Craig on his Love Affair with Life

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.

Findhorn elder Craig Gibsone has played a leading role in the community for nearly 50 years

Findhorn elder Craig Gibsone has played a leading role in the community for nearly 50 years

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?

Craig with Findhorn co-founder Eileen Caddy during the 1980s

Craig with Findhorn co-founder Eileen Caddy during the 1980s

A supported daily spiritual practice that allows intuition to flourish, with no form or dogma. And then there’s an outer dialogue which happens everywhere and at all times – over meals and in community meetings. It’s about ourselves and our response to humanity’s illusions and has helped me to evolve my listening and communication skills, not just with my fellow human beings, but with all life. This is something I didn’t feel in other places. Findhorn had such a strong feeling of being a life school, and it wasn’t just me alone, but a group of like-minded people with the same intention. I still feel that same spirit and energy within the community today, and it’s still keeping me nourished and alive.

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?

A youthful Craig at the potter's wheel

A youthful Craig at the potter’s wheel

It’s all fun as far as I’m concerned. From growing vegetables to playing the didjeridoo, to swimming in the North Sea or building a house, and hosting up to 600 people a year in my kitchen. I enjoy it all and make sure that the way I do it is 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?

Craig with his daughters Inanna (left) and Tara Pinheiro Gibsone

Craig with his daughters Inanna (left) and Tara Pinheiro Gibsone

To deepen your inquiry into the complexities of our times and living a sustainable lifestyle in the midst of it all. And that’s sustainability on all levels. You have to sustain your own mind and emotions as well as your carbon footprint. Participants get a first hand experience of a mature community that is continually reinventing itself and is a major player in pioneering and trying out sustainable ways of living and being with each other.

Read how the AEL course changed Maria Cooper’s life.
Maria is a 25-year-old who lives in Findhorn and works for the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) as well as on sustainable refugee projects. She is playing a major support role on the 2017 AEL programme and is involved in the Transition Network, looking at how we can use permaculture design to reinvent local communities and social relationships.
You can read Maria’s story here.

Geoff Dalglish

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