Solborg is situated in the countryside up in the mountains one hour north of Oslo, near the towns of Jevnaker and Hønefoss on the northern edge of the Nordmarka, an area of wilderness which provides opportunities for skiing and other outdoor activities. Solborg is surrounded by the beautiful nature, but at the same time easily accessible by bus. We have a magnificent view of the Norefjell mountain to the west.
Solborg is a multi-cultural social therapeutic community for disabled adults and is part of the international network of Camphill villages. Camphill is a world-wide movement of just over 100 villages in many different countries. The oldest Camphill places were started in the 1950s. The aim of Camphill villages and of Solborg is to create a new form of community life inspired by anthroposophy, together with disabled adults, as a community with an alternative lifestyle based on sustainability in all aspects of life.
Founded by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the anthroposophical philosophy embraces the spiritual dimension of the human being by exploring the activity of the spirit in the depths of our own existence and the reality of the spirit in the world around us. Anthroposophical ideas cover many fields, such as agriculture (biodynamic gardening), education (Steiner/Waldorf School), medicine, economics, social organization, architecture, the Arts (Eurythmy), and the Humanities. Around the world, thousands of people are engaged in working with anthroposophical principles.
To learn more about Camphill villages, you can check on: www.camphill.no
You can also try to google “Camphill US” or “Camphill UK”, - there is a lot of information about our way of life in English, or you can get a hold of one of the many books written about Camphill: “Candle on the Hill” by Cornelius Pietzner, “A Portrait of Camphill” by Jan Martin Bang, or others. You can also find some information about Camphill in Wikipedia and some webpages about Anthroposophy internationally. This can help you to make a picture of the world-wide movement that we are a part of. And of course - every village is very special and none like the other, but in some basic ways, we are very similar.
About sixty people belong to the Solborg community. The village consists of five family houses where we live together in “extended families” and where people with and without special needs live together. We are an international community with people from all over the world. We all work together with adults with varying disabilities aiming for understanding and inclusion in all aspects of our lives. Our volunteers and co-workers participate in a strong multinational cultural and social life which is fostered by both living and working together.
Solborg aims to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Solborg has an ecological farm and garden both of which supply much of the food which is consumed in the community. We are especially concerned with environmental sustainability and have communal cars, encourage use of public transport wherever possible and eat mainly organic food, preferably produced by our own farm and garden. The principle of sustainability continues in daily community life and is a key part of our day to day work. We have a number of workshops which are integral to the community as we try to create meaningful work for every member of our community. We have a biodynamic farm and vegetable garden, a herb garden, a forest group as well as a weavery, bakery and cooking workshops in the houses.
Our volunteers and co-workers may be working in the natural environment in the farm, the garden or the forest, all of which are ecologically managed. Volunteers and co-workers may who are not actively working in the natural environment will still be required to consider environmental issues whether they arise in the houses where we prepare organic food and use environmentally friendly cleaning products or in the other workshops such as the herb group where we prepare herbs for cooking and tea from our organic herb garden. Everyone in Solborg is also encouraged to come up with new ideas of their own on how the community could be more environmentally friendly and to put these ideas into action.
We have a strong cultural life in our village, with village meetings, drama, concerts, eurhythmy, lectures, music and dance.
Our volunteers and co-workers come from all over the world, and typically stay in Solborg for a year, although some stay for both longer and shorter periods as well. We prefer that volunteers and co-workers may co-workers will stay at least for 12 months to provide some continuity and stability in the community and to see life in the village through the seasons.
We encourage everyone who is considering to become a volunteer or co-worker in Solborg to come for a visit. We have guest rooms and are happy to host potential volunteers and co-workers for a few days.
The work of our volunteers and co-workers is twofold:
- in workshops supporting the disabled and helping to run the workshop
- in living and working in one of the houses, taking part in wider community life, including cultural and social activities.
The co-worker will be assigned a morning and an afternoon workshop, for example on the farm, the vegetable garden, the herb garden, the forest group, the weavery, bakery or preparing a meal in a house. Generally, the co-worker will be a part of all the tasks in the workshop. Workshop time is from Monday to Friday from 9-12 and 14-17. Our workshops change according to season, from summer to winter rhythm. Usually the volunteers will therefore change workshops at least once during their stay. We try to find a balance between the volunteer’s wishes and the needs of the workshop. We try to take these wishes into account, although the needs of the village have to come first.
