Posts Tagged ‘Fairfield Iowa’

A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell

May 10, 2017
May 4, 2017 | Santa Barbara Independent | Opinion | In Memoriam
His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (photo by Al Bourdet)

His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 1911*-2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
By James Powell

The first time I met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was in Malibu, on the beach.

It was a typical summer day in Southern California. Not much was happening. There was a south swell. From time to time a sun worshiper atop a towel would flip over, a seagull would sail off into the fog, or a large set of waves would come crashing in.

As I recall, I stood on the beach with some of my surfing buddies. We were probably dressed in the surfer’s uniform of the era: corduroy pants and white Penney’s T-shirts covered by Pendeltons, not tucked in. Unlike most surfers on most beaches that day, however, we each held in our hands a bouquet of flowers.

Suddenly cars arrived. Doors were flung open. A cameraman emerged, and next some guys in suits. A brown, sandaled foot from within the car could be seen feeling for the ground, and then—bearded and wearing a long, flowing, white dhoti—an Indian man stepped out onto the dirt road. He seemed enveloped in a nimbus of such serenity and light that, seeing him, the effect was similar to what one feels deep in a canyon before dawn, when suddenly the sun bursts over the rim.

With the camera now trained on us—the surfer-boy extras in a documentary film—Maharishi approached, clearly enjoying the eternity in each step as he floated across the sand. As he drew near, something happened that I was not at all prepared for. My soul began to swoon. In place of the crashing of the waves, which now seemed far in the distance, was an immensely beautiful sea of silent consciousness. It was, to put it mildly, simply adorable. Lost in it, I could neither speak nor move. When Maharishi tugged on my flowers, I was unable to release my grip. He looked into my eyes, touched my hand, and my fingers opened.

It would be impossible to forget the blithe beauty of those eyes. He looked into each of ours, playfully. After accepting our flowers he looked out to sea, and then, regarding us again and smiling like the happiest man on earth, he asked, “Are you enjoying the ocean?”

Thus began my transcendental studies—lessons such as I had never known. The classroom was the Heart; the assignment was to locate the point within where the soul loses its boundaries and becomes absorbed in something infinite.

Typically, by the time Maharishi arrived at his seat in any of the countless lecture halls he spoke in around the world, he would be hugging to his chest hundreds of flowers accepted from students greeting him on his way in. And in each one of those exchanges was a moment as spiritually transforming as the one I had known on the beach. Yet, Maharishi’s aim was not to establish a personality cult. Each and every flower he accepted in each and every lecture hall he would place reverently before the image of his beloved teacher, Guru Dev, to whom he dedicated every instant of his life. And he tirelessly encouraged each of us to dive into the ocean of consciousness his Guru Dev embodied, by diving deep within our hearts during meditation.

Maharishi, in speaking of his teacher, always emphasized that the events in a spiritually illumined life are not so important. What is important is the state of his or her enlightenment. So I will not list all Maharishi’s many accomplishments throughout the world. Perhaps something of his level of presence can be felt through these few words.

Maharishi visited Santa Barbara on several occasions because some of his dearest friends lived here: Walter and Rae Koch, the family of Tom and Susan Headley, and Arthur and Christina Granville. Over the past few decades, teachers at Santa Barbara’s Transcendental Meditation center instructed more than 10,000 Santa Barbarans in meditation. In addition, Santa Barbara was at one time the home of the fledgling Maharishi International University, now located in Fairfield, Iowa.

“Are you enjoying the ocean?” Although those were the first words I had ever heard him speak, through the years I realized that they contained his entire teaching. For Maharishi was absolutely certain of one fact: His soul was forever floating within an ocean of unbounded bliss. He was well aware that the state of life he was living was adorable, and that anyone could begin to live it.

* The year of Maharishi’s birth is unknown but is believed to have been between 1911 and 1918.

###

Personal note: I remember reading this beautifully written remembrance of Maharishi when it first appeared, March 13, 2008, in the Santa Barbara Independent. The film being made about Maharishi at the time was never completed. But Alan Waite, who brought out the film crew, would later go on to make, at Maharishi’s request, a film about him called, Sage for a New Generation (1968). It won an award in 1969 for best documentary film at the first Hollywood Film Festival. The judges said they liked the “patchwork style of film-making” when they gave Alan the award. Segments of the film were later included in the International History Channel documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that I helped produce.

I had attended Maharishi International University, MIU, in Goleta, California, in 1974, and moved to the Fairfield, Iowa campus to complete my last course before returning to Montreal, Canada. MIU would later change its name to Maharishi University of Management, MUM, www.mum.edu.

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Sunshine Superman Donovan is a Very Mellow Fellow, a Hurdy Gurdy Man with Loving Vibes

September 9, 2016

DONOVAN was here over Labor Day Weekend. He played two concerts Sunday night during Fairfest 2016, Fairfield, Iowa’s Roots Music Festival. The first was a fundraiser for Maharishi University’s Global Scholarship Fund at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center‘s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and the second was with Bonnie Paine and friends to close out the 3-day musical event on the Main Stage outside. Donovan had never played back-to-back performances like that, but it turned out very well.

