Europe has been such an incredible trip. I currently sit in a hotel in London in the Knotting Hill district. There is an all organic store around the corner called, Planet Organic. It is wonderful to walk into a store where you don’t have to search for organic because that is all they carry. Many of the restaurants in this district—including pubs—have numerous vegetarian and vegan selections as well. It has come a long way since I was last here a few years ago. For so many people to be aware of vegetarians and vegans is an exciting sign of change.
Italy was beautiful and magical beyond what I could have expected. In Parma we were given a private tour of one of the oldest original theatres that is still in operation. It was built for Marie Antionette, Napoleon’s wife. Marble floors and pillars, beautiful frescoes on the ceilings, and seat boxes covered in plush velvet transported us right back to that time. We were told that the seats reserved for the poorest at the very top of the 5 story building is actually where the harshest critics sat. The poor would often have to wait for hours outside for a seat, and if they ran out of room, then oh well. So by the time they made it inside, after spending their hard earned money, they really were vocal about their likes and dislikes. (I have a feeling I would have been right there with them : )
I was invited to Parma by a women’s organization called, ADA. Every year they give an award called the Golden Mimosa to a woman who represents the advancement of issues they believe are vital to women. The award is actually a beautiful gold pin with the leaves and flowers of a Mimosa tree. It is always hard for me to accept awards because I know I am just one of millions of people giving their hearts, souls, minds, and lives to contribute to the world. But I also have learned that it is important for these groups to be able to acknowledge what they care so deeply about, and awards are one of the ways they have of doing that. It was an humble honor for me to receive this award from this group of women—most of whom are over 50 years old. I accepted the award on behalf of the women worldwide who make such sacrifices for their children, the Earth, and all life.
I toured the Ecological Panel plant for the fourth time. They make panels for IKEA and other particle board furniture manufacturers out of 100% recycled waste wood. If they were cutting down trees to make the panels, they would be cutting down 10,000 trees a day! They use a non-formaldehyde-based resin glue and their panels have zero off-gassing. It never ceases to amaze me, no matter how many times I have seen it. And each time I go, I learn something new. It so incredible to tour a factory whose founder lives on site. It is almost unheard of in the world to have the CEO’s and Businessmen involved in factories and production actually live on the site of the factory because of the amount of pollution that most create. The Ecological Panel plant is so clean that about the only thing that leaves the factory is recycling and steam from a power-generating facility. You can go to www.ecologicalpanel.com and then click on flag for the English translation. It is very inspiring.
We then went to Damanhur. Damanhur is the most incredible human community I have ever been to. It is based on art; a spirit and nature-based, non-religious philosophy; sustainability; and innovation. This community blew my mind. They originated in 1975 as a group who built 8 sacred art temples, all under ground, and all by hand. The temples are always evolving as new ideas and creativity come through. One of the temples houses the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world with over 25,000 pieces of glass. Damanhur is committed to research as part of their mission, so they spend about 60% time on research and 40% time on production. Damanhur community is now about 600 people full time and 400 people part time. They have family groups called “nuclei” which are made up of 15-20 people in each family. Each group family focuses on a certain aspect of the needs and research of Damanhur. For example, one group focuses on food production. They make their own olive oil, wine, cheese, and grow their own vegetables, as well as network with local farmers in surrounding areas to supply what they are not able to produce. Another group family focuses on sustainable energy. Most of the Damanhurian houses use solar for heating and energy. They also have a company that sells sustainable energy solutions to outside communities. Another group family is focused on the art of Damanhur. The community is a constantly evolving artistic project—not just in the limited sense of things like painting, sculpture, and stained glass, but also in the way they organize the community and in projects and business. Another family focuses on caring for their Sacred Woods and plants. Of course, they were my favorite! : ) I could spend hours and pages going on about Damanhur. But instead, I HIGHLY recommend that you go to their website to get a tiny taste of the magic of who they are and what they do. I plan on going back and spending even more time with this incredible community. Check out www.damanhur.org
There is so much more to write about my trip to Europe, but as I am already so behind on posting this one, I will save the rest for another time. Please do check out the websites for Ecological Panel and Damanhur, and then let me know what you think.
Here’s to Creative, Spiritual, Ecological, Effective, Self-Expressions!