Rudolf Steiner Institute
Dear RSI Community and Friends,
I am writing on behalf of the RSI Board to thank all of you for your interest, support and participation in the Rudolf Steiner Institute over the course of the nearly four decades.
As most of you know, the Institute held a 'community reflection gathering' after its last session in Massachusetts in 2010. The decision to bring the Institute to a close flowed organically out of the generally shared recognition that an era had drawn to a close.
Over the past four years the Board has worked to bring the affairs of the Institute to orderly completion in a mindful and consciousness way. We have now reached the conclusion of that process.
The Institute is the community of all who participated in it and all who contributed to it. The spirit of the Institute lives in all of us who experienced it and will continue to touch the lives of numberless others through its reflection in our being in the world.
The Institute had a modest reserve fund that the Board of Directors wishes to see distributed further to support youth activities and Foundation Studies for parents in Waldorf communities. Once the final legal "closing" steps have been accomplished, those remaining funds will be transferred to and eventually disbursed by the Triskeles Foundation and administered by a small advisory group.
Throughout the life of the Institute the mission has been to strengthen and build bridges between social action and spiritual inquiry. The seeds have been planted and now it is our work to continue on the path of those that paved the way.
On behalf of the Rudolf Steiner Institute Board of Directors,
As I think back on the last gathering of the Rudolf Steiner Institute community, I vividly recall our last evening together. It had been an extraordinary Institute in every way. Our traditional celebratory evening captured the joy and gratitude living in our collective hearts. At the end of the evening’s contributions—both serious and humorous—that gave expression to the unique flavor of that particular Institute, we rose from our seats and came together to form a circle. In the pregnant silence of the hall, we held onto one another’s hands and took in—with our eyes and with our hearts—this nodal moment in the life of the Rudolf Steiner Institute. We could see that there was present an inner sense that this might be the last time we would come together as a community.
Although we hoped that the retreat to follow the Institute session would lead to a re-imagination and renewal of the Institute, we recognized that the Institute was at a crisis point. Our costs had risen significantly over the years, primarily due to the steadily increasing cost of renting a campus. To cover our costs it had been necessary to increase our program fees, which led to a decline in enrollment and an increase in the need for financial assistance. At the same time, increasing numbers of participants were coming for one week rather than two or three weeks so typical in years past. This meant we had to enroll up to three times the number of participants to pay for our three-week lease of the college campus. When the financial crisis hit, our financial model soon became unsustainable, our savings began to diminish, and we came to rely on substantive donations to keep the Institute going.
New ideas, new perspectives, new forms, and new energy were needed if the Institute was to have a future. This new reality propelled us as a board into a critical but difficult process of trying to anticipate the kind of leadership needed to re-imagine and sustain the Institute. This included questioning whether our current board possessed the necessary skills and capacities that would be needed, or whether it was even appropriate for us who had led the Institute for decades to continue doing so. At the end of this process, we reached consensus (although not unanimous agreement) that it was time for us senior board members to make room for a new generation of board members to breath new life into the Institute, imagining and implementing changes needed to make it sustainable well into the future. Once the new board was in place, those of us who had stepped back would continue to serve as a ‘circle of elders,’ making our selves available to the new board for dialogue and guidance as desired.
Unfortunately, the retreat—although an interesting creative experiment—did not lead us to a clear path forward; in fact, it took us backwards to a point where the board’s decision to replace itself began to unravel. When it became clear that a few members of the board were unable to reconcile themselves to this agreement, Bob and I resigned, hoping that this would stimulate others to stay true to the intended process of renewing the board. Within a few days most of the remaining board members resigned as well. I cannot say exactly what those remaining on the board wanted to happen at that point, but in time they would be faced with the inevitable decision to end the Institute, turning their focus and efforts to facilitating the legal process of closing down the Institute in a respectful and responsible manner. No doubt this was a difficult decision and a difficult task.
The ending of the Rudolf Steiner Institute is hard to reconcile in light of the joy and meaning it brought to so many of us, and the initiatives and relationships it generated in service of anthroposophy. I trust that the Institute had lived out its life in its current form, and that its spiritual impulse has entered a necessary phase of rest, to be taken up in the future by a new group of individuals in a new way.
It is important, however, that the Institute community formally celebrate its life and passing away. Since coming together physically is not possible, I would like to suggest that on Michaelmas Sunday, September 28th, we come together spiritually to celebrate in a way that is personally meaningful and, if possible, gathering with Institute friends. I feel certain that our doing so will not only help us feel a sense of closure, but will have an enlivening effect on the future of this impulse.
I hope that in coming months and years many of us will meet one another at an anthroposophical conference or at one of the excellent anthroposophical summer programs that are continuing some of the work of the Rudolf Steiner Institute.
Rudolf Steiner Institute
P.S. If you have photos of the Institute experience that you would like to share, please upload them onto the Rudolf Steiner Institute’s Facebook page, and kindly consider sharing your reflections as well.