Twin Valleys Thanks Wardsville

Mary,  my thanks to you and your cohort for the magical opportunity you gave to the former Twin Valley people to come together, especially in your beautiful town of Wardsville. I doubt that a TVS reunion would have happened again without some unusual catalyst, and it was probably Georges last opportunity to have such an experience, to be together with so many former staff and students.  I myself can say that I had the best weekend of my life.  I am so impressed with the overall organization of the event, the meal was exceptionally good and I was thrilled to see that Wardsville has grown into a beautiful village.  I always waited to see that sign change beyond 200!  I think the reunion has launched a BIG resurgence in communications amongst us, that is the special spinoff of the weekend and  on top of that, I will have beautiful memories of Wardsville forever.                             Patricia Kristie (formerly Bullied)

Dear Mary, Just wanted to send you a note of thanks to let you know how much I appreciate the fact that you sought out the old Twin Valleys people to join the Wardsville Bicentennial.  What a great thought you had and because you did and act on it, I was able to reconnect with 3 dear friends I had not seen or heard from in over 30 years.  It was life changing for me and I am forever in your debt.  Thank you so much.  Also, you and the people of Wardsville did such a nice job with the event and made us feel so welcomed.  I am humbled at your greatness! in peace,

Mary Lisa Zimmerman, Morton, Illinois, United States of America

We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event !!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and were most impressed with everything.  A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended ( Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened !  Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers !!!

We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event !!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and were most impressed with everything. A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended ( Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened ! Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers !!!We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event !!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and were most impressed with everything.

A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended ( Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened !  Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers !!!

Cathy Spooner

Twin Valleys Community and School – appreciation

Mary,  my thanks to you and your cohort for the magical opportunity you gave to the former Twin Valley people to come together, especially in your beautiful town of Wardsville. I doubt that a TVS reunion would have happened again without some unusual catalyst, and it was probably George’s last opportunity to have such an experience, to be together with so many former staff and students.  I myself can say that I had the best weekend of my life.  I am so impressed with the overall organization of the event, the meal was exceptionally good and I was thrilled to see that Wardsville has grown into a beautiful village.  I always waited to see that sign change beyond 200!  I think the reunion has launched a BIG resurgence in communications amongst us, that is the special spin-off of the weekend and  on top of that, I will have beautiful memories of Wardsville forever.                             Patricia Kristie (formerly Bullied)

Dear Mary, Just wanted to send you a note of thanks to let you know how much I appreciate the fact that you sought out the old Twin Valleys people to join the Wardsville Bicentennial.  What a great thought you had and because you did and act on it, I was able to reconnect with 3 dear friends I had not seen or heard from in over 30 years.  It was life changing for me and I am forever in your debt.  Thank you so much.  Also, you and the people of Wardsville did such a nice job with the event and made us feel so welcomed.  I am humbled at your greatness! in peace,
Mary Lisa Zimmerman, Morton, Illinois, United States of America

Hal Jenner from Ottawa did an amazing job organizing the Twin Valley’s reunion!

Ottawa, May 28, 2010 – Twin Valleys School is returning to Wardsville on Saturday, June 19th, for a reunion on the occasion of the town’s 200th Anniversary Celebration.

Twin Valleys School was an alternative educational community founded in 1971 by George and Pat Bullied. It ran until 1983. Twin Valleys was an alternative to training schools and group homes for hard-to-serve teenagers. It provided them a home and community environment where they were accepted unconditionally. In addition to learning life skills and a host of job skills like basic carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, farming, animal husbandry (the school was also a fully functional farm) and kitchen skills (try cooking three meals a day for 300 people), they learned about their own uniqueness and self-worth.

The students also received a high school education in a setting that they did not find threatening given the small classroom size. Learning was based on “the 7R’s of life”: Rules, Roles, Relationships, Responsibilities, Respect, Resources and Returning Cycles. In essence, the school prepared them for a different kind of life than the one they had known before.

One lesson that has stuck with almost everyone who heard it was one of George’s favourites. It was the story of the “empty roll of toilet paper,” that true spiritual expression was “replacing that roll of toilet paper and not leaving it empty for the next guy.”  It was all about doing what was right and what was needed in the moment. So many people who lived at Twin Valleys have told that story because it has continued to remind them to do what is right in the moment, not to wait for someone else to come along and do it.

