Ananda Kamala Master Unit - Prout Community Settlement Cooperative
Ananda Kamala is a hilly, lush area of 52 acres with Bridge Creek running through it in Maleny, Queensland, Australia. It was purchased by the Prout Cooperative members in 1987.
The entire land is currently owned as a settlement cooperative and 25 acres of land are used for the Master Unit and 25 acres are used for the family community. The share holders include five families, plus the resident Dada as a representative of Ananda Marga. Most of the original shareholders are still members.
Members gradually were able to build homes, sometimes living in caravans or temporary accommodation for many years. There three family houses with two more in process, plus the Mandala Yoga Studio and four rental cabins/houses.
The name was given by Shrii R. R. Sarkar, appropriate because at the time one of the members was growing lotus commercially on the property. Now each household has a small lotus pond.
On the Master Unit land there is the Ananda Marga River School and the Ananda Marga Maleny Meditation Centre (Jagriti).
The Meditation Centre (jagrti) was built by the school. Upstairs there is a three-room living area used now for our school principal and guests. Downstairs is a meditation hall, currently doubling as a music room for the school.
One more school building is in the planning stages which will have, at ground level, a very large performing arts/gathering hall.
The River School is a vibrant, exciting, beautiful learning community, now in its 14th year. As a Neohumanist school, the children practice meditation daily, study “virtues” and participate in a large variety of service projects. There is a strong emphasis on learning through play in the younger years, with an abundance of art and active learning in the later years.
The school requires vegetarian food for school lunches (also, no junk food or excess packaging) and runs a “tuck shop” once weekly. Each classroom has separate bins for compost, recyclables and non-recyclable waste so the children learn these skills early.
The school began as a one-classroom primary school with 23 children of all ages. Each year the school has continued to grow, adding new classrooms nearly every year. There are now three early childhood classes, and seven primary year classes. We have specialist teachers for music, marimba, art, ecological science and special educational support. The school has gained an outstanding reputation as the children have repeatedly excelled in local art and sport competitions, while government testing has always shown year 7 students to be achieving above state averages.
The school is run by the principal and deputy principal and overseen by the Management Committee and the Ananda Marga Board of Education.
Projects and Service to the Community
Business projects on the family land include a film making studio, two painting studios, yoga studio, music distribution business and small music studio, the small organic dairy and a shed for producing bio-fuels (which the school bus runs on!) Weekly film nights are held at the Lotus Cinema!
Land adjoining the Master Unit is also owned by Members who have donated several acres for the Maleny Community Gardens. This group now has over 30 members and is a vibrant social and ecological group for the local area.
The local Ananda Marga unit is based at the Master Unit. Regular classes, group meditation, weekend seminars,and other cultural and spiritual events are held at the Meditation Centre.
The Master Unit is entirely water self-sufficient depending on water tanks that collect roof water for drinking, backed up by a large dam and water from the creek if needed. Sewage is also processed on site, mostly through sand filtration systems as well as grey water recycling. Some of the families have some solar-sourced electricity, and a plan to collectively sell solar-sourced electricity back to the grid is currently in the plans. All of the families have solar-heated hot water.
-- by Kamala Alister