2024 North American Section Conference

Artwork by poet Etel Adnan


“A Conference Devoted to Poetic Language & Literary Imagination.”


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San Francisco: September 7 – 8, 2024

Toronto: September 13 – 15, 2024


San Francisco Conference Site: Sanctuary of Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco / A National Historic Monument


May 2, 2024

Dear Friends and Members of the Section,

The Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities will host a North American Conference in two locations for friends and members of the Section in 2024. Christiane Haid will attend. Christiane is the Goetheanum leader of the Literary Arts & Humanities Section (Beautiful Sciences) and the Visual Arts Section of the School for Spiritual Science.

“Can I Attend Both Locations?” Will Christiane Haid Be Present at Both?”

Of course! Christiane Haid will attend and present at both locations. There will be ample time to meet with her and have conversations. The events at each location will weave together a rich tapestry of common themes. Friends and members can attend either or both locations. Each North American location will add something special that reflects the unique genius loci or presiding “Spirit of Place.” Together, the two locations will provide a glimpse of the richness and variety of our North American Section work at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

Click this sentence to register for either one or both locations.

“How Can I Register? What is the Program? Do I Need to be a Section Member?”

The Conference is for friends and members of the Section. You do  not need to self-identify as a “member” of the Section. Blue cards are not required. Friends and members can attend either or both locations. Scroll down to find the Conference Schedules for each location.

Click this sentence to register for either one or both locations.

All Best Wishes,

Bruce Donehower (Section Representative to the Goetheanum) on behalf of the North American Section Leadership Group: Fred Dennehy (USA), Gayle Davis (USA), Arie van Ameringen (Canada), Robert McKay (Canada), Herbert Hagens (USA), Susan Koppersmith (Canada), Clifford Venho (USA), Robert McDermott (USA), Philip Thatcher (Canada)

General Information

Cost for Registration:
San Francisco: $55 US
Toronto: $175 US

Click this sentence to visit the registration page hosted by the Anthroposophical Society in America. Registration is in US dollars only. You may register for either or both locations. Registration for the Toronto campus includes a ticket to “Fire in the Temple.” There are no discounts for early registration. Registration refunds are not available after July 15. Prior to July 15, contact NASectionConference2024@gmail.com. 

Some limited funds may be available for travel assistance, but this depends on registrations and donations. Contact NASectionConference2024@gmail.com 

The registration fee includes vegetarian meals. Tickets without meals are not available. See the location details for information about meals and lodging. Tables and chairs for sit-down lunch and dinner are provided at each location.

“Can I specify a vegan option? What about food allergies?”
Contact NASectionConference2024@gmail.com

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Conference Schedules and Details

San Francisco Conference Site / A Masterpiece of Arts and Crafts Architecture



San Francisco Campus / Location Details & Logistics


Swedenborgian Church (Sanctuary, Garden, and Parish House): Saturday

San Francisco Waldorf High School: Sunday

The Saturday, September 7 portion of the Conference will occur at the historic Swedenborgian Church at 2107 Lyon Street, near Washington Street (in neighborhood of the Waldorf School).

The Sunday, September 8 portion of the Conference will occur at the San Francisco Waldorf High School located at 490 West Portal Avenue.

The Swedenborgian Church is a National Historic Landmark. The church opened its doors for worship March 17, 1895 and was designed by a distinguished group of architects including the celebrated Bernard Maybeck. Its founding pastor, Rev. Joseph Worcester, was longtime friend of famed naturalist John Muir. Rev. Worcester purchased the land on which the church and its grounds are located. Poet Robert Frost (a friend of Percy MacKaye) was baptized in this building. This is an outstanding early example of the Arts and Crafts movement in architecture.

Weekend parking in Church neighborhood is free, but the streets are very steep. The Pacific Heights area is residential. Please be considerate of driveways and all curb markings and street signage. Ride sharing, Muni, Lyft, or taxis are good options. You may also park for a fee at the Jewish Community Center just 3 blocks away at Presidio Street and California.

Sunday parking at the San Francisco Waldorf School is on site and free.

Persons attending will need to make their own accommodation arrangements. There are many hotel and AirBnB/Vrbo options in San Francisco and the extended Bay area.

