Big Baddeck, Cape Breton Island,
19 August 2012
I want to respond to Colin Rioux-Beausejour’s inviting letter in Glimpses Summer 2012, introducing Vers les Sources group members and their work together, in the Sherbrooke area, Quebec. It is so encouraging to hear about the inspiring work that others are doing. It is of much interest. I want to tell you some of the things that are going on in the Maritimes. Nova Scotia has been my home for forty years.
In NS there are 17 members of the Anthroposophical Society. There is an open triangle of Society activity from Halifax to the South Shore to the Annapolis Valley and Digby. I want you to see that we are spread out over the geographical area, and although it maylook like we are close together when you look on a map, travel is very often required for us to meet together, logistics need careful consideration. Members come together for festival celebrations at least four times in the year, friends included, with a meal, reading and artistic offerings, moving the location about the region. At any one time there may be two or three or more study groups in different places; last fall a group met at the Waldorf school to study threefold social order and how it might apply today to governance of a small school; this fall, a group in the Digby area will study the Karma Series of lectures. Last year a need was felt for the first time to get together as members for an annual meeting. We are, loosely, the Nova Scotia Anthroposophical Group, which includes a sub-group of six ‘business-carrying’ members who mostly manage finances from a bequest made many years ago for anthroposophical work in Nova Scotia, by Hans and Lotte Castelliz. Money from this source has been used to support Waldorf teacher training and development, curative training, lectures and conferences, sending a member per year to the Society AGM, and more. A ‘lending community’ has been set up to enable the South Shore Waldorf School & Kindergarten to raise money for new classrooms. The Waldorf school (50+ students in two kindergartens, grades 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6) is in Blockhouse, near Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Bridgewater, about an hour’s drive southwest of Halifax. (The school was the reason I came to the South Shore from my home in Cape Breton sixteen years ago, as the first teacher.) In New Brunswick there are 4 Society members. There will be a new Waldorf-inspired school opening this September near Fredericton, Knowlesville Art & Nature School.
We feel fortunate having Arthur Osmond as Classholder in Nova Scotia. 7/8 members have been attending monthly Class Lessons for two years. We will complete the cycle of nineteen lessons in September, when we shall decide together how we wish to proceed. There never was a classholder living in NS before. I have been a member of the School since 1999, and was seriously wondering why, when Arthur and Margaret with their daughter, came to live in Dartmouth. There is a feeling of preparing ground with this work.
As a retired-from-the-classroom Waldorf teacher I am greatly encouraged by how much interest there is in Waldorf education here; parent groups have formed and started playgroups in Halifax and Annapolis Royal, and there are Waldorf-inspired homeschooling groups dotted around. Recently I have talked to interested parents in Cape Breton. In Nova Scotia, population is small, with distances always to be bridged. In Halifax there is a parenting initiative run by Carol Nasr, who is also supporting a parent-run playgroup there, with mentoring and workshops. Arthur and Margaret Osmond are active in giving support to anthroposophy, Waldorf education and eurythmy. Teachers and parents/families are also supported by Waldorf East, which put on its sixth annual conference this year at the South Shore Waldorf School; and also organizes lectures and workshops. Ontario is not too far away (1500 kms!) with Waldorf teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. Some SSWS teachers were educated there, myself included. It is hard to express adequately how grateful I am to have had that experience. Some have taken part in the distance foundation studies course (RSCT), of which I hear excellent reports. Others have been trained at the West Coast Institute in British Columbia, and they too are grateful for the excellent courses there. Some of the SSWS teachers have not had Waldorf training, but are very keen to be trained. There have been requests for training closer to home. It is impossible for some to travel away. What is being carried out piecemeal at present adds up to excellent support for teachers and parents, but there’s a feeling that an integrated course would be beneficial.
An anthroposophical foundation studies course will start in September (a requirement for Waldorf teacher training). True to the nature of how courses are often initiated, I was asked several times by one of my colleagues before I retired, if it would be a possibility for me to lead such a course. It is dear to my heart, for several reasons: to be able to respond to an individual’s wish for knowledge, which gave the inspiration! I love to read anthroposophical books with others, it helps to sort things out; the school community being a young one anthroposophically-speaking (are we not, most of us?) I welcome the thought of another avenue opening up for an anthroposophical approach to life there. The course is supported morally and financially by the NS Group to get started; it looks likely that it will be self-sustainable this year. There will be participants on the South Shore and in the Valley, with a leader in each location: all participants will come together periodically. Five books written by Steiner will be studied over the year, starting with How to Know Higher Worlds. There will be arts/science sessions as part of the course, opened up to wider participation; this, in addition to the joy of sharing the subject matter, will help the course become self-sustainable financially (first session: Earth Science given by Dr Duncan Keppie, geologist, ASC member, The Spirit of the Earth, Our Home. Developing inner organs to gain spiritual insights into the planet we live on. A day in Minas Basin, NS). Can we dare to hope that this will be the first year of a continuing course? At this stage, it’s a beginning, and we’re open to what it brings us, without proscribed expectations.
There is bio-dynamic farming, gardening and beekeeping in Nova Scotia. Bio-dynamic farming, composting, and beekeeping workshops are offered. Through last year there was an active bio-dynamic study group initiated by a gardener on the South Shore, who is introducing bio-d methods into her CSA market garden.
In Wolfville is the Alexander Society which has brought Steiner’s insights into curative work with children and adolescents for many years, as well as bringing speakers/workshop leaders from England and North America for public presentations.
There is more than this, but I will not go on. What I have described is the outer ‘skin’ of much human activity inspired by anthroposophy. Imagine all the preparation and work, the joys and the challenges of the spiritual and earthly worlds that has brought into existence these human endeavours! There is so much going on unseen, which will prove important and supporting for anthroposophy in the future I believe. I am an optimist, especially as I meet so many young, and not so young, people today who hold an earnest striving to enliven the world with their loving care for the good.
Thank you, Colin and all the individuals in your group, for stimulating me to write.
Greetings from Nova Scotia to all, and blessings on your anthroposophical adventures!