The Findhorn Community was a five-day immersion in a faraway place known for its magical environment, its connection with the ‘divas’, the nature spirits, it’s leading edge and imaginative approach to many aspects of human interrelationships and for transformative practices that have been developed over decades.
Underlying it all is a deep respect for nature, an appreciation for the beauty of our world and of each other and a conscious awareness that Work is ‘Love In Action’. Almost every week of the year they run Experience week.
Graham Meltzer met the train at Forres in one of Findhorn’s electric cars and made the short trip into Findhorn Eco Park and then to the little cabin called ‘Godfrey’. The tour that promptly followed was quick and comprehensive taking in some of the key features and providing a great introduction to the place and spirit of the community. The numbers living in Findhorn are not exactly known. Depending on whether you count those who have moved into the locale, Findhorn village or nearby, there could be anywhere up to a thousand, with around five or six hundred in the Eco Park itself.
Findhorn has many thousands of visitors every year and some are lucky enough to be accommodated in the little guesthouses each named after some of the early Findhorn stalwarts and significant people. To be allocated ‘Godfrey’ – a two-bedroom cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, second toilet and lounge dining room – was fortunate indeed. It had the most beautiful aspect looking south (towards the sun) over the original garden, with its circle of stone seats, that was set up by the Caddy’s, Eileen and Peter, and their friend, Dorothy Maclean.
Findhorn has made a big commitment to social and environmental sustainability. It is working to build and retrofit homes increasing the number of zero carbon buildings in response to the threat of climate change from more than sixty to date. The three community owned wind turbines and one smaller one generate 750 kw of power and along with some solar panels, a biomass gas condensing boiler heating the community district’s hot water, super efficient insulation using polymer beads, straw bales houses, barrel houses and other creative innovations. There are a few green rooves of course and they have successfully used a synthetic rubber (EDM) liner on which to encourage moss and lichens and other carefully chosen grasses and plants.
Findhorn also now has twelve shared cars, some electric and, as such, being such a good example, has been rewarded by the Scottish Government which has given them another electric car with another on the way.
I had several potent conversations – including with Roger Doudna – about climate change and the danger of the woeful compromise (2º of warming) and the important option of Restoring Safe Climate conditions.
They are world renowned for their production of vibrantly healthy organic food and their gardens are a feast for the eyes. The growing of vegetables is central to Findhorn along with the connection to the nature spirits. They also say it is as much about growing people as it is about growing vegetables.
Meals are provided in the Common House for Foundation staff. Residential Findhorn Foundation staff receive accommodation, meals and a little bit of pocket money. Non-residentials have to sign up for meals. Everyone has to do a turn of KP (Kitchen Participation / Kitchen Party) after every five meals.
Inclusion is a big aspect of the social sustainability of Findhorn. Lots of lovely things to participate in, the daily taizé (singing) which I sadly never got to, even a hot tub for relieving aching muscles or just to enjoy the tranquillity of the evening as the day winds down which was my reward to myself for making it all the way to Findhorn.
Reciprocity is important in any community and Findhorn, practising “love in action”, has a lot of work to do in maintaining itself economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally. People can be involved in all sorts of ways but they also have to do their ‘rotars’ – their work commitments. Homecare Cleaning, for example, is on from 9.00 – 10.00 every Saturday morning.
Shrewdly gaining a commitment for the cleaning detail which happened to be on the very next morning, Graham succeeded in providing some excellent training in what to do which subsequently translated to a top notch job of home cleaning Godfrey when the time to leave came. So that worked out well.
He also ‘suggested’ the Kitchen Brunch preparation for Sunday morning which required an 8.00 am start!!! This is how you get plugged into Findhorn. Three hours chopping, juicing, stirring, and of course, chatting, with the team for the day is a great way to get to know a few people. I was asked to help with something a bit creative so my contribution ended up being home made baked beans on a polenta flat bread base.
On the Sunday afternoon after the brunch there was a presentation on Murundaka and Sustainable Living to deliver.
It had been well promoted by Graham and the others who produce the community newsletter – The Rainbow Bridge – so the room was full. About twenty-five people I think asking some great questions at the end and creating a few excellent ongoing contacts. Conversations followed over the next few days.
An invitation from Kirsten to go to Findhorn Cohousing Community flowed from the presentation and resulted in a very enjoyable dinner with a bit of a talk and a tour. There are 25 households by memory. The group developed the project and worked through the usual design issues for several years before the final design was taken over by the developer which subcontracted to a builder resulting in the significant shutting down of community involvement. They have some beautiful facilities with shared laundry, drying room and a workshop etcetera but they don’t have a shared guestroom and the Common House is restricted. There is an ongoing problem with acoustics between the first and second floor. A number of the community eat together once a week. As with many communities they are experiencing entrenched participation problems with some people are definitely disengaged holding individualistic values inconsistent with community living. For example, disagreeing with the planting of ‘untidy’ vegetables in their line of sight. It was interesting to note that, in some ways, being located inside Findhorn community provides opportunities and connections that seem to give some relief to the frustrations.
Not being able to resist a friendly dog, I was very happy to meet beautiful Moragan (Great Queen) the full-of-personality Border Collie who hangs out at the Information Centre with her human. Border Collie’s originate from Northumberland on the Scotland-English border. Thought they looked right at home here.
The lovely and plentiful artistic aesthetic touches and liberally applied attention to detail was a delight to be amongst. I loved the round houses.
A brisk walk into the township of Findhorn for a chowder and whiski at the pub was good.
The sky is so clean in these parts astronomers come from far and wide to gaze at the crisp night skies.
The adventure out into the dunes and the Moray walking trail across a familiar yet different landscape populated with gorse in full bloom filling the air with the strangely tropical scent of pineapple and coconut was great. Made all the more amazing with the snow capped mountains in the distance and the short hail storm obliterating the warm sunshine on the homeward trek.
It snowed one day too! Honestly.
They say they experience every season in a day in Scotland. Where have I heard that before?
I didn’t expect to be terrified by the group of Harrier jets circling overhead. Apparently it was a daily experience only a few years ago. It would’ve driven me out I think – some did leave. But now the military base has been closed down. These guys came from somewhere else.
There’s a lot more that I could include about Findhorn.
And I know there was a lot I didn’t do and didn’t see too.
Perhaps another visit will be necessary one day?
It was lovely to get to know Graham Meltzer. He loves singing and dancing but is perhaps best known as a keen contributor to Global Eco-village Network and the sustainable living transformative change held so conscientiously at Findhorn. He is also the author of Sustainable Community: Learning form the Cohousing Model.
I think I caught a glimpse of some nature spirits on my last morning there – can’t be sure of course but the feeling of happiness and tranquillity and of cooperation and fun was like an intoxicating perfume in the air.
A lovely way to say goodbye to a vey special place.
And next … to Copenhagen and to some of the many Danish co-housing communities ….
Join 1,023 other followers
- WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE! | Extinction Rebellion UK youtu.be/42o8gitUpBA via @YouTube 3 months ago
- SLF Applications Now Open! fb.watch/8tTlPyzWoi/ via @FacebookWatch 10 months ago
- Can Chris Barrie meet with ScoMo on climate security please! #QandA 11 months ago