Today was the big day – Community Meeting.
What have I been doing here the last 2 1/2 weeks? I had the privilege to talk intensively to more than 35 people about Camphill.
It was about their hopes, homes, visions and some of them even unfolded parts of their lives. There were emotional moments in these conversations where I thought where does it lead to? However, these moments will stay with me for a long time. I still have to do some thinking!
The idea from the very beginning was to have a Community Meeting as they call it here where I was expected to present my perceptions. Presenting here doesn’t mean power point slides!!
I developed the idea to work with images: pictures, paintings, symbols etc.
Some of my conversation partners utilized metaphors and little stories which I took up.
“Lots of different balloons are flying above Camphill and we need to connect them or to create one big balloon”, was one statement. I connected this metaphor with my feeling that every balloon was grounded in a big heart in the Camphill soil.
At the end I had five images which conveyed the messages I wanted to get across. I asked around for someone who was good at painting and drawing. Esme took on the task and the wonderful paintings are the result of her doings. Thank you very much Esme!
I put all the images up at the meeting hall and presented them to approx. 50 participants.
After the presentation the group was divided into 5 subgroups which discussed shortly my perceptions and than each dealt with a specific question. It was a wonderful picture seeing and hearing all these people discussing and arguing.
The results of these sub-groups were reported back in the plenary which created a nice atmosphere as well. They are not used to doing that regularly.
This meeting has been a good start for Camphill to further work on its way forward: knowing – better to say feeling – that there is a lot of common ground which helps to find the balance between the philosophy of Camphill and the current requirements.
The Managing Director wrapped up the meeting with a challenging task for everyone to think about.
I am having my second weekend out of Camphill and staying in Stellenbosch. It is a vibrant town north of Cape Town full of students from South Africa and overseas. There is quite some German speaking tongues around here as well. I am staying with Colleen and Walter who have the gift to make you feel like having known them for hundert years already after entering their house.
Yesterday evening I went to a concert at the Oude Libertas Amphitheater right outside of Stellenbosch. I enjoyed it very much even I didn’t know the Belgium singer beforehand.
But the world is small. I can tell. During our wonderful breakfast this morning I mentioned the concert and a Belgium woman who has been on her honeymoon smiled and replied that she went with him to school in Belgium. We than listened to some nice stories about those times.
Yesterday morning I went to the “slow” market where local artists sell their treasures and food stalls serve delicious meals. I was waiting at this particular store for my meal. I am not revealing what it was!?
During a walk after breakfast I discovered this wonderful sculpture. It is a reminder of South Africa’s mining legacy. Do you think he is happy? That’s what the discussion is about. Does – in this case – gold make you happy?
A place where you can relax, calm down and take a deep breath is the Botanical Garden where I stayed for a while and had a nice Cappuccino.
Here we are: Colleen and Walter in her beautiful garden where I am writing this blog and preparing the community session at Camphill coming Wednesday.
I would like to tell you more about this event but my conversation partners have the right to get the feedback first. More about it at the end of the week.
Saturday evening, 21 January 2017, one day after the presidential inauguration in Washington and my father’s birthday. 8.30 pm at Bloubergstrand opposite Cape Town. I am sitting in a nice and fully packed restaurant and have just ordered my dinner. I am looking around. I have somehow the feeling that my senses have been sharpened after the week in Camphill.
What am I looking at? This machine. What does it say? Boys. Girl. Boys is plural, Girl is singular. Does that carry any meaning? Probably not. But that is not the strange thing.
Some of you might remember these funny machines dating back to the last century where you never knew what you would get out. In this case there are some hints already. If you are a girl you throw your 5 Rands into the right hand slot and if you are a boy you do it otherwise. Is it weapon or dolls? Don’t know. But does that work? What do you think?
You can be assured, it doesn’t. A girl comes along, looks at the two sections of this machine, thinks a moment and puts her money into the boys’ slot. I can’t see what she gets out because she hides it in her hand. But she didn’t do what she was expected to do!
Are you most of the time or always doing what you are expected to do?
Besides this little story I am having a wonderful weekend in Bloubergstrand. Firstly it is a paradise for kite surfers who gather in hundreds here. It’s amazing what they do on the Atlantic Ocean.
The other highlight is looking onto Cape Town and the Table Mountain. It is a special feeling. During daylight Table Mountain is the eye catcher on the horizon. And after 9 pm it is the silhouette which is amazing. Fabulous. Enjoy the photos.
And I met Philip, my host at Bloubergstrand. He runs – besides being engaged in other businesses – a B&B, only two rooms. If you ever go to Cape Town and would like to stay at Bloubergstrand, Richmondstreet 45 is the place to stay!
