On Thursday evening, April 30, 2015 the Heartbeet Chime Choir had the honor of performing at the Camphill Cabaret. It was a magical evening! Heartbeet friends and family came out in droves for this amazing and classy event. The Camphill Cabaret took place in a large rococo ballroom in the heart of New York City. When the chime choir took the stage they brought the Vermont vibe and the Heartbeet spirit to the Big Apple. Directed by Onat, the chime choir performers were Annie J., Jared, Ann B., Suzannah, Brittany, Sequoya, Connor, Lelia, Jon, Johannes, Victoria, and Morgan. Together they performed beautiful and heartfelt renditions of I Love the Mountains and Scarborough Fair, followed by Imagine during which Jared sang solo while others signed the words. They brought the house down. The “live ask” directly followed the performance and in three minutes the audience raised almost $50,000 towards the Heartbeet Community Center! What a show of hands for Heartbeet! We extend our deepest gratitude to the Camphill Foundation for the invitation to perform and for their continuing support of the Heartbeet Community Center Project. Thanks also to our gracious overnight hosts, Triform Camphill Community and Warren and Amy Gleicher.
The Camphill Cabaret also included a screening of Heartbeet’s new video! Check it out here:
Bob Stuhlmann, father of Chris who lives in Konig House, has written an article that has been featured on www.kidsvt.com. Read on:
A Father’s Expectations Change When His Child is Born With Down Syndrome
By Robert Stuhlmann
Article originally published in www.kidsvt.com, December 2, 2014 (link to article here)
In the summer of 1978, my wife, Tess, and I lay on the grass at an outdoor concert, strains of Mozart flowing through the air. “Here,” she said, placing my hand on her swelling abdomen. I could feel the baby moving to the music. We speculated that our child would become a dancer or a musician — or a football player.
Our healthy baby boy was born early, rosy and in a caul, completely encased in the thin membrane of the amniotic sac. Legend says that children born this way will never drown. It’s a sign of good luck.
We counted his fingers and toes: Ten of each. But when the doctor finally arrived an hour later, he said, “I knew something was wrong. A little Mongolism, maybe.”
His words pierced us like a knife. He was referring to Down syndrome. We’d done everything right. How could this happen?
The day after the birth, a bedraggled social worker arrived at the hospital. It was Saturday, and we could tell she didn’t want to be with us. “You don’t have to keep this child, you know,” she told us. “There are places for children like him.”
I was stunned. Tess was defiant. “He is our son, and we will love him no matter what!” she said.
Still, I had doubts. Seeking guidance, I called a priest friend, Mark, who had adopted a child who was later discovered to have profound disabilities. “I don’t believe in a God who causes children to be born with disabilities,” Mark told me. “I believe in a God who reaches out to us with arms of love.”
Those words resonated with me. In a complicated situation, one thing became clear: Our expectations, not our child, would have to change. Our son wasn’t some sort of karmic payback. Raising him would become an exploration into the meaning of love. We named him Christopher, which is derived from Greek, meaning Christ-bearer.
Chris grew more slowly than other children. He moved at a different pace, and needed constant reminders to complete simple tasks. We had to keep vigilant with schools and the agencies that were required to help him achieve his goals. Fiercely protective, Tess spent the next 20 years advocating for him.
Chris was 29 and living at a residential school in Connecticut for adults with disabilities when he met Annie, who also has Down syndrome. I came over to his apartment one morning to find that she had slept over. Soon after, we took Chris and Annie out for dinner, and she approached me. “You’ve got to talk to Chris about a ring,” she said.
I was happy Chris had found love, but was still concerned about some of the choices the two of them were making. Chris and Annie spent a lot of time together at McDonald’s and were putting on weight. It was clear they needed a healthier lifestyle and more supervision.
Every parent I know with such a child has the same fear: What will happen when we’re gone, or no longer able to care for him? I learned that Chris had a similar fear when I read one of his poems:
The rambling man
Like the preacher’s son
Is looking for a place
To call home.
Chris found that place a few years ago when he moved to Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick — one of 11 “Camphill communities” in the U.S. and Canada. At Heartbeet, adults with disabilities live and farm together with an experienced team of residential staff.
Annie wasn’t sure she wanted to move to the country. But when she visited Chris there, she changed her mind. The couple decided they wanted to live in a committed relationship. She moved in six months later.
Over the next five years, Heartbeet staff helped Chris and Annie identify their goals and improve their relational skills. Chris needed to speak up for himself; Annie needed to reduce her tendency to speak for him.
Last May, the two of them got engaged in an outdoor ceremony at Heartbeet. With a ring in his hand, Chris knelt on one knee and proposed to her. “Yes! I will!” Annie replied, and he placed the ring on her finger. After a long embrace and dramatic kiss, she held up her finger and jumped for joy.
