The woman wanderer goes forth to seek the Land of Freedom.
“How am I to get there?” Reason answers: “here is one way, and one only. Down the banks of Labour, through the water of suffering. There is no other.”
The woman cries out: “For what do I go to this far land which no one has ever reached? Oh, I am alone! I am utterly alone!”
But soon she hears the sounds of feet, ‘a thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, and they beat this way!’
“They are the feet of those who shall follow you. Lead on.”― Olive Schreiner
Dear Springhouse community,
I hope that you are well. Things are alive and well here at the Springhouse, and I am excited to tell you about what has been happening, along with a story about something magical that happened to me decades ago.
First, the story.
I taught preschool for about five years in my early 20s. It was a really precious time in my life. One morning, something very unusual happened that still sticks with me after all of these years. One of my students came running in with a book in her hand. The book looked magical, like she had pulled it out of a long lost treasure chest. Her mom was walking quickly behind her, trying to keep up with her excited daughter. The mom, looking slightly exasperated, said to me, “I don’t know what is going on.” She explained to me that her daughter went into the basement the night before, adamantly stating that she just had to get something for Miss Jenny. Kristen came up the stairs with a book in her hand. The mother didn’t know what it was, but Kristen said she had to bring it to me the next morning.
I didn’t read it right away, but when I did, I honestly felt like I was reading something I had written. The book was called Dreams and was written by a South African activist, Olive Schreiner. She longed for justice and liberation for all. One thing I remember is that I noticed Schreiner and I both capitalize words like Love, Wisdom, and Life. The book was from the 1800s, and I felt its resonance in my bones. Through poetry and mysticism, Schreiner spoke deep truths that needed to be heard then and still need to be heard today.
Fast forward decades ahead, and I regularly refer to this book for strength personally. I also share stories from it often with the Springhouse staff. During one of our weekly staff depth meetings months ago, I read one of the stories in the book called The Hunter. Ian, one of our staff members, was so moved by it that he decided to illustrate the story. Along with Sarah Pollock, they have led a community effort to letterpress and screen print the whole thing. This chapbook from Sourced Press is coming out this month. There are only 225 copies. I hope you will consider purchasing a copy. I have already purchased five.
I said I would also mention what we are up to at Springhouse. We have been practicing creating a culture that thrives, mostly through education – and now also through media and a global network of practice. We have been doing this for 10 years. It is very vulnerable to experiment radically with what has been strongly preserved over centuries, even when what we are preserving does not work. When we experiment radically with the purpose and practice of education, legitimacy is always in question. What we do is often compared to what has always been done, which makes no sense because the standards with which we measure by are radically different from the norm. We are not interested in tweaking the system that we know. We are interested in listening deeply to ourselves, each other, our community, and this world and creating from the ground up what we believe is needed right now. This is vulnerable, and Life shows us the way.
As we celebrate 10 years, we celebrate that we are still here and going strong. You can take a look at our 2022-2023 Annual Report to see what we have been up to. We also celebrate that we have taken time to articulate the design that brought Springhouse to life. These are ancient principles, and we call them Sourced Design. If you are curious about the cultural design that we share with others to build examples of thriving communities in their places – and the design that inspires our educational approach – there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the Springhouse community: seasonal meditations, a 2-hour course in the Foundations of Sourced Design, a monthly book study, a network with a monthly meeting, and, if you are looking for a deeper dive, an 8-month program for adults. I hope to see you along the way.
Olive Schreiner’s story, The Hunter, is one about persevering and keeping our eye on freedom. It is about respecting those who have come before us and continuing their liberation work. I am grateful to all who continue to walk up the mountain with us. We need more examples of thriving communities and culture – examples that bring theories and ideas to the ground and show us what is possible. Together, one step at a time, we will find our way to a world where all life thrives.
Gratefully and with love,