“The healthy social life is only found,
when in the mirror of each human soul,
the whole community finds its reflection
and when, in the community,
the virtue of each one is living.”
The above verse is said together at the start of our community meetings, so as to set the highest intention for the outcomes reached. During the holidays I pondered the question: What does it mean to be a part of a community? What are my responsibilities as a community member?
In order to have clarity about the meaning, I consulted Google to define the word COMMUNITY. The following definitions resulted:
• A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common;
• A feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals;
• A group of interdependent organisms of different species growing and living together in a specified habitat.
It is my opinion that as today’s members of society, we are having to re-learn the concept of what it means to live, work and be conscientious, responsible and responsive members of our communities. We are occupied by the noble tasks of maintenance and sustenance of our livelihood, bound by the confines of anxieties and fears. Our social and family rhythms are influenced and intruded upon by the recreational use of cellphones, television, computer usage and gaming, etc. I am sure we all – to some degree – experience these constant pre-occupations and distractions which take away from time possibly spent interacting with and building our communities at home and beyond.
In our current climate riddled with political complexities, socio-economic imbalance and environmental concerns, how do we anchor our children in the ethics that will steer the future towards a place of harmony and balance?
In my experience as both a parent and a teacher at a Waldorf school, I have found that one of the possibly least obvious yet beneficial aspects of being at a Waldorf school is the experience of being a part of a Real Community.
According to the International Association for Public Participation, the following principles may be applied to community engagement:
• Careful planning and preparation
• Inclusion and demographic diversity
• Collaboration and shared purpose
• Openness and learning
• Transparency and trust
• Impact and action
• Sustained engagement and participatory culture
Here within our community at Gaia, we are endeavouring to practise the above-mentioned principles in our daily lives and in the “life” of the school. This is our space as parents, guardians and teachers to dream, plan and do the work required of us as custodians of the present. Let us continue to strive together for the greater good and model the principles and ethics that help manifest a thriving and evolving community. Let us raise our children as champions of the future, who will contribute to the renewal of society in our beloved communities, our country and the world.
Wishing all our families love, light and strength.