Knowing that your child has found a caring community and a loving partner is one of any parent’s greatest joys. When the Heartbeet staff told me, “Chris will always have a home here,” tears welled in my eyes. My heart was full.
Chris didn’t become a dancer, or a musician, or a football player. But he sure can swim. He can beat me easily in a 20-yard race, his lean body cutting through the lake waters.
And Christopher has lived up to his name. He has a kind and gentle demeanor and, at times, helps me see to the heart of things.
In a world filled with displaced wanderers looking for a home, Chris has found a place to be with friends — and his love — close to the land and at peace with himself. And I am grateful.
The 2014 “growing” season has been just that, in more than one sense of the word. Currently spanning about one and a half acres and feeding the 45 people who call Heartbeet home, the Heartbeet gardens were bustling with activity and hard work this summer. Regular workshop crews included as many as eight people, and on many a sunny Sunday afternoon 15-20 community members came out to the fields for weeding parties, complete with lemonade drinking, hose spraying, and of course lots of weed pulling.
Such a high level of community involvement was essential to the vitality and production of the gardens this summer, and was supported by the “Green Thumbs at Work Garden Grant,” which Heartbeet was awarded this past spring. The grant program, aimed at improving employee health and increasing involvement in the gardens, is a partnership of the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Community Garden Network, Charlie Nardozzi, and Gardener’s Supply.
Last week (September 8, 2014), Charlie Nardozzi paid a visit to Heartbeet to see how the gardens were growing, to lend his advice, and to learn how the grant has been supportive. For this community, receiving the “Green Thumbs at Work” grant allowed the Garden workshop to invest in some much needed tools and supplies, tools and supplies which were put into the hands of the many community members who came together to help grow Heartbeet’s food this summer. These nutritious vegetables will continue to feed the Heartbeet community into the snowy months of early 2015.
For more information about the grant program and the Vermont Community Garden Network visit VCGN.
Also, check out Charlie’s current newsletter here.
I think that any person who has ever had Heartbeet touch his or her life in any way for any length of time has struggled at one point or another to adequately explain its being to the outside world. I find that my success in doing this often depends on how much time and patience my audience is willing to give in hearing my attempt at defining Heartbeet’s wonderful and multifaceted existence.
I can say that I am now at a point where I’ve realized that one of the best ways to describe Heartbeet is to refer to aspects of life at Heartbeet itself. One of the myriad memorable conversations I had this summer occurred one afternoon with Eric, next to the compost pile I was helping William and Jessie prepare. We were talking about the greater significance of the preparations used by biodynamic agriculture, but I realized later that we could also have been talking about any aspect of Heartbeet’s community life. Eric spoke of the necessity of winter in the development of the roots of plants, the dreamlike state of summer, and the transitions in between. He emphasized, above all, the importance of rhythm in the cycle and development of a garden. However, the transcendence of this moment was really connected to the fact that he could easily have been speaking of any of the core values of Heartbeet as a community. Those values are lived also in a cyclical way: each living being in the community is also evolving in their own individual growth, thereby contributing to a larger space that, in turn, allows other individuals to grow and change so that they can then contribute their own gifts to the community.
I have been volunteering on and off at Heartbeet since I was 14 and a freshman in high school, and I just turned 22 last week and am about to enter my senior year in college. The longevity of our relationship has made me exceptionally grateful to have been an observer of Heartbeet’s growth and transformation from a cozy, ten-person community to an incredible 45-person community, with four houses and a plan for a community hall well under way. Managing change and transition is a consistent challenge for the community, but what is ever-present at Heartbeet is the anchor that rhythm, routine and core values and philosophies provides all members of this unique therapeutic space. Coming back for the first time in a few years, I have a heightened awareness of the complex meaning of the different roles each individual holds in this community. Much like the roles that the rain, the sun, the gardeners, the insects and the biodynamic preparations hold in the development and harmony of the garden, Heartbeet could not be Heartbeet if a single aspect of its rhythm were eliminated or greatly altered. As a community, Heartbeet challenges a conventional mentality that overemphasizes individual autonomy and achievement with its proven success as an environment that thrives on shared living.
As always, I am so grateful to be welcomed into the space each time I return, and I still struggle to find the words to adequately express my appreciation to a community that has defined a significant part of who I am and continues to support my development as a human being in this world.
It’s been a wonderful time visiting my home and my extended family in Hardwick.
I arrived tired and exhausted from the final exams of my first semester at university. And for sure I’ll leave with recharged batteries and motivation to proceed. Spending time with people I love, makes me appreciate every moment that I can experience here. It’s a big pleasure to be able to join the community at a very busy time of the year. And to be a part of many changes and projects like the barn. My time in this beautiful place leading towards a very important event for my beloved friends, Tony aka T-Bone and Jessie Preibisch has been my highlight of 2014. At this point I wanted to thank both of you again for inviting me.
Heartbeet is – and will stay – a place to rest and to feel good.
