’s Open Studios and co-founded LUCA Media Collective to support female-led film projects. She has film and TV projects in development and is a long-time performer of comedy improv. Jane received her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her Juris Doctorate from Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Garret Moddel

Board Member
Garret Moddel is a professor of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at the University of Colorado.

Along with developing new energy conversion technologies, his research group investigates psi phenomena. Currently he is serving as Vice President for the Society for Scientific Exploration, and was the organizations previous president, and prior to that, president & CEO of Phiar Corporation, a high-tech start-up company. Garret’s research interests are in the area of quantum engineering of new devices for energy conversion. With his lab he is developing new ultra-high-speed metal-insulator diodes for solar rectennas, devices that collect and rectify sunlight and waste heat. He also is investigating a technology for extracting energy from the quantum vacuum. Garret earned a BSEE degree from Stanford and MS and PhD degrees in Applied Physics from Harvard.

Welcome 2020-2021 Intern : Morgan Golightly

Morgan Golightly

2020-2021 Intern
Morgan is an undergraduate student at Naropa University, currently finishing up her senior year studying art therapy and somatic movement therapy. She holds a deep passion for both art and intersectional activism.

Morgan is forever fascinated by the power art can hold – not only as a medium for one’s mental health but also as a messenger to the world. She hopes to use art and other mindful modalities in the future to help marginalized communities with their mental health and to help share their stories and experiences. She holds the firm belief that art has always and will always change the world by affecting culture. She is also a dancer and has been dancing for 10 years. She loves collaborating with performers and creating
emotional and fun pieces of choreography. Her favorite forms of dance are hip hop and belly dance. To her both movement and art are not only essential to our mental health but to our spirit and being as a whole.

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Blaine Alward

Volunteer Team
Blaine is an undergraduate in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Colorado Boulder. He intends to pursue further post-graduate education and complete a master’s program within the environmental field.

Having spent much of his life on or near the water, Blaine hopes to focus his studies on maintaining clean waterways through engineered ecological processes. You can find him participating in the annual Boulder Creek Cleanup or aimlessly exploring Indian Peaks Wilderness. Blaine is also passionate about peer mentoring fellow students at the University of Colorado who are beginning to discover their path in recovery.

2020 Volunteer : Julia Bridgforth

Julia Bridgforth

Volunteer Team
Combining her love of art and passion for regenerative system solutions, Julia is a strategy-obsessed creative looking to empower communities through story.

She is on a mission to create space for herself and others to devise a Cultural Strategy in the fight for social and environmental justice. Julia is a world traveler, type-A creative, dedicated yogi, tree hugger, and off and on vegan.