Photo: Skip Schiel

Louise Dunlap is a beloved teacher and facilitator, writer, and Buddhist activist. Her new book, Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind,” is due from New Village Press in September 2022. The book traces the history of her family’s still-beautiful land at the edge of California’s famous Napa Valley, uncovering connections between the racist mind that made settlement possible and climate catastrophe as it unfolds today. It is a wake up call for white Americans and a touchstone for racial and environmental reckoning and healing in these perilous times.

Louise has spent her 80 years on earth fascinated by the healing power of nature and truth-telling. This fascination has led her to far corners of the globe—MIT’s renowned halls, where she taught urban planners how to think and write about equity and space, community centers in South Africa’s townships, where she worked with women and labor activists to undo the harm of apartheid, and many recent actions in the Bay Area to expose the ravages of historical genocide on Indigenous people and modern day gentrification. At the top of her list now are organizing with other white people to change the mind of racism and finding joy in earth to help us face hard truths.

An ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, Louise is a sought-after teacher and speaker, and widely published writer. Author Courtney Martin says, “Louise is the elder we’ve been waiting for—a model of how to live a life of self-examination, humble collaboration, and joyful transformation. It’s like she’s been presciently building all the muscles we most need in these urgent times for eight decades. I love to sit at her feet and learn.” The learning is always mutual.

Upcoming Book Events

Cover of Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing Colonizer Mind

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Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind launched in early September at an outdoor celebration on unceded Lisjan Ohlone land in what’s now Oakland, California. Sixty-five guests, including members of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, enjoyed a beautiful, cool evening with readings from the book, food from Wahpepah’s Kitchen, and each others’ company. The event raised nearly $800 for Sogorea Te.’ through book sales and donations. (Within days, this organization received five acres of parkland donated by the City of Oakland—the first known Indigenous landback transaction offered by a US city!)

In the coming year, Louise is planning book events—especially in conversation with people who are carrying on the land, ancestral, and social healing work begun in the book. The first ones will be in Napa this fall, on unceded land of the Wappo people; others are in formation. Events will be listed on this site and in the New Village Press newsletter as they take shape.

Healing the Wounds of Colonization

On February 5, 2023, 11 AM Pacific Time, Louise will give the guest message (sermon) for Sunday Service at the Napa Valley Unitarian Universalists, 1625 Salvador Ave, Napa CA.

It’s an in-person and virtual event. Please wear a mask if you come in person. The entire service will be livestreamed at this link and Louise’s message will be recorded for NVUU’s youtube page. The full service includes music, poetry, a children’s story, and guided meditation from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.

While researching the story of her settler-ancestors, Louise was deeply troubled by the violence of colonization in Napa Valley. Indigenous elders had told her, ‘We don’t speak of these things without ceremony.” She is grateful for this place of worship to face this troubling history with others — in a way that may help all of us, and our nation, to heal.

Past Events

Beyond Inherited Silence: Diving deeper into ancestors and repair

Video from an online event, January 12, 2023. Louise Dunlap with Hilary Giovale (Reparative Philanthropist) and Morgan Curtis (Ancestor and Money Coach)

Listening to the Napa Land

Video from Napa Bookmine with Patricia Damery, September 29, 2022

Ceremonial Dialogue on Ancestral Healing and Liberation Ecotherapy

Video from event with the Alliance for Ecotherapy and Social Justice, October 6, 2022

Telling the Truth About Our Ancestors

Video from event at the Napa Library, November 10, 2022