In the Green Room with Donovan.png

After arriving and having lunch, Donovan met the band at the Sondheim theater and went to work rehearsing with them. It was impressive! They consisted of Elephant Revival’s singer Bonnie Paine (percussion), and two from her group, top to bottom: Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo) and Dango Rose (bass), joined by Arthur Lee Land of Great American Taxi (guitar), and Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth (violin, organ).

The MUM concert in the Sondheim was special and intimate, filled mostly with meditators. Donovan then joined the band on the Main Stage after their performance. In both the rehearsal and the concert, Donovan encouraged each one of the musicians playing his songs. They all really enjoyed themselves, as did the audience, and drew the largest crowd of the 3-day event! See video clips below. After the concert, Donovan invited them back to his Green Room to share stories about the music business. What a magical treat for them all!!! Producer Michael Sternfeld took the group photo, choreographed by Donovan.

Donovan Day in LA

donovan-day-city-hall-los-angeles

Thank you Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councillor Koretz of City Hall Los Angeles for this singular honor to mark the Fiftieth Birthday of my song SUNSHINE SUPERMAN reaching number one on the Billboard Top 100. A love song for Linda yes, but also when we met we both knew we were on the same journey to raise awareness of a higher consciousness for the future generations. We are still on that journey. Come to my 21 city SUNSHINE SUPERMAN AMERICAN TOUR and share this birthday with me. — Donovan

New addition: Donovan Presentation–LA City Council Meeting.

Some News Coverage

Donovan left Fairfield early Tuesday morning to continue the American wing of his “Sunshine Superman” Tour, which was unofficially launched at East Hampton, Donovan: Flower-Power Icon of Change, then officially on Good Day LA, which discussed Donovan Day in LA. That night he performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, who said Donovan’s tour was starting in Fairfield, Iowa! After his performance, Jimmy whispered in Donovan’s ear that his interview with Howard Stern was the best ever. Fox News Video also posted this clip: Donovan shows no sign of slowing down.

Billboard later published: Donovan Reflects on ‘Sunshine Superman’ 50th Anniversary, Hanging With The Beatles & Jimmy Page, Flower-Power Era. And then this news, which is so appropriate: Donovan to Be Honored With John Lennon Real Love Award at Tribute Concert. “Donovan is a beautiful soul who was positively influenced by John,” Yoko Ono said in a statement. Read how this came about in this fascinating billboard article.

It’s interesting that Donovan will receive this award in John Lennon’s name. Donovan also had a positive influence on John when the Beatles were with Maharishi in India. John had asked Donovan to show him how he played his guitar. Donovan said it was the claw hammer style he had learned from another musician. It was based on a banjo-picking style converted to guitar.

In a way, it came full circle for John, since his mother, Julia, had taught him how to play chords on a banjo she had given him before he picked up the guitar. John wrote Julia and Dear Prudence using that style. Paul picked it up his way and wrote Mother Nature’s Child and Black Bird. George Harrison said Donovan was all over The Beatles White Album. Donovan mentions all this and more in a Rolling Stone interview (April 19, 2012) after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch the video: Donovan: On teaching guitar technique to Beatles.

Fairfield News Coverage

Some regional articles came out to promote the event. The Iowa Source published an article by Michael Sternfeld: Donovan: Sunshine Superman. Michael Braunstein wrote a very interesting article for The Reader in Omaha. Musician and journalist Bob Saar, who has covered David Lynch Weekends and MUM Commencements, wrote a great article for The Hawk Eye: Donovan to perform at FAIRfest 2016. Iowa City’s Little Village’s Arts Editor Genevieve Heinrich published: Musician Donovan Leitch talks legacy of ‘Sunshine Superman’ and importance of Transcendental Meditation, and showed up for the concert with her family. Mark Newman from the Ottumwa Courier dropped by during rehearsal: Donovan performance mends Fairfield hearts. Mark surprised me with a mention, helping Donovan set up.

Highlights of FairFest Roots Music Festival

donovan-fairfest-by-wernerelmker

Werner Elmker posted this photo of Donovan from the solo concert, and these Fairfest 2016 Highlights of Day One, Day Two, and Day Three, which contains excerpts from Donovan’s Sondheim and Main Stage concerts.

Professional photographer Kim Green came down from Cedar Rapids and posted a slideshow: Fairfest ~ Labor Day weekend 2016 – Prairie Moon Media- An eclectic mix.

Andy Hayward posted clips from both shows of Donovan at FAIRfest ’16.

FairfieldRocksMe posted these videos:

Fairfield Celebrates Donovan

A Labor Day lunch was hosted by Mayor Ed and Vicki Malloy. Some guests brought their Donovan records and posters for him to sign, and took pictures. In attendance were Bevan Morris, John and Kara Hagelin, and other leading members of the Fairfield/MUM community.

After lunch, Donovan regaled us with stories from Rishikesh, India at Maharishi’s ashram with the Beatles, Mike Love, Prudence Farrow, and others. He told us stories of his times with Maharishi, and a vivid dream he had of him, a week before coming here for the America wing of his 50th anniversary tour.

