Reflections on 2018 by Joan Sleigh, WSIF Project Leader

300 370 World Social Initiative Forum

Annual Report: Joan Sleigh [ZA] | Photo: The Social Initiative Forum [CH]

Social Initiative Forum

Goetheanum Worldwide

Reflections on 2018


Dear Advisory Board,

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The Social Initiative Forum (SIF) Team at the Goetheanum is pleased to look back on a full, interactive and rewarding year. Significant developments have been achieved, like the public visibility of a growing network of social initiatives and projects presented on our website and posted on social media; new collaborative partners worldwide; as well as an increased experience in designing and running Forum events in different countries and sociocultural contexts.


The first Forum this year, “Knowing Self Through Others: Empathy, a Path Towards a Just and Fraternal Society”, took place in Japan at the end of March. This event, co-designed and run by an international team from Japan, Brazil and the Goetheanum, brought 350 people together to explore empathy and social inclusion as a tool for building bridges across cultures, nationalities and generations. Participants were joined by experts in education, science, the arts and social work to share experiences and ideas towards humanising and transforming communities through individual and collective activity. The SIF team was invited to collaborate on the theme which is of particular importance in Japan, where there is little integration of immigrants in the public schools. The theme of empathy and collaboration was enthusiastically taken up by all who attended.

This was followed by another event hosted by the Goetheanum entitled “Ethical Individualism: Transforming Self and Society”. Originally intended to be a forum for the network, it later on expanded into a co-operative seminar with the Volunteer Programme of the ‘Freunde der Erziehungskunst’. Facing the dramatic current situation of growing nationalism, civil war, community expulsion and displacement of peoples, we intended to develop a social culture and practice which could reach and alleviate the inevitable traumas caused by these events. The three-day event, which explored the power of individual responsibility within the most pressing needs of our time, worked with an inspiring group of 70 young volunteers who had recently returned from working in social initiatives and programmes throughout the world. Together with other participants and workshop leaders, a vibrant group of 135 participants engaged in active social and personal discovery at the Goetheanum. During the seminar-forum, they had the opportunity to share and contextualise their experiences in workshops offered by an interdisciplinary group of experts actively working towards social transformation and personal empowerment.

Both events consolidated and enhanced the network of organisations and initiatives which define the profile of the SIF, all working for social enhancement and personal transformation. The vision of the SIF is based on the anthroposophical understanding that each human being needs to belong to a social community in which he/she can identify and develop himself or herself, while at the same time establish his/her unique individual potential.


Our online platform acts as a mouthpiece of the social initiatives’ members, thus becoming a leading reference point for the public to access valuable information about the impulses that are transforming the world today; all of this whilst keeping the network members informed about opportunities and resources to support them in their social endeavours. The platform offers:

-Social Initiative Profiles (including contact information and latest events)

-Regular articles, blogs and newsletters

-Presence in social media (Facebook, Instagram)

-Individual communications tailored to each initiative to meet their needs, requests, and interests

-Updates of all SIF events and forums



Anyone who has had anything to do with the SIF knows Andrea de la Cruz, age 29 from Spain, as the radiant, warm and extremely competent organiser of events, author of the texts, and correspondent of the team. Andrea showed her deep commitment to the Forum through supporting the programmes, documents and events during the last three years. She has now moved on to concentrate on research in the Youth Section, following and deepening her profession and interest in human development. I wish to use this opportunity to express my deep gratitude and admiration towards Andrea for her managerial competence, innovative ideas, and engaging communication skills, which were such a signature of the SIF in recent years. I wish her all the best on her future projects! In Andrea’s own words:

“For me, SIF is a project that brings a real sense of ‘Hope to the World’, and I will always be grateful to its community and core team for the opportunity they gave me to step in. Working here allowed me to see and connect with a real worldwide impulse led by people who work in service and support of human dignity and the healing of our planet. I have found inspiring, uplifting, and moving every conversation held with grassroots projects and their workers during the past years. These people are bringing Anthroposophy into the places where it’s needed the most with consistency, joy and love. One cannot help but to be energised by this and so I look forward to seeing the network grow over the upcoming months!”


Juan Bottero, 30 years old from Argentina, demonstrated his expertise as our webmaster, in both the design and development of the platform. He took care of publicity and advertising through interviews and film clips which he posted on social media and the SIF website. He worked at shaping the programmes and organising the events both in Japan and at the Goetheanum, and took care of the finances. Next year, he will work partly at a distance from his home in Argentina, but will remain an active and integral part of the team from wherever he is. Together we intend to develop an online Social Skill Training Programme to offer to the network and beyond. In his own words:

“Working for the SIF is wonderful. I get to know the most courageous and inspiring people. We look for ways of working together, no matter where they are, what language they speak. This project belongs to the Section for Social Sciences, and that means that the Goetheanum is connecting with different social challenges of our time”.


