[Editor’s Note: Eden Alternative Europe Coordinator Christa Monkhouse guest-posts on a weekly basis from across the Big Pond. Christa helped introduce the Eden Alternative to Europe, first in the UK, then Denmark, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and soon in Sweden, Finland and other European nations. Stay-tuned for regular updates on ‘Monkhouse Mondays’.]
My husband Lowell (Canadian) told me this story over breakfast (Sunday, summer morning, sitting outside, in sunny Switzerland near Lake Zürich).
During the early 1970’s he was working with a Canadian provincial government and they were attempting to implement the ideas of the Syracuse University Professor Wolf Wolfensberger who had written the book Normalization. They were developing the requisite services so that people with disabilities could live in the community and not in institutions. Once when visiting a Hutterite Colony with his boss, they saw a young man with Down-Syndrome. At that time this young man would have quite likely been living in an institution if not living on the commune. The boss asked the colony’s headman to tell him about “the young man over there”. The headman responded by saying “who, John the cattle herder?” That, in a nutshell, described the solution.
I drew immediate parallels to how we should treat our Elders today. Readers are invited to respond with their ideas and impressions.
— Christa Monkhouse