22 January 2008
With Findhorn’s groundbreaking 4 week intensive, the ecovillage training, starting next month, Michael Mitton talked to faculty member and long time community resident, Craig Gibsone, about the essential spiritual nature of our ecovillage.
During a recent community meeting in the Universal Hall we were posed the question Why did you come to Findhorn? We were split into four groups – those who came here for the community, for the ecovillage, for personal growth or for spiritual service. I was very firmly in spiritual service segment and, to be honest, had never really understood the ecovillage aspect of the community, even considering it something of a distraction at times.
I decided to talk with Craig in an effort to understand the importance of the ecovillage to our community. Craig is very much at the centre of this question, being a leading light in the movement with his recycled house, his permaculture patch, his strong involvement in ecohousing development in the Park, and in February he will be running his 10th ecovillage training. Yet, when we were asked why did we come to Findhorn, he was standing side by side with me in the spiritual service group. I asked him how he reconciled spirituality and the ecovillage, something I had often considered a contradiction in terms.
Craig, however, said there was no distinction.
“Look at the way the spiritual movement has been profoundly affected by the enviromental transition that we are experiencing, consciousness has led to awareness of the whole planet. Similarly, the environmental movement has recognised the importance of a spiritual, or holistic worldview in the emergence of the Gaia Hypothesis. More and more, we are now seeing them to be one and the same thing.”
This made me think back to our beginnings, and I asked if our founders could be seen as the first ecovillagers. They ate simple, local food they grew themselves with their own homemade compost. They took an old and run-down caravan park, a brown site in ecovillage parlance, and transformed it into a rich and profuse garden through concerted community action and cooperation with nature.
“Of course,” replied Craig, “it was the pioneering work of our founders, recognising the spirit in all things, that has brought us to where we are now. In their time they called it a mystery school, now we call it an ecovillage, but this has always been a place where technologies of soul, soil and society are embodied and taught. Our community is a classroom for an evolving spiritual ecology that works on all levels, a place where a sewage treatment plant is a beautiful place to meditate.”
Now that he has been running this programme for over a decade, is he still looking forward to it?
“Absolutely, this is what this place is all about for me. The ecovillage training brings together everything we do well here; spiritual service, education, personal growth, and community building, as well as our ecological innovations. And the participants always bring so much life and inspiration to the community, we really encourage them to come up with their own ideas and initiatives to try out and discuss. I can’t wait to get stuck in!”
Looking over the list of faculty lined up, one thing strikes me. I see Jonathan Dawson, Robin Alfred, Gill Emslie, Hanna Morjan, Michael Shaw, Lisa Shaw, Alan W Featherstone, Christopher Raymont, Daniel Wahl, and Galen Fulford as well as Craig himself. I see all these visionaries and world leaders in the ecovillage movement, and I realise that they are all my friends and neighbours in this spiritual community. Then I can see Craig’s point about the real essential, homegrown magic of Findhorn he sees running through the Ecovillage Training, and, I have to say, I can’t wait to see what miracles it’s going to bring this year.
The Ecovillage Training 2008 starts on the 16th of February.