World authorities on sustainable living will be in Moray next month to attend an international conference titled, Communal Pathways to Sustainable Living, being hosted by The Findhorn Foundation ecovillage and community. The global gathering, from June 26 to 28, is the 11th conference organised by the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) and will bring together up to 250 communal scholars and community activists from around the world. Interested members of the wider Moray community are warmly invited to attend.
The conference and associated events offer a rare opportunity, in a unique communal setting, to share academic research and lived experience of life in intentional communities such as ecovillages, cohousing projects, communes, kibbutzim, sectarian communities and housing cooperatives. For many overseas participants it will also be a chance to experience a pioneering community with a proud 50-year history that has inspired hundreds of thousands of visitors and been the focus of numerous TV documentaries, radio programmes, books and magazine and newspaper articles.
The Moray-based community is a founder member of the Global Ecovillage Network. It has earned United Nations recognition, and inspired more than a dozen ‘daughter’ communities in different parts of the world. Organiser Graham Meltzer says: “Since the original founders parked their now-famous caravan at the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park in 1962, the influence has been enormous. And it is this charisma which is attracting many of the conference participants.”
But he insists locals will benefit equally: “There is much the Findhorn Foundation community can learn about collective living in other parts of the world. We are looking forward to a stimulating and inspiring event. The focus is on the link between community and sustainability,” he says. “At a time of increased public awareness of the human causes of climate change, there is a critical need for information about low impact, sustainable habitats and lifestyles.
“Historically, many intentional communities developed materially modest lifestyles in small socially cohesive groups, while striving for self-sufficiency and exercising stewardship of their land. Modern day ecovillages, of which the Findhorn ecovillage is a prime example, seek to further reduce their ecological impact by technological, social and other means. The conference will showcase sustainable lifestyles within communal settings and offer a wellspring of data, analysis, ideas and applications to inform and inspire those attending.”
The programme includes presentations and participatory workshops as well as cultural activities such as community singing, dance and storytelling. An optional three-day ‘Taste of Findhorn’ is being offered before the start of the conference (from June 22 to 24). It is based on ‘Experience Week’, the programme offered to first-time visitors, which is invariably a heart-opening and sometimes a life-changing experience.