Jan 012015

By Rachel Davey

2015 word of the year integrating

Integrating is a very fitting word for The Haven in 2015, a year in which:

  • We will launch our first ever blended onsite/online Living Alive Phase I Integrative.
  • We undertake some of the ‘front door’ projects of the Facilities Masterplan, integrating the new with the old on the property.
  • Our programs and the faculty who lead them continue to offer participants tools for self responsible relational living to integrate into their lives.

And there will be all sorts of other areas where we will be integrating. We chose the active verb very deliberately: integrating in an ongoing process which never ends. Leave a comment below and let us know what integrating means to you! Happy 2015!


 Posted by at 4:13 pm
Jan 012015

By Rachel Davey

An informational sign about the treatment plant created by Peter Joyes.

An informational sign about the treatment plant created by Peter Joyes.

On your next visit to The Haven, you will see a new septic treatment plant on the edge of the forest opposite the Raven building. The need for this major new piece of infrastructure came from the discovery phase of the Facilities Masterplan. In the process of finding out everything we needed to know about the Haven property, we undertook an in depth study of our waste water system.

We all know that The Haven is a place where you can come and deal with your sh*t. It’s also vitally important that we effectively deal with literal sh*t as The Haven (and Gabriola) has never had a municipal sewerage system. We have many septic fields of different ages and types. The study revealed that two of them were coming to the end of their lifespan, and were now in the setback from the ocean. We undertook this project in order to solve these two problems by consolidating a number of systems into one and replacing the failing fields. In addition, we wanted to honour one of Ben and Jock’s original guiding principles for The Haven, namely to preserve as many trees as possible and “operate with love, integrity and respect for … our environment” (from The Haven’s mission statement).

The work was undertaken through December, for the most part using local businesses, as is our preference. It is now complete, and we are very happy to announce that it is:

  • Environmentally friendly: waste water is treated and then used to irrigate the forest (see below for more information on this.
  • Tree friendly: we did not have to remove a single tree to put this system in place.
  • Cost effective: it’s easier and cheaper to maintain than our old systems.

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of Scott Poole, Laurie Kelley and family. They provided financial support that covered nearly 90% of the cost of the project. They have been instrumental in providing guidance and inspiration for so many innovations at The Haven, including the organic garden. In keeping with The Haven’s  tradition of using names of birds, we will name this important new piece of our infrastructure after their family’s favourite bird: it will be called the Hummingbird Septic Treatment Plant. For the next few months the system will be settling, so that area of the property will be closed off, and you are most welcome to check it out the next time you are walking around Crystal Lane.

From top of Raven

The view of the treatment plant from the top of the Raven building

For those of you who are interested, here is some more information about the system that we used. It is a Quality Bio-Rock system and very environmentally friendly.

The Quality Bio-Rock unit is a passive attached media system that uses no mechanical or electrical parts (except for the very small pump to move the effluent from one chamber to a different tank after treatment, specific and custom to this unit). It utilizes natural venting for air flow and exchange. It is this air exchange that allows the aerobic bacteria living on the media to ‘do its stuff’ and clean up the filtered raw sewage to near drinking-water standards. Since there are no actual parts in the treatment plant the maintenance requirements are minimal: no blowers or aerators to change or fix, and no contaminated media to replace. The system functions as a two stage treatment system. Initially the raw sewage enters a primary tank to provide separation and the breakdown of organic solids (Primary Treatment). The sewage then passes through an effluent filter before discharging into the Bio-Rock unit which incorporates the well proven aerobic digestion process (Secondary Treatment).

In traditional activated sludge systems, aerators and/or agitators pump air 12-24 hours per day to provide enough oxygen, so that a limited range of organisms can survive to break down the waste. The Bio-Rock units work without any electrical or mechanical aerators: they simply require natural air draft for aeration. In a mechanical system machinery works hard and is energy-intensive with a high carbon footprint. Activated sludge is using excessive amounts of fossil fuels in the form of electricity for operating and sludge digestion. The Bio-Rock units have a very low carbon footprint. In Europe, the Bio-rock system is used to drain directly into watercourses and lakes.

 Posted by at 4:02 pm
Dec 232014

matching 1=1=2During the month of December, every donation to Financial Aid will be matched. Contact Louise Amuir (louise@haven.ca 1 800 222 9211 ext 222) or donate online via the Haven web site

Dear Rachel and Louise

The last week of August 2014 was the week that, with the generous financial aid support from The Haven, I was able to take an incredible journey which brought me closer to the essence of who I am. For the past eight years I have walked in a dual life of professionally supporting children, families and my community and then stepping into my home where I felt I had no voice that I could share in a way that was welcomed or supported. This is my journal entry from two days after taking the Come Alive session with Susan Clarke and CrisMarie Campbell, two incredible beings that I am blessed to have had walk with and guide me.

