Youth Section Review 2023

Youth Section Review 2023

21 December 2023 538 views

by Jacinta Gorchs

In January 2023, a new phase began with the arrival of Nathaniel Williams as the leader of the Youth Section. The team at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, was invited to enter a process of working together on the intentions, visions, and understandings of the current task of the Section. Through a process in which we sought to identify current questions, respond to the needs of the youth, and see what the biggest challenges and opportunities are, it became clear to us that these questions could only be answered together with the young people who help to shape the identity of the Section from around the world. Those who strive to understand and determine their activities, who carry out meaningful work in the field of Anthroposophy. Only with them, could we understand the tangible and enigmatic riddles of being a young person today. This, coupled with our team’s shared intention, to make our global movement visible, has provided a clear guide as to how we can approach our work. Thus, the intention to connect and strengthen the links with all the groups of the Section was somehow the ‘sun event’ that accompanied us throughout the year and to which I want to make significant reference along this narrative.

The first half of the year consisted of, on the one hand, the preparation of the co-workers' meeting itself, where we opened the stage to further explore the questions about the current meaningfulness of Youth Section work. Along with this intention, we worked on projects with questions regarding the healthy social life, encounters between the individual and the community, understanding R. Steiner's indications on the social potential, and more in this respect. Below, I will mention some of the recent events where we explored these aspects in more depth.

At the Youth Section House in Dornach, there was a group of young people studying Steiner's lectures on ‘Awakening to Community’. In 2022, another group organized a variety of meetings and interviews with experts to explain the aspects of Social Three-folding to young people that culminated the process in February 2023, a four-day intensive work with experts on all kinds of social questions. A group of young members of the School of Spiritual Science gathered to work on a selection of the 19 class lessons and impulses concerning the life of the School in current times. Furthermore, the team at the Goetheanum collaborated with the Youth Conference in Camphill, where questions of social integration among others were raised and we, together with the Youth Section group in Georgia: the ‘Parzival Society’, co-organized a conference, also on Social Three-folding. Alongside this, the first in-person meeting with the organizing team of the 2024 International Students' Conference took place, the theme that emerged from the interest of the organizers was: Taking Heart - Finding our way together. Nathaniel Williams started a podcast series called Questions of Courage where he touches upon many of the above-described topics. The link is available on our website.

The questions that lived in all these initiatives:

Is it possible to live in a healthy society?
How can that be achieved?
What is needed and how do we get there?
What do we need to understand and work on an individual level to carry these ideas?
How can individual development be integrated with collective development?

This is how we navigated our first months of work, we aligned our intention for the co-workers' gathering, where we put into practice our social capacities to generate spaces where we could make ourselves visible for one another and thus create spaces to strengthen the identity of our movement. A very concrete example of how we carried out this intention was to prepare a series of questions to which we received answers from the members of the Youth Section groups and with which we shaped the program, trying to build a structure that could embrace all the needs and initiatives of our co-workers.

Some of the questions the co-workers were asked as a preparation for the meeting:

How would you characterize the heart and flame of your work and intentions?
What are questions that are rising up for you? What challenges?
What is the area where you need the most support or guidance from your peers in the movement or the Youth Section?
What goals do you feel inspired to speak about for the worldwide Youth Section?
What ideas or initiatives does this Youth Section Gathering raise up in your heart?

The co-workers' gathering took place in June 2023. There were 45 people from 5 continents, with whom we worked intensively and recreationally for a week at the Goetheanum, on the aspects mentioned above, among others. On the one hand, it was significant to identify crucial issues and move questions for the coming years together and on the other, to also reach agreements on the work we want to do.

I want to invite you to review the detailed report, with reflections from the members of our network, describing the program, social dynamics, and artistic activities. This report can be found on our website in the ‘resources’ section.

The questions asked at the co-workers' meeting:

How to navigate set/old societal constructs and create space for that which is new/living and emerging at an individual, community, and world level?
How can I integrate spiritual striving into my daily life?
What is our relationship with money?
How can we enable our initiatives to thrive despite the difficulties in financing?
How can we support healthy habits and practices in a world of increasing mental and physical health challenges?
How to find balanced ways to cope with the development of technology?
How can we narrow down the gap between the generations?

Agreements we made at our co-workers' meeting: w
e want to make sure that all the groups have

1. Regular ongoing work with 14–35-year-olds to anthroposophy.

2. Regular contact with the network through communications and the team at the Goetheanum.

3. Annual prudent contribution to the Youth Access and Project Fund (non-national youth-led fund,promoting the Section's work around the world).

Following the co-workers' meeting, we visited the Parzival Society in Georgia, who had with great effort and dedication, prepared a conference on Social Three-folding in the school that they had built over a year ago. There is an article that is dedicated to this event in this newsletter.

Among the young people who came to the co-workers meeting, there were members of two youth groups, one active in Germany and the other in Oceania, who enthusiastically celebrated the founding of their Youth Section groups in their respective localities after the co-workers meeting in June. It is with great joy that the team at the Goetheanum accompanied this process. However, on another note, we would like to take the opportunity to offer our best thoughts to Florian Roger, a member of the Oceanic Youth Section, who recently crossed the threshold.