“Those who lived there were profoundly impacted by the closeness, the challenges, the triumphs and the spirituality. Thus the community lives on!” – Ben Goerner, former student.

There will be a public multimedia presentation on the history of Twin Valleys at 2 o’clock on Saturday at the United Church, 207 Church Street, in Wardsville. Don Nisbett, Reeve of Wardsville and old friend of Twin Valleys, will introduce George Bullied, the former director of the school.

The public is invited to come learn about a special time and place in Wardsville history and perhaps to meet some of the returning residents of Twin Valleys, who love to share their experience.

– 30 –

Hal Jenner, Reunion Organizer

613-744-7399

Bicentennial bash includes reunion for unusual school

News London

WARDSVILLE: Twin Valleys had ‘hard-to-serve’ students

By GEOFF TURNER, THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Last Updated: June 18, 2010 5:55pm

The tiny town of Wardsville celebrates a big birthday this weekend as it marks the bicentennial of its 1810 founding by George Ward.

But the weekend-long celebration will feature a reunion of another kind as former students and staff of the Twin Valleys school gather to remember a unique community.

Founded in 1971 by George and Pat Bullied, Twin Valleys was part commune, part reform school and part spiritual retreat. Students at the community were “hard-to-serve” youth with criminal, behavioural and psychiatric issues.

At Twin Valleys, they learned farming and practical trades as well as basic life skills in a highly unorthodox environment. Staff and clients alike worked shoulder to shoulder in a “carry water, chop wood” approach to education.

The rural property was distinguished by the geodesic domes (built by staff and students) that created a focal point for the community. The school closed in 1983, the victim of changing government funding structure.

Reunion organizer Hal Jenner lived at Twin Valleys for four years, from 1975-79, beginning as a student but rising to the role of teacher or “communitarian.”

He said when he arrived at 23, he had just spent time in an Indiana prison on a drug conviction. He said he turned his life around at Twin Valleys, where he learned the values of hard work, co-operation and tolerance.

He said the non-judgmental atmosphere was essential. “We weren’t judged for our mistakes.”

Jenner said his experience in the community changed his path in life forever by leading him to a 25-year career in social services.

Tony Vischschraper, 54, of London, arrived at Twin Valleys in 1974 with a bad attitude and no direction.

He said he hated the place, but after just two days on the farm he knew he’d found a home. He would spend most of the next five years there.

Like Jenner, Vischschraper says Twin Valleys set his course for life. He learned every aspect of farming, from harrowing fields and planting crops, to raising and slaughtering cattle.

He has fond memories of founder George Bullied, whom he describes as “a presence.”

“He’s the kind of guy that when he walks in a room, people notice.”

Vischschraper recalls a class Bullied taught that was called the “art of living.”

“That’s what I learned at Twin Valleys,” he said. “Living is an art.”

Jenner said Bullied is coming from B.C. for the reunion along with more than 60 former staff and students.

There will be a tour of the property — now a Baptist Church summer camp — on Saturday.

geoff.turner@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/GeoffatLFPress

-30-

Twin Valleys School returns to Wardsville

Twin Valleys School is returning to Wardsville on Saturday, June 19th, for a reunion on the occasion of the town’s 200th Anniversary Celebration.

Twin Valleys School was an alternative educational community founded in 1971 by George and Pat Bullied. It ran until 1983. Twin Valleys was an alternative to training schools and group homes for hard-to-serve teenagers. It provided them a home and community environment where they were accepted unconditionally. In addition to learning life skills and a host of job skills like basic carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, farming, animal husbandry (the school was also a fully functional farm) and kitchen skills (try cooking three meals a day for 300 people), they learned about their own uniqueness and self-worth.

The students also received a high school education in a setting that they did not find threatening given the small classroom size. Learning was based on “the 7R’s of life”: Rules, Roles, Relationships, Responsibilities, Respect, Resources and Returning Cycles. In essence, the school prepared them for a different kind of life than the one they had known before.

One lesson that has stuck with almost everyone who heard it was one of George’s favourites. It was the story of the “empty roll of toilet paper,” that true spiritual expression was “replacing that roll of toilet paper and not leaving it empty for the next guy.”  It was all about doing what was right and what was needed in the moment. So many people who lived at Twin Valleys have told that story because it has continued to remind them to do what is right in the moment, not to wait for someone else to come along and do it.