Donovan then asked me to share the story of what Maharishi had said about him. When I was with Maharishi at Lake Louise, one of my course mates had asked Maharishi about George Harrison and Donovan. About Donovan, Maharishi said he was the most sensitive boy he had ever met.

A few months before he was to join the Beatles and the others in India, Donovan said he was interviewed by John Carpenter for Rolling Stone’s premier issue, (1st and 2nd issues, Nov 9 & 23, 1967). In Part 1, he made a statement that summarized his approach to music: “There’s only one thing in the end, and that’s singing truth in a pleasant way.”

Carpenter asked him about composing, performing, his phenomenal success, and his very recent meeting with Maharishi who had taught him how to meditate. He describes that experience towards the end of Part 2: You just spent three days with Maharishi in Los Angeles. What’s he like?

Read more posts on Donovan here. If you can, see him in concert this time around. Check Donovan’s website for a list of concert dates and locations.

donovan-fairfield-friends

After his last interview for A Fairfield Documentary, a few of us had our picture taken with Donovan. He directed the photo shoot, taken by Werner Elmker. From the tallest to the shortest: Michael Sternfeld, who produced the Sondheim Concert, Bill Goldstein, who introduced the MUM International scholarship students, Donovan, and myself, Ken Chawkin. (Click photo to enlarge it.)

I must say, of all the times I’ve interacted with Donovan over the years, I found him to be most generous and patient with his time and energy while interacting with everyone. Not much ego there, but a very sensitive loving soul, who was kissed by the lord and filled with song to wear his love like heaven. He truly is an evolved Hurdy Gurdy Man, a gift of a rare flower to our garden! Looking forward to seeing him in Fairfield again, next time with his lovely wife Linda.

@NylonMag visits the @TMmeditation Capital of the Midwest @MaharishiU in Fairfield, Iowa

August 11, 2016

During the spring of 2016, Kathy Peterson (MVC), Eva Saint Denis (MUM), and I had the pleasure to host writer Dan Hyman and photographer Logan Clement. They were assigned by NYLON Features Director Lisa Mischianti to visit Fairfield, Iowa and neighboring Maharishi Vedic City, homes of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi School, The Raj, and more. Their August issue is out, and the feature on us came out today online.

radar | NYLON Explores The Meditation Capital Of The Midwest

“The middle-of-nowhere Iowa is pretty weird…and pretty special”

By Dan Hyman

MaharashiVedicCity-142
Photographed by Logan Clement.

The following feature appears in the August 2016 issue of NYLON.

A flatbed truck whizzing around the town square kicks up dust on Burlington Avenue. A repairman with his morning coffee in hand tosses a smile my way. All cornstalks and cool spring breeze, Fairfield, Iowa, wouldn’t seem unlike any other Midwestern city, ones such as Pleasantville, Swan, or Oskaloosa, which dot the map from here to Des Moines.

And then they come into view.

The Golden Domes of Pure Knowledge: orblike, almost shimmering, vaguely extraterrestrial in appearance, 25,000 square feet each. “Your imagination could go wild,” says local resident Kathy Petersen, who has lived in the Fairfield area for nearly 35 years, with a laugh. “Like, ’What do they do in there?’” The reality, it turns out, is not a whole lot: Twice daily, hundreds of people meditate together under the domes. Silence. Concentration. Transcendence. This is Fairfield, a major hub of the spiritual practice and ever-growing global movement known as Transcendental Meditation.

“I haven’t really come across a place like this anywhere else,” says 26-year-old New Orleans native and current Fairfield resident Lauren Webster of the approximately 9,500-person town that, in addition to housing the aforementioned twin Maharishi Golden Domes, is home to the Maharishi University of Management (MUM), a school at which the principal mission is to provide a “Consciousness-Based Education” and Transcendental Meditation is part of the daily practice and core curriculum. To that end, all first-year undergrad students are required to take “Science and Technology of Consciousness,” or Transcendental Meditation 101, if you will, during which they learn the technique and traditions surrounding the practice, as well as explore its theoretical foundations. Students can further immerse themselves in all things Meditation by majoring in, say, Maharishi Vedic Science, which, among other big-ticket subjects, aims to help them understand how they can maximize personal growth and contribute to world peace.

Click through the gallery to read the rest of the feature on their website.

Dan Hyman posted a PDF of his 8-page article as it appears in print: Transcendent City: Inside the meditation capital of the midwest.

Amine Kouider (left) Dan Hyman (rt)

Writer Dan Hyman (right) interviewed Amine Kouider, whose quote about Fairfield and MUM was featured in the NYLON article’s sub-heading. (Photo by Ken Chawkin)

Related News: ABC News reports on Maharishi University in Iowa and Fairfield, Iowa, TM and MUM make national news  

The Fairfield Ledger’s Andy Hallman reports: @DAVID_LYNCH addresses @MaharishiU graduates

June 20, 2016

Lynch addresses M.U.M. graduates

By ANDY HALLMAN Ledger news editor | Jun 20, 2016

David Lynch

Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo: Filmmaker David Lynch addresses the graduating students of Maharishi University of Management Saturday in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome. In the fall of 2013, the university debuted the David Lynch Master of Arts in Film program.

