Planting Findhorn-seeds in the soil of Bolivia
This story of Findhorn Resource Person, Marion Remus, and friends, demonstrates the beauty of a principal function of Findhorn: People come here and learn; some stay and others take the work out into the world with the support of those of us who remain here and those of us who straddle the service path by working both here at Findhorn and by doing outreach work around the globe. The nearly 20-year strong Findhorn-Bolivia connection is one such example, as Marion shares….
Originally from Germany, I moved with my family — two little boys and my Bolivian husband — to live in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, in January 1987. As I understand it today, therein lay the mission of my husband: to take me to Bolivia. By 1990 the marriage had ended and I turned within for guidance on my next steps…
“It is not your task to go to Findhorn to live and work there, but to take the Findhorn-seed and plant it in the soil of Bolivia.”
This was the message I received in September 1990, the year in which I consecrated my life to service, seeking higher guidance. I was shown a beautiful piece of land in pure nature, ‘knowing’ its size, 20 hectares, but not its location.
Things started to happen, the reasons for which I now fully realise, 17 years later. All the puzzle-pieces together guided me to move to Samaipata in February 1991, a smart little village at the border of the Amboro National Park in Bolivia.
In 1992, I was guided to go to the Rio-Earth-Summit, where I connected with a woman from Findhorn, Jashana Kippert. In 1993 Jashana and Charles Petersen, then a member of the Findhorn Foundation, came to Bolivia to run the first of a series of public conferences, circle dances and weekend-experience workshops. And so the Findhorn-Bolivia connection began to flourish. Charles returned every year till 1999. Over the years, many Findhorn friends came to visit and support the work in Bolivia, including Findhorn founder, Dorothy Maclean.
By 1993, the piece of land which I had been shown in guidance three years earlier came to me. I had been told in meditation, “don’t seek the land — if this is your task, it will come to you.” Holding the vision, I started an educational centre Centro SOL, which was also my home. I ran residential workshops, Findhorn-style: Experience Weeks, Transformation Games, Circle Dances, spiritual study groups. I did this while also travelling to other places in Bolivia, including Argentina and Peru.
It was 1995 when I first met Dorothy Maclean in Aguas Claras, Argentina. From the beginning we had a good connection. In 1996 I helped to translate her workshops in Millalen, El Bolsón, Argentina, where Charles was living temporarily. In 1997 I invited Dorothy to come to Bolivia. We travelled together for three weeks, running public conferences and workshops in the main cities, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and La Paz.
In 1999 I went to Europe to earn the money to be able to erect some buildings for the centre. For the first four months I worked in Geneva, where I met May East, Findhorn Foundation’s representative to the United Nations, at the World Service Intergroup Conclave. It was she who later helped to fulfil my dream, to visit Findhorn personally and to do Experience Week and a Training for Group and Workshop Leaders. Findhorn miracles started to unfold as one door after another was opened to me. Community member, Kay Kay, invited me to live in a room in her home while others offered me their meal tickets. Mary Inglis invited me to participate in the Transformation Game Facilitators Training. May East, Rosy Turnbull, and Vera Bohlen invited me to be a Findhorn Resource Person for Bolivia and, finally, I was invited to participate in the international conference on Forgiveness. I left after celebrating Findhorn’s 38th birthday.
Due to the then deep political, social and economic crisis in Bolivia, I stayed in Germany, working to support my eldest son with his University studies. Then, in September 2002 I got a job in Bolivia with the German Development Service, DED, and thus went back.
My DED-Partner-Organisation with whom I have worked since, is AOPEB, the Association of Organisations of Ecological Producers Bolivia, which now has 60 member organisations affiliated throughout the country. My job has been to strengthen the relationships between the institutional (the main office) and organisational (member organisations) components. I sensed that the task was the same as the purpose of the Centro SOL: the creative development and unfolding of the human being — in relation to our spiritual connection as part of nature and the universe — and in terms of our human values and visions, ethics and attitude, cooperation and support of and as part of a group, working for a common purpose for the integral wellbeing of family, organisation, community, nation, and world.
Puzzle pieces were moved and the Findhorn magic spread again, planting seeds everywhere in Bolivia. During my second stay in Findhorn for the World Service Intergroup Conclave in June 2003, I contacted Findhorn Foundation trustee, Michael Shaw, for information about ecological recycling systems of grey water for one of the AOPEB Member Organisations. He put me in touch with Galen Fulford, who raised funds and travelled to Bolivia with great enthusiasm, building the first ‘Puricocha,’ a grey water recycling pond, together with the student groups of the ecological study farm CENFOTEC in Cochabamba. Through my contacts with other people and communities, Galen got involved with other groups in other regions of the country. With the support of Galen and May East, the director of CENFOTEC, Alberto Melgar, was invited to Findhorn, to participate in the Findhorn Ecovillage Training.
Galen and his partner Lisa Shaw, daughter of Michael Shaw, came back in 2005, and stayed half a year, working with CENFOTEC, and several other communities, building Puricochas together with the people, compost-toilets, rainwater collection systems, and planting trees, painting murals, as well as running educational workshops on water cycles.
During my third stay at Findhorn for the Connectivity and Synchronicity conference, in 2004, I met with Gill Emslie, then staff member of Findhorn Consultancy Services. Gill had worked in Mexico with conflict management and empowerment of women, and we agreed to build on these experiences by bringing this much needed work to Bolivia. Gill has returned each year to continue the work, accompanied by Foundation staff member, Ana Rhodes. It’s always a huge effort and nothing short of magic to raise the funds, as we hold the vision with focus and love. Every year we run several workshops on a broad range of topics:
* ‘conflict management’ and ‘transforming inner critics’ for organisations of coffee producers and cacao producers
* women’s empowerment through leadership, self-esteem and confidence
* training of trainers for women facilitators who work with women in rural areas and marginalised groups
* inner institutional strengthening and group building processes with the AOPEB staff.
This year we even experimented with something new, running a ‘Gender Forum’ together with a Bolivian organisation as co-facilitator, working with small farmers, men’s groups and women’s groups, on masculinity/femininity, sensitising both groups on gender equity. It was great and we left with the purpose to deepen the process.
Galen and Lisa have been here this year for the third time too, integrating Galen’s brother into the work, and including new communities.
It is amazing, how the work unfolds itself, how it is spreading like a stone thrown into water, expanding into more and more circles.
And now? My contract with DED ended in March 2008. What will be the next step? Re-activating Centro SOL? Findhorn seeds have already been spread all over the country. Do they need a home, as Ana Rhodes said, where people can feel welcomed, can centre themselves, and contribute to cultivate the Findhorn seedlings?
Following the call of the heart, of the small voice inside, is not always easy; on the contrary, it’s an adventure, the adventure of a true and purposeful life, following the path with trust, wherever it may lead.
Are you called to help cultivate the Findhorn seedlings?
I’d like to invite the readers, Findhorn members, people of the wider community, visitors, and everybody who might feel drawn, to come to Bolivia and help cultivate the Findhorn seedlings. Hearts, hands and funding are most welcome to help continue to build on this amazing story with creative ideas and different works in the Centro SOL (all skills to do with building, art work, gardening, working with community people, etc.; there is much to do). I offer free accommodation at the Centro SOL and help with travel plans through this wonderful country on a work-exchange basis. You can email me at