Summer 2019


St. John's Tide at the Goetheanum | 24 June 2019 Dornach CH | Photo by Mayumi Matsumiya [BR] 

“Change your ways” is the flaming message of St. Johnstide. The same resounds as an ongoing wake-up call throughout the world in our time, sounding urgently particularly in the younger people who carry the well-being of the planet & humankind at heart.

In the face of the current world situation – migration & exile, unpredictable climate change, economic instability – humanity has to recognize that our own deeds & actions, even our thoughts & emotions, are the cause of our own destruction. In meeting the dangers & challenges which in many parts of the world are existential & life-threatening, we may naturally respond with fear, anger, doubt, hatred, exclusion & despair. 

Fear & anxiety can be seen to appear & increase within society proportional to the process of individuation & growing self-awareness. As the sense of individuality emerges, with it come loneliness & isolation. Therefore, we can agree with Heidegger that anxiety reveals the emptiness of nothingness within one’s own being. Fear & anxiety can be described as instincts of escape, of withdrawal into a known or habitual space. They freeze & harden the life of feeling, potentially escalating into paranoia & paralysis.

Anger, resentment & aggression are other voices of pain, often
caused by feeling misunderstood or disrespected. In witnessing a lack of human dignity & acceptance of self & others, this can escalate into violence. Rudolf Steiner describes anger as a forerunner to something we wish or intend to develop, a capacity we do not yet possess. “Anger is not a sign of might & strength, but an expression of impotence.” 

Shame & doubt are feelings of being unprotected, exposed & naked in the face of outer situations which one cannot change, a feeling of being caught off guard, of being seen in one’s limitations & incapacity. In other words, we feel shame when we know that we are not living up to our true potential. 

These responses confront us in all areas of life, whether we deal with them consciously or escape them through denial or distraction. If we pay heed to them, they may become messengers in the process of self-transformation. “By inhabiting & navigating the soul-space, more explicitly the heart-space within, one is on the way to convey the intelligence to the whole being”. This process can only be guided by the ‘I’ awakening to itself: firstly, to its inherited identity, then to the emerging individuality, & thirdly to a sense of the potential of true human becoming. Loneliness & isolation accompany this journey. Edouard Glissant says that identity is always in a process of growth & transformation, making it both fragile and precious. Rudolf Steiner says the independent self or I, knows itself as being-in-the-world, placing itself again & again in a state of risk. It creates the risk & then grows in & through it. 

Could it be that the pain & suffering of the individual, expressed also in emotions such as fear, anger & shame, are an indication that the homeless, isolated self is already on a journey of self-transformation in growing recognition of the part it plays in world-transformation? 

When fear can be seen as an invitation to find & know the self, anger arouses personal interest & engagement in the world for the world; & individual shame is the messenger of divine origin & potential, then the human being may begin to know itself as a participant in caring for & advancing the earth.  

Joan Sleigh

Social Initiative Forum Project Leader 
General Anthroposophical Society - Goetheanum Executive Council Member
14th July 2019

| Heidegger, see Karl König: The Human Soul | Rudolf Steiner: The Mission of Anger GA 58 | Karl König: The Human Soul. Rudolf Steiner: Leading Thoughts; Michael Letter from 16 Nov 1924 | Edouard Glissant: Dissolving Barriers in Culture and Identity 2013 | 


Finding Home after the Flight
Milena Kowarik talks about the Initiativforum für Gefluchtete [CH] & how this space of human encounters helps the refugees gain their Selfhood back

“The social questions & the world situation have often made me restless, feeling like I couldn’t sit on my chair & just practice when there are a lot of burning issues waiting outside”, shared cellist, teacher & Swiss Anthroposophical Society coworker Milena Kowarik in an interview last April 1, 2019. At the age of 28, she has been leading Initiativforum für Geflüchtete, a Swiss-based organization that helps refugees find their bearings in Switzerland through practical assistance, artistic community activities, & monthly support meetings. The initiative also provides a safe space for the refugees to share their biographies as a way of healing from the trauma they experienced due to war & forced migration.