Philip is an amazing guy. We even touched Kant, Camus and other likes in our discussions. On the other hand he has his two legs firmly grounded into life. Philip if you happen to read this: Thanks very much for your hospitality.
Now I am back at Camphill and preparing next week. I wish you all a very good start.
After a few days being here I have developed some kind of a rhythm already. Should I really call it a rhythm?
It is no in the sense I would understand it being in Germany. Why? I awake at around 6.30 am and I can already see and feel the sun shining. I get up and sit a bit in the garden enjoying the first streaks of the morning sun. Having greeted the new day I go for a little run in Camphill. It is an amazing feeling to be outside at this time, seeing the Table Mountain in the far distance and being at ease with oneself.
Then I have my cereals for breakfast and a mug of coffee which I drink – guess where – outside again, now becoming fully awake.
A similar procedure takes place in the evening. Supper is at around 6.30 pm and I go for a run at about 7.45pm. A little bit later the sun sets. Temperature goes down. However, still warm enough to sit outside, what I do after having taken a shower.
What do I miss? Nothing. Well ….
Almost nothing – I could do with a glass of wine. But I haven’t got any alcohol here.
Talking about people that is different: I do miss my wife.
Am I turning into some sort of a monk now or am I preparing myself for the next Olympic Games taking part in the marathon? Neither … nor …
I probably won’t run twice a day over a longer period of time and I won’t restrain from drinking wine. However, I am on a discovery trip to my inner self which is very exciting.
There is a Germany saying “In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft”. If this is right I must have a lot of power now. This of course doesn’t refer to physical power but aims at doing the right things, at the right time with the appropriate pace and power.
More about what I am doing follows. Stay tuned.
Matanzima gave me a warm reception at the International Airport of Cape Town. He greeted me with a big smile and gave me a ride to Camphill Village. It is an amazing feeling entering a foreign country and being welcomed by someone who makes you feel like being at home. It’s about an hours drive from the airport to Camphill. And you know what? Remember my first blog about “Ubuntu”? During our discussion Matanzima mentioned Ubuntu already. He referred to the period of Apartheid in South Africa when he went to neighboring countries which welcomed him. And he affirmed how important this concept is in African culture.
Arriving at Camphill we drove to a house which is called ‘Moya’. This will be my home for the weeks to come. And guess what?
Renate, aged 87, one of the founding members of Camphill lives in this house. She still is a very active member of Camphill Community and contributes a lot. Renate has the gift to involve everyone and makes everyone feel important in the community. It really is an honor for me to be her guest and learn from her.
Gregory completes our “Wohngemeinschaft”. I got introduced to a lot of people already and I have to keep record of the names which are a challenge for me.
Weekend is a quiet time here especially after the summer break. Some residents or staff are still on holiday and are returning next week. That gives me time to slow down, accustom my rhythm and reflect a bit. My favorite place is behind the house on a bench looking into the Blue Sky and the trees. You might not believe it but during the last days I have read a biography on Cristiano Ronaldo which is a fantastic book with a lot of insights into the soccer business. By the way, I met a lady on the plane who used to live in the neighbourhood of Ronaldo on Madeira. But that is a different story ….
There has been no decent rain coming down for almost two years and therefore the soil needs to be watered all the time. And water is on short supply. People are praying for rain.
I have been invited on Saturday and Sunday to different houses for lunch. This concept of having houses here for the residents which are considered as families is a cornerstone of the Camphill philosophy. I will describe the concept in more detail in one of the blogs to come.
I am about to leave for Cape Town. Am I nervous? No. Am I afraid? No. However, I have been building up internal (positive) tension which provides me with energy. What do I need the energy for?
I’m going to support “Camphill Village West Coast” (Camphill) 40 km north of Cape Town for a couple of weeks. During our pre-preparation Skype calls they have encountered me with ‘tons of trust’. Am I able to deliver? Am I sensitive enough in this environment? These questions have the foundation in our western world where the individual perspective is predominant.
The concept or philosophy “Ubuntu” looks from a different perspective.
“Ubuntu is a philosophy that considers the success of the group above that of the individual.” (Stephen Lundin)
It is a traditional African philosophy that offers us an understanding of ourselves in relation with the world. According to Ubuntu, there exists a common bond between us all and it is through this bond, through our interaction with our fellow human beings, that we discover our own human qualities.
Or as the Zulus would say, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other persons.
Intellectually that makes sense for me. But analytics alone cannot explain the roots of this concept. There is a more to it. It touches all our senses and feelings. That is exactly what I need now.
My curiosity has been aroused and my positive internal tension is growing. I am ready!!!