by Carin Bolles
Happy birthday! … the Findhorn Foundation community at The Park celebrates 50 years as a force for positive change and pioneer of new ways of living sustainably that has touched the lives of people in more than 200 countries around the world.
It is a story of faith, perseverance and hope that resonates with 4,000 programme participants each year, and another 5,000 day visitors.
Many early residents are returning to the communtiy for a week-long climax of a series of talks, workshops and events that honour a half-century committed to awakening the highest in human potential. Fellows of the Findhorn Foundation will converge for the weekend and include Sir Jonathon Porritt, former Director of the UK government Sustainable Development Commission, appearing regularly on radio and television as a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth and the Green Party.
Sacked hotel manager Peter Caddy and his wife Eileen Caddy parked their caravan at the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park, hoping to be on their way within days. With them were their three young sons and close friend Dorothy Maclean.
These three adults were the nucleus of what would become an internationally renowned spiritual community, holistic learning centre and pioneering member of the Global Ecovillage Network. The community was awarded Best Practice designation by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements and has one of the lowest ecological footprints ever recorded in the industrialised world.
Today the Foundation plays an increasingly significant role in the economy and social life of the wider Moray community, boosting tourism and providing a platform for arts and entertainment, while retaining its focus on demonstrating harmonious and healthy ways of living. An economic impact study ten years ago measured the Foundation’s contribution to the local economy at £4 million per year.
Each year the Findhorn experiment attracts people from all walks of life who seek a sustainable way of living. Approximately 1,000 people per year take part in Experience Week as an introduction to community living. The Foundation combines the four aspects of sustainability together in one place: spiritual, social, evironmental and economic.
At The Park, Findhorn today there are eco homes, (some fashioned from discarded whisky barrels), solar panels, wind turbines to generate electricity, organic gardens, and an ingenious waste water treatment system, the Living Machine, that was the first of its kind in Europe.
Half a century ago in 1962 the protest voice of a young Bob Dylan was being heard. Beatlemania gripped young people everywhere with the launch of the Beatle’s first single, Love Me Do. John Lennon was later to explain: “The thing the Sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”
Decades later Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling Conversations with God series of books, observed: “There is a unique energy here … it makes it easy for people to access a different level of knowing, understanding and experiencing of some of the higher truths of life and how it is. What Findhorn brings to the human spirit is the possibility of flying!”
Gabrielle Hamm is one of a new generation living at Findhorn, who insists: “The old ways aren’t working and here at Findhorn we are constantly invited to question and seek new and better ways of being in community and together upon this earth.
“Where other communities have sometimes failed for a variety of reasons, the Findhorn community is an enduring example of possibilities and potentials. It is as relevant today as it ever was. Working with Moray Council, our Building Bridges initiative makes it possible for vulnerable local young people to spend time in the community and gain important life skills. We offer a wide range of other experiences to a variety of groups including corporate clients.”
While the Findhorn community has continually evolved, it remains founded on three fundamentals: each person has access to their own inner wisdom through time spent in quiet and stillness, as demonstrated by founder Eileen Caddy who received an MBE in 2004 for services to spiritual inquiry; co-creating with nature in the way that Dorothy Maclean demonstrated; and following the example of Peter Caddy whose busy life demonstated love in action.
Dorothy Maclean, the 92-year-old sole surviving co-founder says: “To make a difference in the world each one of us can be more loving in everything we do.”
Findhorn Foundation Trustee Robin Alfred, an organisational coach and executive trainer, observes: “The Findhorn Foundation Community is a place of hope. A symbol. A group of people with good intentions seeking to live a life inspired, moment by moment, with love, kindness, generosity, compassion, gratitude and service. A practical embodiment of spiritual values. A place where the ‘I’ is surrendered to the ‘We’ and the ‘We’ is surrendered to God.
“On a good day we almost manage to achieve it. On a bad day we fail, but we fail with awareness and come back the next day striving to do better. There is no hiding place in the Findhorn Foundation community and for that I am very grateful.”