Initiativforum für Geflüchtete emerged out of the 2016 Swiss Anthroposophical Society Annual Conference, which focused on the mass migration of refugees to Europe in 2015. Almost 200 people attended the conference, including refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland who shared the difficulties they encountered during the painstaking exile. Out of this conference, Peter Selg compiled the experiences shared by the refugees in the book Kaspar Hauser und das Flüchtlingsdrama Heute: Verlust und Wiederaufbau menschlicher Identität, in which he paralleled the plight the refugees endured in exile to the life & struggles of Kaspar Hauser. Board member Clara Steinemann was also inspired by the same conference that she started Initiativforum für Geflüchtet

“We felt we have a different view on the refugee crisis with the whole Michael time & the whole karmic background. We look at this crisis from a different viewpoint than the other social initiatives & aid organizations because we focus on what is destroyed, what does it mean to leave the place & leave this kind of protective group soul,” Milena described what aspects Initiativforum für Geflüchtet works with the refugees. She added, “our aim with our anthroposophical background is to strengthen their individuality again, which has been destroyed through war, through the flight, through everything they experienced. We do not just give them clothes & a place to stay, but we try to give back their human dignity. & that their individuality is something that can grow again–for them to meet people who recognize them as individuals, & not just as refugees.”

Picnic by the Birs | Jun 2017 | Photo by Milena Kowarik [AT]

A Warm Welcome to New SIF Members

Free Columbia [US] is an interdisciplinary study program on Transdisciplinary Learning, Drama, Social Theory & the Arts, which seeks to promote & ignite freedom seen in the light of Anthroposophy. Located in the heart of New York, Free Columbia has no set tuition fees nor material costs, but running expenses are shared to the public. Students & friends of the school are encouraged to donate in support of this kind of education - pledging monthly amounts, gifts & donations to cover the costs. This financing model provides a sense of cultural hygiene & communal support, which is a sustainable model close to the idea of Free Culture that creates independent educational & artistic opportunities made accessible to all. | Photo + Text: Free Columbia

The Wider Movement [ZA] is a free association of individuals, initiatives & organizations addressing the social questions living in Africa through Anthroposophy. The network, which initially started in Western Cape, now extends to the whole African Continent, supporting work in the field of agriculture, education, medicine, Camphill communities, & the arts. The Wider Movement also features different workshops on Anthroposophy, Eurythmy, Waldorf Education & Biodynamic Agriculture that are held in the region. Their website is both interactive & informative, in which anthroposophically-inspired initiatives in Africa are featured as a beacon of inspiration to the network & the public at large. | Photo + Text: The Wider Movement
Kamah Association [IL] in Kibbutz Harduf, Israel works to achieve the full integration of people with special needs & at-risk children & youth in Israeli society by providing a unique communal model for social inclusion. Following a curative community model, Kamah provides individuals with special needs with a rehabilitative & therapeutic home in a rural community. Members live as part of a supportive community of 600 individuals in Kibbutz Harduf, leading a lifestyle that is fully integrated into the social fabric of a thriving environment. Since 1993, hundreds of children, youth & adults have benefited from this model. Following Kamah's success in establishing the first curative community in Israel, other nearby communities are following & replicating this model of inclusive community living. Photo + Text: Kamah Association

Elderberries 3fold Cafe is a social justice café of community activists, where Waldorf graduates & at-risk individuals gather for peer-to-peer meetings that can unify the community & create a space to learn from one another. Elderberries 3fold Cafe is standing at the front lines for a more beautiful culture to become possible through the experience of the other, their deepest questions & the healing of our social ecology. They work equally with the at-risk communities of the underprivileged & homeless, those struggling with addiction, the over-privileged, individuals seeking meaning in life, as well as the healers, organizers & brave new dreamers asking how to shift our world toward the good.  The founding principles behind Elderberries 3fold Cafe are kindness, care, consideration & learning how best to meet & serve the other, which in turn brings one closer to who he/she is striving to become. | Photo + Text:  Elderberries 3fold Cafe
Frank Agma & Dottie Zold's [US] story on Elderberries 3fold Café here

Initiative in Focus 

Autonomy to Act: Engagement Kollege
Georg Wiedemer shares how the Ehemaligenarbeit-Freunde [DE] accompanies the young volunteers to process consciously & creatively the changes they have experienced after their voluntary service with Freiwilligendienste-Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V [DE]

Photo by  Nicole Asis [PH]

“Whence came you hither?” asked the golden king. “Out of the clefts where gold dwells,” replied the serpent. “What is more glorious than gold?” “Light!” “What is more quickening than Light?” “Conversation!” – Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Das  Märchen, 1795

Almost 40 alumni of the Freiwilligendienste-Freunde [DE] gathered for the preparation of the Engagementkollegs last April 5-7, 2019 in Kassel, Germany. Guided by the Ehemaligenarbeit-Freunde [DE], Engagementkollegs is a series of seminars that the young volunteers can participate in after the voluntary service. The seminars are led by former volunteers.

