Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 29, 2009 Tamera, Portugal


Another member of the Beyond Boundaries team mentioned to me yesterday that if I don’t update my blog at least semi-regularly, people will stop following it.  It occurs to me that I haven’t updated it for quite some time… and I realize also that by failing to update this story regularly, it becomes increasingly daunting and impossible to say all that needs to be said when I do update.  I will try to do better.  That said, I’ve always used it as a rule of thumb when my loved ones go traveling that to not hear from them is a good sign: generally, it tends to mean that they are engaged in their experience and probably having a great time... so good that there’s no time left to write home about it.  :  )

I’d say this is at least partially true for me.  I wouldn’t say that it’s all “so good”, but I would certainly say that it’s full, demanding, busy, rich, incredible, and is asking much of me in terms of showing up.

We are now in southern Portugal, at a truly amazing place called Tamera, an experimental “Global Peace Village.”  It’s hot and dry.  There are hills covered in brown grass and cork oak trees everywhere – reminiscent of some parts of northern California.

But, I cannot get going too far down the road of describing Tamera without filling-in the missing portion of this blog: Ojai.  We were there for 9 days, and not once did I find the right time or space to update this blog.


view from beneath the "teaching tree" at The Ojai Foundation

Our time at The Ojai Foundation was rich.  The ingredients consisted of numerous opportunities to sit in council with each other and the greater TOF community, a yearly gathering of council leaders, service work on the land, swimming in the creeks and the ocean, preparations for leaving the country, and the chance to meet, work with, and learn from 2 different members of the local Chumash community (indigenous to that part of California) who are both leading different (but equally exciting) projects in the area.  An additional ingredient for me was the gift and challenge of spending my final 9 days in the country with my sweetheart, Laura, who is part of the residential staff at the Ojai Foundation.  So, the time in Ojai wasn't easy, but it was great.  It was full of work and play and depth, and within it there was very little space or inclination to run to the blog and write home.

Working to the clear the land for a Chumash Cultural Center in Malibu.  This piece of land marks the first occurrence of land being given back to native peoples in Ventura County.


If you want to know more about any of the people or projects we worked with while at Ojai, please email me personally or comment here and I will include a deeper elaboration.  Also, if you're curious about The Ojai Foundation itself; its history and mission, check out my previous blog entry to get a link the website.  It is place of deep significance in the life of Gigi (and likewise she is deeply significant in the life of the Foundation), and thus it is also deeply significant to the vision of Beyond Boundaries.

Now... Tamera, Tamera...

Thirty years ago a group of free-thinking, radical Germans who were in search of solutions and a new way to be in the world moved out to the Black Forrest together.  There, they began the age-old experiment of community living, searching especially for how to re-create trust, and authenticity after being raised in a modern culture that seemed to have forgotten these attributes of the human experience.  Tamera's story is long, leading circuitously to this 320 acre piece of land here in Southern Portugal. I think the best way to truly learn about the work of this place is to visit their web site, read the books written by the founders, or -- of course -- come here.  

Just as the story of this "Global Peace Village" didn't begin here, it also does not end here.  I met my first members of the Tameran Community last year at the Bioneers Conference in California.  At that same time, delegates from Tamera were making peace pilgrimages in crisis areas such as Columbia and the West Bank.  The primary work of Tamera is peace, and the methods by which this all-important topic is explored are deep, revolutionary, incredibly personal, necessarily global, and wide in scope.

I can say without hesitation that my short time here (11 days now) has exposed me to some of the most important and radical learning I have yet encountered in my life.  The community here is comprised of around 100 individuals (permanently living) plus another 50 to 100 guests and students at any given time.  There are core philosophies and practices within the community, not based in any religion, but on cultivating a humanitarian search for peace. There is permaculture in action, and some incredibly innovative sustainable living technology at work.  There is music, activity, work to be done, a peace research university, an international population, and the ongoing experiment of what it means to create a "Healing Biotope" on the planet.  Without delving too deeply into the philosophy, the main premise is that all war begins with the human beings, and that outer wars will never cease while we continue to perpetuate a system of violent thought and action within ourselves as well.  The idea is for the individual to begin by healing and transforming the structures of violence he/she carries within, and then to also move into the world as an outer peace worker.  

My feeble synopsis of the deep communitarian, spiritual, and political work being done here should by no means be taken too seriously.  There is SO MUCH more to say about this, and most of it I don't yet understand.  I hesitate to mention anything about the teachings and philosophies of this peace work at all because it is so exhaustive, yet to write about Tamera and say nothing about the core foundations of their work would be an injustice to this place as well as my own experience of being here thus far.  Suffice to say that I am moved and deeply stirred by the thoroughness and depth of experience that has gone into the teachings of Tamera, and I look forward to learning as much as I can while I'm here.  