Saturday was a gorgeous day for a graduation as 366 students at Maharishi University of Management received their degrees in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome.

The list of graduates included 268 graduate students and 98 undergraduates from 53 countries. The foreign country with the most students graduating was Ethiopia with 42, followed by China with 41. Nepal, Egypt and Bangladesh each had at least 10 students graduating. Nearly one half of the students graduating, 168, earned their degrees in computer science.

The graduating class included a few interesting pairs. Touch Phai and his son Pakrigna Phai, both from Cambodia, had the honor of receiving their degrees together Saturday. Brothers Christian and Nicolas Martina from Argentina graduated together, as did the brother-sister pair of Naamee and Nahshon Yisrael from Chicago.

The commencement speaker was someone the students and faculty have come to know well: filmmaker David Lynch. M.U.M. president Bevan Morris read a long list of accolades Lynch has earned in his career, such as his Golden Globe for Best TV Series for his 1990–1991 show “Twin Peaks,” which he is filming a new season of that will air in 2017.

Adam Delfiner, Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Laure Muzzarelli

(left to right) Adam Delfiner, Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Laura Muzzarelli

Lynch’s speech was unconventional in that rather than deliver prepared remarks, he asked four graduating students to join him on stage and ask him questions. He insisted that he not be told of the questions ahead of time. The four students selected for this honor were Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Adam Delfiner and Laura Muzzarelli.

The students asked the accomplished filmmaker a wide range of questions about what makes a meaningful life, what the world will look like in 10 years and whether he would have done anything differently in his youth.

When Bekele learned she was one of the students who would ask Lynch questions, she turned to Facebook for advice on what questions to ask. She asked him when it was appropriate to trust one’s intuition, to which Lynch said that intuition should generally be trusted and that it was the No. 1 tool for artists, businessmen and women and many other careers.

Bekele said she particularly liked what Lynch said about getting ideas, which was that they are not so much invented as “caught.”

Saad is a computer science major and a graduate instructor. He sent emails to his students to ask what questions to ask, then chose the best ones. He asked Lynch about his interactions with the founder of the university, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Lynch has begun filming scenes for a documentary on Maharishi’s time traveling from northern to southern India, and Saad was curious when the documentary would be finished.

Lynch said of Maharishi that he was the “greatest master who ever walked the earth” and he gave out profound knowledge during his lifetime. Lynch said there were two keys to a better life: practicing Transcendental Meditation and drinking coffee.

On the question about his documentary of Maharishi, Lynch said that he was busy with the third season of “Twin Peaks,” but that once that is finished, he would be able to devote more time to finishing his other projects.

Andrew Rushing

Andrew Rushing

Andrew Rushing, who majored in Maharishi Vedic Science, was the school’s valedictorian and also gave a speech. Rushing said he had little more than a week to prepare his speech.

“My goal was to inspire the 2016 class to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and to encourage them to do great things,” he said.

During his speech, Rushing told the audience, “Just by being your true self, you act as a conduit for goodness in the world.”

Runzjao Xie

Runzjao Xie

Twenty-year-old business student Runzhao Xie was recognized as the youngest graduate. Xie graduated from Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in 2012, and said he could have graduated from M.U.M. as early as last year but a professor whose class he needed was not available to teach it.

“My parents were both in education, so that got me interested in academics at a young age,” he said.

Xie said he specialized in accounting and took five accounting classes in a row before university officials advised him to branch out into other subjects. He has a summer internship with Andrew Bargerstock, chair of the accounting department.

John Hagelin

Physics professor John Hagelin speaks about the exciting opportunities and responsibilities he will have Sept. 12 when he becomes the university’s new president, taking over from Bevan Morris, who held the position for 36 years.

Also announced during Saturday’s ceremonies was that John Hagelin will become the university’s new president effective Sept. 12, known as Founder’s Day at the university. He will assume the role held by Bevan Morris for the past 36 years. For the first time in its history, M.U.M. awarded post-doctoral degrees Saturday, which it bestowed upon both Morris and Hagelin. (Correction: These new post-doctoral degrees were announced and described, but will be bestowed on Drs. Morris and Hagelin Sept. 12, 2016.)

Hagelin has been a member of the faculty at M.U.M. since 1984. In addition to teaching physics, he has held many positions of leadership such as director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy and president of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

Reprinted with permission. All photos taken by Andy Hallman for Ledger photo. The 4 photos, embedded here in the article where relevant, are in an online slideshow format, with their captions, underneath David’s photo, starting with John Hagelin. The article and 5 photos appear on the front page of Monday’s Ledger concluding on page 7.

Related news: @DAVID_LYNCH answers questions from students as part of the 2016 Commencement @MaharishiU | The Hawk Eye’s Bob Saar: Filmmaker David Lynch gives MUM commencement address in Fairfield and KTVO’s Stephen Sealey reported on Maharishi University’s special graduation ceremony.

