As we traveled to Dornach, we reached out to Seth Jordan to see if he might be able to join with us on the 20th, as he was our guide during the Threefold Late Night Sessions for the gathering in February. We have such an affinity for the work he is carrying in the world, organizing meetings with young people who are seeking a way forward and how this can take place in community with their peers. Just as in February when he happened to be “in the area” at that time, he surprised us again by saying, “Well, yeah, I am thinking I will be in the area.” We were thinking, “He’s going to just happen to be in the area??” And a meeting was set! We went looking for him on our first afternoon in Dornach and found him in a meeting with Christopher Houghton Budd at the Speisehaus. We thought twice about showing our happy-to-see-him faces and decided we would wait our turn.
Seth has been cultivating a conversation amongst the youth in America and Europe on the concept of Threefold and the healthy social organism. Last year was the first Threefold Boot Camp, and it was really well attended. One of the participants expressed what a gift it is that Seth has taken up this work so deeply that it can be shared so that its real value can be seen for today’s culture.
Seth grew up with 10 years of Waldorf Education as well as 13 years at a Christian Community camp, where he also worked 7 years as a counselor. His parents were not anthroposophists. He graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Philosophy and, at age 22/23, studied at the Christian Community Seminary, where he completed a foundation year in anthroposophy.
From his studies in philosophy, Seth was interested in Nietzsche, who said to do what is most difficult. It is what strength of spirit demands. Before attending the Seminary, Seth had participated in a study group on Philosophy of Freedom. This was an intensive study in rigorous thinking, and Seth realized what philosophy can truly be. In college Seth met a professor who had done his doctoral studies on Novalis, another influence on the development of his thinking.
The way Seth described Rudolf Steiner’s relationship to the philosophy of his time was by saying that he had solved the problem posed by Kant, but everyone else was out of the room. The other philosophers had moved on. Steiner described Nietzsche as a poet. Nietzsche had taken on the thinking of his contemporaries but became ill. Still, the picture of freedom that Nietzsche offered was formative for Seth, as for many others who encounter his work. Steiner’s key work on this philosopher is appropriately titled Friedrich Nietzsche: Fighter for Freedom.
After Seminary, Seth moved to Vermont, where he participated in a diverse anthroposophical study group. Around that time, he met Nicanor Perlas in Mexico. Perlas was a 2010 presidential candidate in the Philippines, where he brought forward ideas of social threefolding. (http://www.rightlivelihood.org/perlas.html) Nicanor was moving forward with a unifying effort in his own country, and Seth went over with friends to help on the ground. He and Jordan Walker worked on a documentary on the campaign. The relationship to Nicanor has been important to Seth’s ongoing work with threefolding and consideration of local currencies. Seth began organizing, traveling, and generally getting lit up by threefolding when he met Nicanor. Seth mentioned Globe Net 3 as another network of people interested in threefolding. (http://globenet3.org/)
Seth described an event he attended several years ago where there were about 90 young people gathered together under a tent, but all of the focus was on the time period of 1917-1922. There was nothing about today, about our current times. With Seth were Sarah Hearn and Kristin Buckbee, and the three came together around an impulse to begin organizing events of their own. The first event they organized consisted of about 30 young, anarchist punk kids. At the next few events, there were from 40 -70 people present. Seeds were being planted for the future, as these friends began to make their own way in the work.
An essential moment in Seth’s biography was when he was in Mexico and asked a woman there if he could offer a presentation. He did and his offering was translated into Spanish. In Mexico, Seth worked for five hours a day building flow forms. He was also busy studying threefold work, and Peter Buckbee came and joined him. The two drove around Mexico together, offering talks and presentations. Seth was setting out on his own initiative at age 25.
Seth, Sarah, and Peter then took up the initiative to begin exploring threefolding in a peer-led way. They sent out emails, but received few responses. Their question was “If you were starting a training on threefolding, what would you do?” Despite the slim response, they continued in their commitment to their striving for a renewed culture. This work would become ThinkOutWord. Seth, Sarah, and Peter each took up their own studies of Steiner’s lectures and brought them back to the group so that each one’s efforts could support the others, teaching each other and learning together. A true collaboration was born.