“Oh my, the week I have had. I journeyed with others as they looked into their darkest corners and they were alongside me as I journeyed into mine. My tears gave them hope, courage, inspiration and trust. Their tears and pain were rich fertile soil that nurtured me and offered me a new take on bravery, courage and strength. Being willing to be vulnerable is the highest form of courage and trust in myself and humanity. Allowing another person the space to explore their “stuff” and not save them from their fears or sorrow is one of the most profound gifts I can give another person. To not walk in and save them or offer a life line but instead just be with them in their struggle and curious about their journey and ask for clarity so that I can understand but also so they get the chance to explore their own beliefs and where they come from.

Peace and gratitude … oh my goodness … I can’t imagine what the world could be if humanity were to all be curious about self and willing those dark corners. The magnificent butterfly can and will emerge if given the safe and nurturing environment to do so.

I want to keep exploring those corners of self and find ways to better come to understand my purpose and passion for life and living. Could there be a better reason to be here than right here right now? I cannot imagine one.

Some of my discoveries:

  • This journey is one for self but also in relation to others; loved ones, community, the globe and spirit.
  • Curiosity is key
  • I need to have and reach out to my ‘beacon’, ‘lighthouse’, Jiminy Cricket” to act as a gauge when I seem lost in the dark. To give me the straight goods. The truth when I am straying from self.
  • Breathe
  • Grounding Chakra work is incredible. The body movement classes every morning were an incredible addition to my daily practice of BEING in the moment.
  • More breathing
  • Try to reframe panic in my head as excitement
  • Reach out to friends and family … my pattern and tendency is to isolate and save others the uncomfortable feeling of seeing my pain and struggle. While I believed I was doing it to help others I actually was not being true to myself and my need for connection, nor was I trusting and holding them ABLE to handle their own experiences.
  • Allow others to see me … the good bad and ugly
  • We all have tapes playing. Examine what my tape is. If its old … throw it out
  • Dance in all corners of myself
  • I can only love others as deeply as I love myself
  • Breathe
  • It’s OK to get messy … in fact … lean into it and then come out the other side with a deeper understanding.

This fall has been an ongoing struggle for me personally as I find a new norm as a single person after a 28 year relationship but I continue to use the many tools that I was taught during my time at the Come Alive program. I have had the opportunity to share my journey with others and am amazed to see their keen interest in what I have experienced and share opportunities for them to get involved with The Haven.

At work I was able to encourage a couple to attend the Fall Communication and Relationship Toolkit in Nanaimo. They found it to be an incredible gift to themselves and plan to continue workshops at The Haven. I also was very happy to attend the evening discussion with Dr Gabor Mate with my 19 year old daughter. She is very keen to learn more about herself and I know that the role modeling I am giving her will be a huge benefit as she continues to walk her own journey to Self.

Without the financial aid that I was offered I would not have had the opportunity to attend this life program. Thank you Louise for your kind and understanding voice as I reached out and called after 8 years of trying to find the strength and giving myself permission to reach out and to the Haven Foundation for making this opportunity available to me. To know that there is a place that offers such incredible support is truly a gift!

I have found The Haven now and it is a place I will continue to be connected with in my future. I look forward to attending future programming and also encouraging others to attend. I wish, with all my heart, I had attended years ago … but am so grateful to have finally attended this year.

If there is an opportunity to support the great work the Haven does … please don’t hesitate to ask.

With sincere appreciation and gratitude,


 Posted by at 3:41 pm
Dec 222014

By Ellery Littleton. Ellery’s next program at The Haven is The Spirit Journal Intensive, May 14–18, 2015.

As unofficial Haven historical scribe, I want to offer a few words to the greater Haven family, as we all go through the solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s rituals. Some of us were lucky enough to be able to do so at Haven, where the spirit is so very alive and well at this time of the year.

I have been keeping a journal for decades and along the way, written many poems. Several of them are about Christmas, and I have chosen seven from that group to present here, except for the last one, which is about New Year’s.

I hope the poems capture something of the universal, and something of your own experience, perhaps a memory or a feeling about “a time when …” which you still carry and cherish.

Each poem is dated on the day it was written in a past December.

December 5
My mind wandered back to the balcony
of my memory this afternoon to the day
we chose the Christmas tree with my aunt,
cut it down and brought it back from the farm
in the sleigh, drawn by the old horse Dolly.
It took four men, including my father,
to haul the tree into the house and stand it
in the living room, next to the grand piano.
At the age of eleven, I could only watch
in awe and breathe the cold fragrant air,
a fresh heady tang of evergreen,
hard and sweet and clear.

