The Center Launches a New Initiative – The Associates Circle
On March 31, 2014, the Center began an important new initiative for our time: conference calls among biography workers of North America. Attendees formed the Circle, where professional practices are discussed, inspired ideas are shared, and mutual support for development of this work is found. Four calls have already occurred, bringing together people from Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Washington and Canada. For the foreseeable future, the calls will continue on a twice-monthly basis, one during the workday and one in the evening. Below are excerpts from a review of these conference calls to date, compiled and offered by Sandy LeGrega.
…attendees connected quickly through sharing and listening… On the first call, we began with a short exercise of looking at our 21-28 years. The question was “Who opened a door for you and what did you find on the other side?” A review was given of a recent workshop by Chris and Signe Schaefer called Biography and Social Healing, where they presented the paradigm of Thinking as Interest, Feeling as Empathy, and Willing as Love. Much conversation ensued, and continued all week, via email, leading to a rich exploration of the meaning and practice of empathy. The meeting continued with a biography exercise led by Nancy Walker called “The Cross” (which Nancy attributes to Leo Beth of Holland). Questions were asked helping each participant look into five phases of their lives, the results of which were put into the form of a sentence and shared. It was a wonderful exercise which required some real introspection.
On another call, Marca-Maria Boggiano led the biography exercise. She asked the participants “to think of a chapter you are living now and give it a title.” Some of the responses were: transformation, redefining, stepping out, waking in the dream, finding boundaries, humility of the heart-expanding, fear and loathing in Las Vegas and Medicare. The call continued with an offering of beautiful examples of practical biography work and social art in the field: ideas of empathy, exploring our own stories, I/Thou relationships, working with death care plans as a reflection of one’s life, stages of development theory, artistic expression, Steiner’s six subsidiary exercises, movement of the body, meeting of the heart, working with our angels, authentic feedback, peer-ship, research, healing the community, and finding the “golden thread” through working with life review of elders. All this and more was brought into the Circle.
If you are interested in participating in the calls and are a biography worker with a formal background/training under your belt, please submit a request for an invitation to Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Center wishes to acknowledge The Anthroposophical Society in America for its generous support in this initiative.
Association means the possibility for a higher being to express itself through the members when they are united. Human associations are the secret places where higher spiritual beings descend in order to work through the single individuals, just as the soul works through the members of the body.
Center Welcomes New Board Member
The board of the Center for Biography and Social Art warmly welcomes Sarah Putnam, PhD. Sarah Putnam, Ph.D., Sarah received her doctorate in cultural psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has taught in both the university setting and in business. She is a Certified Biography Worker and has extensive experience delivering in-depth coaching, consulting, group facilitation, and training for healthcare, industry, school systems and governmental agencies. A long-time student of anthroposophy, Sarah particularly enjoys discovering the richness and beauty of the inner life with her clients.
Biography Workshops from West Coast to East Coast
Since the beginning of the year the Center or members of the Center’s community have been involved presenting and organizing various biography initiatives. The following reports are only a sample of the many activities that have been taking place across the country.
A Brief Report
Coming to Terms: A Workshop on Money and Biography, co-convened by the Center for Biography and Social Art and RSF Social Finance
This past March, eight courageous individuals came together at the exceptionally beautiful Sequoia Retreat Center in Ben Lomond, CA, to explore the role money has played over the course of our lives. “Courageous” because neither money nor life experience is easily approached, particularly if one’s intention is transformation, and for this group we were explicit about seeking just that. In this workshop, co-led by John Bloom, Senior Director of Organizational Culture, RSF Social Finance, and Leah Walker, we looked at where we were with money at age twelve and rolled that forward through the 12-year cycle: ages 24, 36, etc.; we experienced a triptychon, a simple but powerful tool that brings life experiences–and insights–together in unexpected ways; Kelley Buhles, also of RSF, led us through a Grimm’s fairy tale as another means of creatively meeting our relationship to money. Our collective feeling at the close: that we’d only just begun, that we wanted more time to go deeper and work more intensively with the subject of money and the way it and our lives are intricately interwoven
Leah and John send out their thanks to RSF, the Center and especially the participants for recognizing the importance of this work and supporting it.
