Sunday, November 30, 2014

Council in Nova Scotia

- Judy King and Dorothy LeBaron

From October 10th to October 13th the Council and General Secretary had a wonderful opportunity to meet and work in Nova Scotia. The Council, invited by NS member Judy King with support from the local Members and Friends’ Group, were warmly welcomed in the community, and they were surprised and very excited to hear about the many initiatives taking place on the East Coast. It had been eleven years since the Council had travelled to Nova Scotia.

We had the good fortune to be hosted by Camelia Frieberg, at Watershed Farm near Bridgewater, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. It is a beautiful farm situated in hill country, and commands a panoramic view of the surrounding forested countryside. Camelia has a large market garden in which she works with bio-dynamic methods; she has many chickens/roosters for eggs and meat, sheep and lambs for wool and meat, and a couple of beehives. There are facilities at the farm where workshops and events are held (under Pollination Project). For two years there was a regular study group meeting here to read Steiner’s Agriculture Course.

After meeting all day and evening Friday and on Saturday morning, we were treated to a field trip to Blue Rocks, Lunenburg, where geologist Duncan Keppie gave us some insight into the geological diversity in the area. He also spoke of the anthroposophically-oriented geological research he is undertaking, into the relationship of the body of the Earth to the human body.

On Saturday evening, we met with about 25 members and friends of the Society at the South Shore Waldorf School. We were grateful so many people came out on a Thanksgiving weekend. After a musical welcome and circle dance, we spent the first part of the evening hearing about the inspiring work going on in this community.

Here is a brief glimpse into some of the initiatives.

The Waldorf School is in its nineteenth year of operation, having been in its present location for thirteen years. It is in a one hundred year old schoolhouse in Blockhouse, near Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Bridgewater. At present, there are about sixty students in kindergarten to grade eight.

The South Shore Waldorf School Association has recently purchased the property the school stands on. One of the initiatives that has enabled this is a financial borrowing/lending community, under the guidance of Jim White, Rita Landgraf and Kathryn Dumke, which has made it possible for many friends of the school to participate in financing the project. Vidar also is assisting with financing arrangements.

For six years there was a Waldorf East Conference at the school, spearheaded by Anne Greer; by popular demand it will be back again in 2015. About twenty participants take part, mostly from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and have also come from Maine and Newfoundland.
Hallowe’en Whispers is an initiative created by Monika Wildemann, kindergarten teacher; it is a popular public event held at the school as a young-child-friendly alternative to ‘trick or treat’; children are led on a magical mystery tour through the forest with a story theme.

The Airstream Café is an exciting initiative which was created by Ross Bunnell and Rita Landgraf for the purpose of raising funds for the school. Ross and Rita have been dedicated to serving the school in many ways since it opened its doors. Some years ago they converted an Airstream trailer into a travelling café certified for serving food in public, with excellent fair trade coffee and gourmet hot and cold food on the menu; they travel to farmers’ markets and other events May through October; all proceeds go to the school.

An Anthroposophical Foundation Studies program has been carried for the last 2 years by Judy King and Maggie Keppie. Eleven students have completed the program, which includes study, artistic work and field trips. A new foundation studies program will be started in 2015, carried by Andre Schmechel, grades Faculty Chair at the school, and Maggie Keppie.

An ‘East Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy’ was established to distinguish initiatives from the Waldorf school community from independent initiatives led by local members. (Its name mirrors the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy in British Columbia.) Under this umbrella are carried the Foundation Studies Course and the Early Childhood Education initiative now in its first year under tutelage of Carol Nasr, Maggie Keppie and Margaret Osmond.

Biodynamic Beekeepers Shirley and Klaus Langpohl, near Digby, have just received the exciting news of their Demeter certification! They hold workshops on beekeeping and have initiated a number of anthroposophical study groups and workshops in their area.

In Wolfville, Annapolis Valley, Kathleen Purdy established The Alexander Society about twenty years ago; trained in the ‘HEART’ program in Toronto, she works practically with anthroposophy to enrich the lives of individuals living with autism and other conditions.

Dorothea Schmidt has opened a clinic in Mahone Bay for therapeutic massage. 

After hearing from the initiatives, in the second part of the evening we broke into small conversation groups, to explore together the evolving ‘Purpose’ of the Society. What is our Purpose becoming, and what is it asking of us as Members of the Society? There were many lively exchanges. A few of the images that emerged were becoming a beacon, visibility, one connecting force, hands holding hands across the country, each of us as living examples showing anthroposophy in our daily lives.

The Council has carried this question of the Purpose into café conversations with members across the country during the past year and a half, in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and now Blockhouse, Nova Scotia. We are grateful to all those who have participated, as we now take up the task to craft the ‘Purpose’, as it will appear in the revised ASC Charter/bylaws.

After lively discussion and questions the evening concluded with a two-part a capella song beautifully sung by two members of the parent body at the School, Mary Knickle and Heather Kristenson; Mary then led us all in a lively rendition of ‘Farewell to Nova Scotia’.

On Sunday we drove to Arthur and Margaret Osmond’s house in Dartmouth (Halifax area) for a conversation with Class Members; conversation included notes taken in Montreal last July from Virginia Sease’s presentation, and questions from Nova Scotia Members about School of Spiritual Science work, requested beforehand.

School for Spiritual Science Class Lessons are offered monthly by Classholder Arthur Osmond, in Dartmouth. As well, a study group here has just started to read Sergei Prokofieff’s ‘Cycle of the Year as a Path of Initiation’.

We were graciously invited to enjoy a potluck lunch with Society Members and Friends at the Osmonds’ house. This was followed by Eurythmy led by Margaret Osmond, at a public location. Margaret has recently acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree in Eurythmy from the University of Oslo, Norway, in conjunction with Spring Valley, NY. She offers a monthly Eurythmy class, open to the public, in Dartmouth; we participated in one of these, twelve people took part. In the same location, after the Eurythmy a public talk was given by Arie van Ameringen, on Anthroposophical Meditation. It was pointed out that this was a first, as far as we know, public talk on anthroposophy in Dartmouth. About sixteen people were present.

Council Members had some meeting time on Sunday evening, and then on Monday were kindly offered the Osmonds’ home to meet in all day, before travelling back home in their different directions.

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