Camphill Initiatives for Social Ecology, a new organisation, hosted the online symposium to mark 50 years of the Camphill movement in Ireland (1972-2022). The symposium was a chance to reflect after 50 years of active community development and we hope to create an open exchange of ideas.

The overarching theme for the symposium was Living a Connected Life. Through this theme, explorations of inclusion, self-advocacy, community building, care and support, inclusive research, meaningful work, active citizenship, belonging and friendship- all beyond the context of service provision. We have invited speakers connected to the international Camphill movement and thinkers, doers and activists from Ireland and overseas whose work and lived experience provide a broader picture and context for Camphill’s vision of social renewal as it diversifies in the 21st Century.

The aim was to capture the collective insights and use them as a platform for launching new initiatives to help build more connected and inclusive lives for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. The symposium began with international speaker Ha Vinh Tho on the 23rd of March 2022 and continued throughout the year with monthly webinars. Please see the full information for the Spring/Summer Programme below.

Ha Vinh Tho

Educating Towards Sustainability: Connecting to Self, Others and Nature

23 March 2022, 14:00 - 16:00 (GMT)

Connected lives, what are the ingredients for connectedness and fulfilment? The international perspective.

Dr Ha Vinh Tho is the former Programme Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre (GNHCB), Bhutan, and Co-Founder of Eurasia Foundation, Vietnam. He is an international speaker on Gross National Happiness (GNH), happiness and well-being, and moving beyond GDP. Ha Vinh is the founder and chairman of Eurasia Foundation, a humanitarian NGO developing educational programmes for children and young people with disabilities and ecological projects in Vietnam. He is a co-founder of the Peaceful Bamboo Family, the first Camphill Community in Vietnam: a community and vocational training centre for young people with disabilities that is also pioneering biodynamic agriculture. He was the head of training, learning and development at the International Committee of the Red Cross. He has trained humanitarian professionals working in war zones and emergency response in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Fionn and Jonathan Angus

Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition: Creating Paths Beyond Disability

28 April 2022, 14:00 - 16:00 (GMT)

Fionn Angus and his father, Jonathan, are Citizen Network Global Ambassadors, and Fionnm sits on the UK National Down Syndrome Policy Group. When it comes to envisioning a great life, Fionn and Jonathan are world-class Imagineers. When life gives them lemons, they teach themselves how to juggle, make lemon meringue pie and share some with their neighbours.

Living in Galway, this son-and-father team operate one of Ireland’s first self-directed support packages through the HSE Personalised Budgets. Fionn, who has Down Syndrome, is the manager, and Jonathan is his employee. As Citizen Researchers working both alongside and independent of more traditional academics, they have the respect of seasoned researchers and policymakers, presenting their discoveries in dozens of college programmes and conferences in eight countries.

Kathleen Lynch

Care and Capitalism: Reclaiming the language of love, care and solidarity

26 May 2022, 14:00 - 16:00 (GMT)

Professor Kathleen Lynch has devoted her life’s work to promoting equality, human rights, and social justice through education and research. She played the lead role in establishing the Equality Studies Centre in UCD in 1990 and the School of Social Justice in 2004/5.

Through her new book, Care and Capitalism, she provides a counter-narrative to the dominance of neoliberalism and capitalism in cultural, economic and political life. She reclaims the language and practice of love, care and solidarity, both intellectually and politically, as important sites for developing alternative thinking about social justice and social action built around affective care relations. She argues that the time to move humanity beyond a narrow capitalism-centric set of logics and values is now.

Wendy McDonald

Active citizenship and Inclusive Employment

30 June 2022, 16:00 - 18:00 (GMT)

Wendy Mc Donald leads Inclusion Alberta, Canada, a family-based, non-profit federation that advocates on behalf of children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families. Together, they share a dream of meaningful family life and community employment. Inclusion Alberta works with the business community, Rotary clubs and all levels of government to create meaningful employment opportunities, real work for real pay. A good job helps to give purpose to life and affirms a valued place in society.

Living a Connected Life Symposium 2022 was delivered by Camphill Initiatives for Social Ecology in partnership with Workhouse Union.

Autumn Series with

• Rachel Cassen, LEAP

• Vincent Reynolds, Camphill Glencraig

• Roy McConkey, Emeritus Professor of

Developmental Disabilities at Ulster University

Living a Connected Life, Freedom from Exclusion Symposium 2022 is in memory of Patrick Lydon (1950 - 2022), a tireless champion of inclusion and supporting people with a disability to live a connected life.

Symposium coordinating team based in Kilkenny, Ireland: John O’Connor and Rosie Lynch with Nick Blitz, Brigitta O’Connor, John Clarke, Thomas Horan, John Hurley, Brigid Pike, Alan Potter, Aine Taylor, Anne Todman and Elke Williams. Technical support and facilitation: Workhouse Union. Symposium moderator: Davie Philip. Graphic Design: Paul Bokslag.