Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Family Experience Living-in-community

Published in Juno Magazine recently Dorota Owen a long term leader of Kalikalos Family weeks talks about  holistic holidays and living in community with a family.  

I first heard the term “Holistic Holiday”, from a former Findhorn community member who, in 2008, invited me to join the staff of a Findhorn-inspired summer community project in Greece. Called “Kalikalos”, this community project is based in an old hotel in the picturesque mountain village of Kissos in the Pelion peninsula. 

The cobbled streets and stone houses are home to a population whose ancestors have enjoyed the tranquil  forests for centuries,  living on abundant harvests and the clear, clean water that bursts from the mountainside springs.  In winter time, the snow attracts skiers: in summer time  the many tavernas are a magnet for hikers and visiting Athenians, many of whom have family holiday homes here.

Swimming in a perfect sea, I wondered how it would be to bring my three children, then aged 15, 13 and 7—would they get bored ? Should we invite their friends? In the end, the Kalikalos director suggested that I run the first of our family experience weeks (which are patterned after the Findhorn Foundation family experience weeks) and the children helped. Since then, this week has grown into two and our numbers have doubled year after year.

Now there are two venues and a waiting list!

Why are these family weeks so popular? Obviously the location, warm sunshine and sea are a big draw for British visitors in particular. Living in community is also a factor, as deep friendships are formed in the context of community life which simply would never happen on a package holiday in an anonymous hotel.  Community can be intense sometimes, and over the years, communication processes like Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication, sociocracy and council circles have been adopted to facilitate conflict and reach harmonious win-win resolutions.

There is some special magic about a community-based holistic holiday which has emerged over the years, an alchemy of healthy, fresh local food, gentle work rhythms and  a profound connection with nature as we eat under the stars and  walk in the shady forests.

This, to me, is truly the meaning of a holistic holiday. I learn about human nature and how to get along with people, as do my children, and I think this has been key to our evolution as a very happy family unit. I eat healthily, swim daily, walk through nature. We always  return to our home town glowing, tanned, fit. Finally, I feel nourished by the good company of friends, supported in the larger world by the knowledge there is a tribe that I am part of, a family of cultural creatives who share my values around planetary sustainability and good living.
For more detail about the Family weeks and our work shop programme visit.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Ancient Kaldarini (Donkey Paths) on Mt Pelion

The beauty of Kalikalos at the base of Mt Pelion is our unique environment, we are beach and forest resort, this is a walker's paradise. 

The mountain is crossed with ancient donkey tracks (kaldarini), amazing sea overlooks and clear mountain waterfalls. As you approach sea level there are olive groves. But higher up into the forest, the trails meander through magnification chestnut, beach and cherry trees.

When most of us think of Greece this is not the environment that we might expect. For the visitor it is an opportunity to explore something unique. In recognition of this natural beauty the centre has two walking holidays in the workshop programme,  one in the June and another in September. 

Mt Pelion June Guided Walks   led by Jill Sleeman

Michelle Brydie is leading our september hiking holiday week. Michelle a keen hiker is inspired by life outdoors and how nature effect us directly. Here are some thoughts and words from her.

Ramblings about rambling…

People can often imagine that by travelling vast distances over and across the planet, that they have seen, discovered and been to the places they have passed. But, it is only by immersing oneself into the landscape and exploring on foot its nooks and crannies, that the true nature of a place reveals itself to us.

To walk slows us down to a pace where we can really notice where we are, what is going on, what it really looks like. This enables us not only to see, but to hear, to smell, to feel, a cacophony of sensual stimuli can infuse us with the true essence of where we are. With ourselves placed in the heart of it, we can become merged with our surroundings and this offers us a sense of place within our world, wherever we decide to be.
Nature always meets us with open hearted truth, being within its folds, we can slowly notice ourselves as having let go of our self conscious tensions. The realisation unfolding, that we are just being, not worrying about how we are being perceived. This is a true gift, which is always readily available to us all, when we give ourselves the permission and time to get out there in the natural surroundings that we are lucky enough to call our home.

For more info about walking weeks visit... 

Full details of the Kalikalos summer programme can be found here.