By Helen Fox
Reflecting back on my moment of catalyst with Springhouse takes me to early August 2022 and a zoom call with Chuck Peters. Chuck and I had met on another online platform and I’d asked this wonderful and very well connected man if I could please have a meeting with him. I was coming to the United States that September for an exploratory trip to establish connections and expand my vision of what is possible for the Earth Wisdom School I am developing here in South Africa. I was hoping Chuck could connect with me some relevant people/ organizations. Wow, and that he did 🙂 Without hesitation he told me about Springhouse and the value I would find in connecting with you all. He then put in touch with Sarah Piper and the journey had truly begun.
I arrived in Boston, and after a week in western Massachusetts with a dear friend, I took the + 600 mile journey to Floyd to attend the sacred dance retreat hosted by Springhouse. Absolutely exhausted, hot and with a stress headache I entered into a space vital, alive, rejuvenating, welcoming and free and my headache and tiredness no longer had power to affect my mood. I danced so free in the container of love and possibility that was created. Thank you Springhouse! And thank you again. The metaphor I use to describe what you do and the magic you create comes from agriculture. I want to compare industrialized agriculture and permaculture and relate this to the typical public school system (industrialized agriculture) and Springhouse (Permaculture).
Industrial agriculture breaks up the life-giving networks within an ecosystem and reduces it to a monoculture that is dependent on expensive and damaging external inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. The life and vitality within the system is broken and the elements (water, sun, wind and earth) are changed from life giving forces into destructive ones. The public schooling system parallels this in some ways and I’m sure you can identify some of the similarities, such as children being trained to become cogs in the capitalist system that they become heavily dependent on.
Life-giving agricultural systems, such as permaculture, are very different. They are about rebuilding the networks within an ecosystem, enabling the incredible richness of resources to be generously shared amongst the different beings making up the system. Each individual within the system is able to carry out their function and be an intact, healthy being. The sun, rain, wind and earth are able to do their incredibly generous work of adding life to life to life. The agricultural system is transformed back into an intact, whole interdependent system that isn’t reliant on external inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides to be productive.
Springhouse reminds me of such life-giving agricultural systems. Each practice of the school focuses on creating intact, healthy individuals, able to be free and productive in who they are, while being responsible for the well-being of the whole. A vibrant, healthy community is created where there’s a beautiful and generous, unrestricted flow of emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical resources between people. Resources of each individual become useful to and part of the whole. So much life becomes possible in such a space. And this is what I want to align my dreams with and become part of this community of health, generosity and life, “cup spilling over” and positively impacting those around them.
And Jenny being Jenny was so open to welcoming me into the community and exploring possibilities of how our dreams can become shared ones. And now, very excitingly, Jarrah Callister (a student at Springhouse) is coming to South Africa in 2 weeks time to be the first international participant at the Earth Wisdom School, based at Wild Fox Hill in the beautiful village of Hogsback, South Africa (www.wildfoxhill.co.za). Jarrah will get to experience incredible natural beauty with a South African flavor, be immersed in our diverse cultures and meet extraordinary people, gain new earth wisdom skills and help establish the future curriculum, inspired by the culture of learning at Spring House. We can’t wait! And the hope is that his visit will create a bridge where many more students from Spring House will be able to participate in a one month programme at the Earth Wisdom School.