Fall is here. It arrived in quiet explosions of gold and yellow, brisk gusts of wind that brought down finished leaves and the swoosh-swoosh-swoosh sound of children’s boots walking along the forest paths. Although it has been particularly dry and spectacularly sunny, jumps in the fjord are becoming less frequent and on most mornings a thickening frost covers each glassy twig and blade of grass. Most of the geese have flown south in great skyward V formations, leaving the dusk waters quieted from their honking conversations. With them, the bubbling excitement of new beginnings has also moved on leaving in its place the comforting familiarity brought by time spent among new friends. The house is warm and filled with discussion. As the summer’s life slowly fades back into the earth to slumber through the years closing darkness, there begins a turn toward the inner world, a time to explore the interior constellation of self in all its aspects; space given by the Swedish magic to ask questions that tend to be forgotten, voice contemplations that often go unspoken and pay tribute to the heartbeats that are inclined to go unheard. Yet, before that time arrives, there will be reverie for what the harvest has afforded, celebration of the autumn’s bounty and the summer sun’s lazy love, as we bask in the final rays of its dwindling light.
Looking back it would be hard to paint an accurate picture without including some excitement, some ups and downs and ins and outs. Over these past weeks, the crew has had the chance to come down from the honeymoon bliss and into the realities of what it really takes to live in community, to really witness each other and discover new ways of supporting and caring for one another while also remaining true to self. As this place feels more and more like a home, the niceties fade into the background, the apprehension to challenge one another also diminishes and a more truth is bared. The questions of, ‘Why are we here?’ ‘What are we actually doing?’ and ‘Who are we really?’ float to meet the surface of interaction. These questions have only been aided in their exploration by the inquiries, provocations and encouragements delivered by the past weeks contributors.
Eduardo Shimahara prompted conversations around the question of, ‘what is development and who decides?’ Jim Levinson had us wondering about the benefits of top-down, governmental development aid, where we as change-makers fit into that picture and if our role is perhaps connected to a more grass-roots movement, or not. Louise Cochran had us exploring the particular attributes of our individualism and how they affect the evolution of the YIP8 community. Sarah Denie confronted the group by combining the words ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Economy’ in the same sentence, and struck up a meaningful debate on new forms of working with the current Economic structures. Oskar Rosengren brought the focus from theory to practice by exploring traditional means of Scandinavian dietary survival by pickling and fermenting a harvest of wild and farmed edibles as well as the slaughtering, butchering and curing of two lambs. This led strongly to questions regarding global food systems, farming practices, the consumption of meat and the significance of eating local. Finally, this past week, Li An Phoa has lead the participants in a course that has taken place almost 100% outside. From the island of Landsort to the forests of Nibble, from stories of mountain lion encounters in the high sierras and back to our own inner landscapes, Li An has asked the question, “What lessons can be learned from the Nature that surround us?”
Reflections from YIP8 Participant, Beth Scheppke:
Today, for the first time in my life, I witnessed the slaughtering of an animal. Mind you, it was an ethical slaughtering, which is done rarely, and is exceptionally better than more commercial slaughter methods, but it was still a slaughter, which is something that I see as necessary, yet a bit problematic, having been once a militant vegan, and now a pragmatic vegetarian. The slaughtering process was a part of a week-long course with the lovely Oskar Rosengren; a self proclaimed “hunter-gardener”, and a wonderful teacher in the ways of permaculture, foraging, and utilizing our surroundings to survive the Swedish winter.
We arrived at Ällmora at 6:30 AM, and with freezing toes and red noses, we were greeted by a vibrant ecosystem, full of wildlife, all of whom seemed to be living the most abundant lives possible. Everything from the wild herbs, to the big piggies had a place at Ällmora, and all of these places seemed to be working together to support the livelihood and liveliness of the farm. I had the privilege of milking my first cow. After milking, the milk was poured into a dish, and then three two-week old kittens ran out of their hiding spots, eager to get their share of the fresh, warm, beautiful milk. It was a spectacular moment. Afterward, I was able to pick up a kitten, and you could see that he or she was very happy to have a belly full of warm milk.