Those who lived there were profoundly impacted by the closeness, the challenges, the triumphs and the spirituality. Thus the community lives on!” – Ben Goerner, former student.

There will be a public multimedia presentation on the history of Twin Valleys at 2 o’clock on Saturday at the United Church, 207 Church Street, in Wardsville. Don Nisbett, Reeve of Wardsville and old friend of Twin Valleys, will introduce George Bullied, the former director of the school.

The public is invited to come learn about a special time and place in Wardsville history and perhaps to meet some of the returning residents of Twin Valleys, who love to share their experience.

– 30 –

Hal Jenner, Reunion Organizer

613-744-7399

Twin Valleys and The Art of Living

by Don White, who came to Twin Valleys (1974-1978)

No story about Twin Valleys would be complete without a mention of our focus on “The Art of Living”, a class that each resident, be they student, faculty, or communitarian, took during their time ‘in the trenches’ at Twin Valleys. Actually The Art of Living wasn’t a one-time session; it was offered on a daily basis by George Bullied and several other senior communitarians. It went along with George’s motto: “We teach students how to live while they learn how to make a living”.

This is what originally attracted me to leave my sunny southern home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to join the ranks of mud-slogging, do-gooders at Twin Valleys Educational Community back in 1974. I was coming off a few years of living on the streets as a devout hippie, having quit high school at age sixteen to drop out of the ‘straight’ society. Eventually indiscriminate drug use caught up with me and I crashed and burned during an overdose. That was my wake-up call and thank God it happened!

When I was forced into the decision to get right with myself and the world I had unconsciously opened the door for positive people and experiences to come into my life. Enter George Bullied and the Twin Valleys community. After a brief visit in late 1973, I hopped at the invite from George to pull up stakes and join his merry band of societal misfits. Second thoughts occurred after arriving on a frigid winter’s day in January 1974 where I was scheduled to work outdoors framing walls at the Lodge, and I began to wonder what I had gotten into!

I thought I wouldn’t survive the day but it passed and after warming my frozen toes beside an electric heater I slept better that night than I can ever remember. The next day wasn’t as bad, and as I warmed up to my friendly comrades the daily toil became a thing of joyful co-creation. Within weeks George asked me to focalize the construction of the 60-footer geodesic dome which still stands to this day at the original site. I knew nothing about geodesic domes (or construction for that matter!) but assigning you to an unknown task was George’s way of getting people out of their comfortable ruts. Fortunately the crew working on various aspects of this project knew their jobs well and all was fine with the finished structure.

After spending four years living and working at Twin Valleys I reflect on that experience with fond memories that overrule the tough situations we faced trying to run a fledgling intentional community. There were many trying moments in dealing with emotionally upset, angry students, around-the-clock work project deadlines, powerless ice storms, and catastrophic flood waters, but through it all we not only survived; in fact, we thrived. This was the Art of Living at work.

Today my life is characterized by daily respect for the Art of Living. Call it “The Golden Rule” if you like, but it is the one educational experience that made my life complete after so much early trial and error. I have George Bullied and the Twin Valleys family to thank for this. The young people I live and work with today admire and wonder about this middle-aged guy who advocates this way of living daily life. This, in my honest opinion, is the legacy of Twin Valleys and the Art of Living!

Don White

Fond Memory of Bill George

Bill George was an electrician living in Wardsville who embraced Twin Valley School, even though our bill payments to him and all others were always slow! As I played a part in getting tradesmen to work at our community, I spent time with Bill. Anyone who knew him realized that Bill had lots to say (a real story teller!). A kind and gentle man he was indeed. But did you know that he had a number of experiences with extraterrestials? Yes indeed! I heard all about it one Sunday evening in 1974 when I had called Bill to see if he could drive me to the hospital in Chatham after a small truck accident. (Our vehicles were always either broken down or nearly broken in the early days). On the way there he regaled me with his sightings of saucers and bright lights in the sky that he had experienced. I was surprised, as I thought that we TVS folk were supposed to be authors of unusual ideas!!! It was a pleasure to be with him.

His warmth and acceptance of our rough and ready group was instrumental to our wider acceptance in the local community. I was very honoured to be called by his wife Mossie, to be a pall bearer for him in 1975.

Submitted by

Les Kerr