Robyn Bors Veraart (MA, 2000) holds social consciousness as a core value. Whether distributing garbage bags full of leftover pastries after her bakery shift, or going door to door for OSPIRG, a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests threatening public health and safety, her focus has always been on community.
Robyn majored in music at Reed College, and was introduced to music therapy in 1996. After meeting Naropa faculty Laurie Rugenstein at a music therapy conference, she knew that a Naropa education was what she needed to delve into this new experience. Recalling her time at Naropa, Robyn says, "I am thoroughly convinced in the richness, depth, and true learning that is part of experiential education. As the Dalai Lama also explains (I heard him speak of it once in Atlanta in front of a large gathering of people), education needs to be for the heart as well as for the mind. Naropa certainly gave me the benefit of this experience."
Following her time at Naropa, Robyn took a position as a counselor at a women's prison in Atlanta. She describes this as both the antithesis and the perfect balance to her time at Naropa. "It was everything that Naropa wasn't: strict, militant, edgy, psychologically, physically, and in every way I can think of a harsh environment. I consider this the second half of my training!... I taught mindfulness meditation techniques through the formula designed by Marsha Linehan (a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche), and I was able to offer yoga classes both in groups as well as individually to inmates."
Robyn then embarked on a year-long journey through Europe, Turkey, and Morocco, visiting every eco-village she and her husband, Lars, could find along the way. They were most inspired by La Borie Noble, an intentional community in Southern France, founded by Mahatma Gandhi's disciple, Lanza del Vasto. Their travels ultimately led Robyn and Lars to Alunisu, a beautiful village in the foothills of the Carpathians in Transylvania, where they recently launched Provision School.
Provision offers classes in self-sufficient living and subsistence farming, focusing on sustainability and drawing on the traditional skills and wisdom of local villagers. Every class is a unique experience, designed around student interest and seasonal offerings. Provision's students include anyone exploring sustainable living, homesteading, ecotourism, Balkan culture, as well as families and other groups. They are currently in their inaugural season, which Robyn describes as "an astonishing success...it went far beyond our hopes and most far-flung dreams as far as the wonderful souls who were inspired to come and be with us, as well as how we were able...to connect on a deeper level with people in our village."
Inspired by the generosity offered to them during their earlier travels, Robyn and Lars have established a donation-based payment system. Robyn explains, "I would want people's motivation to be more decisive than their ability to pay." All proceeds from Provision go towards supporting those living a sustainable lifestyle, including the local villagers who offer accommodation, food, and knowledge.
Robyn's commitment to low-impact and sustainable living is perhaps best exemplified by her encouragement for U.S. visitors to consider a trip to her friends' like-minded venture, Possibility Alliance, located in La Plata, Missouri. Robyn explains, "Possibility Alliance...is closer and requires less fuel to get you there!"
Anyone looking to follow in Robyn's footsteps, might heed her call to "do everything possible, tirelessly, to uncover, discover, and listen to one's own heart. ... I can testify that even if this silent heart voice says some mighty strange things, I've put my trust in it and, though the road is NOT easy, it is worth all the effort."
Check out Provision's Facebook page!