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A Report of the Northern Link Meeting Held at The Pennine Community on Saturday 31st March 2012. The warm hospitality of The Pennine Community begins in the car park with a sequence of large Northern Link signs provided by Steve Hopewell’ to guide visitors along the pathways to Aulis Hall. By 10.30 eighteen families and friends had gathered for greetings introductions and warm drinks. By 10.45 the usual technical hitches associated with projectors and sound systems had been overcome and the company sat down to watch Part One of Jonathan Stedall’s film “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner.” I shall not review it here, but would strongly recommend any who have not seen the film to do so. The resonance of a quotation from Paul Gaugin: “Where do we come from? What are we doing? Where are we going?” pervaded the gathering, permeated the lunch time conversations and set an appropriate tone for the afternoon’s proceedings. We were strengthened by the presence of Vivian Griffiths, Godfrey Davey, and Elaine Dowell; all trustees of CF&F. Those who received invitations will know that there was no fixed agenda. And so with Vivian sitting as an informal chair-person our discussion became focused. Individual stories and experiences emerged. There were four Croft Families represented. It was noted that concerns are emerging from the dilution of the traditional co-worker presence and their replacement by managers and support workers. It was suggested that this may be moderated by a Croft Family Partnership. It was informally agreed to work towards the formation of this partnership and by implication a Camphill wide net work. This led to discussion around the different styles of organisation between the regions. England and Wales are certainly different from Scotland, Ireland and ROI. How so? The question was answered in a concise truism; England and Wales lacks coordination! Vivian opined that there is a problem of succession and added that succession needs to be managed. Following this, the subject of Person Centred Planning in Camphill was raised. Everyone, and certainly readers of this report will know what is meant by PCP. There is however, diversity and ambiguity in the interpretation and application of PCP among managers, co-workers , support workers and parents. Differences may lead to arguments and tensions. It was remarked that PCP, if interpreted insensitively, can be taken to damaging extremes. Reference was made here to Jonathan Stedall’s filming which focused on a wide range of activities, several from The Grange. These illustrated the therapeutic harmony between the worker and the undertaking. Godfrey remarked that an authentic Camphiller will not only be valued but also feel them selves to be valued. In the present climate of cost-benefit analysis there is a perceived threat of losing priceless spiritual ideals. The recruitment of co-workers became the next topic. It began with many fond memories of co-workers who were imbued with the ethos of Camphill; cosmopolitans


who cherished their calling and its life style. It is not that recruits of this calibre no longer exist but rather that their supply has become attenuated as it struggles through an assault course of regulation. Vivian said that Camphill does have an active recruiter but he believes that the core of the problem lies in the inability to offer an attractive career path to people drawn to the Camphill life. Elaine pointed out the academic route offered by the University of Aberdeen There is also a notional university Chair of Sustainable Community Studies and an Academy of Sustainable Communities proposed by John Prescott’s Sustainable Development Commission (June 2001). This Commission was axed by the Coalition Government in March 2011. But in spite of this, there are still a number of active university departments with ‘sustainable’ and ‘environment’ in their titles which given the proper stimulus, may be recruited to the benefit of Camphill. The afternoon was coming to its end. Godfrey announced the proposed meeting in London on 23rd June. A brisk enquiry was made about the preferred style for that meeting. Something like the Delrow invited panel seemed to be generally agreeable. Before the meeting formally dispersed Godfrey made the point about the limitations of the CF&F Trustees. The work of the Trustees is aimed at increasing their sphere of influence through collective acumen, shrewd judgement, diplomacy and sweet reason. The target is to modify those elements which threaten the essence of Camphill. As we dispersed, Steve hurtled back on his bicycle having spent the day organising a children’s tea party. He dismantled his projector and sound system while a band of Pennine co-workers moved into Aulis to prepare for an event that evening. Merton Parker. 13th March. 2012


Report of the March 2012 Pennine meeting  

A report of the March 2012 Pennine meeting

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