As many of you will know, the Quaker Community, which for more than 20 years has been at the old Derwent Valley Water Board offices in Bamford, now has new residents, and a new vision. We felt it would be good to let you all know a bit about who we are, what we are up to and how it's going.
There are currently four of us, Jasmine, Jinny, Laurie and myself, living at the Community and another three or four hoping to move in soon. Ken and Wendy, two of the original group, moved back to Exeter at the beginning of March, having put in a much appreciated year of dedicated work to help get the new Community up and running. We aim to have a total of about twelve adults living here, possibly including a family or two, and use the rest of the space as guest accommodation.
The vision for the new Community is to be a resource for spiritual renewal and world change, for Quakers and others, and we run a varied, low-cost, retreat programme on just about everything from sustainability and climate change to spinning, natural dyeing and singing. The retreats are both fun and thought-provoking, with opportunities for exploring the beautiful countryside around here, working in the vegetable gardens or the woodland, talking, reflection and shared worship as well as the led sessions. Everyone joins in and helps out with the tasks, and feel as much part of the community as those of us lucky enough to be able to live here all year round.
Some Quaker-related groups, such as the Alternatives to Violence Project who do work with families experiencing domestic violence, and in prisons and war zones, have come to hold training weekends here for their facilitators. We also quite often have people staying for a few days on personal retreat, so it is rare for us not to have anything from 1 to 20 others staying on site.
The building, of course, was never intended for living in and was very cold, so we decided to ‘go forward in faith' (i.e. before we knew whether the retreats and vision for the new Community would work or not) and took out a mortgage for a big insulation project on all the external walls. This has now (finally!) been completed, and redecorating and refurbishing the rooms to get the accommodation up to scratch for visitors has been a priority for us between retreats. It has certainly made life interesting trying to live, work and run retreats on what had been to all intents and purposes a building site! The improvement in ambient temperature is enormous, well worth both the disruption and the cost, and should mean that we will reduce our fuel consumption and carbon footprint without having to be absolutely Spartan in our lifestyle.
I feel really blessed to have been able to come here and be part of this new project. Living in community is an adventure and a challenge - we are all discovering things about ourselves, both strengths and vulnerabilities, of which we may otherwise have been blissfully unaware, and are changed. Our spiritual journeys and growth are about being willing to hold our everyday lives, actions and interactions up for scrutiny and being able to learn from our shared experiences. It is a process that is not without pain, so we are very grateful to all who are holding us in the light.
If you would like to know more, do come by and see us. It helps if you can phone first so we can make sure someone will be available to welcome you, but if you are just passing it's always worth a try! And you will be very welcome on any of our retreats- ask us for a leaflet of what's on when.
Valda, Laurie, Jasmine and Jinny tel no. 01433 650085
Derwent Pulse - Bamford Quaker Community
In Derbyshire's longest artwork, hundreds of lights, shepherded by riverside communities, flow the length of the River Derwent in 17 passages. Resonating with the ancient pulse of the first ever factories, the lights weave together past, present and future histories of Derbyshire, its landscape and its people.
Between Bamford and Hathersage, the Light Flow will be shepherded by members of Bamford Quaker Community and local communities. You will escort the pulsating light spheres for 4km along the river, starting in the light and finishing at the end of twilight guided by the ever-strengthening lights in a meditative walk along the river. Everybody is welcome.
As part of the Derwent Pulse, the Bamford Quaker Community is holding a residential weekend with artist Chrys Allen: a meditation on the Derwent, which will involve sensory walks, musings and meanderings with a view to sharing our appreciation of the river. As part of the creative and sharing process, there will be opportunities for drawing, mapping, writing and collaborating on a Charting the Future artwork unique to the community.
Shepherding the Light Flow takes place on Sunday, 12th October leaving the Quaker Community at 5.30pm.
The Derwent Pulse residential weekend runs from Friday, 10th October to Monday, 13th October at Bamford Quaker Community. See www.quakercommunity.org.uk for details or contact Linda Southwick the Quaker Community.