Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Arrived in Scotland!

We have just begun our month with the community of Findhorn! It is a dark and gloomy morning and I just returned from a lovely stroll out in the forest here. It is so lush and full of life!
Findhorn is a beautiful community, and I am enjoying 'experience week', our introduction to our time here. We are immersed in the community, learning about the ecological work, sustainable housing, community structure and spiritual life. We are also serving in various parts of the community. I spend my time in the gardens which became famous in the 70's for 40lb cabbages and other enormousness vegetables. The gardens are still beautiful and plentiful, but these days the emphasis at Findhorn is on growing people not vegetables.

Damanhur was incredibly impressive, complex and varied. 
I loved the emphasis on the arts, art as a worthwhile expression. We spent a day immersed in art, working along side Damanhurian artists on a mural. The neucleo homes are often painted with larger than life nature scenes where the flowers, insects and birds tower over humans. This is a reminder of our interconnectedness, perspective, and part in the whole of the universe. Falco, the visionary, ‘spiritual teacher’ and leader of Damanhur, said that the ascetic value of the art is not what matters. It is the practice, the healing that is possible in the act, which is valuable in of itself.
Meanwhile, artists at Damanhur are doing amazing things. In addition to creating paintings and stained glass, their restoration artists of work all over Italy and beyond. The work of Damanhur is done within cooperatives… the Italian approved way to share ownership and property. The cooperatives are businesses with different skills and products from real estate to selfic art (an ancient healing technology).
There are many projects going on and as Falco said to us “Damanhurians run”. This means they work. A lot. During our final days at there we spoke with a few of the people involved with cutting edge technology. We visited the newest green building model, a building that houses 30 people, as well as accommodating up to 10 guests in a bed and breakfast wing. The building is well insulated with natural material and utilizes technology such as ‘triple locking doors’. A lot of the technology is German based, while most of the materials are local. I was particularly impressed with their energy systems, innovative water and air circulation systems.

We, Beyond Boundaries, have been sharing the information we gather at the communities through deep discussions on various research topics. We are recording our observations and insights while we share and collaborate with each other. One of the many blessings about working together is the variety of perspective and interest, we all have different ‘ins’ and therefore gleam diverse information. Our conversations are rich, and more and more often we are exploring ideas of integration…

I am loving the work we are doing, and really opening up to this holistic research. I am making a lot of connections, and feel that one of the many gifts I am receiving is knowing I am part of this web of positive work and healing on the planet, and I am gathering tools and contacts that I can connect to and through. Already we have offered connections from one community to the other... if feels good!

I also am learning what is important to me in community, and what seems to 'work'. Also, what some challenges are. I am interested to see where this all goes, what is the next step with the project... a program? a book? a community? We are still in the listening, and very busy 'in the soup' with each community we visit.

After our time at Damanhur we had a short break, I used the time 'on' to explore Italy. I visited Cinque Terre, a beautiful spot on the Mediterranean. Three days of hiking, swimming, and eating great food… then off to Florence, where I was sufficiently awed by the art and shocked by city living after living so close to the earth in community for the past three months.

My independent study time is taking form, I am making plans to travel to Germany to follow my ancestral roots and visit and work with an eco-village there. I will be returning to California sometime in November to volunteer at the Ojai Foundation and complete my fund-raising. I am planning on collaborating with other Beyond Boundaries members for events in the Bay Area and would love to see any of you there! At this point I am looking for connections, and would love your help if you have anyone in your circles that may be interested in learning more about our work and funding the completion of this pilgrimage. If all goes well (and fund-raising is complete) I plan on travelling to India in December to work with communities there before meeting up with the group at Auroville in mid January.

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