Freiwilligendienste-Freunde has been organizing voluntary service programs for young people since 1993. The volunteers can almost work anywhere in the world for a year in the following fields: curative education & social therapyWaldorf pedagogy, social work, ecology, community development & biodynamic farming. “We believe that the voluntary service is biographically important, especially that the young people around the age of 18 go out into the world,” said Ehemaligenarbeit coordinator Georg Wiedemer. “With Ehemaligenarbeit, we offer to continue this relationship—to carry on the work together after they had done the voluntary service with us. We reflect with them the changes they have experienced after their year abroad & explore with them how these changes can help the world.”

Like the volunteers who joined other state-funded volunteer programs under weltwärts [DE], the alumni of the Freiwilligendienste-Freunde need to attend 25 days of seminars spread out before & after the service as a requirement. When the volunteers return home, the Ehemaligenarbeit invites them for a review seminar to look back at their experiences & the changes that resulted from their immersion abroad. Georg observed, “What happens to everybody is that they change. They grow up. They change their values & expectations of life. That is where the Engagementkollegs step in, as an offer that asks: What are the changes you experienced & what do you do with this change of values now?”


Current Impulses 

SIF preps Forums for 2019/2020
The Social Initiative Forum [CH] collaborates with SEKEM [EG], Ehemaligenarbeit-Freunde [DE] & Nyendo Lernen [DE] + Sunbridge International Collaborative [US] for 3 Forums on Transformative Education, Ethical Individualism & Innovative Entrepreneurship 
SIF Forum Posters designed by Juan Bottero [AR]
The Social Initiative Forum [CH] is currently working on 3 Forums in collaboration with other anthroposophical organizations for 2019-2020.

Now in its 2nd year, SIF Goetheanum 2019 Ethical Individualism: Transforming Self & Society is a 3-day Forum specifically designed for the alumni of the Freiwilligendienste-Freunde der Erziehunsgkunst Rudolf Steiners e.V [DE] after they have done their voluntary year abroad. SIF Goetheanum 2019: Ethical Individualism is co-organized with Ehemaligenarbeit-Freunde [DE] & will be held from the 18th to the 20th of October 2019 at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

SIF Nairobi 2020: Inuka Sasa Summit is a 5-day Forum which will explore global responsibility through a cultural exchange & a dialogue with the social entrepreneurs living in the slums of Kenya. Happening from the 13th to the 17th of April 2020, SIF Nairobi 2020: Inuka Sasa Summit is by invitation only, extended to network members chosen by the SIF Team & partner organizations Nyendo Lernen [DE] & Sunbridge International Collaborative [US].

In collaboration with SEKEMSIF Egypt 2019: Unfolding Individual Potential for the Future is a 3-day Forum which will focus on holistic education as a tool towards self-development & social transformation. SIF Egypt 2019 will take place from the 12th to the 15th of December 2019 at Heliopolis University located in the heart of Cairo. SIF Egypt 2019 is open to all educators, researchers, students & participants who are looking for various holistic & inclusive pedagogies to foster lifelong learning & social engagement. The Forum also creates a possibility for Anthroposophy to get in dialogue with Islam, as delegates from Egypt, its neighboring countries, & the international network will take part in this event. Other activities include a pre-Forum for the youth organized by the SIF Team & the Youth Group in SEKEM and an optional excursion to the pyramids. Are you interested to join us in SIF Egypt 2019? Register online.
SEKEM Community in a circle | © SEKEM [EG]

SIF Online

"Sensing another being, (that) I am not losing myself in the other, but I am inviting the other to show themselves through appreciative inquiry...inquiry because I am opening the question. Through that, we are birthing Empathy. This capacity is new & it depends on the conscious, self-aware soul – the conscious soul which can stand grounded in itself, in its own truth, & yet, open to another." - Joan Sleigh, SIF Goetheanum 2018: Ethical Individual - Transforming Self & Society
Joan Sleigh on Ethical Individualism : Transforming Self & Society
SIF Goetheanum 2018 : Ethical Individualism | 19 Oct 2018 | Dornach CH
SIF is now mapped!
Karte von morgen is an interactive map that shows where projects & companies working for social, ecological & economic change are located. 

