I have just come in from watching the film Song for Marion in the Universal Hall and am feeling deeply both the fragility and strength of the human heart. How easily we can close down to life and how much courage we are also capable of in the face of adversity. I cannot help but think of T S Eliot's "notion of some infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing" and the soft cradling and opening of the heart which is so much a part of the Findhorn experience. I look at the world news and my heart could break with the seemingly endless examples of humanity's inhumanity. I choose to live and work here because it offers a space for my heart and all hearts to open and I know that Findhorn lives through all of you wherever you are, supporting us in that intention. A world with an open-hearted economic system, open-hearted politics and open-hearted businesses would be a very different place!
Although there's a wee autumnal nip in the air this week, summer has been delightfully hot this year (real praise from an Aussie!) and you must have felt the waves of joyful sweat and deep connection emanating from the Dance Festival in July – I really did dance morning, noon and night! The air of festivity continued with the summertime swell of Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese groups, not to mention the families and the young people, all enjoying their respective Experience Weeks.
Findhorn is alive in so many ways. Last week a group of adults with learning disabilities and their carers brought their own unique gifts to The Park and this week both The Park and Cluny Hill host international groups: those interested in alternative economics for Out of the Rut: Economic Strategies for a Sustainable Recovery, and those in the month-long Learning English in Community, so popular this time that there was a waiting list.
Ten young Americans have also recently arrived for the Human Challenge of Sustainability Semester, run by Findhorn Foundation College and accredited by the University of Massachusetts.
It is wonderful that the Foundation and Community is recognised as a large scale, dynamic model of ecovillage living where students can experience permaculture in its broadest sense, seeing examples of people care, fairshare and earth share all around. We are a living system in all our diversity, order and chaos, not too manicured and honouring our wild margins. And Cluny is wonderful as an example of the urban application of living community.
It's such a rich landscape that it's impossible to cover everything in a two-hour Park tour these days. And there are so many stories to be told en route about the work of such people as Alan Watson who, in 1989, began Trees for Life, now Scotland’s leading conservation volunteering charity, having planted well over a million trees to restore the Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife over 1,000 square miles in the Scottish Highlands. (George Monbiot called Trees for Life "the most ambitious rewilding programme in the UK so far".)
This 50 years of embodied knowledge is why our yearly Applied Ecovillage Living (now in its fifteenth/15th year) is always so popular. In 2014 this month-long programme starts 8 February.
And the work continues with the development of 20 houses and flats at West Whins by Duneland Ltd, a social enterprise created to steward the land and develop sustainable community within the Findhorn Ecovillage. Similar to the recent development at East Whins it will include co-housing, affordable housing and four plots for social enterprises and business. You’ll find more information on community housing here.
I try to bring Findhorn to life for you in my emails but there is another way to experience Findhorn live from your home, whether that be in Tokyo, Tasmania, Toronto, Turkey or Thailand.
Not only are we webstreaming big names like Caroline Myss and conferences like the forthcoming Forgiveness Conference, but also smaller more intimate community events like the recent Anna Breytenbach talk on Animal Communication and last Friday's Spooky Men’s Chorale (see image to left) – hilarious acapella Aussies and their fabulous beards. (This concert can be seen for £8, 4–10 September, by clicking here.)
If you want to be informed of upcoming webstreamed delights (some free, some for a fee) please send an email to with your name, country of residence and email address, and ‘Please add me to the Findhorn Live mailing list’ in the subject line. You’ll then be notified of future events in good time to join us online. You can also click here now to download papers from the June conference of the International Communal Studies Association and also gain access to video recordings of the panel sessions and paper presentations.
We are busy at the moment producing our 2014 brochure of programmes and events – a complex but always exciting undertaking. I know when I lived overseas I always looked forward to receiving the hard copy brochure and would leaf through text and images with interest and show it to friends.
We are very happy to keep sending the hard copy brochure to those of you who feel the way I felt (a new format this time, already saving 25 kgs of paper) … and thank those of you who are happy to download the brochure electronically from our website. We want to let you know that we have made improvements to the electronic version to encourage this paper-saving alternative. We’re introducing an electronic reader so that you can read by turning the pages just as you would with the paper version – and it is easily shared with a few clicks of your mouse! Definitely worth downloading!
I will let all of you know when this version is available on the website.
If anyone is happy to change from hard copy to e-version, please email stating your name, email address and preference.
I know spring is in the air in the southern hemisphere – one of my sisters says Canberra has blossoms galore; here the days are noticeably shorter. Wherever you are I know that waves of compassion and empathy will be heading your way as we prepare for the Forgiveness Conference, 28 September.
I end with this lovely message from Kurt Vonnegut —
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
With gratitude for the mystery and wonder of life.
And with love and laughter.
for the Communications Team