A warm greeting to all our friends and supporters in what has long been celebrated as a season of peace and good will. May there be much of these for each of you this year, along with love and play.
These qualities and experiences will be all the more needed at this time when in the world at large there are so many strains and strong movements towards getting away and keeping [or increasing] distances, when not seeking outright confrontation and conflict on the ground or from on high – more often “a hard rain fallin’” than the “heavenly hosts” of carols fame - filling the sky with songs and salutations.
At the same time there is Hope – as across the globe, sometimes in small but important ways, groups practice and offer an alternative to such fracturing and strident posturing. And on that small scale for balancing we at PETT have worked with many of you and others, our extended and valued community of friends and supporters, to grow and keep ever closer in touch, in tune, broadening and deepening our sense and living reality of interconnectedness. This year that connectedness reached a new peak in July at our Gathering to both mark our 50th year of active existence, and anticipate how we shall continue into and through the next half century. Touching for us was the physical and engaged presence of all those who could join us in Toddington; uplifting too were the communications from many more, of their presence with us in spirit and mind on the day, as at other times. Such a Holding in Mind on-site and from afar we all know is not to be regarded lightly or appreciated only casually. The state of being together not just in a group, but as a group, is a truly powerful thing that transcends time and physical distances. Little wonder such a state of togetherness is a fundamental foundation of planned environments and their potential for living therapy in such human and humane environments
Hence, the regular communications from and via us to you all over the year through the Archive - whether Newsletters [complete with photos], letters and messages from PETT Fellows, Patrons and Supporters or other contacts that offer updates and new information, or that ask questions posed to us by people and groups interested and/or experienced in planned environments or Therapeutic Communities. And these are not just quanta/packets of data; they are all the actual and symbolic expressions of our ever growing network of interest, care and concern for all those, past, present and future, in need of being and belonging. In some respects PETT offers a refuge and repository for these “Lite Ages”, perhaps a bit like early medieval monasteries, which kept the light safely burning in the Dark Ages when much of human knowledge and compassion risked being lost forever. I don’t want to stretch the analogy too far, but it came to my mind in July again, when David Millard declared how much he valued PETT as a “Safe Deposit or Storage” for so much of value from the TC tradition, and experiences that could easily be lost.
So, Light there is in an era when dark clouds of ignorance, suspicion - hate, even - don’t just loom on the horizon, but are advancing from several directions. We at PETT, as many of you, don’t just remain stalwart in promoting planned environments, preserving their legacies and contributions and supporting/encouraging groups committed to offering the potential life changing experiences a planned environment approach embodies. We know we too must grow, and that means changing in important ways - or there will be no future for us. Therefore, we were delighted this autumn to yet again be awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, this time a Transitional Grant to assist us in our task of making ourselves a Trust fit to meet the challenges that will take us forward to 2066 (and all that!). On our website you can see the details of the Project for which we have received funding, a not small part of which involves volunteer engagement in various areas, including creating a Heritage Garden on our grounds. This Grant, on top of others we have received, encourages us greatly to see and feel that we are recognised and can well have a future that will equal or surpass our first 50 years of service.
As always, along with the hope and growth that change brings, there is Loss as well. We have lost several supporters along the way this year through death or serious illness. One whom I trust you will understand that I single out is our PETT Trustee and former Executive Director, John Cross. Last year, having had many years of excellent health [“so far as I know”, he was wont to observe], John suffered a series of strokes. Despite being stabilised physically, he has lost his hitherto sharp mental capacity. And we have now lost him from our Trustee group, although we are comforted to know that he is being well looked after at home by those who have long loved him dearly. And he remains in our hearts and minds as we continue on with much of what we know John would approve.
So some lights might be going out across the globe but not all of them. Some are fiercely burning still, PETT amongst them, with your support. And from within this light we wish you, our friends and supporters, and all those living and working with and as groups, health and happiness over this Christmas season and throughout 2017. And to paraphrase the philosopher/polymath Wilhelm Leibniz, “If we get closer and stay together wisely, we shall not go far wrong”.
Richard and the Trustees and team at PETT
All photographs are from the grounds of PETT: Daffodils planted by our friends from the Caldecott Association bloom behind the Kaki Tree, a sapling from a Japanese persimmon tree that survived the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945; daffodils and blooms.