‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’
My partner, two children and I moved into Hoathly Hill Community in July 2011, after a membership process and house purchase lasting around six months.
Hoathly Hill was founded 40 years ago by a group of anthroposophists.
Anthroposophy is a movement founded by Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century. Steiner was born in former Austria-Hungary, lived in Germany and Switzerland and wrote and lectured extensively on many different subjects. He advocated what he called ‘spiritual science’, an esoteric-scientific approach, which he applied to philosophy, science, the arts, education, medicine, agriculture, architecture and social and political thinking. The movement, under his direction and inspiration, has notably established Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophical medicine.
Currently it is constituted as a home-life community, encouraging individual initiatives in the community. Originally there was a joint mortgage, but there was a restructuring in the 80s, so that each unit has a separate lease, the freeholder being Hoathly Hill Association. In the restructuring process, most of the land and several buildings were taken into trust and are currently owned by Hoathly Hill Trust. This charity holds the lease of:
- Ashurst Field – 15 acres of land currently worked as a hay meadow by a family in the community
- the West Paddock – currently worked as community allotments, the Community Supported Agriculture Scheme and the new Forest Garden
- the Herb Garden – currently looked after mainly by one woman in the community
- Arc Hall – a community building, currently mainly used by a kindergarten run by a family in the community
- The Sculpture Studio – currently the base for sculptors and teachers within and from outside the community
A further initiative within the community is Pericles, a project for adults with special needs, run by a family in the community.
There have been many initiatives based at Hoathly Hill over the years, such as a herb producing business, an elderly and rehabilitation care project and medical practice.
There is a mandate system, in which individuals hold a mandate for different areas of community life, such as the community buildings, the soft landscape, the hard landscape, the car parks, the finances, the membership, the community meeting, etc. Mandates holders make decisions based on what is living in the community and what they believe to be the ‘spirit’ of the community. They can call on a reference group to assist them, and they may choose how to consult the community in their decision-making. They are legally responsible to Hoathly Hill Association.
Here are some observational studies I have made of community life at Hoathly Hill individually and together with others.
- basic survey of the community, September 2011
- official documents, September 2011
- initiative-taking at Hoathly Hill, October 2011
- visioning session, June 2012
- decision-making at Hoathly Hill
- personal observations, ongoing