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KTVO’s Stephen Sealey reported on Maharishi University’s special graduation ceremony

June 19, 2016

Maharishi University of Management held a special graduation ceremony

MUM Commencement 2016-KTVO

Class of 2016 were greeted with a special guest at Maharishi University of Management’s commencement (Stephen Sealey/ KTVO).

The Maharishi University of Management celebrated the class of 2016 with a special ceremony Saturday afternoon.

KTVO’s Stephen Sealey was there to see it all and reports how there were even a few surprises in store.

Maharishi University of Management’s 2016 Commencement was home to big names, big surprises and a diverse graduating class.

Award-winning director, writer and producer David Lynch was given the Honorary Doctorate of World Peace before doing his commencement speech which was a Q and A session.

Lynch said he enjoyed speaking to the class and believes they will succeed.

“They’re going out into the world to do great things. And they get it from Transcendental Meditation which is the key that opens the door to the treasury within every human being.”

Doctor Bevan Morris announced his retirement to the class, while appointing Dr. John Hagelin as the new president of MUM.

“Now I’m going to be the International President of MUM for different countries around the world. That would mean I’ll come here very often also,” Morris said.

Newly graduated students were so happy to be finished with school, but a few told me MUM will hold a place in their hearts.

“I thought that this school was like a gem. Someone once told me that Fairfield is in the middle of nowhere but the people make it somewhere”, said MUM Graduate Andrea Zapata.

“Internally, these four years have made me a better person,” said MUM Graduate Nicolas Martina.

“I feel well-rounded as a person. Feel like I can do anything. I have no breaks, no obstacles. If I do, they’re only steps to get to the next stage,” said MUM Graduate Shivanand Howard.

366 graduating students and 53 countries that were represented.

Vice President Craig Pearson said, “If there is a place in the United States that is truly united, that place is here.”

KTVO would like to congratulate MUM’s class of 2016 on their graduation.

Reproduced with permission from KTVO. (Article link | Video link)

Related: Filmmaker David Lynch to Give Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management

Des Moines Register: David Lynch promises ‘strange’ commencement address in Iowa

Related event: An Evening With Chrysta Bell, David Lynch’s Muse, Happening June 19

Related news: @DAVID_LYNCH answers questions from students as part of the 2016 Commencement @MaharishiU | The Hawk Eye’s Bob Saar: Filmmaker David Lynch gives MUM commencement address in Fairfield and The Fairfield Ledger’s Andy Hallman reports: @DAVID_LYNCH adresses @MaharishiU graduates

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Fairfield, Iowa, TM and MUM make national news

June 10, 2016

Many articles have come out in praise of Fairfield, Iowa. Two and a half years ago, Rox Laird, The Des Moines Register’s editorial columnist, published an Opinion piece, Fairfield defines community action, on the city’s civic collaboration and Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center. The Smithsonian named Fairfield 7th out of 20 best small towns to visit that year. BuzzFeed named Fairfield one of the coolest small towns in America. And The Iowan had published an article on how Fairfield thinks inclusively creating rural success in Iowa.

I like to think the positive outcome of this latest article on Fairfield, TM and MUM, by Kevin Hardy in The Des Moines Register and the  USA TODAY NETWORK, resulted from a phone call I received on my birthday.

In April, I went to visit my son Nathanael at his new home in the Santa Barbara Riviera. For lunch he took me to The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, a well-known outdoor restaurant on the beach by the ocean. While waiting for our food to arrive, an unknown number called my cellphone. It was Kevin Hardy. He told me he covered business, labor and the economy for the Des Moines Register, and was researching why some towns in Iowa were thriving while many were losing population and failing economically. Then he said something that surprised me.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairfield was Iowa’s fastest-growing city among cities of a similar size. Kevin wanted to know what role I thought Maharishi University of Management had played in the demographic and economic growth of Fairfield.

In addition to some of the longtime established businesses, I  gave him an historical overview how hundreds of meditators came from all over the US and Canada after MIU had moved to town from the mid-1970s onwards. Many would stay and relocate their businesses or start new ones. Also told him about today’s younger entrepreneurs, the new successful ventures they started, and gave him a list of people and companies to visit and interview.

Kevin Hardy and Register photographer/videographer Zach Boyden-Holmes really did their homework. They put together an impressive article that became a national success story! It is reproduced here with permission.  See the full article with 14 photos taken May 9, 2016 by Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register. I added links for more information.

Why this Iowa town is thriving when so many aren’t
By Kevin Hardy, June 1, 2016

Click here or on the image below to see a short video of Fairfield entrepreneurs. (1:20)

Fairfield out-performed all of the state’s 15 micropolitan areas in terms of population growth between 2010 and 2015.

FAIRFIELD, Ia. – Take a walk around this town’s bustling square and you’ll see an array of businesses that would rival some shopping malls.

On one corner sits a coffee shop that roasts its own beans in house. Down the block is a store specializing in sustainable children’s clothing and toys. Along another strip, there’s a women’s boutique, a Verizon store and a nutrition company.

The town’s retail center also is home to a salon, a consignment store, a furniture store and an art gallery. Just off the square is a pet spa, a natural remedy store and a photography studio. And for those looking for a bite to eat: a Thai restaurant, an Indian cafe, an Italian spot and a joint peddling pizza and steak.

