This letter has just arrived in my inbox, needless to say, it was not intended for me. .
I will write something on it when I have had a chance to take it in, but for now it is important that everyone knows about what these people are hoping to do in Stroud, since their activities at Botton have been curtailed.
Friday 17th October 2014
A New Camphill Place
Camphill is a spiritual impulse aiming to work out of the heart of Christianity and Anthroposophy. It is not tied to the existing places of the world wide movement or to the earthly organisations that have been its foundation in the world. The impulse is continually trying to find new forms and to serve the needs of the times.
For many years Marie-Reine and I have been concerned about the future of the Movement, particularly in Britain. The impulse, as represented by the Community, is greatly and increasingly needed by the future. So are the places of the Movement if they can stay alive. It is also urgent that new places with different forms are founded, as the Camphill Impulse does need to work directly into earthly matter.
Increasingly Social Care legislation has reached into our places. This is not all bad, however the Village Impulse started, not as a care institution, but as a social experiment. The hope was that Botton could survive on its own work and not take money for care. In the early years this was more possible and it was helped by the fact that the original funding came from the Department of Labour and was for the work done.
Slowly this picture has changed. Rules and regulations have become a greater part of our life. These are mostly done out of a good intention, but increasingly also to get value for money. It is a question how long a vibrant community life can exist under this situation. Also, the energy going into complying takes away from the real daily work and it also can help to weaken the ethos. This opinion is not shared by all Camphillers and many are trying to keep their places alive – and we support this.
Nowadays it is hard to define what is a Camphill place. There are so many variations and the name has become a bit of a trademark. Whatever the future of the present Movement and all of the good work it is doing – would it not be time to actively promote the growth of the new green shoots? These may not be called Camphill and they may be in partnership with other groups. This could be the way the impulse wants to work now and into the future.
Personally, over the last years, Marie-Reine and I have wondered about our future in Botton in the above situation. When the serious changes started to happen in 2011 we then decided to leave, but decided to wait until Christmas to confirm our decision. Events then overtook us in that we were suspended for six months. We then needed to go back to Botton to finish something off – but increasingly we knew that we needed to leave. I don’t personally believe that Botton took its eye off of the regulations and fell behind – more that we were trying to uphold community and did it consciously. Now we have moved on and also feel uneasy about implicitly criticising what happened in the past – whether it is by Botton co-workers or people from other places.
Our personal situation is now open. We are living privately in Stroud but want to live in community. We did apply to join a local initiative, but it did not work out. We are also looking at Camphill in North America and it is a real option that could give us many of the things we are looking for. We have been told our skills would also be useful there. I think, both of us, are reluctant to make this step without trying one more time here – and to do that it would mean helping to start something ourselves. That may be the challenge that is being asked of us – or it may be that we have to try everything before we go to the new world. Personally, we would like to be involved with what we see as a potential green shoot for the Camphill impulse.
We would want to be part of initiating a project that is connected with the Camphill Impulse, but not an official part of the Movement – or even called Camphill as the name has been taken over. We envisage thefollowing:
– We want to be part of a community with a task. We both feel that community is more than ever needed today. For us the task will be to find a new way forward with adults with a learning disability and others who need community. This would have to be outside of social care legislation – which means only charging rent and for food etc. if there is shared living. There would be no income for physical or social care. It would be possible for people living in the community to provide care and to be registered to do so, but not
the community itself. Peter Roth supported the founding of new projects and said – take our “friends” with you. They will help you with their humanity. This is the gesture we would like to work with.
– The place would have to have a spiritual core and people who want to carry this. This would have to be openly stated to be the inner substance of Camphill. Of course, not all would need to carry this inner impulse.
– There would need to be some life sharing – hopefully it could be open to many different types of people and ways of living.
– All who join would have to pay their way – rent and a share of the living costs.
– There would need to be work possibilities so that younger people could come – as they need something to get their teeth into. The project would need to be able to attract younger people.
– Hopefully there would be the possibility of working with the Fundamental Social Law, by sharing income and expenses – at least with some of the members of the community.
We would see this place needing a farm or at least a garden, close to a town with an active anthroposophical community. It would be helpful if it was near a village so that there could be accommodation to rent so the community could expand. On paper our plan sounds vague – but if one imagines Botton and The Rowan Community one can picture what we would like to create. (The Rowan Community is in Dursley in Gloucestershire and has a mixture of people living there. It is working now and can be visited.) The viability of this impulse, to begin with, depends on the qualities that Marie-Reine and I have developed through working in Camphill for many years.
The land would need to be owned by a Charitable Trust or some such body. We have had a conversation with Martin Large of the Bio-Dynamic Land Trust, and in principle he would be willing to help. The community itself would not be a charity. It is important that the people doing the work and building the community are responsible for it legally. It could possibly be a Community Interest Company or a Co-Operative. Of course, there would need to be a warmth body around this community and outside expertise would be needed, but it would be essential that the community is responsible for its own destiny.
We will need capital as having been in Camphill all of our lives we do have little personal financial backing. If you would be interested to support such a venture we would be pleased to hear from you! But first, we need people who would be willing to join us, as without the right people this project could never happen. We have not shared this paper widely yet, but already we have had some interest. There is also the exciting possibility of working in cooperation with an experienced couple who want to develop a hotel and conference centre working out of anthroposophy.
How the farm or any other workshops would function financially would need to be worked out. It is clear they would need capital support to start and possibly some community support once they are running. The ideal would be that they would be able to support themselves and the people who run them and yet cooperate financially to form a larger whole.
If this project interests you personally and you would like to explore joining us in this, please do get in touch. Time is of the essence for us as we would need to see some movement by the new year to be able to continue committing ourselves to this potential project.