Fun and sustainability are key elements that permeate the everyday life of Australian-born Craig Gibsone, a Findhorn Foundation course facilitator who’s also the senior coordinator of the community’s Ecovillage programmes.He’s arguably the youngest and most energetic and exhuberant 75-year-old you’ll meet, walking his talk when he insists passionately: “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t sustainable.”
He’s been affectionately described as a feral elder and is also a painter, potter, musician, builder and permaculturist, recently co-authoring a book entitled Permaculture – A Spiritual Approach.
For many the decision to join one of Findhorn’s Eco Experience Weeks, or the pioneering month-long Applied Ecovillage Living (AEL) programme, has been heart-opening and pivotal to finding a new and more joyful way of navigating the challenges of modern life, while holding to the high dream of an enlightened and caring humanity.
As Craig and co-focaliser Vera Franco were completing preparations for the 2017 AEL programme which begins on 11 February, we put some questions to him.
What is the glue that has kept you in the community?
Why is it important to you to play a mentoring role?
It’s important to me to live a holistic lifestyle and allow younger generations to experience an environment that is soft, playful and fun, while being very real at the same time and exposing the practical reality of fulfilling your dreams. I live in a large, recycled whisky barrel, and I use it and my daily life as part of the classroom for my work as an educator. And I believe that the best way to mentor and support others is to invite them into my own spaces and experiences.
What’s your attitude to having fun?
How did AEL and Eco Experience Week come into being?
Eco Experience Week started in the mid 1990s with the intention of interpreting our purely spiritual approach into one that was practical and down to earth. It was designed for those who wanted their questions answered around sustainability, ecological lifestyle and issues like global warming and the creation of living water treatment systems. AEL shows in practice what our spiritual explorations are all about. What are we actually trying to do here in the Findhorn Ecovillage? You are exposed to the daily lifestyles and challenges of the community while trying to live up to your highest intentions.
What does the AEL programme offer?
It offers the visceral experience of living together with humans and nature, of combining both spirit and matter and demonstrating that it’s possible to combine your highest dreams into your daily lifestyle, and not get burned out. The AEL is one of the ways I feel I communicate what I have learnt through living in this community. I see it as being hugely valuable for whoever takes part, and many of the participants feel comfortable and empowered enough to stay on in the community after it finishes.
Why would you suggest signing up for the 2017 programme?