A Revolutionary Idea

The Camphill Movement is a worldwide network of homes and villages in rural as well as urban settings for children and adults with special needs. Inspired by the vision of its founder, Karl König, an Austrian jew fleeing Nazi persecution it is the story of an idea: that people of mixed abilities can live and work together, belonging and contributing as equals. 

The world in which Camphill was born, in 1940, was ravaged by war. Camphill was a seed planted in the foreign, granite-strewn soil of northern Scotland.  Disability then was seen as a blemish to be hidden away in large institutions.

Eugenics sought to define people with learning disabilities as lesser than the rest of us. Mainstream social policy in the United Kingdom focused on segregation and isolation. Institutions were created permanently to house disabled children and adults. 

In contrast, Camphill practiced a radical inclusivity and equality. There was no division between ‘carer’ and ‘cared-for’. Everyone contributed to the work, social and cultural life of the community and everyone had their needs met from the resources held in common. 

Some seventy years later the Camphill seed has taken root, grown, flourished and flowered, and propagated into many countries increasingly connected to the wider community. The movement hasn’t been without its growing pains but when someone decides to come and live in a Camphill community, they are choosing a home, not a bed or a placement. 

Camphill: Portrait of a worldwide movement A highly readable beautifully illustrated and vivid narrative of the Camphill story by Jan Martin Bang

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