To see what the retreat center is looking like these days, you can watch this walkthrough video made by Steve Borden in January.

Click here for pictures and video of the renovations!

Click here to find out how to donate to support the project.

Renovations Update 8/16/19

Hello everyone. This project is serious business, we’re talking multitask heaven here. A project with a complicated personality such as ours naturally follows an integral developmental model and necessitates the various facets to grow and build with and upon one another.  Naturally things are forgotten, repressed, put off till later, necessitating shadow work.  This is where you come in.  Our beloved assistant Aaron is running for the hills and we could use some hands.  We have skilled and unskilled tasks to accomplish and you’re always welcome to jump in wherever you predilect, but next week it would be great to have a parallel play date to get some things moved around and a bit of organizing done.  A couple or few people could move the steel siding and accessory pile to be more precise, so we can finish grading without taking me off the task at hand. Currently we’re installing the meditation hall ceiling, pre-finishing trim boards, sanding and finishing paneling for the bedroom accent walls, planing and joining a bunch of boards we’re repurposing from the cellar canning shelves, installing stairs in the new cellar bulkhead entrance, and laying tile and bamboo flooring hither and thither. Email me of your availability and maybe we can get a car pool for a day or more next week. Thank you all for your ongoing support. Regards, -Cory.

You can contact Cory at

Prairie Farm Update 6/3/2019

Hello everyone,
At about the same pace as spring has emerged, we are inching our way ever closer to the completion of the remodel phase of our retreat property project in Prairie Farm, Wisconsin. Attempting to establish business-as-usual expectations while navigating the long winters is a setup; delays and lumbering movements on a cold jobsite is the reality. So here we are, things coming together as they inevitably do, cooperation rules the day no matter how much we try to control everything, letting go allows life to take on its own natural rhythm if we can only remember to do so. We have walls; big beautiful, well-insulated walls. The sheetrock is all in place and the finishers are nearing completion. Painting, flooring, trim and woodworking stands before us and as such, I’ve saved the best for you dear Common Ground comrades which is why I’m writing this letter. The weekend of June 22/23 will be work days. For those with more time who would like to camp, this could be a longer stay the week before and the week after. For Saturday and again on Sunday I would like to organize carpools to get a veritable volunteer force out here. The paints will be very low odor, no-voc, but some of the wood finishes will be a bit stronger though still low voc for those with sensitivities. There will be some machining of lumber to prepare for pre-finishing trim, all the window sashes need to be finished, and of course wall paint. There will also be spring/construction cleanup, and a reorganization of the barn. No experience required, though for those with more experience, after paint comes flooring and tile follow by trim if you have time the weeks subsequent. Please feel free to email me directly at and also register online here. Let me know the day(s) and whether you need a ride or have one to offer. Also let me know if you want to prepare a dish or cook. There are a couple beds and a pull-out couch for those who require them. I appreciate all the volunteers who have come out these past years and know that this place has been an opportunity for those who would not otherwise have worked on this type of project. That we accomplished our goal together with so much community support will be a source of great joy for years and decades to come; we are cultivating long-view joy. I hope to see the many hands, Regards. -Cory.

Prairie Farm Update 4/30/2019

A message from Cory Clemetson, renovations manager at our retreat property:

Hello everyone we have just passed our first round of inspections and are preparing for insulation and drywall.  Anyone who wants to come up and help clean out the building and hang insulation is more than welcome. For the interior partitions; except for a fire-wall, we are using cotton batts, so no itching and no mask needed.

A couple professional painters had volunteered to help with painting, and we need someone who can spray about 15-20 gal. intumescent coating such as DC315 over all the foam board and SPF in the attic. This does not have to be a volunteer position as we need someone to show up between the insulators and drywall hangers in the next week or two. (It will be a lot easier in some areas to spray from underneath before the boards go up.)

Thank you everyone for your ongoing support. -Cory

Information on Volunteering at Prairie Farm
=We could use the help of anyone interested! You don’t need to have experience; Cory Clemetson, our renovations manager (and dedicated Common Ground community member), is happy to teach you. We just ask that you have health insurance.
Working at Prairie Farm is integrated with mindfulness throughout, and there are three formal sits a day. In addition to people willing to do construction, cooks would also be helpful.
Please let Cory know if you would like to go out:
Thanks for your support of our retreat home! The renovations will make it more beautiful, functional, and spacious for more community members to go out and practice. To read more about the renovation plans, please click the links below.

