Action 4 Botton

Camphill Village Trust – The Mediated Settlement

Dear Friends!

I have been asked by our supporters to provide a commentary on the joint CVT and High Court claimants Press Release of 1 February 2018 regarding the legal settlement to accompany its posting on this website.

In the spirit of moving forward it is important that, on all our behalf, I acknowledge the importance of the settlement as it brings to an end many, many months of protracted negotiations with all the uncertainty that this involved for all the remaining Co-Workers and the considerable pain and upset experienced by community residents, Co-workers, and former Co-workers at the three communities (because of course there are none now at Delrow or the Grange) as well as the families to the residents of all three communities.

Perhaps the most significantly positive outcome, as far as I and my fellow AfB Directors, former Directors and all our supporters are concerned, is the resurrection of a genuine Camphill Community during the process of change, created by the former Botton Co-Workers and Villagers like a phoenix arising from the ashes: the Esk Valley Camphill Community.

And all I can do here is to refer to their website ( www.eskvalleycamphill.org ) for an insight into this new way ahead for the former Botton Co-Workers and residents, in the hope that all our supporters and many others will share our excitement and enthusiasm for this new venture. I will be writing further on the subject of how best you, supporters of AfB and donors of the funding that made settlement possible, can support and assist EVCC, should you wish to do so.

There is much discussion within the Camphill movement about the future of co-working. Here, in EVCC, it is alive and well and fully open to embracing change that is appropriate to their circumstances and sustainable for the community

Remaining at the very heart of the EVCC venture is the fundamental Camphill principle of shared living and working which alongside shared worship and celebration and the practice of Biodynamics made Botton and the other former Camphill communities so unique and so ‘power-full.’ It is our fervent hope that CVT, who now embrace shared living elsewhere, though not in the traditional Camphill way, will enable EVCC Co-Workers unfettered free access and use of community facilities, including workshops created originally by Co-Workers and funded to support co-worker managed life sharing.

In the spirit of ‘sharing’ and moving forward positively together we believe this would be a very positive step.

Another core principle within the traditional Camphill Way of Life was the striving towards sustainability, towards the goal of self-reliance. The press release makes reference to the view of CVT that the ‘non-employed’ model practiced within the old communities was ‘not sustainable.’ However, the new CVT perspective on sustainability appears to have come in at a high price when it appears that the new CVT ‘employed’ model has involved an increase in staff costs for all the communities from nearly £3.4 million in 2011 to upwards of £12.4 million by 2017, an increase of £9 million per year.

There are of course, we acknowledge, other elements to sustainability, the relationship to legislative and other changes predicated from outside or implemented as policy changes from within, and the quality of life in relationship to social and environmental factors.

As regards the latter, Botton was previously one of the premier Biodynamic establishments in the UK, a virtual Jerusalem within the organic movement, and as such eons ahead of its time. A key part of this was the stress on the wholeness of life experience within the community including healthy eating, healthy working and living. However, only EVCC within Botton Village now continues to fly this flag. It is to be hoped that CVT will, in their striving towards sustainability, support and encourage EVCC within this venture as much as possible, and with luck re-incorporate it within the landholdings under their care that have been developed bio-dynamically by Co-Workers over the years.

I propose to leave this short commentary with a quotation from the EVCC website taken from their heading about ‘Growing Together.’

“As a Community we strive to work using the Anthroposophical ideals laid down by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. These ideals were the inspiration for the German Jewish refugee, Karl König, who was the founder of the Camphill movement. We try to see the humanity in each person and uphold his or her better nature. We understand that we all suffer from prejudice and disability in our own way, but with each other’s help we can rise above this. We look outside ourselves, finding inspiration in nature and in the cultural and spiritual life that we weave together.”

It is our fervent hope that the ‘powers that be’ help make this growing together as successful as possible, that the community is enabled to bloom and flourish into the future, just as Botton was once a new venture, a leap into the light, that flourished in its own time.

The thanks of the AfB Board go to all those who made the settlement happen including: the individual claimants who worked so hard on developing the agreement on behalf of all; Neil Davidson, his wonderful colleagues and professional advisers, whose commitment and resilience throughout the AfB campaign was nothing short of incredible; our dear friends in Delrow and the Grange; lawyers Alex Rook and Neil Largan; Kay and Richard our brilliant publicists who did so well to keep Botton in the public eye; the Avalon group for stepping into the breach; all our former directors, officers and supporters; the wonderful Botton Buddies; and finally our donors and contributors without whose generosity no settlement would have been possible.

At the end of the day the principle beneficiaries of the settlement are those that the former Botton Co-Workers cared for before, during and now, after its conclusion. They also contributed, immensely, with warmth and generosity of spirit.

Brendan