Participant responses to the conference

, September 10, 2016

“I would like to acknowledge with gratitude how I felt accommodated by the ethos of the conference Encountering Our Humanity. The Ottawa event really spoke to the spirit of the Cambridge Music Conference. I really valued the autonomy I was granted. I felt the true spirit of my work was recognised. My effort to commission music in dialogue with eurythmy as a way to present ‘ideas in action’ really resonated with the ideal ‘conscious knowledge to conscious action’ at the heart of the Ottawa conference. I valued Doug Wylie’s efforts to align the Cambridge Music Conference with charitable initiatives especially meaningful. I found it deeply moving that Amnesty International was present endorsing their position ‘No More Stolen Sisters’. Sylvie Richard’s understanding of our music collective was reflected in her sensitive interview on CBC Radio French Canada acknowledging how the Cambridge Music Conference’s commissions give the most vulnerable a voice through our efforts to advocate for different causes. Alexandra Mackinnon’s endless networking also resulted in a live radio interview for me, in which I was able to communicate the true spirit of “Women Are Gone” by Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau. I attribute all of these unexpected strengths and invaluable qualities to the social architecture of the conference and how it was designed, organised and executed… right down to including ‘participant research’… which perhaps for the first time recognised and endorsed the active work of every individual at the conference… rather than the usual top down hierarchical design which cultivates similar attitudes… unfortunately missing the point of what Rudolf Steiner was trying to achieve through developing a meritocracy. Congratulations to all those responsible in the organisation and development of Encountering our Humanity! So well done!”

Elizabeth Carmack, Artistic Director of the Cambridge Music Conference.


I really enjoyed the wide range of artistic events at the conference. I could imagine that this type of events require even more efforts to put together. Therefore I am very grateful to the organizing committee and everyone who worked on this conference. Many art forms are presented within this one week of gathering, from architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, to eurythmy. This gave me the experience of the evolution of consciousness within a human being through the evolution of arts. Thank you!

CoCo Verspoor


I got a much better “handle” on water colour painting, thanks to Donald Hall’s workshop.

Some of the lectures were great.

The generous pauses between events were much appreciated.

Giselher Weber


Congratulation! The Conference was extremely well organized.

I very much enjoyed Regine Kurek’s Artistic Workshop. Her enthusiasm and warmth were inspiring. A big THANK YOU for guiding us to gain insights into our biographies.


I am sure you have heard this before, but….the first time I was able to follow completely was when Michael Schmidt spoke on Thursday with the microphone attached to him. Why was it not done before?


There were many more impressive moments, i.e. Peter James Haworth presentation of “A Confession by Leo Tolstoy”, Eurythmy by the Spring Valley Ensemble, the Concert with Emmanuel Vukovich and Jean-Philippe Sylvestre.


Thank you for making it possible to meet with so many people, old acquaintances and new friends.


With my greetings,

Inge Sell


When I arrived, two days into the conference, I was amazed again at the feeling which often happens for me in groups of Anthroposophists:  a feeling of belonging to a tribe.  Hamo welcomed me with a hug while saying, “Welcome home!”, although I’ve never lived in Ottawa, there was a truth to his statement which runs deep.  A short while later I was at the incredible performance by Peter Haworth (directed by Julie la Gal). The piece, Tolstoy’s Confession was beautifully done with a simplicity that allowed the audience to really take in the work.

What an introduction to the conference!

The rest of the week was equally engaging, encountering new friends, re-connecting with others…attending the Class Lessons – it is so special to have the opportunity to experience several sequential lessons carried by different people and to experience different ways of bringing a lesson.  I also enjoyed the conversations about the Class, and hearing questions that lived in others – both members and non-members of the class.

The keynote addresses were wonderful, and provided two takes on the day’s theme complimenting each other.  The research presentations that I attended were engaging and gave opportunities for many to share their area of interest.

Not wanting to arrive late to a formed group, I chose not to participate in an artistic class or a conversation group.  Still, I had wonderful conversations and meetings – in both French and English – with many people from all over our vast (and bilingual) country and with others from outside of Canada.  I so appreciated seeing the results of the week’s work so beautifully displayed down the hall, through the lobby of the theatre and into the theatre itself.  Wow!