From a Money and Biography Workshop Participant:
“It provided such a great breadth of ideas and sparked incredible conversations about money and our relationship to it, how we view it, use it, and feel about it. Connecting more directly with our own formative and biographical experiences with money and how those experiences have shaped our thoughts about the role of money in our current life was such a valuable exercise. The truth is that most of us don’t take or make the time to consider these issues often, and certainly don’t have opportunities to share our thoughts with others. What a unique and rewarding experience — one that I wished could’ve continued well beyond a short weekend. There is so much to cover and ways to cover it, but the combination of group conversations and sharing, quiet self-reflection, artistic exercises, facilitator-led presentations, and even some written work brought it all to life. Extremely rewarding, deeply engaging, and an invitation to continue working with these issues well beyond the workshop itself….I look forward to a “part two” and will register for it today! And I’ll try and bring a friend or two, too!”
Thresholds In Living and Dying- A Huge Success
I want to share with you news of the wonderful work of Kathleen Bowen andLinda Bergh that brought about an amazing workshop in mid April. Together, they brought an experience over three days that was beautifully round and ripe with human connections and artistic expression.
We met at the rural and lovely Hartsbrook Waldorf School, in Hadley, Massachusetts, and we made a circle of about 25 participants from North Carolina, Virginia, D.C., Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Minnesota. We came, on the one hand, to explore conscious dying, about which Linda is an expert and inspired teacher, yet it became quickly apparent that conscious dying and conscious living are one and the same. This was a group concerned with living their dying!
The whole workshop breathed gently and rhythmically between the large circle and four smaller ones, between gently led imaginations and artistic renderings. There was beginning, middle and end , opening and closing, giving and receiving, and such consciousness in the way it was held! Truly it was a study in the Art of the Biography Workshop. I am still experiencing the vitality–the living being that was in that circle. I am so grateful, so honored to be included in this work and deeply humbled by the honest generosity and simple artistry of human beings!
–Marca-Maria Boggiano, Workshop Participant
Linda Bergh created a warm and welcoming space in her weekend workshop Thresholds in Living and Dying, such that the group of us in the circle could easily enter into our own experiences of thresholds. It was natural to turn to the ultimate threshold in this life, when we cross over at death. Linda invited us to join her in this important exploration as she shared her experiences of thresholds and of loss and of transformation. The value of sharing these deep experiences with others was made abundantly clear in the course of the time together as we shared in the group, one-on-one and in small groups. Bringing artistic expression to the conversation allowed for an expansive sense of the process. It was satisfying to connect the important work of biography with the way we prepare for and contemplate death. I found myself in awe of the mystery of death of the physical body and left the workshop with a renewed commitment to live more consciously in each moment.
–Jennifer Downs, Workshop Participant
To sit in a circle and gather with intention around the theme of “thresholds” was an important time of deep reflection and connected wisdom shared with fellow travelers. The moments of poetry, artwork, and singing brought a cohesive whole to the journey… Thank you for the River out of Time.
– Linden Weiss, Workshop Participant
Signe and Chris Schaefer bring Biography and Community Building to the West Coast
Signe and Christopher Schaefer have made a West Coast book and speaking tour, April 29-May 17. Signe’s new book is Why on Earth? – Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming (SteinerBooks, 2013). Chris’ latest is Partnerships of Hope: Building Waldorf School Communities (AWSNA Publications, 2012). In addition to working with faculty, board and parent groups, they have offered public events at the following venues:
Waldorf School of San Diego CA
Sanderling Waldorf School, San Diego CA
LA Branch Anthroposophical Society, Los Angeles CA
Westside Waldorf School, Los Angeles CA
Camellia Waldorf School, Sacramento,CA
Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore, Fair Oaks CA
Madrona School, Bainbridge Island WA
Bright Water School, Seattle WA
Three Cedars Waldorf School, Bellevue WA
A weekend workshop for Curious Travelers on
Orcas Island, WA
At the end of April, twelve “curious travelers” met on Orcas Island, WA for a weekend workshop to unravel their life journeys “in the company of others.” This was the fourth time in several years that Kathi Ciskowski, Orcas Island,WA and Polly Sanford, Seattle, WA offered a biography workshop on Orcas. Participants were invited to examine their personal life stories and to listen with intention to others’ stories. A snapshot of the developmental life phases, planetary cycles and significant dates was presented along with an array of artistic exercises to enhance memories and listening skills. These activities laid the groundwork for the creation of a Life Chart by each participant which offered them a visual perception of their personal biographies. A brief introduction to genealogical research to support the connection between biography work and family history provided another dimension enriching the workshop.
Participants’ comments on what was valuable to them about the workshop:
“Viewing my life from a different perspective…learning that I am not alone in the ups & downs,
literally & spiritually. Love the art projects!!”
“Sharing in the circle of participants with “props” to jump start reflection and expression.”
“Having the time and space in a nurturing & supportive environment to examine & contemplate my life.”