As this year’s conference ‘Echoes from the future – what is our response?’ closed, there was a definite mood of positive energy. As the participants departed, one turned and said, “this was the best conference yet!” “Why?” “It was interactive, I was invited to participate and felt I had something to offer.”

Certainly, in the closing forum all four people, the three speakers and Michael Burton, playwright and actor, passed responses to the questions between them, allowing different perspectives to emerge. Mike Paku with his wealth of experience with Maori and life issues, Silvia Zuur, awake, prepared to challenge and future directed, Martin Large with his insights to three folding and experience in a diverse range of social issues. All four, work to bring their ideas into practice, to realise the dream and work to create a better future. Opening her talk, Silvia shared the wonder of Lucy, a new born child, and asked us to imagine her world in 2040? What kind of a world will it be? What do you want it to be?

The enthusiasm, concern, interest and engagement that all three speakers have for the world, came through in their talks, workshops and interaction. Reflecting on their talks, there was warmth in their sharing, weaving biography in such ways that it was clear that success comes out of struggle. Overcoming obstacles builds resilience. Building community, working with others and their ideas, helps develop flexibility and diversity of ideas. Success is on many levels, small and large, inner and outer. The importance of leadership bringing values to an organisation both spiritual and human, and leading through action and word. The realisation that we cannot work in isolation, if we are to achieve our goals, we need the other.

Some questions posed:

How are we caring for mother earth?

How are we sharing a general social, mutual economy sharing prosperity?

How are we engaging politically for democratic human rights and social justice?

How are we co-creating a dynamic, creative cultural/spiritual life?

What is the principle behind each of the above?

What question does your corporation strive to answer, does it need to be changed, have you questioned it, are you solving a problem or creating something new?

How might we bring our organisation into balance?

How do we build agency in our organisations and people?

Through the speakers we heard of people and organisations working for change, practicing social and organisational change. We had time to consider where we are today, where we want to go and how we might do this. There was a call to ‘wake up’ and face the challenges of our time. Are we a bit like the Titanic, clinging on when things are sinking? Why is there so much poverty amidst so much wealth? What makes for a healthy society?

We live in a time when the role of the individual becomes increasingly important. In the conference, the concept ‘human centric’ as a positive aspect of humanness was shared. While this is something in the consciousness of society, the difficulty is that people refer to person rather than human in its wholeness. To develop active citizenship requires courage of the individual.  Today we’re often looking at a two-legged stool socialism v capitalism, nationalism v privatisation, state v business/markets. Looking ahead we need to find the third leg of the stool and work with it. Recently, Winston Peters in his speech confirming his party’s alignment with Labour said, that capitalism must regain its responsibility, its human face. He saw that people want change and recognised that neoliberalism has not worked. The increase in poverty in New Zealand is seeing an awakening. What is clear, we cannot leave change to politicians, we need to be active in our areas of life. As was said towards the close of the conference ‘Think global and act local’, or as one person translated this, think of the starry heavens, the cosmos and act for the earth, for humanity.

So much more happened around the talks to make this a lively and interactive conference from the conversations around the wonderful meals, to the workshops, open space activities, play ‘This War is Not Inevitable’ and sharing of initiatives. Thank you to all who engaged and participated, prepared and carried this 2017 Anthroposophical Society Conference.