Austrian scientist and educator Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), drawing on his extensive background in science and philosophy, developed the field of anthroposophy which can be defined as “spiritual science” or simply “wisdom of the human being.” Dr. Karl Koenig (1902-1966), a pediatrician and educator who pioneered work with children with special needs, was greatly influenced by Steiner’s work.
A Bold Experiment in a Troubled World
Fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria, Dr. Koenig and a group of friends, teachers and artists established the first Camphill school community in Scotland in 1939. The aim of Camphill from the outset was to create an environment in which individuals with special needs could receive the care and support they needed to live full and meaningful lives.
It was Dr. Koenig’s belief and that of the first coworkers that a shared community life lived in accordance with the teachings of anthroposophy could uniquely enrich the lives of individuals with special needs, who at that time had little opportunity for meaningful adult lives within the contemporary society, as well as enrich the lives of the coworkers who lived with them.
A World-Wide Movement
Dr. Koenig’s vision of a community for people with and without disabilities has led to an international movement that includes over one hundred Camphill centers in twenty-one countries. Almost 10,000 people of all ages and abilities work, live or are directly involved in Camphill worldwide.
Triform’s Place in the Camphill Movement
Triform Camphill is one of eight Camphill communities located in North America and is a member of the Camphill Association of North America (http://www.camphill.org). Begun in 1979 by a small, but dedicated group of experienced Camphill coworkers, Triform’s mission was to provide work training in manufacturing to under-served individuals living in the local community. Thirty years later this mission has changed and expanded into a youth guidance intentional community which is home to over 100 individuals with and without disabilities who have chosen to live and work together in a rural environment. What makes Triform unique is that it is one of only two communities specially dedicated to supporting the transition of young adults with special needs as they assume their place in their adult world. It is an active and valuable member in the Camphill Movement.