The day clicked along with a strand of these types of moments. Wild berries and herbs were collected for tea and salad, and as we greeted the workhorses out in the pasture, they confronted us with their ungroomed manes and unabashed personalities. One of them was named Maracas, like the instrument. As I began to grasp the vibe of the farm, I quickly grew to be extremely thankful for the kind of work these three (yes, just three) farmers had committed their lives to. Their relationships with all of the animals were obvious, and the knowledge of their ecosystems and surroundings deserved an award.
But with that knowledge, as I learned today, comes an ownership and a responsibility to keep these systems healthy, and in doing so, sometimes an animal must be slaughtered. Farmer Anna, having had the longest-standing relationship with the lamb, immediately brought the lamb out, and used a small device to puncture a bolt into her brain. At this point, the lamb’s organs were still functioning, but the lamb had lost consciousness, and was unable to feel pain. The lamb was then carried over to a wheelbarrow, where her neck was cut with a knife. She began to bleed to death. The group stood solemnly around the lamb, some people even touched her, comforting her, as her life and body diminuendoed into quietude.
Right around now was when I began to become a bit unraveled. I believe I was the first person who began to cry, and I cried harder than I had ever cried before. Fat strands of salty mascara water rolled down my face, one after the next. I began to turn away, because I needed to lie down, drink some water, and just have some time for processing what had happened. For a while, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I had seen, and why I was moved so much. I think I entered the slaughtering process anticipating feelings of disgust, or sadness for the actual slaughtering, when in reality, a very different kind of emotion came over me.
Having spent the morning around these creatures, and seeing them living the most wonderful lives, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the lambs, sheep, cows, pigs, giraffes, chickens, etcetera, who aren’t granted a beautiful livelihood, and don’t get to die with the dignity that they deserve, like this lamb did. I’ve considered myself an animal rights activist for a long time, and I wish that all of my friends in the vegan and vegetarian community could see Anna’s farm, and feel as satisfied as I did after experiencing what life is like inside of her gates. It is a remarkable place, and it moves me that animals in the outside world must live with something less.
I think it is safe to say that I was changed, and have been to a place where few vegetarians would dare to go. Really puts things in perspective.
From Participant to Contributor: Creating Meaning
By YIP3 Alumni and YIP8 Contributor, Daniel Evaeus
“What am I here for?” echoed through my soul. A strong impulse had me ask Kiara Nagel to see if I could join her in holding her week at YIP this year. I was already to be traveling to Switzerland for an international youth conference and felt called to also be at YIP. With a great love for facilitation and group processes in community, I was excited to learn more from Kiara and share my experience while getting to know the freshest, badass, light-gangsters in the world, a.k.a, The Yippies. It turned out that Micha, also a Yippie from times gone by, had shared similar inspiration making us a threefold team of… three. Only, last-minute Kiara had to cancel her trip due to a family emergency.
After a brief “hello” to my new roomie Micha, directly followed by “goodnight”, I lay down to sleep in the Tallevana guest room. It was Saturday and my first night back in the house I used to know as “home”, 4 years ago. I was inwardly trembling – a missed flight behind me because I waited to have my shoes repaired, now jetlagged and a cold, and the great unknown before me. 23 amazing individuals ready for me, for us, to create meaning with them. A powerful wave of understanding overcame me – hosting a five-day experience is no small task and I still didn’t really know what my role would be in this.
A Sunday afternoon meeting together with the YIP Organizers finally brought me some peace and ground to stand on. We began to share ideas of what to present and do, listening in to connect with what was present in the group process and what was happening in the world at large. We took up the theme of Place Making from a local to global perspective. With a few dashes of “Kiara speaks about…” and “we will Skype with Kiara at…”, we included community building sessions, site visits, knowledge and skill sharing and conversations around cultural identity, root shock and refugees.
Designing the week on the fly was a great and very engaging challenge. It required a high level of collaboration, creativity, listening and courage. The Yippies’ beautiful trust and willingness to wander to the unknown with us made it all possible. I am so glad to have been able to support this week together with Micha and most grateful to have met friends old and new and to have been welcomed home again.