In fact, local officials count only one vacancy in the storefronts that line shady Central Park. It’s just one more sign of success in this town of 9,500 in a state where most small cities and rural areas are seeing residents leave.

Since 1969, census data show Iowa’s metropolitan areas have gained nearly a half million people, while smaller cities and rural places have lost more than 171,000 residents.

But Fairfield has prospered, particularly in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015, the city saw a 4 percent population gain – a rate that rivaled the growth of some of Iowa’s much larger metro areas.

This southeast Iowa city is known as a magnet for practitioners of Transcendental Meditation at Maharishi University of Management, who flocked here since the 1970’s. Fairfield was able to capitalize on that unique niche, building a surprisingly metropolitan quality of life.

While Fairfield is home to 1,000 fewer jobs than it had 15 years ago, state figures show employers have rebounded in the last five years, adding nearly 700 jobs between 2010 and 2015. During that time, Fairfield went from 714 employers to 751, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

“We have a great quality-of-life culture and an entrepreneurial culture,” said Mayor Ed Malloy. “And we see it is allowing more young people to put down roots in this community.”

Around town, there is no shortage of small-city staples like Casey’s General Store and Pizza Ranch, though Fairfield is better known for its funky coffee houses, shops and restaurants. Locals claim the city is home to more restaurants per capita than San Francisco.

Yet the place that Oprah Winfrey dubbed “America’s most unusual town” is more than just quirky. It’s one of the few nonmetropolitan areas in Iowa posting strong population growth, according to U.S. Census figures. And around town, evidence abounds that Fairfield has done what so many small cities in the Midwest struggle to achieve: attract and retain people.

Troy with MUM Solar Array

Troy Van Beek stands in front of a solar power array his company Ideal Energy installed at the Maharishi University in Fairfield Monday, May 9, 2016. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

TM’s long effect
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation, or TM, in India in the 1950’s.

But he brought his technique and “Consciousness-Based education” to Iowa in 1974, when Maharishi International University moved from Santa Barbara, Calif., to the 1 million empty square feet vacated by Parsons College in Fairfield. (The university later changed its name to Maharishi University of Management.)

While some in the community resisted the influx of meditators, locals say most of those tensions were alleviated years ago.

“As time has gone on, everybody’s meshed seamlessly,” said local designer Linda Pettit.

Pettit, who with her husband owns Finishing Touch interior design, has watched Fairfield thrive over the last 32 years from her storefront on the town square. She ticks off quality-of-life improvements such as a new pool and new recreation center.

She boasts about the many restaurants. And she tells of all the new and unusual businesses that have opened.

“We have a very vibrant community,” she said. “I think a lot of small towns don’t have the diversity that we do.”

Pettit hears about layoffs at plants in nearby Ottumwa. She knows how Iowa farmers are struggling with low commodity prices. But she said that isn’t Fairfield’s storyline.

Her business works on residential and commercial projects. But she’s noticed a slant toward more commercial projects in recent years, as new businesses pop up and old ones invest in upgrades.

“It’s a great place to have a business,” she said.

Iowa’s ‘Silicorn Valley’
Over the years, many TM practitioners and others who visited Fairfield decided to stay.

Once here, they had to find a way to make a living. Some Fairfield residents drive to Ottumwa or Iowa City for work. But many have started small businesses in Fairfield, which has been called “Silicorn Valley” for its mixture of tech startups and entrepreneurial ventures.

“People moved here and they had to figure out how to stay here,” said David Navarrete, spokesman for Sky Factory.

The 38-employee company was founded in 2002 by Bill Witherspoon, an artist who moved to Fairfield for its TM community. A serial entrepreneur, he formed Sky Factory as a means of supporting his family. It creates window and ceiling panels that recreate outdoor views like those of a blue sky or a beachfront.

Sky Factory’s biggest clients are health care providers, as research shows even a simulated view of the outdoors can boost moods for those trapped indoors.

“I think there’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit here, and I think a lot of that comes from the university,” said Witherspoon’s son, Skye Witherspoon, now the company’s CEO.

Fairfield is also home to a surprising array of manufacturing.
Creative Edge makes intricate flooring for some of the world’s best known hotels, casinos, hospitals and universities. Bovard Studios makes and restores stained glass windows for churches across the country. And a host of businesses manufacture agricultural parts, iron castings, polyethylene piping and laundromat washers and dryers.

So many things are made in Fairfield that the Iowa Economic Development Authority will host an export conference here in the fall.

Fairfield’s biggest employers have grown in recent years, too.

Cambridge Investment Research now employs about 700 and boasts more than $70 billion in assets under its management.

Mixed signals
Like many small cities, some employers in Fairfield report trouble recruiting and hiring, especially with Iowa’s unemployment rate remaining below 4 percent.

Lori Schaefer-Wheaton, president of the 170-employee Agri-Industrial Plastics, said hiring is a struggle. She has 20 openings, a number that has held fairly constant over the last two years, she said.