December 14
Christmas songs on the radio carry me
back to the day fifty or so years ago when
I stood outside my school, important in
my safety patrol uniform, at the crosswalk
on Beaver Creek Road, silent and alone
for a blessed while in the magical snowfall,
weeping delicious crocodile tears,
singing to myself, “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.”

December 15
Coffee and cookies at my friend’s house.
We exchange Christmas cards and complain
about the weather. She weeps bitter tears
over the death of her father last spring,
regrets her broken marriage, misses her
ex-lover, now living with his mother.
We agree that life is full of swell surprises,
and oh well, there is still a lot to look
forward to and go on to talk about movies
and music and plans for the holidays.

December 18
First the star, then the lights,
followed by the wreaths, silver
and blue, and the sugar-frosted
balls and baubles. Finally, the tinsel
too is hung with care, and the lights
turned on. There! Isn’t that beautiful?
Is it only a year since we last stood here
staring like children at the Milky Way?

December 22
A polished red ornament hangs
on the tree, turning with the light
and the heat; images reflect like
memories in the crystalline heart
of a ruby. In the world of the red
ornament, continents walk by
on their way to the kitchen, and
oceans flow from room to room.
In the background, an entire
civilization sits down to dine,
then drives home under a new moon.

December 25
No big surprises this year,
but many small ones,
some quite exquisite,
like delicate Christmas
tree decorations, suspended
from the branches
of everyday life.

December 26
A day of nibbling at
Christmas leftovers.
Friends coming by
later this afternoon.
I’ll retreat, read my
new novel and have
a little snooze; always
a good idea before
wine and conversation.
It’s a tough life, I know.
Maybe that’s why
it’s not always fun.

December 31
We stay up late for us
and watch a movie.
Finally, at eleven or so,
my wife drifts off to bed,
and I crash in front of the
tube to watch the fireworks
around the world.
Soon, the neighborhood erupts
with screams and shouts;
music blares out briefly-open
doors and window, drunken
buffoons bellow at the midnight
moon. I step out on the front porch
for a minute or two as the old year
clatters by like a broken stagecoach,
smiling to myself, looking back,
looking ahead, full of wonder,
with a tremor of despair,
ready for bed at last.

Christmas is a time of gratitude, and this year, I am grateful for The Haven; grateful to Ben and Jock for having created such a unique and remarkable home for the spirit. And blessings upon those who keep the good ship Haven afloat and sailing in rocky seas – Rachel, the ED we were lucky to get, the staff, the faculty, the board, the many pilgrims who want to come alive, the generous benefactors who know a wonderful human investment when they experience it.

I am grateful that, due to a series of remarkable turns along the long and winding path, I found myself at Haven. I continue to find myself there; I hope you will too.

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Thank you from two recipients of Financial Aid

Thank you from two recipients of Financial Aid

In order to provide Financial Aid at The Haven in 2015, we are selling Haven Holiday Granola and offering a Matching Pool for donations made in the month of December. If you are wondering about the impact of your giving to this program, these two letters from Financial Aid recipients say more than we ever […]

Sylvia Edlund: Let's Face the Music and Dance

Sylvia Edlund: Let’s Face the Music and Dance

Rachel Davey writes: Our friend Sylvia Edlund died in hospital in Nanaimo yesterday, Tuesday November 11. Sylvia had been in hospital for a while with many different health challenges, and in the end succumbed to an infection. She was peaceful and comfortable in her last days. Sylvia was known by many at The Haven for […]

Mindwise and the Haven Communication Model

Mindwise and the Haven Communication Model

By Rachel Davey. This book review first appeared in the May/June edition of Scientific American Mind. Reading it, I am immediately reminded of the Haven Communication Model and one of its most important components, ‘check it out’. The reviewer seems somewhat disappointed at the end of the article that the best way of understanding another person is “just ask what […]

Haven Woods

Haven Woods

By Harriet Thomas. Harriet is a long time friend and supporter of The Haven. She recently named 50 acres of forest on Gabriola Haven Woods in honour of The Haven, and allowed public access in partnership with the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GALTT).  The plight of the Canadian forests and my relation to them […]

Only One ...

Only One …

By Cathy McNally. The next Living Alive Phase I runs from October 10 to November 4 and is led by Susan Clarke and Toby Macklin. I recently had the pleasure of a conversation with a very remarkable and courageous young mother. She was mulling on what direction to take next in her life. She is […]

The Power of Direct Mirroring

The Power of Direct Mirroring

This article written by Joann Peterson, The Haven’s first Director of Education, was first published in Shen magazine in the spring of 1996. Joann co-created The Power of Direct Mirroring which is now led by Cathy McNally and Wendy Huntington. Join them for a transformative experience at The Haven October 9-12.  MIRRORING: The Discovery Of The […]

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