Milena Kowarik, 27 years old from Austria, is an accomplished cellist who will join the team next year and be responsible for the ongoing planning and organisation of events which are lined up for the next few years. She works for the board of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society, and one of her tasks is leading the Initiative Forum for Refugees in Switzerland. Taking on communications from Andrea, she will keep in touch with funders and partners, thereby building and nurturing relationships within the network and beyond its confines. Milena says the following about her motivation for the SIF:

“The SIF is something that I have been looking for, for quite some time now — place or a group that truly makes a change in the world and addresses the subject of poverty, marginalization, inequality in many different ways and forms out of the background of Anthroposophy. For a long time, I had this wish to make anthroposophical social work more visible in the Goetheanum and to connect with all the beautiful initiatives around the world. I truly believe that this network, these people around the world, make a change; and that the change can be even bigger if we work together and learn from each other. So, I am really enthusiastic to get to know everyone and help this community to prosper.”


Nicole Asis, 34 years old from the Philippines, is completing the two-year international Anthroposophical Studies Programme at the Goetheanum, as did Andrea and Juan, along with her ongoing music therapy studies. She has taken on to write the newsletters and post articles and information of the Forum. Her writing skills, as well as her artistic abilities, enhance the substance of our work. She says:  

“I have always lived with the question: how can Anthroposophy be made accessible in the grassroots – where people from diverse cultural, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds learn and work with this impulse to address the needs of the time? And I have found these individuals who are asking and trying to answer the same question in SIF. What inspires me is how this global network tries to live with this question not only through the different independent anthroposophical initiatives spread all over the world, but also through engaging in a conversation and sharing a space where they can exchange new ideas of doing and learning from one another.”


The Core Team meets weekly to discuss all aspects of the organisation, planning and general development.

As a team, we engage in continual study and research, with the aim to deepen our understanding of human individualisation as both the cause and the solution of the social and societal crises of our time. We intend to base the work of the SIF on the premise, as given through Anthroposophy, that a sound soul-spiritual development in and among peoples, is the essential ingredient for the healthy growth of a cosmopolitan society and the evolution of the planet.

All tasks and responsibilities of the Forum are held within the awareness of the Core Team at the Goetheanum. For the planning and managing of events, this team is extended to include members of different sections (professional fields) at the Goetheanum, as well as international colleagues, depending on the venues, hosts and themes of the Forum events.

All questions regarding the vision and future development of the SIF are discussed and decided in the Advisory Board. This is to be established within biannual meetings/retreats of the Board, as part of a more professional running of the SIF as of 2019.


Interestingly, the Forum events of the next years will take place in Africa. The invitation to Sekem in Egypt, is within the context of one of their projects, to look towards exploring and designing a future way of education, which can explore and enhance the hidden potentials in each human being, regardless of background and ability. The planning is well underway and the Forum will take place in December 2019.

We hope then to take up the invitation to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2020, followed by an intercultural and interdisciplinary event in South Africa in 2021.


In answer to the demands expressed by participants at past events, the SIF is developing an anthroposophical study and training programme, tailored to social workers and activists working across fields and disciplines. To maximize our reach, these will be offered online making use of technological resources such as webinars, document sharing programmes, social media, etc. The programme will contain:

-Live master classes (threefold human being, 12 senses, threefold society, etc.)

-Study resources and materials (bibliography, articles, videos, etc.)

-Group work arranged by field of interest, language, and/or location

-Assessments based on practical application of studies to a project


Originally the name of the project, as founded by Ute Craemer and Truus Geraets nearly 20 years ago and hosted under the umbrella of the Social Sciences Section at the Goetheanum, was the World Social Initiative Forum. The original website was launched under this name. In redesigning the website this year, we felt that the acronym WSIF was too complicated and long, and can easily be confused with World Meditation Forum and World Association, which are both projects at the Goetheanum. Because the Social Initiative Forum is defined through its international engagement, we now suggest the following name:

SOCIAL INITIATIVE FORUM – Goetheanum Worldwide

We wish to thank you all for your ongoing interest, support, and collaboration with the SIF and trust that together we can grow the Forum to be a vibrant, interactive centre of human and social awareness at the Goetheanum.

With warm greetings for the festive season and a good start into the next year,

Joan Sleigh

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