The artistic evening events were varied and high quality.  What more could one want in a conference?  When I reflect on my week in Ottawa, I feel, “My cup runneth over.”

Thank you to all who made the conference successful.

Well done!

Kim Hunter


To the organizers of the conference:

I would like to express my thanks and appreciation for everything that was done to help make this North American conference, ‘Encountering our Humanity’ a success. I had a wonderful week of meeting with fellow students of Anthroposophy in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.  To my knowledge, the word ‘Ottawa’ is derived from an indigenous peoples’ language, meaning ‘Where the Rivers Meet’.  The water element of Canada’s rivers, lakes, ocean shores and streams surely played into the quality of my experience in meeting with other people from across North America at this conference.  The North Saskatchewan river that flows through my home town, Edmonton, Alberta, means “Swiftly running Waters”.It was historically known to be a route for the ‘Voyageurs’ to transport goods across Canada from east to west, particularly before the railways were built.  The French connection comes into play here for me, as a good many of the Voyageur were French speaking.  I am especially grateful for the contribution made by French Canadian members of The Anthroposophical Society in Canada towards providing an exceptionally warm, welcoming and well organized place for us to have our conference this summer.  I stayed on campus for the entire week, feeling well cared for with a peaceful, clean and quite place to sleep, with delicious meals that offered vegetarian and vegan options, and with courteous considerations offered to us as guests on this French Canadian campus.  Staff were always accommodating to English speaking guests, and also respectful of my attempts to speak French to them from time to time. Thank you so much for creating a space for people to meet and develop themselves as members and friends of the world Anthroposophical Society.

There is so much more I could say about the excellent quality of presentations made at the main lectures, discussions shared in my discussion group, skills developed in my Speech and Storytelling workshop, and evening cultural events.  I would like to acknowledge at this time the rare opportunity that was provided to me for attending Eurythmy performances accompanied by such talented speakers and musicians.  Words cannot express what this means to.  Thank you for these memorable and soul enriching occasions.

Sincerely written by Henriette van Hees,

Member of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada.


‘Encountering Our Humanity’ was not what I expected, to my delight and deep gratitude.  My journey was from antipathy to sympathy to love and then to remembering.

The conference at first glance seemed long, expensive, and I wasn’t sure if I would survive the dorms and the food.  I arrived at the conference having just been at a week long retreat.  My state of soul was, to be honest, suffering with antipathy.

It didn’t take long for me to open.    Living in Thunder Bay for the past four years has not afforded me access to the First Class.  One of the reasons I decided to go to the conference was to be at the class lessons.  After the first free rendering on the Monday morning I sat in silence and wept quietly. I have so missed being with those words and with that presence, without even realizing it.

From that inner opening on the first morning, the conference became a deeply inspiring and satisfying meeting with the being of anthropos-sophia.  In many many ways and encounters I fell in love with the wisdom, with people and with being at the conference.  I began to imagine what it would be like to be a student again and live an academic life of study, fraternity and perhaps even retreat.  Was I loosing myself to this amazingly created week?

By week’s end I was ready to go home.  I woke on one of the last mornings and realized that if I died that day I would have returned home.

I came back to remembering who I Am,  where I truly LIVE and what I am WILLING in the world.  The conference had worked it magic on me.  Thank you to all.

In love, Arlene Thorn


I so much appreciated the conference in it’s entirety. And it continues to have positive effects on my life everyday. I keep thinking about what to write but there are so many things that I am not even sure how to begin or how to capture all the moments that were experienced. But I did write something in my journal during the week at Encountering Our Humanity that does sort of sum it up:

Becoming Alive to the World
Reverence and Awe
I so very, very, very much appreciated being part of this experience in Ottawa. It was a participative, not just receptive, it really fortified my will – if I can say that and it deeply touched my heart​. Thank you so much to the organizers, workshop leaders and everyone involved!!
And feel free to put this on the Anthroposophical society webpage.
I see that you asked for something specific to the artistic workshops. This was an amazing experience – I will think of something to write about this soon!
Emma Banks​