Dear friends, family, colleagues and potential participants,
An opening celebration will take place on Sunday, August 28th, 2016, and the program will run until Friday, June 23rd, 2017.
We welcome your assistance in spreading the word to those who you feel should know about YIP and look forward to coming into conversation with anyone who has questions about or interest in the Program. Because of this growing and awe inspiring network, we can make it possible for potential applicants to chat with an Alumni, perhaps even from the area that they would apply from, to find out more about what happens in YIP and what it is like to be a participant.
If you or anyone else have any questions, and/or would like to speak with an Organizer, be in touch by writing to [email protected] or phone the office by dialing +46 (0)8 5517 0087
Looking forward to yet another amazing year!
The Organizing Team
Reflections from YIP8 Participant, Boris de Keyser:
Eight weeks?! Man, I did not know time could fly that fast. At the same time it seems ages ago that I arrived at Järna Station with a backpack, a fold-up bicycle and a suitcase, ready to live in Sweden for the ten upcoming months. The weeks before had been very stressful. Leaving a life behind for such a long time was a bigger challenge than I expected. Besides moving and packing, I had to say goodbye to friends and family, because, yes, ten months is a long time.
From then on I would have time; time to have long evenings where I could do whatever I wanted, play some trumpet, read some good books, learn to play the guitar, write some stories that I wanted to finish. Yes, I was looking forward to it.
But as soon as I arrived I knew that it was wishful thinking. Straight away we had to prepare a choir performance for the opening. I have some experience in conducting so we Yippies – who at that time didn’t know each other at all – had to work out a contribution at the opening ceremony. And it was only the tip of the iceberg. The “I” in YIP is not a lie at all. The days are stuffed with lessons from very inspiring people who bring us to places we might never go by ourselves. And next to that, we are getting challenged with internships, a forum to organize, and an ambitious personal project. And every evening someone in YIP is hosting something you don’t want to miss out on: gender circles, sushi nights, “action-learning” campfire meetings, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, epic parties in our private barn across the field, and so on. Every evening so far I was happy to kiss my pillow and fulfilled with a full day of happiness.
But no, I do not complain. Hopefully the autumn break next week will give me the time to play some trumpet, walk in the colorful autumn forest and rest a bit, because the upcoming weeks leading up to Christmas are stuffed with more amazing things. And where did I even find the time to write this little piece? I do not know. Time is something very special.
Next week commences our much needed and well-deserved Autumn Break…! It will be a time of adventure for some, rest for others and for all, an important respite from the intensity and envelopment of YIP-life. Following the break we will reunite and dive headfirst into ourselves and this community, exploring the inner “simplexities” of our existence, together and alone.
We will kick off the next block with Slava Theatre, hosted by returning contributors, Viktoria Siwek and Elin Collmo. It will be a time to get into our bodies, test our endurance and exercise our voices. Due to outside circumstances, we have made a small scheduling shift, and following Slava we will be joined by Rachel Miller for a week of self-exploration through painting our own portraits. Marcel de Leuw will join YIP for the 8th consecutive time leading the course, Study of Man, and exploring the possibility of tapping a source of energy for life and teaching through Study, Meditation and Remembrance. He will be followed by our very own, beloved Annie Meijer, who will act as guide while we delve into our biographical stories and the experiences that have shaped who we are.
In the final weeks of the term, we will be visited by Orland Bishop, Aerin Dunford and Sergio Fernando Beltran Arruti, as well as spend a week preparing the final things for the International Internships.
The Newsletter is a monthly mailing update on the life and times of YIP and is a wonderful way to remain connected. It is sent out once a month and gives an overview of what has happened, what is happening and what is on the horizon. Every quarter (3 months) we plan to put out a more in-depth issue that looks into the Organization of YIP from a similar lense.
Please spread the good word of YIP by forwarding to friends and family and inviting them to sign up!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the newsletter or feel that there is something you would wish to see more of, contact [email protected]