Renovation Project Update and Long-Term Vision – January 2018

Renovation Update Newsletter – Winter 2018/2019


January 22, 2017 — Conversation on Renovation of Common Ground Retreat Property at Prairie Farm

0:00 – Intro and Overview
0:57 – History of Retreat Property
6:17 – Overview of the Renovation Project
17:00 – Orientation to the Land/Site
22:00 – Building Renovation Details and Floor Plans

29:00 – Simulated walkthrough of the renovated retreat center
33:36 – Opening up Q&A
34:59 – Traditional, Structured Retreats Versus Retreats with Independence

Questions and Answers:
37:35 – Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease Concerns and Interventions
41:20 – Camping, Tent Pads, etc.
42:10 – Outdoor Toilets
42:45 – Interest in Adjacent Property Purchase?
44:00 – Relationships with Neighbors
47:34 – Using the Land for Profit; Maple Syrup Production
52:02 – What’s the Workshop For?
52:44 – Opportunities to Use the Property for Arts
53:31 – Sinks in the Bedrooms?! Yes!
And: What Happens to the Current Living Room?
55:00 – Utility Room Location
55:46 – Heating Plans
57:40 – Excavating Floors; Getting All Floors to One Elevation; New Septic System
59:02 – Raising the NE Ceiling
59:37 – Lower Windows on the West Wall? (Western Meditators = Burmese Tourist Attraction)
1:04:04 – Outside Treatment/Material of the Building
1:04:45 – Solar/Wind Power; Energy Efficiency
1:05:52 – Elevation Drop in the Main Hallway
1:06:42 – Geothermal Heating
1:10:36 – Appreciation for Attention to Landscape
1:11:12 – Possible March Practice Period; Work Retreats; Retreats During the Renovation
1:12:10 – Schedule During Practice Periods
1:13:38 – Offer to Help with Metal Work
1:14:14 – Appreciation for the Work Behind the Retreat Property
1:19:41 – 3D Model of the Renovated Building

December, 2015 — Update on Common Ground Retreat at Prairie Farm

Purchasing Additional Land and the Upcoming Renovation of the Main Building

Dear Common Ground Friends,

It has now been three years since I first shared with the entire community a Vision for Common Ground Retreat Property, providing a quiet, simple and accessible retreat experience for people interested in deepening their meditation practice. Within a year we were able to find a suitable place and complete the purchase. Over the past two years, over 150 people have been able to come out and practice on the land even though the current structure has several limitations. If you have not been able to get out to experience this beautiful land you can watch this Common Ground Retreat at Prairie Farm Video to get a sense of the place.

The Planning Committee made up of community leaders, including three architects, has been developing long term plans for the retreat property. Rick Okada is in the process of getting his Wisconsin license so he can be the lead architect in designing the site plan for the land, and the renovation plan for the existing main building. Rick was the architect for our city center building where he was able to transform a 1950’s Family Diner into a serene meditation center for the Common Ground Community. The Planning Committee conducted several meetings July – September, 2014 to get input from the community and clarify the vision for the retreat property. The Planning Committee will be sharing more specific plans with the wider community in 2016 before submitting them to the Board of Directors for approval. It is our hope to complete the first phase of renovations by the fall of 2016.

Recently, fifty-six acres just to the east of our retreat property has come up for sale. This parcel is about 30% open rolling fields and 70% mature woods, including a wide high ridge. It is beautiful land and would allow us to protect the seclusion of our retreat property long term as well as provide excellent sites for cabins in future phases of development. Here is a video of the north half of the land not showing the wooded acreage. The estimated price for the purchase of the land is $140,000 – $150,000. There are other parties interested so we may need to decide if we want to make an offer as early as January. If you are interested in contributing to make this purchase possible, please contact me by early January. It is a wholesome vision to preserve this beautiful land and to protect the seclusion of our retreat center.

In addition to the possible purchase of the 56 acres, the board has approved up to $16,000 to increase our septic capacity at the property. This work has been scheduled for late Spring 2016. Additionally, we will begin work on the following first phase projects as funds become available:

  1. The construction of a screened, three-season meditation space away from main building but accessible to folks with mobility restrictions. No budget yet.
  2. Masonry Stove and additional HVAC systems to support the conversion of shop/garage space to living and meditation space. No budget yet.
  3. Renovation of the existing RV garage area in the main building into the meditation hall. No budget yet.
  4. Renovation of existing attached woodshed and east garage space into four new bedrooms. No budget yet.
  5. Renovation of interior woodshop area into additional toilets and showers to accommodate up to 15 people on the land.  No budget yet.
  6. Platforms for tents and day use meditation practice. No budget yet.


The development of Common Ground over the past 22 years has been a natural unfolding arising out of people’s practice and generosity. As we all know, nothing good happens without individuals acting on their wholesome intentions. If we are inspired by this vision of a beautiful meditation retreat center that will allow people to develop wisdom and compassion to better respond to the world we all inhabit, then we must clarify and prioritize our intentions and most importantly act on them. This is how good things get set in motion. It is for each of us to discern how to best connect to this project, and then respond in a way that respects our life situation. In this way, our skillful intentions to alleviate the suffering in our hearts and in the world will have results.

Common Ground does not directly solicit funds, relying instead on people who want to be part of these wholesome projects stepping forward. If you wish to contribute you can mail in a check or click here Donate Now .  Be sure to designate your gift to “retreat property” or “purchasing additional land”. You will be given an opportunity to designate before the final confirmation.

If you wish to volunteer your time you can contact our volunteer leaders here: Please let me know if you have any questions about the retreat property:

May our good intentions and actions be the causes for real peace and freedom from suffering – in our hearts and in the world.

Mark Nunberg

Guiding Teacher