Looking to Build Community
Profth (Alan Watts) had been very involved in the alternative-lifestyle movement in the UK during the 60s when people had started exploring new and creative ways of forming communities that could organically flourish, unbridled by the largely unquestioned restraints that mainstream society to impose. Profth started looking for a property in the Hawkesbury area, to support a similar alternative-lifestyle movement and to build community.
In May of 1987 Profth and Jacqui looked at property listed for sale (Lot 32) in Webbs Creek Valley. Profth felt it would be perfect for creating a community. However, the agent, told them it had been sold just the week before! Profth, was still very drawn to this area of the Hawkesbury, and so they looked at another property, this time on the other side of the Valley (Lot 57). Profth bought it and named it Genesis Mu – meaning ‘The Beginning of Nothing’. The word Mu is used in many Asian cultures and Zen Buddhism to mean ‘nothingness’.
Genesis Mu was not easily accessible and Profth’s old Escort struggled to negotiate what could barely be called roads. Jacqui had to leave her small car at Rivendell and drive a tractor in. The terrain proved a match even for the tractor which on one occasion became half-submerged in mud.
After a few years living at Genesis Mu, it was clear that it would not be suitable for community.
Purchasing the Grove
Around this time 33 (Rivendell) and Lot 32 (which became the Grove) were for sale. It was a coincidence that these two properties were for sale at the same time. Although they were on
opposite sides of the river, we thought they could be combined to form one large 70-acre property. Perhaps, with a rope bridge. Later that year at ConFest in Walwa, we put-up flyers seeking the attention of people who might like to join us with building a community on these two properties.
15 people who showed interest in joining us, each person would need to contribute $15,000. We meetup at Rivendell, had a picnic then walked around to look at Lot 32. As we walked into the property, Greg commented that, “it looks like a little Grove” – the name stuck!
We couldn’t find enough people to take the plunge. We could not afford to purchase both properties without the involvement of community. We therefore decided to buy Lot 32 ourselves.
First Gathering – November 1991
We heard that Down to Earth Victoria was not running a Summer ConFest. We contacted Gordon Ballard, the person running DTE NSW. Gordon put us in contact with David Cruise, who was running DTE Victoria at the time, he sent us the DTE mailing for NSW. We used this to do a huge mail-out, all the names and addresses had to be handwritten, put in envelopes, addressed with stamps on. We sent the mail to 400 people – no email or social media in those days!
The Grove became busy, reaching up to 350 people at one stage. Instead of the one main fire we have now, at its peak the Grove had three campfires.