In Cascadia, as in all Camphill Centres around the world, the intention is to build a community that celebrates each individual and can make a social and cultural contribution to society. This takes place through working, playing and celebrating together. The Cascadia Centre is dedicated to promoting health through: artisan skills, artistic training, academics, and therapies.
Every day is a learning experience for everyone who spends time at Cascadia, as these activities are combined in a weekly rhythm. In the Cascadia Centre, individuals come from the Cascadia residences, group homes or their families, to participate together, Monday to Friday, in programs of skill-building, artistic and recreational activities. The urban setting in the Lonsdale area enables participants to interact regularly with local businesses, and to take advantage of recreation facilities and cultural activities like concerts and plays. Walks in the adjacent parks are just steps away.
Time and care are given to developing artisan skills to create products which are beautiful and functional, including woven articles, candles, art cards, baskets, pottery and mosaics. Through these products, each individual can contribute in a meaningful way to the community.
Next to food, cloth is one of the most basic requirements for daily living. Cascadia’s weavers produce not only functional but also beautiful cloth, all from natural fibres. From belts woven on Inkle looms to thick rugs to complex patterns woven on 6-treadle looms, our weavers create materials that are pleasing to the eye and stimulating to the touch. One of our companions can often be found in quiet moments, just running his fingers over the variety of products in the weavery! All of the weaving done trains spatial orientation: the relation to left and right, and up and down. It creates an enhanced perception of colour, pattern and texture. In the more complex weaving, the weaver uses hands and feet in rhythmical sequences to create beautiful patterns. This is a great achievement of concentration, as well as good exercise!
Cascadia has been as busy as a beehive since we opened our candle workshop! We took our lead from the bees – who knows better about community living and working? After studying them and finding out where beeswax comes from, we set about to transform their magical substance into candles. We dip small and medium-sized candles, and have also developed methods and apparatus for production of quantities of different sizes. Anyone who comes into Cascadia on a candle-dipping day will be welcomed by the warming scent of the natural beeswax. Working with this substance, rhythmical dipping of the wick in and out, and watching the candles grow are therapeutic for everybody! This activity also creates a beautiful and useful product in a relatively short time.
Basketry, most ancient of crafts, is one that cannot be done except by human hands. And many people at Cascadia have tried their hands at willow basketry! Our willows are grown by a basket maker on Hornby Island, at Glenora Farm, and we have our own small plantation. They must be sorted into bundles of similar thickness and length. Then we soak them and cut them to make the base. The weaving begins, and soon enough, the basket is ready for the finishing touches by the basket master. The process requires many skills including measuring and counting and the use of tools for cutting and beating the willows down during weaving. We also use our willows to weave fences and decorative edging for our garden beds. Basketry develops strength and manual dexterity, and has a centering effect.
Directly from the earth comes clay, miraculously turned by nature from organic matter to that versatile artistic substance. In Cascadia’s pottery studio companions learn about clay and its marvelous transformations in the potters’ hands giving form and substance to their own creative ideas. The program includes a full slate of skills including hand-building, wheel work, decorating, glazing and firing. Potters-to-be learn what happens to their pieces in the hot, hot atmosphere of kiln or fire-pit. They explore artistic concepts including proportion, color, scale, and visualization of internal space. As a class they work together to develop group projects such as murals, sculptures, and friendship bowls. As well they have the opportunity to make utilitarian items — buttons, beads and pendants, cups, bowls, plates and platters, slab boxes, covered jars, tiles and trivets.
Our connection to the earth is fostered in Cascadia’s garden program. Seeds are developed into small plants indoors and then transplanted into the garden. We grow herbs for teas and cooking plus vegetables and fruit for eating. It is a joy to have fresh flowers on our table, and in planters. Throughout the year, our gardeners are engaged in planning and planting, as well as watering, weeding and harvesting in the growing season. We also help to care for the gardens and yards around the Cascadia Centre and residences.Recently we started tending to the neighbourhood roundabouts.
The visual and performing arts play a large part in our life at Cascadia. Besides being surrounded by a beautiful environment, filled with products from the artisan workshops, companions and coworkers have weekly opportunities to participate in painting, music, eurythmy, and speech and drama. These artistic training sessions allow the individual to find soul expression and soul development with qualified artists. Cascadia coworkers are trained in providing these activities for individuals with special needs.
In addition, music, movement, speech, and drama are combined to create festival productions to which the larger community is invited.
Twice a week, companions enter into the world of colour through the medium of water-colour painting. The technique of wet-on-wet allows the painter to come away from the figurative to imaginative living in the colours. The rhythmical laying on of colour deepens breathing and provides an oasis of calm, where the artist can forget the cares of the world. At the same time, companions can express their individuality and feelings through the colours they choose.
Music is an essential part of life at Cascadia. Every day we sing seasonal songs, and every week we practice singing and bell ringing. Keeping time, keeping in tune, paying attention, and singing one’s heart out are some of the skills learned in these music sessions. Dance sessions provide instruction in ballroom and folk dancing, which are sometimes brought all together for carnivals and dances.
Eurythmy (Greek:”harmonious movement”) is also known as “visible music” or “visible speech”. Inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century, eurythmy is a social art: it teaches spatial orientation in the movement of geometrical forms, and also movement in relation to others. The tones of music and the sounds of speech each have gestures, which can be interpreted in endless ways. By moving what is heard, the student internalizes these gestures and thereby forms a deep relationship to the sounds and the spoken word. This brings about a new awareness of the sounds and words in stories, poems, and everyday speech. The musical eurythmy has a harmonizing effect on breathing and the entire rhythmic system. Eurythmy exercises are practiced daily in a morning circle at Cascadia, and weekly in a large group. Large eurythmy plays are produced yearly.
Speech and Drama
Speech is one of the most important attributes of the human being. At Cascadia, we encourage self-expression through the spoken word in many ways. Every Monday morning there is a check-in, where everyone has the opportunity to report on important events in his or her life. Companions and coworkers alike prepare for their turn to tell, as the arts of speaking, listening and spinning a tale are practised with varying degrees of sophistication! We also have occasion to speak and hear poetry and stories, and to act the stories out in the context of our college sessions.
Every year Cascadia creates dramatic productions, large and small. Each of these productions combines the arts of speech, movement, and music.
In the pursuit of life-long learning, a college program for all covers topics such as history, geography and astronomy, with emphasis on reading and writing skills.
Reading and Writing
Every week, a group of Cascadia companions focuses on the themes developed in college or current activities, in a session of reading and writing. We talk about the theme, and develop sentences to be written in books. Some focus on letter recognition and copying, while others work on their penmanship.
Health includes spiritual, soul and physical aspects. Good nutrition is striven for in the organic food we grow in our garden and prepare for any common meals we have. Families are encouraged to send nutritious food in lunches. Meals are eaten together at tables, with a simple expression of thankfulness before and after, and a harmonious conversational mood is striven for at mealtimes.
Outings to neighbourhood parks and places of interest are built into the weekly schedule, as well as swimming at a local pool.
Cascadia coworkers are trained in several therapies, which support individuals who have a short or long term crisis, in maintaining vitality, or as long term constitutional support. These currently include music and eurythmy.
Individuals in need of 1:1 programming are accommodated by flexible programming adapted to their complex needs.