Surviving the legacy of our Founders

“Hello, and welcome to the 80s!”

Liza Hollingshead, long term Findhorn resident and host of these celebratory monthly events, welcomed an audience of nearly 200 people in the Universal Hall to the ninth in a series of presentations by former or ‘old’ members about their experience of the history of our community. Some came to reminisce, others to hear what it was like in those formative years, and some, like me, came curious to learn about our past. For the panel of ‘old timers’ this was more than just a time of reminiscing – it was recalling a time of platforms being created that still exist today.


The Pineridge area of The Park

To a backdrop of a Findhorn period slideshow entitled The Way We Were, Alex Walker opened the evening by setting the scene. “Each decade is its own time of transition,” he said, “Findhorn experienced the 70s as a time of exuberance. The 80s was more a time of consolidation, and many of the organisational structures we see around us now were very much put in place then.”

However, it was not all plain sailing, while some structures came about through a natural synthesis, others had more painful births.

Co-founder Peter Caddy, very much the benevolent but autocratic leader, left the community in 1979, and Francois Duquesne took on the mantle of Foundation focaliser. In tune with Eileen’s guidance received a few years earlier that community members needed to seek their own inner guidance, the leadership model changed and small groups emerged to hold the energy for different areas. The whole community became involved in decision-making and group consciousness grew in importance. It was a time of experimentation and discovering how to function as a community.


Starting the CC extension

Many new impulses manifested and during this momentous decade the Ecovillage came into being, the first whisky barrel houses were built, as was the Nature Sanctuary, the Community Centre extension was completed, the wind turbine erected, One Earth magazine was born and the Youth Programme was introduced. The Arts were an important part of the dynamic and the Universal Hall was used more often for community-led activities. But maybe the biggest decision made back then was the creative solution to the problem of debt.

The Foundation had been paying land rent to the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park and a large financial debt had accumulated over time. There was also a need for land to erect permanent dwellings to house Foundation staff in the Pineridge area. In a bold move, and one that involved numerous community meetings to ensure the collective was supportive of and involved in the process, the decision was made to buy the caravan park, with the battle cry ‘It’s time to grow or die!’

It wasn’t really a battle cry, but to long time community resident Rory O’Connell the heartfelt plea of Francois Duquesne to the community that they needed bold and decisive action made it seem like one.


Caravans in Pineridge

The community’s power of manifestation was so successful that almost the full purchase price was fundraised, (the small balance was negotiated with the seller), and the entire debt was paid off within six years.

“An unforeseen bonus,” said Rory, “was a great sense of self-confidence that grew within the community as a result.”

We also heard about building the Family House; 1987’s The Wizard of Us, a witty rewrite penned by Jeremy Slocombe of the famous musical, that allowed the community to take a good laugh at itself; and the Russian connection, when a group of Findhorn Fellows, Trustees and others went to Russia in May 1988 to experience the place under Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika regime. During their visit they made contacts for the October conference on “The Individual and the Collective: Politics as if the Whole Earth Mattered” to which about six Russians attended by invitation from the Foundation.

Roger Doudna brought the evening to a close with a video of the 1988 East West Concert in the Universal Hall, with Russian pop musician Sasha Malinin, who had also been at the conference, banding together with musicians from the ‘west’ for a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. And I imagine what this community would look like today had those brave souls who pioneered their way through the 80s not made the decisions they did, or taken those bold steps to grow.

…I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will live as one.

John Lennon

Alex Walker,Mari Hollander,Liza Hollingshead,Craig Gibsone,Roger Doudna,Caroline Shaw,Mary Inglis

Our 'old timers' for the evening (from left) Alex Walker, Mari Hollander, Liza Hollingshead, Craig Gibsone, Roger Doudna, Caroline Shaw, Mary Inglis

Chris Brown

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