In reflection, the co-workers' meeting felt like an affirmation to the questions which we began working with in January. The team at the Goetheanum serving as the entity which reflects the work of all young people who, working together with their peers in the light of anthroposophy, bring the work of the School of Spiritual Science in very concrete terms to fruition, in as many ways as there are individualities. The Youth Section only finds its identity when all parts (affiliated groups in all countries) become equally visible to each other and the team at the Goetheanum as the ‘heart’ can bear the responsibility for giving new impulses and facilitating ongoing collaboration between what is occurring in the periphery.

The house of the Youth Section, located in Dornach, exists as a physical place in which the international youth network finds shelter for projects, initiatives, exchanges, and everything else that serves as impulses for working with young people and Anthroposophy as well as for local events and seminars.

The traditional Thursday evening dinner and conversation in the Youth Section House for friends living in or passing through Dornach and the biannual dinner for the general secretaries of the Anthroposophical Society took place this year. Events in the Youth Section House with experts on various topics was also a focus of work. For example, the two weekend seminars on an introduction to meditation conducted by Nathaniel Williams and Patrick Kennedy.

The first half of the year called for questions, openness, listening, perception, and observation among other things, so that with the experiences gained we could move on to work on concrete, well-rooted projects, and initiatives.

After the summer, we started to work on the realization and implementation of intentions arising from the co-workers' gathering, such as the Youth Access and Project Fund (YAPF), on which a group of young people started to work and which, hopefully, will financially support the participation of more young people in our international gatherings. The YAPF will launch in January next year. Every symbolic as well as generous gift is welcome.

We also started to work on the website and newsletters to make them a visual expression of our intention: a place where one can find the global work reflected through the work of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum. We are searching for exciting ways of doing this.

Now, there are a number of events around the world and on the Goetheanum campus coming up in 2024. In May, the Iona Foundation, the Bildungs Akademie and the Section will host an event with a circle of people working in the field of higher education, seminaries and universities working with anthroposophy for an exchange on these topics. A week earlier, members of the Section will participate in the "Bildungs Festival" in Schloss Hamborn, Germany. Following these two events, the co-workers’ gathering of the Youth Section will take place in the Netherlands. The February Days event, on digital technology and spirituality, will take place at the Goetheanum as well as a seminar on an introduction to inner work: The Will and the New Spirituality with Nathaniel Williams and Claus Peter Röh. In March we will gather forces and focus on the last steps of preparation for the International Students’ Conference (ISC) which will take place in April and will welcome about 600 high school students. This event is dedicated to themes of peace and cooperation.

Out of the questions that were asked as a preparation for the co-workers meeting this year, we found out two main pressing areas that we want to study: digital technology and fostering spiritual life. These two aspects of our lives are a pillar for the next co-workers’ meeting, as well as questions around vocation and higher education and the celebration of the 100 years of the foundation of the Youth Section.

Based on the intentions for the co-workers´ meeting, we took on “Digital technology and Spirituality” as a theme for the conference in February. We are hoping to find ways of understanding the relationship between these two aspects of our lives and to orient ourselves through a search for deeper knowledge. In preparation for this event, a group of young people has been meeting since mid-October at the Youth Section House, every Tuesday, to read a selection of Rudolf Steiner’s “Leading Thoughts”.

The International Students’ Conference is an event traditionally organized by the Youth Section at the Goetheanum together with young representatives of the Waldorf schools in Germany and it’s dedicated to students between 16-20 that come from all corners of the world to meet, learn and work together. Next year’s ISC will have as a theme: Taking Heart – Finding our way together. Please find detailed article on this event in the following pages.

These events are made possible thanks to the enthusiasm, and cooperation of a large network of young people that join the organizing teams, shape the programs, invite experts, give workshops, and much more. A huge creative potential manifest when there’s goodwill and a clear intention.

An example of this is the theatre project “Question! Encounter! Play!» (Frage! Begegne! Spiele!) that brings together young people coming from the most diverse backgrounds and with very different biographical journeys to create a theatre play in a week as they get to know each other through artistic and biographical activities. What story needs to be told?

In October, the third edition of this project took place at the Goetheanum, organized by members of the Youth Section team, the Initiative Forum for Refugees and friends who gave birth to this initiative. Please find detailed article on this event in the following pages.

Before coming to an end, I would like to mention the study led by Johannes Kronenberg and Ioana Viscrianu, who were members of the Youth Section team over the last years, on the analysis they carried out in three integrative living communities in Germany, which was recently published at the beginning of the month. In addition, I take this opportunity to thank them for their immense work and to express our immense gratitude to Andrea de la Cruz who with a lot of dedication accompanied and guided the integration of a new team that was able to establish itself and start its work thanks to her support.

We are looking forward to a 2024 full of initiatives at the Youth Section House as well as in all the localities where there’s youth work.

Jacinta Gorchs