An Tearman, formerly Stevenson Schoolhouse, consists of a comfortable country house set in 5 acres of gardens. Donated in the late 19th Century to the Glasgow Poor Children’s Fresh Air Fortnight, we often welcome visitors who had stayed here as children, reminiscing about the time they enjoyed in a peaceful rural environment, away from the city.
Since coming into its current ownership, the property has again been used as a sanctuary for young people and for others. The aim was to form an intentional community of people working towards a sustainable, holistic way of life, whilst welcoming those in need of a peaceful retreat, where they might connect with nature and gain some perspective on life’s challenges.
Over the course of 2012, An Tearman became host to a series of extraordinary gatherings between people who wouldn’t ordinarily be talking to one another: ethical business consultants, teachers, housewives, musicians, Occupy activists, oil industry and economics pundits, writers, property developers, systems thinkers, permaculture practitioners, social entrepreneurs, healers and more. All of them were disillusioned with the debt- and growth-driven society around us and shared a deep concern for the state of our communities, the balance of nature and even the capacity of our planet to continue to sustain human life. Our hope was to harness the energy for change gaining strength around the world and develop a life-sustaining alternative. As the year progressed, ideas for a viable system began to take shape. Wisdom Economy is the name An Tearman’s resident owner and host, Monica Brooks, bestowed upon this emergent collective vision.
Wisdom Economy is continuous work-in-progress and thus cannot be easily summarised, being based on a set of principles to apply in any given situation. However, it can be thought of as a journey with both external and internal dimensions. From the external perspective, it is a physical exercise in co-creating a self-sufficient and sustainable system of the greatest benefit to all, using state-of-the-art technologies where appropriate whilst remaining in harmony with the natural world. From the internal perspective, it is a process of group reflection and consensus decision-making that aims to examine self and culture and establish a learning process that enables an ongoing awareness of change. Using cutting-edge and ancient practices, we draw on collective wisdom as a guide to personal development and responsible action.
A variety of gatherings have taken place here, with an emphasis on communication skills, consensus decision making, community building and cultural intelligence – always looking beyond our differences to find the common ground.
The community that is forming here is supported by the An Tearman Foundation, managed by a Core Group of supporters. A wider community is developing across Scotland and beyond, of others seeking a life-sustaining alternative. This offers a cultural richness which has proved to be fertile ground for developing creative ideas and hope for the future.
We hold regular Community gatherings, which offer a forum to identify expertise and support for An Tearman and related projects, as well as an opportunity for personal development, for an exchange of ideas and learning and to re-discover the joys and challenges of community in contrast to our individualistic, nuclear existence.
Our current economic system is an adversarial, competitive one, where success is measured by accentuating the goal of individual wealth, rewarded regardless of the damage to others. From the tribal lands of indigenous peoples to our own loving families, all take second place to the profit motive, with devastating consequences. Remaining ahead of the pack requires constant growth of wealth-generating activities, very often strategies which plunder the earth’s resources at the expense of local communities, despoiling natural amenities through their industries and disposal of waste products. Meanwhile most of the work performed in service of humanity, nature and the greater good bears scant reward as the majority of people become increasingly impoverished, nature’s wonders increasingly extinct.
We live in a finite world, a world of natural systems which have evolved to sustain themselves, to sustain those who dwell in them. Over the last century the world’s resources have increasingly been pillaged – although some of us have seen benefits to our standard of living, a huge proportion of resources has simply gone to waste in the cause of profit. Endless growth is not possible in a finite world, endless waste is madness. Humanity has developed many wonderful strategies and devices capable of enhancing our lives without the necessity of environmental damage. Much hard labour can now be accomplished by machines, freeing people up for more creative pursuits. And yet, people are working harder than ever to survive, if they’re fortunate to have work at all, whilst corporate profits are stockpiled in the coffers of the leisured elite.
The An Tearman Vision is of a world in which the Earth’s abundant resources are managed sustainably and used wisely, for the greater good of all. This requires an economy based on wisdom to replace thoughtless consumption and greed.
We envisage a recognition that we have no need of most of the ‘stuff’ we are persuaded to buy via insidious marketing techniques, items often bought in a vain effort to fill the vacuum left by a lack of purpose, of meaningful relationship. We envisage rising above the need for such things, putting an end to planned obsolescence and mountains of waste, building healthy, harmonious communities through love and sharing and understanding, offering a more fulfilling way of life. We will have no need to rely on fossil fuels or frankenfoods, no need to tolerate the damage that they do. Natural farming methods have been shown to be more productive than industrial methods, the produce more nourishing, especially when modern ingenuity is built into the design. The Earth’s natural systems are perfectly capable of sustaining themselves; where we have damaged ecosystems, it is not too late to repair them, making good the damage through understanding nature’s design; and with an understanding of nature’s design, we are perfectly capable of providing abundance for all who dwell upon this beautiful planet, without interference from those aiming to enrich themselves.
An Tearman does not subscribe to any particular system of belief, religious or otherwise, however we respect all and welcome those who respect our Vision. We are developing a process which seeks to identify our common ground whilst appreciating difference, aiming for unity in diversity and becoming increasingly mindful of the dance of life, living in balance with creation. Our overriding conviction is that people of goodwill and shared Vision can rise above their differences and find ways of creating that Vision together, in love and harmony.
"The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds."
The Dalai Lama
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.
When he gave them the signal to run they all took each other's hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have had more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said: "UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?"
'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are."