Fairfield is an anomaly among small cities in Iowa, she said, but she thinks recent population growth is largely related to the university.

“That kind of population growth might show up on our census,” she said. “But I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the workforce in our town.”

Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson said Fairfield definitely out performs many similarly sized cities. But some signals are mixed: While some measures show recent job growth, other data actually point to employment losses, he said.

“They seem to be demonstrating both demographic and economic growth that stands out,” he said. “The big question is this a short term growth or is it sustainable?”

Natives return home
Meghan Dowd came to Fairfield as a child when her parents migrated here for the TM community.

She moved away for college, then ended up working in television in California.

From there, she visited her mom in Fairfield and realized it was going through a “renaissance,” with monthly art walks, a new events center and lots of cool coffee shops and restaurants. She moved back in 2009 and started Shaktea, a maker of kombucha, a trendy fermented drink.

In Fairfield, she says she can do just about anything she could in a metro city. Plus, it’s much cheaper to buy a home or start a business. (She also started Cado, an organic avocado-based ice cream, featured with a photo in the article and video.)

Her children attend a Waldorf-inspired preschool. And after yearning for a yoga studio, she just opened her own.

“A lot of people moved here, the kids grew up here, but then the kids wanted to go out into the world and experience different things,” Dowd said. “I think that happened and some of that is kind of boomeranging back to Fairfield.”

Jesse Narducci followed a similar path. He returned home to Fairfield a few years ago after living in Colorado and California for more than a decade. He opened Jefferson County Ciderworks just outside of town. He brews hard apple cider and runs a taproom featuring hard-to-find craft brews.

Narducci said many of Iowa’s smaller towns are undesirable places to live because they lack quality places to grab a meal or a drink out. Not Fairfield.

“You don’t have to drive to Iowa City to have a good ale or a good meal,” he said. “I don’t really leave that often. … I’m trying to create my own little paradise out here.”

(more…)

Marianne Williamson to visit Fairfield, Iowa and speak on Consciousness, Democracy and Politics

October 22, 2015

Fairfield, Iowa: Internationally-acclaimed author and lecturer Marianne Williamson will visit Fairfield, Iowa to speak on Consciousness, Democracy and Politics (In Support of Bernie Sanders), Wednesday, October 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Sondheim Center. Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy will introduce Ms. Williamson.

Landman for WebMarianne Williamson has spoken for years on the significance of spirituality as a moving force in personal and social change. She has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and Charlie Rose. Six of her eleven published books have been New York Times Best Sellers, four of them reaching #1.

Marianne’s first book, A Return To Love, is considered a must-read of modern spirituality. A paragraph from that book beginning “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem by a contemporary generation of seekers.

Williamson put her high-frequency talk about the field of consciousness on the front line last year when she ran for the U.S House of Representatives, California District 33. She said of her campaign, “It was the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done, but also the most brutal. I have great compassion for people who run for office, and I feel more strongly than ever how important it is to support the candidates we believe in, in every way that we can.”

This year, she dove further into the political field in support of US Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Ms. Williamson has a long history of translating her ideals into action. In 1989, Williamson founded Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves home-bound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. Today, the program serves over 1,000 people daily. She also co-founded the Peace Alliance, a nonprofit that works on domestic and international peace building. And she serves on the Board of Directors of the RESULTS organization, working to end the worst ravages of hunger and poverty throughout the world.

Her upcoming talk in Fairfield was forged from 30 years of experience and all the knowledge contained in her bestselling books, translated into front-line, on-the-ground action in the field. For anyone who believes that consciousness can keep good company with politics, no matter who is running or who is elected, Marianne Williamson carries illuminating perspectives into the conversation.

Marianne Williamson said she was “delighted to be traveling to Fairfield, where so many people are aware of the deeper evolution of consciousness and what it can mean for politics and society.”

When asked what trends she has witnessed over the many years working tirelessly to raise consciousness in the political arena, she said: “What used to be considered a fringe movement is now a mainstream impulse in our society. Now you’re considered fringe if you don’t know what we’re talking about!”

A strong believers in miracles, Ms. Williamson was asked what miracle she would most like to see happen. She replied, “A fundamental change of heart. A turning away from economics as the organizing principle for our civilization, and an embrace of humanitarian issues as our organizing principle instead.”

Ms. Williamson will take questions from the audience after her presentation at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.

Read the Fairfield Weekly Reader’s Q&A with Marianne Williamson.

Check out the interview Dennis Raimondi and Philip Goldberg did with Marianne Williamson on their new online program, Spirit Matters: Conversations on Contemperary Spirituality. Listen to this Spirit Matters Talk, and others, at  www.spiritmatterstalk.com.

Read and listen to Matt Kelley’s interview with Marianne Williamson on Radio Iowa or click on Self help author visits Iowa to talk about politics.

Read Bob Saar’s interview with Marianne Williamson in The Hawk Eye.

Event organizer Michael Sternfeld wrote a followup piece for the November 12, 2015 issue of the Fairfield Weekly Reader: Marianne Williamson—Force of Nature: A Personal Review, parts one + two.

