A consortium has been formed to create an LGBTQ-inspired sanctuary, which will be both a community and a centre offering workshops, events and retreats for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) people and their friends.
Our vision is of a place of welcome comprising a community of people living on-site, and a residential centre providing accommodation for guests and space for events, workshops, retreats and meetings. It is envisaged as a not-for-profit venture with a focus on serving the LGBTQ communities, but not exclusively, by extending a warm welcome and establishing a precious legacy for future generations.
The centre will offer a variety of day and residential workshops and retreats, drawing on the skills of a wide range of workshop leaders and retreat-givers. It will be a place of sanctuary, connection and community, and a crucible for healing, discovery and growth. A gathering point for kindred spirits, it will encourage love, respect, authenticity, learning, play and celebration.
Through its work, the centre will nurture many aspects of the creative arts, spirituality, psychotherapy, groupwork, bodywork and queer studies. It is likely to have some common ground with other communities/centres such as Easton Mountain and Esalen in the USA, Findhorn and Laurieston in the UK. The centre may operate as a charity seeking donations and investment from people sympathetic to its aims.
The extended community
We have been thinking in terms of a core and cluster recognising that some will be more involved than others. In the long term, some of those who feel connected to the project might be living in a community on site, but at the other end of the spectrum, the connection of some might be that they come to an event occasionally.
One of our tasks at the moment is to build the extended community, which is both about connecting with people who might want to be more involved in the future, and about developing the sort of hospitality and connection in and beyond the LGBTQ world which we might do more effectively once we have a centre established.
We envisage a community of people associated with the centre, some living on-site full- or part-time, who develop, maintain and run the Centre. Each person will make a contribution, either financially and/or through working for the Centre. The principles, intentions and working practices of the community will evolve over time. Community members will need to demonstrate emotional maturity, active participation, authentic communication, accountability, pragmatism and a commitment to working together. We hope that the community will include a good diversity of age so that it has the character of an integrated community.
The Centre and Community
Both the centre and community will be bound by no particular doctrine or approach, and will draw from an eclectic mix of philosophies, it will be open minded and inclusive. While it is founded and inspired by LGBTQ people, a warm welcome will extend to people in the wider community who may wish to participate in our work or use the space for workshops and events.
The management of the community and centre will rest with the community, involving those who live there and those who have put money into the project, and any infrastructure appropriate to the centre operating as a charity (assuming this is appropriate). Outside-In will be incorporated as a Community Interest Company, funded initially by loans from people associated with the project.
The preferred location would:
- be accessible from major centres of habitation, both to make it possible for people to live in the community and work in the area, and to make it reasonably easy for people to travel to events;
- be sufficiently accessible from London for people to be able to come for weekend, and ideally for day events;
- be sufficiently secluded to allow for privacy;
- have enough rooms to be capable of being made into flats/living space for 2030 community members and ample bedrooms for guests and people on retreat;
- have rooms of a variety of sizes to be used as meeting or workshop rooms;
- have a reasonable amount of outside space.
We are actively looking at potential sites, and have visited several properties as part of an ongoing process of refining our specification.
Explorations so far have identified a steady trickle of possible venues. Different venues create different funding possibilities depending on how many people would be living there: it has been very affirming to look different buildings and realise that there are credible means to fund their purchase. It is likely that this will include people lending money to the centre, and people buying flats in the building. The ongoing running costs will be covered by a combination of annual maintenance fees paid by the residents and net income generated by the retreat centre.
To contact us for further details please click here.
The Core Group
The Core Group comprises the nine people who have been involved since the early stages: Ted Vidler, Richard Nickols, Kevin Jackson, Alfred Hurst, Tim Foskett, Peter Facey, Peter Davey, Peter Clode and ma. They came together as a result of friendships formed and experiences shared through the Edward Carpenter Community, Loving Men, Eurofaeries: many of those involved have experience facilitating events in these contexts, and a wide range of retreats and group therapy experiences. Click here for biographical notes and email addresses.
The Core Group meets regularly, with tasks including:
- attending to the human processes of co-creating a community and centre;
- networking in the LGBTQ community to build support for the project;
- developing an extended Outside-In community;
- establishing appropriate legal and management frameworks;
- putting finance in place to buy a building;
- developing a model for the workshop, event and retreat centre;
At this stage we are keen to hear about the nature and extent of any interest you have in this project. Here are some ways we can stay connected:
- like our Outside-In page on Facebook, and join in discussions there;
- keep an eye on this web site for further information and updates on the project and fill in our online survey, the results of which will be posted on the site;
- record your interest by emailing Peter Facey peterf or call on 07984 170 885;
- speak to a member of the Core Group. We can arrange a time to speak on the phone or meet over a coffee;
- come along to one of our, soon to be planned, Outside-in events, which will be a chance to meet with a wider circle of participants (dates will be posted on our events page and on our Facebook). This is the forum from which the project will draw its inspiration and direction and take the shape we give it;
We are keen to hear from anyone who wants to make a contribution to this project. There are many ways in which you can help and be part of creating community together. ranging from working in the garden, cooking, artwork, DIY, to accountancy or event facilitation etc. We envisage needing people who can make contributions to one or more of these areas:
- financial support or investment;
- skills, experience and practical help;
- becoming part of the resident community;
- becoming involved in the governance of the project.