Wonder Women

How the Gals of Grailville Are Using Their Power, Property and Progress for Good

Article by Stephanie Meinberg

Photography by Alicia + Will Photography | Dianne Decker Bomar, The New Studio

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

“Most people in the community still don’t know what we do up here. They don’t know who we are … what our mission is.”

The Grail: an international women’s movement operating in 18 countries. Here in the U.S., Terrie Puckett is its executive director. Passionate, erudite, she knows all about who and what the Grail is—and all they are not.

“It’s not an organization … it’s a movement,” Terrie explains of the spiritually centric group, a nonprofit that’s neither faith-based nor secular, yet built on a strong spiritual core.

The Grailville: the physical heart of the Grail’s U.S. operations, currently occupying roughly 72 acres of natural green space and historic structures less than a mile from downtown Loveland.

Established in 1944, the Grailville was a haven for women in charge of women teaching women how to be leaders. Led by women, for women. An idea somewhat out of the ordinary—and more than a little controversial—at the time. Throughout, the Grailville has been an internationally recognized center where women have trained, taught and recharged between assignments. It has a rich, compelling and important history—both locally and worldwide—yet one that is still inexplicably mysterious.

“We’re not missionaries … missionaries have their own agenda. And we aren’t nuns. We’ve never been nuns. Unlike other organizations who say, ‘this is what we think you should do and how to do it,’ our focus has always been on what we can do to help you. If you’ve identified a problem, a need, we have the resources to help. That hasn’t changed.” –Terrie Puckett

But other things have. Spending more time and money on upkeep of buildings and programs than advancing their mission, they downsized to a smaller footprint. Acreage sold was locked into a strict conservation easement. The Ark (little white house) and Oratory (cattle barn-cum-sacred space) rehabbed and refurbished. The goal? To produce a more vibrant, active Grailville.

“There’s a misconception about what’s up here. The community didn’t understand us to begin with—or what they thought was incomplete or wrong … now throw in all the changes, we’re selling things—there was a lot of fear,” Terrie explains. “We’ve just shifted our focus … shifted our space. Our mission stays the same, but how we embody that mission has changed.”

As it should. Every generation, Grail women ask, what ails thee? Or, more specifically, is the Grail doing what it needs to be doing? A check-in and checkup they are fiercely dedicated to answering truthfully.

“And the answer is no, which is how it should be. Times change. Society has changed. So we become responsive to those changes. It’s actually the fourth time we’ve re-envisioned what happens in this space. But like any other 501(c)(3), we’re ultimately answerable to the public, to the mission we claim to be doing.”

Enter the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals—17 tangible, responsible objectives the UN seeks to fulfill by 2030, covering gender equality, clean water, strategic partnerships and more. Among the Grail’s notable changes is their newly committed alignment to these major advances.

“Everything we do will somehow further one of those objectives,” Terrie affirms. “It gives us concrete goals to work on, and it gives us a way to tell people exactly what we are doing—we advance the 17 UN SDGs.”

So follows their shift in focus. First, in fall 2018, came Learning Labs, a new initiative that bucked the model of scheduled, structured programs waiting (sometimes futilely) to be utilized. Labs present anyone in the community—schools, clubs, pop-up programs, nonprofits—a chance to use Grailville space to address a specific need. At no charge.

“The acreage here is an invaluable resource. So, what do you need? Want to try something? A pilot project? You can do it here for free. We only ask two things: tell us which of the UN SDGs you’re advancing, and at the end, tell us what you learned.”

The other switch from pre-fab programming is the creation of targeted modules, a new option being launched this spring.

“Rather than creating programs on a schedule, maintaining all this infrastructure so it’s ready on the off chance someone shows up, now we have a module to offer,” Terrie explains. “Want to learn about composting or permaculture? Great! We have that resource.”

The final new step is Art of the Oratory, a carefully curated showcase of the Grailville’s extensive art collection. The inaugural exhibit was a success, featuring select works inside the newly renovated Oratory. Now, by publicizing that the collection exists and is available, they can focus on using it to educate … and inspire.

Above all, the Grailville remains vital. For women, it’s another choice (and chance) to fulfill something spiritually, internally, and make a difference in the world at large. It’s both a calling and a sisterhood. In other words, a home.

For the community, it’s an invaluable resource solving problems and effecting change at every level—not only reacting to immediate needs but working to uncover their cause at the source. Put simply, Grailville provides resources and help for any and all who need it, even for something as simple as walking your dog on their trails.  

“You can’t expect people to change the world by telling them to change the world. They have to be invested. Something has to have an impact on them. All these things we’re doing here … they’re small. But we’re getting other people interested—and they’re going to start asking questions.”

931 O’Bannonville Road, Loveland | 513.683.2340, Facebook.com/Grailville

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