On my arrival day I fit right back in and it felt like I never left Heartbeet.
Which makes me even more comfortable about leaving again, because I know that I always can come back. With this in my mind I’m hoping to be visiting as soon as possible again.
Much love and the best wishes from my heart.
Dominik Kerschl (coworker, Germany, 2012-2013)
My time visiting Heartbeet was like visiting a home away from home. Seeing everyone, old and new, with open arms and warm hearts is one of the many reasons for visiting each a year. Every time I visit, I learn more about myself and others by sharing and listening to everyone’s experiences over the last year. Heartbeet is a place for me to rejuvenate, recollect my feelings and soul. Being able to take my Heartbeet experiences back home is a great thing. Sharing my Heartbeet experiences with my family, friends, and students is something I will always look to in the many more visits to come.
Holy cow we are a lucky bunch of folks! We have four beautiful Jersey/Swiss cows that feed exclusively on grass year-round and make nutritious, delicious milk for us to consume. From these four lovely ladies we get much more than our community of 45 can drink. So, we’ve created a dairy workshop which meets four afternoons a week to transform that milk into an array of wonderful value-added products. From yogurt to butter to kefir to cheese, we do just about all of it! The experience is enriching and therapeutic for everybody, the cost-savings on groceries is wonderful, and the products are delicious and healthy!
The workshop began three years ago when Sara, Thomas, Jemma and August started making chevre from our goat, Honey’s, milk. The chevre got such a warm reception from the community that soon the dairy workshop expanded to two days a week and included Ann Blanchard as well. Together we made butter, chevre, yogurt, and sour cream. Sara could often be seen lugging five-gallon buckets of milk into White Pine House late at night after the children were settled in attempts to keep up with requests for these yummy products! Sara’s dream throughout the early years was to expand the crew’s knowledge of cheese making.
In the past few months new co-worker Dan has brought his experience of cheesemaking from Jasper Hill Farm to the workshop. One day a week the workshop turns about 14 gallons of milk into two Colby-style pressed wheels. We have even outfitted the root cellar of one of our houses into a little cheese cave corner! We are also excited about the scrumptious butter Connor is churning up for us in our antique ceramic crock. In addition to Connor, we have Annie Jackson the cream-separating queen, Thomas the yogurt master, Brittany the fantastic fromage stirrer, and Kei the kefir king, all lending their helpful hands in the workshop.
Sunday July 13th 2014 proved to be a very important day in the world, particularly in the world of Soccer (which is known worldwide as Football), as Germany was crowned the champions of the 2014 World Cup Final against Argentina. Some may happen to know what The World Cup is and some may further understand that it is no less than the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world. I recognize and appreciate the beautiful game of soccer and was fortunate to celebrate this significant event with an extraordinary group of both, past and present, German volunteers of Heartbeet.
It is with each year that Heartbeet welcomes one-year volunteers to Heartbeet. And, It is with each year that all volunteers are provided a unique opportunity for a healthy, safe and nourishing path of self-discovery; a path that leads to new friendships and to an ever growing circle of the Heartbeet family. An important part of this Heartbeet experience is the presence, the responsibility and the understanding of the intrinsic value that our farm and our animals provide for the nourishment of the individual, the community and the earth.
This is a story of the World Cup, of the Heartbeet volunteers, of the Heartbeet farm and animals and of how all are relevant, appreciated and recognized at Heartbeet. So it is that Germany won the 2014 World Cup Final. A bull calf was born at Heartbeet on the same day. Mario Gotze scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup Final for Germany. The Heartbeet bull calf was later named Mario Gotze in honor of this profound and significant co-incidental historical event.
A BIG Thank You to all Heartbeet Volunteers that ever were…
A truly remarkable and important community building experience.
On Tuesday, July 8th, which was a brilliant picturesque summer morning, everyone in the Heartbeet community gathered to help collectively “raise” a wall for our new barn addition. The barn wall and addition is harvested timber of rough-cut spruce and fir from the Heartbeet property that was milled on site and completed with the beauty and magnificence of the traditional handcrafted timber framing of a local craftsman/builder and friend, Michael Waring.
A barn raising was a collective community action, which was particularly common in the 18th and 19th century in rural North America. A barn was and still is a necessary structure for any farmer, for storage of hay and for the keeping of animals. Yet a barn is a large and costly structure and a barn raising addressed the need by having members of the community to assist in the building of neighbor’s barns.
The barn raising at Heartbeet was a collective effort of the entire community that connected us to the North American ancestral farming traditions and provided an opportunity to recognize our collective community potential. The barn raising was a confirmation of a truly remarkable and important community building experience. I am thankful to be a part of such an incredible Community. Again, we welcome anyone and everyone who wish to open a new doorway to discovery: a place of honest work, friendship and understanding and an opportunity to cultivate a genuine love for the Heartbeet Barn…for many years to come!
by Eric Tidblom