Typical tasks for the workshops:
Farm: milking the cows (this task takes place outside of the normal workshop hours), feeding all animals and other.
Weavery: learning to weave, sew, felt and assisting others in these tasks.
Bakery: baking bread and buns for approximately 50 people.
Vegetable garden: planting, weeding, harvesting.
Forest: making firewood for the whole village, and tending the forest.
Herb garden: planting, harvesting, drying and packing herbs.
Cooking: Learning to prepare a meal for as many as 12-15 people, using ecological ingredients, mostly grown on our own farm.
All the workshops might require some extra work from time to time. You might be asked to do some additional work especially in the kitchen workshop, on the farm, in the garden and in the forest workshop.
All these tasks will be carried out in cooperation with people with special needs and the co-worker will receive training. One principle of our working life is to help wherever help is needed, so we expect our volunteers and co-workers to be open-minded and flexible towards their tasks. As far as it is possible the volunteer or co-worker will be placed in a workshop based on their interests and preferences. However, we do ask that volunteers and co-workers are flexible where it is necessary.
The volunteer or co-worker will receive information for tasks in each workshop and household. In workshops with potentially dangerous tasks (for example the farm or the forest), the volunteer and co-worker will receive protective clothing. In all the tasks that the volunteer or co-worker will be asked to do, they will receive training.
Participating in the daily life of the community
The volunteer and co-worker is expected to participate in the daily tasks in the house he/she is living in. These tasks in the house include housekeeping routines like washing the dishes, preparing meals, general cleaning, helping our villagers to keep their rooms clean and help them with bathing and personal hygiene when needed. All these tasks are shared between all the co-workers in a house. Every Saturday we have a house-cleaning morning, where everyone helps to clean the house. The volunteer and co-worker is expected to help with these tasks every other weekend.
All volunteers and co-workers are encouraged to take part in community activities; plays, preparing village celebrations, attending the Introduction Seminar and Norwegian classes and generally to be open to learn about our way of life.
A typical day of a co-worker:
The co-workers have breakfast and all other meals in a family house with the extended family.
- At 8.45 the whole village meets for a short morning gathering to start the day together.
- Afterwards everyone continues to their morning workshops. The morning workshop lasts from 9.00 to 12.00
- At 12.30 we eat a warm meal in our extended families and have lunch break until 14.00
- From 14.00 to 17.00 everyone goes to their afternoon workshops.
- At 17.30 we eat supper in our family houses.
Some days (on a Rota basis), the volunteer /co-worker will be asked to be morning and/ or evening responsible, which means that he/she should stay available in the house, prepare supper, participate in the housework and provide some pastoral care for the disabled of his/her house. Some evenings there are activities organized, social events, cultural activities and meetings, which the volunteers and co-workers are encouraged to attend to participate fully in community life. Every house is run a bit differently but usually the tasks are shared out amongst the volunteers and co-workers in the weekly house meetings.
We offer a huge variety of learning possibilities: we train each volunteer and co-worker for the tasks in his/her workshops. We provide Norwegian classes at least once a week which the co-worker is obliged to attend. You will be given additional help if needed. Most of our people with special needs speak only Norwegian, so the volunteers learn daily vocabulary quickly through practice with them.
We also offer an introduction seminar for new volunteer and co-workers, which is usually one afternoon a week from autumn to Easter. This provides an insight into the anthroposophical foundations of the village. This is a good place to ask questions and find out more about our traditions and history. Here we share basic ideas about anthroposophy and the Camphill movement.
In addition, we hope to arrange again three weekend seminars in the course of an year for all the new volunteers and co-workers from all the Camphill places in Norway, where they can share their experiences, and get to know knew “Camphill-people” and places, and have some fun.
To ensure the well-being of the volunteers / co-workers, each is assigned a mentor for the first year, and have regular meetings with him/her, where all problems can be taken up. The mentor will help the volunteer/co-worker to find his/her place in the community. The house-parents and the workshop leaders will give the additional training and information about all the tasks in the workshops and household. In addition to that, we have a monthly “co-worker” meeting that all volunteer, co-workers, house leaders and workshop leaders are expected to attend. There we have the possibility to discuss topics/ issues that involve everyone.