When Think OutWord was in the early stages, it was strictly peer led. Working together with Sarah, Peter, and Stefan, Seth formed a conference on economics. We need life in what we’re doing, and that is exactly what this group was looking to bring. Eventually, the group invited others such as Gary Lamb to offer lectures out of years of experience. Past events from Think OutWord can be seen here: http://www.thinkoutword.org/events-4/
Having spent three summers at the Rudolf Steiner Institute, Seth realized that he wanted to participate in large scale change out of a healthy social impulse for the future. Every action has the potential to bring health or illness, he suggested. It is clear that Seth is dedicating himself fully to a broad movement for positive social change.
Seth is interested in meeting people, in starting a new community. He sees that many have difficulty even being in the same room together. Sometimes there is a challenge in our movement where some hold the center in such a way that others can’t enter. We must create room for new impulses. For a time, Seth held a picture of an anthroposophical center akin to the Highlander Center of Tennessee, which played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Seth recognizes that in materialism there is an inherent evil, and apathy seeps through everything. How can we now open the space to turn the tide of our time? Seth loves that Rudolf Steiner’s work is so radical, so spiritually alive. It is time for a renewal of civilization. Ah, Seth speaks to the hope in our own hearts! What is our plan of action moving forward?
It is important to be able to sense into the whole, as witnessing can lead to action. Money can be a means of initiative. How do we work consciously with money? One way Seth has worked with the transformation of money is through establishing Credere funding, which was grassroots and peer recognized. Many innovative new initiatives have been supported through this endeavor, including Classroom Alive with three friends who helped lead our February gathering.
Sometimes when we examine our movement, it looks like a dead horse. Does this leg still work? Can we get this thing uphill? It is time to create space, to get rid of clutter. Let’s make room for the new! We must go through the path of recognizing whether or not we are doing what we came here to do.
The first step we must take is to be honest. What is anthroposophy? Seth says there is work for humanity to get done. We must be receptive to ideas outside of anthroposophy. For example, Seth thinks highly of the work coming out of Free Culture/Open Access initiatives. Our Michaelic brothers and sisters are out there! What is the point of being able to work together only within the castle walls? We must join with each other!
Is it possible to transform anthroposophy or the Goetheanum from within? What are the social forms that would allow room for more young people, that would allow for growth and change? The forms have to be flexible. Thomas Jefferson suggested that each generation rewrite the Constitution. Are we aware of our own need for genuine renewal?
We began to explore possibilities for moving in to the future of anthroposophy and a renewed civilization. What if groups of people came together to explore possibilities for moving forward? The more ideas, the better at the outset. Seth holds that we want as much living diversity as possible in ideas. We all carry a responsibility for anthroposophy. What is the anthroposophy we want to create?
There are new social sensitivities. We need people to facilitate conversation. What are the young people bringing? We don’t need to ask permission to move forward. Let’s create a game plan first. We’ll build the pictures and then move into a social working together.
Out of shared conversation, we’ll let the best pictures rise to the top as we create a new anthroposophy. What is the Vorstand’s game plane? Can they work with us? Seth asks, “Is there enough life here to do what I’m happy to do?” He wants to do what needs to get done, and we need concrete ideas. Can we come up with forms so that everyone can think and create together? Seth poses a Parzival question to the Society. It is one of dying and becoming. Seth’s greatest hope is to do what he came here to do, which is to renew civilization.
During our time in Dornach, we also had the chance to join Seth for an evening at Haus Haldeck. He had been invited to speak to the residents and friends about threefolding and ideas of free culture as well about questions of shared community. He began by suggesting that if we look at the cultural sphere of society, we can see that the churches are free, but math and science are not. These fields are too often subject to economic demands and special interest groups. It is time to explore ideas of Free Culture. (freeculture.org)
Seth has found inspiration in a Ted Talk from Dan Pink exploring intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. (http://www.danpink.com/ac/ted-talk/) Seth also referred to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights article 22:
“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
At Haus Haldeck, Seth offered many valuable considerations for the future. We share a few of them briefly here:
When we consider money, we find that is has different qualities. When you work for yourself, misery enters the world. There is a difference between wage and salary. Any entrepreneur is a cultural worker.
People need open access to culture, which can be supported by a lot of small gifts. We can look to crowd funding as an example. The crowd gives to the crowd, and culture can come forward.
The economy should be structured so that each person can live a dignified life. All should have enough to give and should then give it freely. We can create a practice of giving freely of our creative work, of sharing an experience. We must free the Being of Culture!
It is, indeed, our task to transform civilization. We must work toward a harmonization of hearts and a true picture of brotherhood. We are so happy to be working with Seth into the future! We have great hope. We have a great love for Seth and the community he is cultivating. He is sowing seeds!