The local core group asked Daniel Bittleston to provide a report of his attendance at the recent Annual General Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society in American held in Phoenix, Arizona the weekend of October 14.

 

Rise Up ASA Conference

 

If you went to a conference that aimed to give you new and renewed connections, a sense of community, and a resounding courageous yes to the world, to the work and ideas Rudolf Steiner has inspired, and to the mission of mankind, how would you decide how successful it was? Well, it is my task to give you a report on the conference in Phoenix, Arizona last weekend. A challenge! Here we go:

 

This conference began most auspiciously with an awe-inspiring preconference presentation on Wednesday and Thursday by the star-wise storyteller Mary Stewart Adams guiding an enthusiastic audience through The Deeds of Rudolf Steiner Written in the Stars. At the same time, an impressive gathering of young people explored potential activities under the title ‘How We Will Rise Up!’

 

On Friday morning in the spacious auditorium of the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art a gathering of probably fifty members of the School of Spiritual Science heard a gentle, loving and deeply serious reading of Rudolf Steiner’s Seventh Lesson followed by a discussion.

 

After a warm welcome from our lovely new programs Director Laura Scappaticci, who graciously maintained continuity and timing throughout the conference, we were led into some lovely, lively singing by Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Teri DeSario. Then activist Shepha Vainstein of ReGeneration, under the title “To Humanize Instead of Demonize: Embodying the Sophia During Times of Social Crisis” shared with us some of the extraordinary work she has initiated in Jewish and Arab trauma zones, Describing a wealth of new scientific understanding, including the awareness that depression, heart disease and diabetes are all related to adverse childhood experiences, she said that Rudolf Steiner founded Waldorf education with awareness that the children of that time were still traumatized by the First World War and that it is clearly our task to nurture the spirit of childhood in times of toxic stress.

 

The whole conference breathed with a rich alternation of presentations, artistic activity and conversation. Far too much to be shared here.

 

Just one or two moments more have to be mentioned:

 

Individuals stepped into the shoes of prisoners and read their words in a moving evening of Anthroposophical Prison Outreach Poetry.

 

At least a hundred people were led by indomitable speech artist Kim Snyder-Vyne to recite the entire Foundation Stone Meditation, bringing it to life line by line and then speaking it at an amazing Rock, Wind, Earth and Sky social event on Saturday evening.

 

In a youth led panel discussion entitled “Rise Up! The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be!” we heard the startling stories of young people plumbing depths of despair and hopelessness and then finding their feet with the help of wonderful people in anthroposophy.

 

We could choose sunshine or shady spots for numerous heartwarming conversations with new and old friends.

 

Just when we needed it most, a buffet of delicious nutritious food appeared in the hall.

 

We were entertained and challenged by lively eurythmy indoors and out led by the irrepressible Rachel Schmid, who teaches First through Twelfth Grades at the nearby Desert Marigold (charter waldorf) School.

 

Many other wonderful people shared their skills and insights in classes and research sessions. The full program can be found online at anthroposophy.org.

 

A memorable and inspiring conference for which our grateful thanks go to many members, especially Charlie Burkam, Executive Director of Desert Marigold School, Daniel Evaeus of Elderberries, Los Angeles, Micky Leach of the Western Regional Council, Ray Manacas of Threefold Community, Spring Valley, NY, Laura Scappaticci, ASA Programs Director and, of course, Joan Treadaway, President of the Arizona Manzanita Branch and probably inspirer of this whole event!

 

Daniel Bittleston