"We are looking for a variety of ideas, projects & companies to counteract the current social, ecological & economic upheavals. We would like to bring them all together & create a joint online presence, and thus increased attention in society for these pioneering projects."- Karte von morgen

The Social Initiative Forum has been mapped! Check our coordinates here.

Updates Worldwide

From the 20th to the 23rd of June 2019, the 8th International Emergency Pedagogy Annual Conference was held at the Parzifal Center in Karlsruhe, Germany. Organized by Notfallpädagogik-Freunde der  Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V [DE], the 3-day gathering worked on the theme "Emergency Pedagogy - How Pedagogy Help Injured Infant Souls". Emergency Pedagogy is a first aid intervention where children & adolescents, traumatized by war or calamity, overcome possible trauma disorders through a holistic therapeutic method based on Waldorf education. To know more about the 8th International Emergency Pedagogy Conference & other emergency pedagogy interventions done all over the world, check their social media page.
Another milestone in the anthroposophical community is celebrated this year, as Social Threefolding reaches a hundred years since its founding in 1919. Attended by 600 people from all over the world, Impuls für die Zukunft: Tagung 100 Jahre Soziale Dreigliedrung took place from the 5th to the 7th of April, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference was opened by Ulrich Mogenthaler & Stuttgart mayor Fritz Kuhn, followed by Henning Kullack Ublick & Christoph Strawe's lecture on how Social Threefolding is practiced today through various initiatives worldwide. Head of the Section for Social Sciences-Goetheanum Gerald Häfner enumerated the different phases of Social Threefolding & pointed out that Social Threefolding is not an aim towards utopia but a "knowledge of the current global situation as a prerequisite for social action". Alternative Nobel Prize winner Nicanor Perlas talked about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence & urged the plenum to foster civic engagement & spiritual activity as a way of guarding what is truly human. Several workshops & an Open Market of Possibilities (Markt der Möglichkeiten) showcased topics & initiatives on land reform, basic income, associative economics in practice, & the democratic voice of the youth, to name a few.  For more information about Impuls für die Zukunft: Tagung 100 Jahre Soziale Dreigliedrung, read Bernhard Steiner's conference report.
The Youth Section at the Goetheanum released the initial report of (RE)Search: The Spiritual Striving of Youth - Shaping Our Reality. The data is gathered from 75 hours of recorded conversations encapsulating the youth's spiritual striving - their values, principles & motivations that guide them in their everyday lives. Over 40 young men & women between the ages of 18 to 35 years old from 23 different nationalities participated & shared their insights on the question "what would the world look like in 2030, if that which lives within you becomes a reality, & what will you do to make it happen?". To know more about the initial results of this youth-led (RE)search on the young people's striving & how they engage in the world, read the full report here.

Coming Up Next

Associação Comunitária Monte Azul - Sozialarbeit in den Favelas von São Paulo / Brasilien
"Do you have something to give me?", the children from the favela asked Monte Azul pioneer & WSIF co-founder Ute Craemer on a normal day in 1975. Out of this question sprung the call; & with it, the Associação Comunitária Monte Azul [BR] was born. Celebrating its 40th year this year, Monte Azul is a thriving social organization that focuses on providing a dignified & humane life for the people living in the favelas of São Paulo. Over 250 employees & volunteers from all over the world live in Monte Azul; & they enliven the community through education, medicine, & the arts. Inspired by Anthroposophy, Monte Azul makes the holistic development of every human being as the focus & purpose of their work. We celebrate 40 years of Monte Azul's engagement & commitment to individual empowerment & social work from the 2nd to the 10th August 2019 in São Paulo, Brazil! Check the Jubiläum 40 Jahre Monte Azul page for updates. 
The Autumn Conference 2019: Open School of Spiritual Science Work & the 7th lecture Curative Educational Course is a 3-day event organized by the Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development, where they will focus on "Practice Spirit Beholding" of the Foundation Stone Meditation & the 7th lecture from Rudolf Steiner's Curative Education Course 1924. The Autumn Conference 2019 will be held from the 3rd to the 5th of October 2019 at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. For additional information & online registration, click here - DE  |  EN.

A Call for Action

Allianz Eliant is holding a signature campaign for "the right to screen-free daycare institutions, kindergarten & primary schools". This petition reiterates that "educational policy needs to abandon its fixation on wall-to-wall digitalization & permit the use of creative alternatives by those whose primary concern is to give children real-world educational learning experiences". For details on Allianz Eliant & their campaign for screen-free early childhood education, click here.
In hopeful anticipation for the harvest of summer,
The Social Initiative Forum Team


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