It has been a few weeks since my last blog and you may wonder if I have given up on it, fallen off a cliff, or some other calamity. None of the above is the case. I have been very busy and my mind, body and spirit occupied with living in and exploring community, deeply immersed in intense inspirational learning and participating in co-creating some paradigm shifting concepts and frameworks for a sustainable and regenerative future. So I will start writing some blogs now of recent weeks, but maybe not quite in chronologiocal order, which does not deter from the depth and content. So stay with me!
Sounds ambitious ? Well it is of course when aiming to change the world, but no better place to go for such an attempt than the Schumacher College (named after E.F. Schumacher the author of the 1970s bestseller “Small is Beautiful” and proponent of Buddhist Economics), in South Devon, UK. The college is and has been a center of excellence for alternative learning and deep inquiry into the causes of our current local to global problems and predicaments on earth and a source of great insights and practices and approaches, which can heal the world.
Located in the picturesque English countryside of green rolling hills, wind-swept moors, sheer cliffs and beautiful beaches of South-Devon. Close to the ancient port and trading town of Totnes on the River Dart, with ancient history dating back to the Bronze Ages, Roman times, medieval trading center and the birth-place of the English Navy, of the Industrial Revolution, and much more recently of the Transition Town Movement, an approach for designing re-localisation of our lives, our livelihoods, re-invigorate our communities, and protection of our heritage, culture and environments – i.e also bringing the learnings from intentional communities into all our unintentional communities (and there is a Transition Town likely somewhere not too far from where you are – have a search). Ttansition Towns initiatives in Totnes are widespread and cover many aspects olf economic, social and cultural life and has achieved a good level of re-localisation of production (e.g. food and energy) and provides many local livelihoods. Woudl be woth a separate blog later on to do it justice what has been co-created here in Totes as and inspiration for other places. Hence change and innovation have been around this area for eons. Reinvigorated in the 1930s by the owners of the expansive Dartington Estate as a center of alternative agriculture, the arts and sciences. And for the last 25 years with extensive contributions and expansion of knowledge and practice by the Schumacher College, housed on the estate.
DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK, DEVON
DARTMOUTH COAST, DEVON
DARTINGTON ESTATE, DEVON
SCHUMACHER COLLEGE, DEVON
Now I could continue with a lengthy description of my experiences and encounters during my 2 weeks time at Schumacher College, but through Synchronicity, I came across a beautifully written piece of this experience by a previous but recent visitor of the college, which speaks from my heart and could not have written it any better. So instead of plagiarise this blog I encourage you to read it as it transmits the feelings and emotions of the Schumacher experience so well and I promise you will want to go there yourself as soon as you can. Go to the link here first Building and Economy in Service to Life
During my 2 weeks at the college I had the great opportunity to attend a couple of short courses:
Authentic Celebration: The Path to Collective Wisdom
Authentic Celebration combines the processes and philosophy of Dragon Dreaming with aspects of integrative psychotherapy, body awareness and mindfulness practices. We were working with the philosophy as a whole and a number of theoretical and practical aspects of Dragon Dreaming to explore the importance and the potential of true celebration for oneself and others. This meant that there were a combination of dynamic and contemplative group exercises, pair work as well as individual time and one-on one coaching.
Dragon Dreaming is a PROJECT design philosophy, yet everything we decide to see as a project can become a project, with core elements based on Australian Aboriginal Dreaming and Dreamtime. In this way, we were able to apply the insights of the course to every aspect of our lives, from building a house, to creating a business or organisation, design and artifact, system or service, raising a child or just actively and intentfully living and engaging with the context we live in. Or creating and Intentional Community !
With John Croft (creator of Dragon Dreaming), Lizandra Barbuto, Daniel Koerner and Satish Kumar, we had a beautiful fusion between education and therapy, mind and body, theory and practice, thinking and feeling, head, heart and hands was created… and the course was a deep and powerful individual as well as a collective exploratory journey for more resilience, understanding, gratitude (of the light and the darkness) action, compassion, care and kindness and happiness for the projects and people we engage with in our lives. After the week I have not only gained all of the above. had great celebrations, but also a close group of new friends and fellow dreamers from all around the world. If you come across Dragon Dreaming or a related course, I recommend you sign up to it straight away or at least check out the extensive materials available on it online
Transition Design Symposium and Short Course: New Solutions for Life on a finite Planet
After the week of intensive personal and group work and explorations it was time to change gears (which was a bit of a shock change over), into a public symposium on Transition Design, held at the medieval environments of Dartington Hall Estate.
The concept and ideas as well as framework of Transition Design acknowledges that change at every level of our society is needed to address the issues confronting us in the 21st century. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources and the widening gap between rich and poor are just a few of the ‘wicked problems’ that require new paradigms, frameworks, principles and approaches to problem solving. Lightheartedly Transition Design has evolved out of discussions between a Designer, an Anarchist and a Philosopher (all three were lecturing during the short course) from Carnegie Mellon University.
We are living in ‘transitional times. Transition Design takes as its central premise the need for societal transitions to more sustainable and regenerative futures and argues that design has a key role to play in these transitions (with the premise that we are all designers). It applies an understanding of the interconnectedness of social, economic, political and natural systems to address problems at all levels of spatiotemporal scale in ways that improve quality of life. Transition Design advocates the reconception of entire lifestyles, with the aim of making them more place-based, convivial and participatory and harmonizing them with the natural environment. Transition Design focuses on the need for ‘COSMOPOLITAN LOCALISM’, a lifestyle that is place-based and bio-regional, yet global and commons based in its awareness and exchange of information, knowledge, skills, ideas and technologies.
With this background around 100 participants (designers and non-designers with wide ranging backgrounds and experiences) and 16 panelists discussed various aspects and ideas for Transition Design, complemented by Open Sessions, creating a vibrant and stimulating and highly productive event. Which was continued during the short course (with about 35 participants, all of them highly experienced and accomplished practitioners in their respective fields), of lectures, design studio sessions, tutorials and evening sessions, with often deep and insightful discussions, discourse and dialogue amongst and between the varied disciplines and experiences of participants from many places around the world, not to forget the late night sessions in the woods or in the bar. Definitely one of the most inspiring but also intellectually challenging events I have attended so far, with many great connections formed during the event and as part of the Schumacher Community.
And last but not least the concepts and ideas from Transition Design are directly relevant and applicable for creation and living of and in intentional communities.
PICS FROM EVENTS