I also realize that blog posts can only be so long if I am to keep my reader's attention.  So, I think I will end now, and post again about Tamera again soon.  

Two days ago we began the yearly "Summer University".  There are more people here now than any other time of year, coming together for 10 days from all over the world to dive head-long into critical questions of peace and the creation of a sustainable future without war. The people are incredible, the teachings profound, and the experience completely consuming.  There are visitors from the heart of some of the world's most tragic crisis places, as well as representatives from some 20 or more countries, all seeking answers to the question of inner and outer peace among human beings.  

As things are quite dynamic here at this point, I will probably not update this again until the Summer University is over.

I hope you all are well, and finding your own sense of peace, wherever you are, 

~ Will 

(Because photos take a long time to load here, I will include some pictures of Tamera in my next post).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beyond Boundaries - the project and next steps

The time has been passing, quickly and slowly.  Summer solstice came and went, and the world (in our hemisphere) is now onto its waning cycle again.  The School of Lost Borders/Beyond Boundaries Youth Fast was an amazing experience for us all, and it was encouraging to see such a unique group of newly initiated young people go out into the world.

Like them, Beyond Boundaries is now preparing to go out into the world.  Today is our final full day here in the Owen's Valley, at 3 Creeks.  Tomorrow we head to Ojai   :  )  and after 8 days on the land at the Ojai Foundation (including the Gathering of Council Leaders, service work with the local place & people, and final preparations for leaving) we will fly to Portugal, to begin the international portion of this journey.  The Ojai Foundation is as old as me (founded in 1979), and is a non-profit educational organization providing tools for communication, connecting with nature, community building, and other seminar-based teachings and retreats.  It is a beautiful place to be and I'm very happy that we're on our way there tomorrow. 

It occurs to me as I prepare to leave and write this little blog, that many of you reading may still not know too much about exactly what Beyond Boundaries is: who we are, where we're going, and why.  So, this post may be a long one, as I want to provide some more background information, a rough itinerary, and the likes.

Below is a revised and shortened version of a write up for the pilgrimage that many of you hav already seen.  It's difficult to cut too much out, as the complete story feels necessary to adequately communicate the vision and intention behind Beyond Boundaries.  


Beyond Boundaries

A Service Pilgrimage ~ People Place Planet



Beginning in June of 2009, a small group of leaders of diverse ages and backgrounds will begin an international service pilgrimage called Beyond Boundaries (BB).  We will move through a number of places, centers and communities in the United States, Europe, Asia and Oceania that are exploring the frontiers of creative, peaceful, and regenerative life. Overall, the Beyond Boundaries pilgrimage embodies a deep personal and collective inquiry into the pressing issues and needs of our times through experiential education, cross-cultural exchange, leadership development, and stewardship. Pilgrims will learn from the people and places visited, offer their service and various gifts, listen in deep inquiry in the spirit of council, and bring home valuable information, insight and gifts to share upon return.


Project Background


We live in a time of increased tension and concern over the future of our planet, the wellbeing of our children, and the sustainability of our ways of life.  Indeed, we live in a time of re-shaping and reconsidering, a time when the planet appears smaller than it ever has, and is awakening to its own limitations, a time when it is wise to take stock of our past decisions, and prudent to consider which ideals and systems to move forward with and which to leave behind.  Many ideas and design systems are attempting to do just this, to guide us toward a future that will support the wellbeing of the many and not just the few.  Sustainable, holistic, regenerative…many adjectives today are attempting to describe a commitment that is in some ways very old and very simple: to live in awareness of the generations to come, to live with care for the earth and all beings, to live with heart and truth, to live in remembrance of the gifts that are to be shared. This is not religion or politics but common sense. It goes beyond definitions of class, culture or nation; it goes beyond boundaries.  How to do this is one of the most challenging and pressing questions of our times.  We are not looking for the answer but rather some "best practices" being employed by innovative, thoughtful, and concerned citizens across the globe.  Our Key Questions and Areas of Inquiry include:

-- Who is pioneering effective models for peaceful, connected and regenerative ways of life?  What can we learn from these people and what can we offer them?  

-- Given our increased awareness of the interdependence of the international community and the natural world, how can we live in right relations now and for generations to come?

-- What does it mean to be a Global Citizen?  

The Inspiration and The Way of Council[1]:

In 1980, Gigi Coyle, team leader and visionary behind Beyond Boundaries, was inspired to embark on a year long walkabout, traveling to projects and communities in the U.S. researching what were then considered ‘alternative’ systems, meeting and learning with individuals and groups committed to sustainable living practices and the healing of self, others, and the planet.   Over the course of the past two years, Gigi has been again inspired to travel, this time globally, in keeping with the scope of what's happening on our planet.  Inviting a small intergenerational group to join her on this international service pilgrimage, Beyond Boundaries has grown through the influence of each participant into an individual and collective response to the pressing needs of our times.

