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In Context #1 (Spring, 1999, pp. 3-5); copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute

Words of Dedication at the Founding Celebration
Henrike Holdrege

On September 20, 1998, sixty-five people came together at the meeting hall of Hawthorne Valley School in Harlemville, New York, for the Founding Celebration of The Nature Institute. The following welcome to all attendees was delivered by Henrike Holdrege, a member of the founding board of the Institute. She spoke on behalf of the other board members as well: John Barnes, Craig Holdrege, and Teresa Woods.

Good morning and welcome!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming and for devoting your time to help found The Nature Institute.

Before researchers can do their research they have to have slept, have to have eaten and seen to it that their children are well taken care of. A researcher—like everybody else—depends in his or her work on the huge amount of work other people do. At a certain age one of our children developed a keen interest in where the things that surrounded her came from and who made them. "Who made my shirt?" she would ask, or, "who made this carpet?" And then she would add, "We must thank the workers in the factory for making this shirt," or she would say, "Mama, when you throw this carpet away the workers who made it will be very sad." I didn't throw the carpet away.

Who in this valley bakes the good bread we eat? Who tends the cows so carefully we get our milk from? Who helps our children grow up? Who helped preserve this valley so that Craig finds the wildflowers for his study right at his doorstep? As it takes "a whole village to raise a child"—as the African saying goes—it certainly also takes a whole village to make a research institute happen. This is why I want to thank you for giving The Nature Institute a home in this community.

As researchers are served by others, The Nature Institute wants to serve. Ten years ago I overheard on a playground two children of kindergarten age. In passing by me the older said to the younger child, "And do you know what? We descend from the apes." The younger child didn't know what to say, but it was evident that this was shocking news to her.

At another time a first grader came home with equally shocking news: the earth, the whole earth, a friend had told her, was as big as a marble. What can one say to that? Fortunately there was a four-year-old who laughed at these words and said, "That's funny. How could our house fit on a marble?"

The ideas that have been brought forth by natural science throughout the last centuries have deeply affected how we think about ourselves and about nature and have deeply affected how we treat ourselves, our fellow human beings, plants, animals, water, air, soil—in agriculture, waste management, medicine, education, in short, in all areas of life. For many environmentalists the situation is such that they say, "Everything would be all right if we only could keep human beings away from nature. They are her greatest enemies."

The Nature Institute is being founded at a time when humanity has crossed a threshold. Up to now plants and animals had to be looked at as a given. Even though domestication of plants and animals reaches way back into the past, genetic engineering and cloning techniques now bring plants, animals and the human being under our power as it never existed before. The Nature Institute wants to take a stand in all this.

At the end of his book, Genetics and the Manipulation of Life: The Forgotten Factor of Context, Craig quotes Friedrich Hegel: "thinking inflicts the wound, but also heals it." These words, if you don't take them as an abstract thought but as wisdom, hold a promise. They hold the promise that there are ways of knowing that have a healing quality.

When a seed is being planted, it is up to us to do all the necessary work to support its growth—cultivating the soil, watering, weeding. But we cannot make the plant grow. We can do our part and we have to, but there is another part, the greater part, that is not in our hands. When we today found The Nature Institute, it is with the hope that it may find its rightful place in the world, and it is with the will to do what is given us to do.

We wish to found The Nature Institute in your presence, in the presence of others who cannot be here today, and in the spiritual presence of individuals who passed away and who were connected with this work in various ways—of whom I wish to mention three individuals.

Astrid Barnes loved this valley and worked here. She appreciated Craig and his work. May The Nature Institute work as efficiently and with as much determination as Astrid did in her kindergarten, with all the attention given to the small tasks of daily life that they need.

I wish to mention also Barbara Fuchs. She saw and spoke about the need for research. May the research in The Nature Institute be done with the greatest inner discipline and may it be guided by the love for truth.

And lastly I wish to mention Vera Böcking, who knew the healing quality of Goethean science and who warned Craig not to go back to America since in America his work would only be one drop on a hot stone. May The Nature Institute never live in illusions about how little it can accomplish and how much. May it unite its efforts with the good work being done by others—individuals and institutions—at the Goetheanum in Switzerland, in this country, and in other countries. May it become a steady drop on the hot stone.

These are our good wishes for all those who presently work and who in the future will work within The Nature Institute.

Original source: In Context (Spring, 1999, pp. 3-5); copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute

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