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Authentic Relationships in Kimberton Hills

Authentic Relationships in Kimberton Hills

Beth and LaurenSince our founding in 1972, Camphill Village Kimberton Hills has grown from two families in two houses, to more than 100 people in 16 life-sharing homes.  There have been changes in the landscape and changes in our workshops but what has not changed is the vision of our founders and the concept of authentic relationships.  Kimberton Hills exemplifies authentic relationships recognizing they are what help people with or without disabilities, to thrive.

Karl Koenig, the founder of the Camphill Movement, shared a concept he called the “social womb” – saying essentially that people can only be fully alive when they are aligned with others. It is through our connections with other people that we are nurtured, we grow, and we experience ourselves as worthwhile.  We are interdependent in many ways.  That understanding of interdependence and the valuing of authentic relationships has become a fundamental basis of Camphill life.

Anyone can be a caretaker, or a colleague, or a neighbor, the value of that role comes from the relationship that is formed and sustained.  The relationships are what set a place like Kimberton Hills apart from an institution.  It takes work and it takes dedication but the result is life-changing.  Helen Zipperlen, one of the founders of Kimberton Hills, wrote these words in a newsletter years ago, and described a visit from some folks living at Pennhurst, an institution nearby in Pennsylvania for people with disabilities that closed years ago:

The dignity and goodness with which they enjoyed their visit made us realize again that ‘home’ is formed first and foremost of people, friendship and interdependence, far more than by physical conditions and ‘programs,’ however excellent.

in the potteryIt is the contact and commitment among the village residents but also friends, supporters, and volunteers that live outside the community that have kept it strong, vibrant, and growing for the last 42 years.

As we explored this concept we discovered that the relationships exist in many different formats:  between people and organizations and even the land and animals.  Through this approach to life and living; we have become an innovative, pioneering, intentional community with much to share and teach others.

If you’d like to visit and see first-hand, the power of authentic relationships in Kimberton Hills, please contact Bernadette Kovaleski, Director of Development, at


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