Program Overview

Across the world one of the greatest movements in the history of humankind is taking place. Everywhere people and projects are offering their own versions of potential solutions and directions for future development by creating and embodying sustainable and regenerative living systems, restoring people’s balance with the natural world, working through domestic and cross-cultural differences, actively resisting the systems that do not work in today's world, and enhancing spiritual wellbeing.  Beyond Boundaries pilgrims will journey to several places where innovative solutions have been at the forefront for years, including: The Ojai Foundation in California, Tamera in Portugal, Auroville in India, Findhorn in Scotland, Damanhur in Italy and the Biosphere Foundation in Indonesia.  As well, each pilgrim will visit a number of other projects and places during the independent study time, based on their specific areas of interest and inquiry. 

By journeying to these sites, our intention is to deepen into a practice of cross-cultural community living, listening, learning, and offering.  Further, as we are increasingly aware of the need to use scarce resources wisely, we know we must make this journey count on many levels. Given its carbon footprint, literally and metaphorically, we hope to plant trees all along the way. We are inspired to be a multi-talented team and bring a unique set of skills as well as curiosities to a ‘mission’, in the best sense of the word, to elicit the voices of both youth and elders in council, and bring those voices home, back to our people. And last but not least, we are part of a prayer of reconciliation and healing that has been and will continue to be part of our work everywhere we go.

Process Before Product

The journey is not a “results-based” project, though we know that many planned and unplanned results will emerge.  Too many times people, especially Americans, go with a formula, a pre-determined outcome, and miss the genuine opportunities that arise along the way.  We feel there is something important, particularly as Americans, to going and listening, to practicing council with the land and its people and letting an exchange emerge that will reveal the future outcomes.  Thus, rather than pre-determining the outcome from this pilgrimage, we have generated a commitment to listen well for what wants to emerge naturally as we go.

Support and Financial Contributions

Beyond Boundaries is made possible by the generosity and support of many people who share in the vision and spirit of the journey.  Already, many have been very generous in their support of a project focused on long-term thinking and solution-based, holistic development.  We are continuing to fundraise as we go, and any added contribution will bring us that much closer to our goal, while also strengthening the support network of Beyond Boundaries participants and international collaborators.  

To Donate

Beyond Boundaries is a project of the Biosphere Foundation, a non- profit 501 (c) 3 (  General donations to Beyond Boundaries or to a particular participant must go through the Biosphere Foundations tax ID number (86-0686472). 

All gifts are tax deductable, and an official thank you letter from Biosphere Foundation will be sent for your tax records, (also, a copy of our detailed budget and tax exemption letter can be sent on request). To contribute money to a specific participant, be sure to put the participant’s name in the memo section of the check or include a note.  You may also direct wire transfer funds into the account, to do that contact Sierra at:

All checks should be made out to “Biosphere Foundation” and mailed to:   


S. Silverstone

Beyond Boundaries

Biosphere Foundation

Box 808

Big Pine CA 93513


Again, in the spirit of inquiry, hope, and exploration, we thank you.

[1] Council is the act of speaking from the heart, listening devoutly, expressing oneself in a lean manner, and being spontaneous.  Though simple, the practice of speaking and listening in this way is at the heart of the intention behind the journey as it offers a calm, centered way to engage any topic, and brings an egalitarian method for communicating across our differences.


~              ~                ~                   ~

So, that is a bit about the journey.  Our first month is now complete.  We spend the next 8 days in Ojai, and then on the 19th we fly to Portugal, to a place called Tamera.  We will be there for a month.  After that, we fly to Italy to spend a little over a week in a community called Damanhur.  From there to Scotland, to join the internationally renowned Findhorn community for another month.  It will be early October by the time our month at Findhorn ends and we will then begin a 3 month independent study, where each of us will spread to the winds to follow those aspects of inquiry that are most pressing to us individually.  Already some of the BB team are planning amazing visits and service opportunities for this time.  We will rejoin in India in mid-January to spend a month in an incredible international community known as Auroville.  After that, we will go together to Indonesia, to join our sponsoring agency, the Biosphere Foundation,  and their "sea people" on a number of small islands doing coral reef studies and assisting in the formative stages of a global coral reef monitoring center there.

I would offer more information on each place now, but I think it would be more fun for you all to join me as I go... and since I know little more than what the websites and books say at this point, I figure I will leave it at that.

The night has grown late and there is much to do tomorrow.  Thank you for reading, for supporting, and for being with me on this journey.

Adios from 3 Creeks.