This weekend (28-30 september 2018) I visited the World Goetheanum Forum that took place in and around the Goetheanum in Dornach (SW). This extraordinary building, an organic architectural design of Rudolf Steiner, is for almost 90 years now the heart of the anthroposophical movement. The building that looks like something between a gigantic mushroom and a spaceship is very nicely situated against a hill and surrounded by nature and some houses in the same architectural style. Walking up the hill is like entering a place in which nature and the future world are already integrated. The forms are natural, artful, have a human scale, stimulate the imagination and show what can be.
The conference had a special character. People from all over the world came together to speak about the major entrepreneurial challenges that need to be mastered in the companies, the institutions and initiatives of today. The invitation to participate was open for everybody and not exclusively for members of the anthroposophical movement. This approach is, as far as I know, fairly innovative. The aim of the conference was to have a dialogue between people about how to deal with these challenges we are confronted with in relation to human values. On company level the aim was to give an impulse to the new born World Goetheanum Association that is founded this year to empower economic, social, cultural and spiritual initiatives that are grounded in these values.
Did the conference succeed in its design? To be honest, it was, in my view, just a beginning. The interest was still modest and a bit disappointing. I had expected far more participants, but there were only 180 people, most of them with roots in the anthroposophical world and the younger generations were barely represented. However the participants came from all over the world and there was a lot of will, energy, empathy and knowledge to have great conversation and to learn from each other. The program consisted in short lectures, alternated with modern work forms. Yet I think, that the attempt of the anthroposophical organization to establish an open dialogue with the outside world, would have been even more successful if some outside speakers had been invited too. A speaker like, for example, Yuval Noah Harari, would have been an enrichment for the conference. Harari describes the challenges mankind is facing, but has no answers. It would have been interesting to see what kind of conversation would have arised. Further I think that the conference would have been more open if the moderation had not been done by the hosts but by a neutral moderator. The anthroposophical hosts could then have met the participants of the outside world in an even more balanced and equivalent way. Perhaps that’s still something for the future. Anyway, I was glad I could be there and had a great time.
The conference proved that within the anthroposophical movement the awareness grows that they must get out of their ‘bubble’ if they really want to participate and collaborate with the outside world on the challenges mankind is facing. They have a lot to offer to the world in many fields, but they won’t succeed on their own. Like Faust they need to get into the world. And of course, that’s not easy, because it means leaving the comfort zone, which makes you directly more vulnerable for the outside world that can, as we all know, be really rude. So it has to be done with temperance and in a careful way, inch by inch. The conference was a good start, it opened the doors, but there is a long way to go. Real collaboration will be the ultimate test.
I think the anthroposophists have no choice. In these times nobody can proceed in any form of exclusive- and elitist thinking. Only collaboration will possibly lead to the worldwide use of their great potential. The question is really this: will their icon, the Goetheanum, be an anthroposophical museum about their founder Steiner and the past, or will it be a passionate and inspiring platform for worldwide innovation in the light of the future of mankind? I believe, it is the last mentioned choice the designer of the Goetheanum has dreamed about.