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.
Members of the team, with flowers, to the kaki tree.
Trustees Rosemary Lilley and John Moorhouse,Trust Secretary Maureen Ward and Executive Director Richard Rollinson in eleven o'clock silence.
Places of memory, solace, reflection and resolution.
...to our PETT Friends and supporters on the occasion of our 50thAnniversary year - 2016
I would like to invite you to come and meet at 11am on Friday 15th July, to reflect on all we have achieved, think with us about the future, and enjoy lunch while you are with us.
As we progress through our 50th Anniversary year we want to bring our friends and supporters together to share where and how we can go from here into our next 50 years – identifying and discussing the current challenges and the potential opportunities we face. The former can feel sometimes daunting; the latter often exciting and full of hope. And that’s before we begin to consider options you will have thought of and may wish to propose as a key part of PETT’s continuing commitment to the field we all have long supported, contributed to and benefitted from.
It is always heartwarming for us that so many of our supporters and Friends continue to take an active interest and involvement with what we try to do at PETT, not least in terms of preserving and developing the Archive and gathering together to think and reflect upon what we have learned - especially about making a difference with and for those who have struggled at times with serious emotional difficulties across the entire life span. Together we have captured and shared many wonderful experiences and the rich inheritance that Therapeutic Community and Progressive Education approaches have bequeathed to us, to residential therapeutic care, education and treatment and to planned environment therapy, all of which PETT still stands for and supports today.
It would, therefore, be our great honour to welcome as many of you as possible to join us on Friday, 15 July, here at our Toddington site, to meet and consider, discuss and reflect upon the What and How for PETT’s next 50 years.
On a first-come first-served basis people are welcome to come the day/evening before and stay over in the accomodation as our guests (for no charge), or to camp on the site. (We currently have 13 double bedrooms available, with one or two other indoor spaces available for the adventurous. Unfortunately, because we have a group coming in early on Saturday morning, we can't invite people to stay on the Friday night itself). We shall be providing lunch on the day, and tea/cofee will be available throughout. Donations, of course, are always welcome.
Please do let me know by no later than Friday 7th July if you are able to join us.
To RSVP or for more details:
or phone the office at 01242 621200.
Looking forward to seeing, hearing and speaking with you,
Richard Rollinson, Director
on behalf of PETT Trustees and staff
A room full of people and three exciting speakers. Mike Phillips, masters degree student at the University of Leeds - who is researching urban free schools between 1960 and 1980 - writes up his reflections on another stimulating Common Roots Event:
The Common Roots conference has influenced the perspective of my research by providing further layers of enquiry. The conference provided a sense of togetherness with the presence of former students of Wennington who warmly welcomed various other attendees. It has introduced the idea of the community as a wide series of diversified actors, and I suppose in this way it has showed me that community is all about empathy and developing commonality at the same time as accepting, and fostering, diversity.
It has also further highlighted the commonality of purpose within radical therapeutic, educational and transformative movements, and simultaneously showed that there are various differing approaches to achieving these aims. In its broadest sense community means all human relationships, and especially those founded on shared views, and experiences. Though, it must also be said that perversely community can sometimes be developed by a shared opposition, by what people are against rather than what they are for. The conference has highlighted that inclusion and togetherness are much more productive building blocks.
Community is all human relationships and it is a term that has been redacted in mainstream culture. Just as the word 'environment' is often taken to relate to the subset of radical environmental campaigners, when it in fact in refers to everything in the physical world. Though, due to the breadth of this definition, it should be noted that it does tend more toward describing a movement. Community often operates on a localised level and is intersected at different points by outside actors (the huge media response in the wake of Columbine for example). The Free School movement was also intersected by outside actors, namely local and governmental authorities. Community can also be a localised group with ambitions of creating a movement or a wider community (For instance, Kibbo Kift’s ambitions for world transformation and redevelopment).
Therapeutic education at New Barns School, trauma awareness in the wake of the tragedy of Columbine, and the Kibbo Kift’s attempts to radically restructure post-war society through a return to primitive living and through a wide amalgamation of various different cultures could, at first glance, appear to be a fairly eclectic grouping of conference topics. However, they all highlighted the enduring struggle to interpret the world and to connect with others. This will be helpful for my own research as it has shown how important the prism of commonality is in building community and how wide these networks can spread. In the case of Free Schools from c.1960-1980 the commonality would be the desire to implement freedom, and the wider spread of the movement seems, at this mid-stage of my research, to filter into spheres such as anarchism, socialism, libertarianism, working-class solidarity, and perhaps many more.
Mike Phillips, May 11th, 2016
Common Roots 2016, co-hosted by Wennington old scholars and P.E.T.T., was held at P.E.T.T. on May 10th, 2016. The poster for the event can be seen here.
Columbine Mum, trauma researcher, oral historian, doting grandmother and PETT Fellow Dr. Carolyn Mears paid PETT a visit from the morning of April 25th to the evening of May 10th. Back home in Colorado, she emailed:
"I've been reflecting on the past few weeks and find a certain amazement at all that transpired...
...It was a busy, intensely rewarding experience to be able to meet so many like-minded people working for the benefit of others."
So, what transpired during the visit of this PETT Fellow?
Carolyn's talk at "Starting a conversation"
"In reflecting on the overall experience, I've realized that we are not only working with oral history but with cultural anthropology. We are investigating not only life events, causes and effects, and personal impacts, but also the culture and tools of experience and how societies (i.e., communities) function. Truly an exciting prospect, especially as I look at it aligned with community development initiatives in the Criminal Justice Network and RSA academies."
"The records housed in the PETT archives combined with the meetings and sessions fostered among groups of associated residential schools contribute to the growth of a powerful understanding of the nature of communities and a chance to learn from and share with others."
"I especially appreciate the recordings that you are doing for the formative meetings of the Special Interest Group and others. Of value similar to Wennington's treasured record books, these are helping to document the inception, growth, and development of the individual projects as well as the gestalt of reclaiming the communities of experience."
"As time moves forward, it would be exciting to see this compiled and made available for dissemination..."
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