“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”~ bell hooks
Dear Springhouse community,
As I sit down to write this letter about beloved community, a hawk and a crow play up in the sky with one another. The lyrical and clear nature of their calls drew me out onto the porch to watch them. They flew with such precision and joy. As I watched the hawk and crow, I became very aware that it takes this kind of joyful clarity to actually build beloved community – one person at a time.
Earlier this month, I was feeling lazy and threw away a plastic bottle rather than cleaning it out and recycling it. Right when I did this, I heard from within, “There is no away.” I stopped in my tracks. I thought I was throwing this bottle away, but there is no away. Thinking that there is an away is an illusion, and it only applies to my own little personal sphere. It is not sustainable thinking when it comes to my relationship to the Earth, and it is not sustainable when it comes to community.
I have seen this throw-away thinking practiced as a cultural strategy for all kinds of reasons and all kinds of people. I see it in education, where we standardize and norm young people. I see it in the criminal justice system in this country with over 2 million people incarcerated. I see it in health care, in the way we approach elder care, and the list goes on. The principle and practice of Beloved Community tells us that we can’t throw away people. It demands that we rise with greater creativity, clarity, and courage to build a community that knows it is connected in ways that respect difference. This is interdependence. The trees live by this principle. We can live by it, too.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defined beloved community as follows:
Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.
What a mighty vision, and Dr. King did not see this as an unattainable utopia. As the King Center puts it, “It was not a lofty utopian goal to be confused with the rapturous image of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which lions and lambs coexist in idyllic harmony. Rather, The Beloved Community was for [King] a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.”
If you are interested in looking at the principles of nonviolence outlined by King, click here. At Springhouse, we practice the Sourced Design principles, which are aligned with the principles King outlined and are articulated as follows:
- Take care of vulnerability
- Cultivate personhood
- Build beloved community
- Respect the wisdom of the Earth
- Love and serve others
If you are curious about these principles, we have an online learning resource that explores them in depth, and we also offer the Sourced Design Lab to provide a space to learn and practice for those who wish to put vitality at the front and center of their lives and communities. Our Summer Lab is full and is a prerequisite for our 2-year certificate program to begin this fall. If you plan to apply for the certificate program in 2022, please contact us, and we will do our best to work you in if you have not taken a Lab.
Like Dr. King, we do not experience beloved community as a utopia. Accepting each other and learning together in community can be challenging. Many of us have been taught to fear differences. We have not had the opportunities to learn or practice the creativity it takes to navigate complexity. Compassion has not been something our culture has cultivated. It’s an uphill journey for sure. The best we can do is commit to practicing, with joyful clarity, one day at a time.
We have a really special opportunity to celebrate community at the end of the learning year. We have people traveling from near and far to visit us at Springhouse, and we hope you will come join us! We are also enrolling for the 2022-2023 school year – join us for our Spring Celebration of Learning or contact us to schedule a visit.
Thank you for all of the ways you participate in this powerful example of regenerative culture. We are grateful.