Sunday, November 20, 2015, 3 p.m., there will be a replay of Marianne Williamson’s talk at the Fairfield Public Library.

Still missed the talk? You can watch it now on YouTube. Marianne also posted it on her Facebook page.

Editor’s note: Some of my readers may find this post offensive, depending on their political allegiances, and because they usually expect articles related primarily to Transcendental Meditation. I myself am not a political person, nor do I wish to promote any candidates, especially since I am a Canadian living in the USA. I just volunteered to contact the press to help publicize this event, and since there was no where to link to the press release at the time, I posted it on my blog. I was told Marianne Williamson practices TM and is looking forward to coming to Fairfield where so many meditators are dedicated to uplifting consciousness for themselves and the nation. I am curious to see what she has to say about the topic—how consciousness, democracy and politics may be interrelated.

BLUE: a translucent painting by Bill Teeple at ICON Gallery on Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk

August 7, 2015

image

It’s Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk and tonight I’m at ICON Gallery talking with owner/curator Bill Teeple about the creative process, painting, poetry, and consciousness. I’m moved by one of his new images on the wall in the smaller gallery/studio upstairs. It’s deeply blue and draws me in like a magnet.

Bill tells me it’s made of multiple layers of acrylic paint, like a glaze. It’s translucent; it glows in your awareness. Tiny white specks look like stars in the night sky. Bill says it’s the paper, meant to be part of the painting.

Click on the blue image to enlarge it and you’ll see them. Enlarge it again and stare into the BLUE, and like the Hubble telescope, you’ll discover a world that previously was not visible.

The simplicity and minimalism of the piece inspires me to write a haiku. I do, and share it with Bill who says, “That’s it!”

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Look at it looking at you
Aglow between two

image

I can’t help myself when it comes to rearranging words in lines and their meanings. Here is a second version of the haiku.

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Looking at it look at you
A glow between two

Here’s a related poem about the mystery of the creative process: Sometimes Poetry Happens.

The Fairfield Weekly Reader posted 3 articles on the screening of Greg Reitman’s Rooted in Peace

August 5, 2015

ROOTED-V.10js_r3The Fairfield Weekly Reader published 3 articles about Greg Reitman’s film ROOTED in PEACE: an article I wrote about the film’s upcoming Iowa premiere, a second short announcement about the screening, and a follow-up report on the reaction to the film shown at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, including 2 photos, and 4 quotes from prominent members of the Fairfield community.

Click on the numbers and dates to read PNGs of these front cover articles published on July 23, pages 1 and 2, July 30, and August 6, 2015.

Click here to see previously published news about the film, including radio and TV reports. I also wrote an article in the July issue of The Iowa Source: Getting Rooted in Peace, which you can read in an earlier post. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the trailer.

Heartland Connection’s Alex Wilson interviews Greg Reitman about his film “Rooted in Peace”

August 1, 2015

Filmmaker brings documentary back to the Heartland
by Alex Wilson
Posted: 07.31.2015 at 3:20 PM

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — An award-winning filmmaker is bringing his film back to where it began.

The first frames of Greg Reitman’s documentary, “Rooted in Peace” were shot right here in the Heartland.

The film got its start in Fairfield during a performance by the Beach Boys.

“It’s really nice sort of to bring this film to where we first started six years ago and then to return here and to show the film. I always like the idea of full circles, so it really empowers me as a film maker to see that,” said director, Greg Reitman.

Reitman describes the documentary as a personal journey.

“Journey of one man looking for essentially the meaning of peace and he’s on a road to achieving that success and part of that journey is a holistic journey looking at the areas of the mind, the heart and the body in terms of inner-wellness.”

The filmmaker says he was inspired to make this documentary from a personal experience he had while he lived in Israel.

“I’m haunted by this idea of a mother putting on a gas mask to a 5-year-old child and in my mind I kept asking the question,” how does a mother explain that to her child?” said Reitman.

And Reitman didn’t realize how much this experience affected him until he was studying abroad in Japan.

He was with some friends visiting the Hiroshima Memorial and was confused as to why all of his friends were crying, but he wasn’t.

“It was really just moving. I came back to college and two weeks later I woke up from a nightmare and I had sweat all across my face, I came up with this concept I was going to save the world.”

“Rooted in Peace” took six years to complete and that’s due to not only figuring out the making of the film, but Reitman had to figure out the meaning of peace.

“It was also very challenging because as we working with various writers, how they understood the meaning of peace and they really didn’t,” said director Greg Reitman.

Once Reitman found out the meaning of peace, he says it was like an epiphany.

“That’s really what peace is about. If your mind is healthy, your heart is healthy, if your body is healthy, if you feel good, your world is going to feel good.”

The filmmaker says after an audience sees the documentary, it’s going to move them.

“It could take a day, it might take a week or it might take a month, but this, the content, whatever it’s doing internally to us, it’s working and that was really what I wanted to do, I wanted to wake people up and get them in touch with themselves,” said director of “Rooted in Peace” Greg Reitman.

“Rooted in Peace” will be shown at the Sondheim Center on Sunday at 7 p.m.

See KTVO video on YouTube, film trailer, and other film news here.


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