By working and living with other volunteers and coworkers from around the world, you will have lot of opportunities to engage in cultural exchange. Solborg has strong cultural traditions itself, some of which are Norwegian and some of which are the result of being an international community and being part of the international network of Camphill villages. Volunteers and co-workers are encouraged not only to become involved in community cultural events, but also to have their own cultural impact by sharing their own culture and traditions. Because we both live and work as an international community there are ample opportunities to participate in cultural exchange, not only the big holiday events but the small day to day aspects of culture.
The biggest part of living and working at Solborg is the intercultural learning from other people, and to get to know intimately people with special needs and to understand the value each human being has, with or without handicap. Providing care and meaningful work for the disabled is the reason for the existence of Solborg. Volunteers and co-workers in Solborg work and live with people with all kinds of disabilities. In this manner they come to a greater understanding of disability and what it in fact means to be disabled. Volunteers and co-workers often find that they themselves can learn from the disabled community members as well as helping the disabled with those things that they cannot manage themselves. What makes Solborg special is that the disabled community members are fully integrated into community life so volunteers and co-workers work in workshops with the disabled, eat with them and participate in social and cultural activities with the disabled. This enables an understanding of the person behind the disability. Living and working in Solborg develops a sense of tolerance and increases appreciation for diversity as living and working with such a variety of people with such a variety of needs requires tolerance and an appreciation of the worth of each individual.
By the end of their stay in Solborg, the volunteer/ co-worker can expect to have experienced significant social and personal development, gained a number of practical personal competencies such as the ability to speak Norwegian and milk a cow or bake bread for 50 people; other skills are less practical but equally useful such as the ability to empathize with and tolerate all kinds of people. Possibly most important from a personal point of view, volunteers will have gained a sense of confidence in their abilities. After you have helped to run a farm or garden, taken a group of disabled people on holiday, and cooked dinner for 15 people for 12 months, all in a foreign language, everything seems possible.
Every volunteer and co-worker belongs to a house-community, an extended family, where 3-5 people with special needs, house-parents (sometimes with children) and 2-3 volunteers (usually young people from all over the world) live together. The volunteer and co-worker is provided with food in the house he/she will belong to. The extended family shares all meals and the volunteer/co-worker will be expected to participate in the tasks in the house and provide some pastoral care for the disabled of his/her house.
The monthly pocket money (at January 2019) is 2000 NOK (200€). The volunteer/first year co-worker is entitled a refund up to 600 NOK (60€) upon receipt monthly for local transport, and 1000 NOK (100€) travel allowance for travelling within Norway every six months. If you stay for a full year, we will cover the departure cost back home.
The volunteer and 1st year co-worker is expected to work 5 days a week in the workshops but has one free afternoon or morning every week they work full time from the workshop, which is arranged with the workshop (and house leaders if it affects your task in the house). It is not possible to ‘collect’ free afternoons by not taking any for a while.
The volunteer / co-worker will also have responsibilities in the house every second weekend which entails helping the disabled people with everyday activities and providing pastoral care. The work tasks in the weekends are to help with the house cleaning, help with meals, sometimes social/cultural program. The volunteers shares these tasks with the other volunteers/co-workers in the house, so the volunteer and co-worker is not ‘at work’ all weekend. The volunteer and co-worker is also expected to join in our cultural and social arrangements, which vary from week to week. In consequences, the Volunteer/ co-worker will be free every other weekend. Please note that the specific times are always going to vary from house to house and week to week. If you are ever required to work two weekends in a row due to changes in the time tables or other, you will be compensated with additional free time if needed/wanted.
In Solborg it is not always possible to differentiate between work time and free-time. It is important that the co-worker is aware that at times staying in Solborg can be intense, since we not only work together, but also live together. To live in a community like this is very rewarding, instructive and gives personal growth, but can at times also be demanding. We have a system to support and help the volunteers /co-workers when problems arise, but it is also important that you are aware that you might meet some challenges here.
After 3 months of the activity period, the first year intern, volunteer or co-worker is entitled to take 21 workdays off during a year. Remember to inform your house and workshop- leader(s) about 2 months in advance when you plan to take some time off.
We try to have an international mix of co-workers. It is not necessary that applicants have previous experience with people with special needs. We try not to ask: "What are you good at already?" but rather "What are you willing to learn?"
Camphill villages are based on Christian values. We are open to people from other faiths, spiritual spheres or cultural backgrounds; however, it is important that volunteers respect our rhythm, events and traditions. As Solborg welcome people from any cultural background, without any discrimination based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, we expect the volunteers to respect our anthroposophical and Christian background too.