Summer Gathering/ Ashram Experience 2018

This year’s Summer Gathering saw it being given a new name ‘Ashram Experience’.  I guess as some long standing members still refer to it as the Summer School, the name Summer Gathering will continue to be used by some. It was a very hot week with temperatures topping 30C (90F) some days and the only rain occurring on the last day.

We returned to St Christopher School in Letchworth Garden City and had a theme of ‘Making the World Great Again’. Sadly numbers were down again with only 12 in attendance but it did see the return after many years of Mary Brown and after a gap of a couple of years of Esther Klaassen. Esther was accompanied by her friend and yoga teacher Ellen Dijkstra.

With Ellen’s help the week followed the standard formula of voluntary 7am yoga followed by breakfast and a morning study session. Graham Davey led these sessions and the focus was on having a discussion (rather than lecture) and working out how we may act as individually, collectively and sway political and public opinion.

We covered six topics to cover the 6 days: health, reducing inequality, pollution, dealing with religious differences, climate change and population. In respect of the last point Graham advised that had we had a session thirty years ago it would have been entitled population growth but with socio-economic changes in the world one must look at the topic in a more nuanced way than simply talking about a population explosion.

Space does not permit a full account of each of the days discussions however certain threads were established; such as we all have a responsibility to do something however small, acts of witness are important and collective action is needed.

We also had two outside speakers visiting us for the first time in a number of years. Duncan McNair came on the Wednesday afternoon to give a very professional explanation of the work of Save the Asian Elephant ( Afterwards he stayed for supper and it was felt that the GF exec should discuss how and if we can work together in the future.  It was certainly an eye-opening experience for me as it brought home the cruel pajan methods  employed in training elephants to break their spirit, and the problems of ‘sanctuaries’ simply pandering to tourist trips and prejudices rather than protecting and caring for elephants (see also below).

Thursday evening saw Kevin Jones of Transition Letchworth ( visit us. He talked about how the Transition Movement fitted in with both Gandhi’s ideas and Ebenezer Howard’s ones about Garden Cities (Kevin being a trustee of both Transition Letchworth and the Letchworth Heritage Foundation). After a most successful discussion we have agreed to work with him at next year’s Summer Gathering and hopefully getting greater involvement with the local community.

The week also saw the Gandhi Foundation have its Annual General Meeting on the Tuesday for the first time ever outside of London (this was changed as Chairman Mark Hoda had to return to London due to illness at his office). This event also included a discussion about events for the coming year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth in 2019. The report of these discussions will be covered elsewhere. It was disappointing that the only members of the GF Executive Committee were those already present for the week, namely Mark Hoda, Graham Davey, Trevor Lewis, William Rhind.

As usual the last Saturday was taken up with a wide ranging discussion about the theme and programme for next year. After agreeing to return to Letchworth it was determined to move the event back a week to ensure that the week coincides with the school holidays. Accordingly, the Ashram Experience 2019 will be from 27th July to 3rd August and will have the following theme ‘Thinking About Change: Thoughts are the Seeds of Actions’.

William Rhind

Categories: Uncategorized


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2 Comments on “Summer Gathering/ Ashram Experience 2018”

  1. Ella Matheson
    June 6, 2019 at 6:42 pm #

    Hello there,

    Are these current posts?

    With Appreciation,

    Ella Matheson



  2. lewiscolony
    June 9, 2019 at 9:37 am #

    Dear Ella Matheson, some older posts have been reposted for readers to revisit.


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