General Secretary’s Michaelmas Letter

, September 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

Our conference held in Ottawa from August 7th to 14th was able to bring together people from different parts of the globe and of varying perspectives: young and old, Americans, Canadians and Europeans.

Michel Dongois has provided us with an extensive article describing this important event. I would simply like to add here some personal comments.

This was a team effort

A project of this magnitude cannot be brought to fruition without the collaboration of individuals who ascribe to a common ideal. What I carry away from this experience is the participative process our committee took up with vital intensity for 12 full months.

Once the aims of such a conference became clear to us in our preliminary meetings, we set out to visit the potential conference venue in 2015. There was a moment of hesitation and a lingering doubt as to the feasibility of organizing such a conference – and then came a clear commitment that we would forge ahead with the project and support it with all the means at our disposal.

During the months of preparation leading up to the conference itself, each member of the organizing committee found his or her place as the specific needs appeared and each one took on what he or she felt capable of carrying. The number of telephone conferences increased exponentially, becoming weekly occurrences as the conference approached. The challenges posed by refitting the college premises to suit the needs of the conference were a source of pressure up until the very last minute. For example, it was necessary to build a stage and equip it with a lighting system; Hamo Hammond and his Ottawa volunteers took this situation in hand. It was also necessary to find an adequate space for an art exhibition large enough to accommodate all the works sent in by the artists. This challenge was taken up by Sylvie Richard.

The logistics of all the details concerning the conference organisation were ably planned and managed by Siobhan Hughes and Robert MacKay; Doug Wylie oversaw the budget and Claudette Leblanc took charge of registrations and incoming finances. It was Jean Balekian who created the artistic motifs used in the announcements for the conference and he also took charge of organizing the artistic workshops. And Dorothy LeBaron’s role was absolutely invaluable: she oversaw the coordinating of all of the diverse aspects linked to this event.

Eric Philips-Oxford provided the translations of all the elements for the conference website, which was thus made available in both languages. John Bach coordinated the participant research presentations and Judith King brought her enthusiastic support to all concerned. And we must thank Gary Burak, who carefully built the conference website and posted all the information sent to him by the various sources.

And it goes without saying that our most heartfelt thanks goes out to the members of the Goetheanum Executive Committee who so generously gave of their time and expertise: Bodo von Plato, Paul Mackay, Joan Sleigh, Seija Zimmerman and Constanza Kaliks.

All of this organisational activity was carried out in a mood of mutual respect and unfailing energy and selflessness. We can truly say that we experienced a beautiful example of what it means to work together towards a common goal.


Participant research presentations

I must also emphasize one other aspect of this event: the participant research projects that were scheduled at the end of the afternoon on each day of the conference. Over 35 individuals took up the call to offer the results of their personal research on a variety of topics. These exchanges on various subjects are a reflection of how anthroposophy is truly alive. It remains to be seen if our members would like to receive summaries of these presentations.

Surely, the future depends on the fact that each individual brings his or her personal impulse into the world. And indeed, the subtitle of our conference spoke to this in a timely manner: “From Knowledge to Conscious Action.”

My best wishes for Michaelmas,

Arie van Ameringen