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San Francisco Campus Conference Schedule

Saturday, September 7 /  Swedenborgian Church (2107 Lyon Street)

9:30 – 10:00 / Arrival / Check In / Informal Conversations


10:00 – 11:15 Opening of Conference / Bruce Donehower.
Welcoming Words, Introduction to the Conference /
 “Spirits of Place: American Literatures”


11:15 – 11:30 Break


11:30 – 12:30 Presentation / Christiane Haid
“Beauty, Truth, Goodness: Their Meaning and Significance for the Literary Arts and Humanities”


12:30 – 1:30 Lunch and Conversation / Church Parish House (on site)


1:30 – 2:30 A “New Moon” Salon
Poetry, music, eurythmy with Section artists


2:30 – 2:45 Break (on site)


2:45 – 3:45 Presentation / Daniel Polikoff
“Emerson & Anthroposophy”


3:45 – 4:15 Coffee and Snack Break (on site)


4:15 – 5:15 “Does the Work of Our Section Really Matter?”
Panel: Members / Christiane Haid, Bruce Donehower, Robert McDermott


5:15 – 6:30 Light Dinner and Conversations at the Swedenborgian Church Parish House. Table and Chairs are provided.


Sunday, September 8 / San Francisco Waldorf High School (490 West Portal Avenue)

Morning to 1:00:  Muffins, Museums, Meetups. A list of spontaneous morning events for participants will be made available prior to the conference and distributed to persons registered for San Francisco.


1:00 – 1:45 Opening Eurythmy Performance (Bay Area Eurythmists)
“Springing from Powers of the Sun!” (Concluding mantra of Rudolf Steiner’s “Last Address”


1:45 – 3:45 Joint Presentation / Christiane Haid & Bruce Donehower


“Rudolf Steiner’s Last Address and its Significance for our Section and the School of Michael” by Christiane Haid


“The Poetry of Novalis; Its Significance for Rudolf Steiner’s Last Address” by Bruce Donehower


3:45 – Closing Eurythmy Performance: “Springing from Powers of the Sun!”


September 9 – 11 / Literary Field Trip to Explore the Spirit of Place

Following these events at the San Francisco campus there will be a Literary Field Trip to Big Sur with Christiane Haid to investigate the Tor House of Robinson Jeffers and the Henry Miller Museum, and to research the literary “spirit of place” in Northern California. This will occur September 9-11. Participation is very limited. Contact Bruce Donehower if you are interested. Friends who are invited on the trip are responsible for their own transportation, lodging, and all attendant costs.

Poet Robinson Jeffers / “Tor House and Hawk Tower” at Big Sur



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Toronto Campus / Location Details & Logistics


All conference events will occur at:
Rudolf Steiner College Canada / Toronto Waldorf School
9100 Bathurst Street, Thornhill, Ontario

Parking is available.

Accommodations: There are multiple hotels and Airbnb/Vrbo options in the area. Search for options in Vaughan, Ontario. Hotel rates range from $75/night to $250/night. AirBnb/Vrbo prices are about the same range but include entire houses that could easily accommodate a few people. Alternately for about $50/night, we have many community members who are willing to billet guests. If you are interested in billeting, please email Robert McKay at robertmckay@rogers.com and identify any requirements.


Toronto Campus Conference Schedule

Registration for the Toronto Campus includes a ticket to Sunday’s dramatic reading performance of the play “Fire in the Temple” by Glen Williamson. Glen will perform the dramatic reading with Laurie Portocarrero.


Friday, September 13 / Toronto Waldorf School

The Toronto Campus Events Begin on Friday Evening

7:00 – 7:30: Welcoming Words / Bruce Donehower


7:30 – 8:45: Presentation / Christiane Haid
“Beauty, Truth, Goodness: Their Meaning and Significance for the Literary Arts and Humanities”


8:45: Speech Recitation: “Springing from Powers of the Sun”


Saturday September 14 / Toronto Waldorf School


9:00: Speech Recitation [entire verse]: “Springing from Powers of the Sun”


9:05 – 9:50: Presentation / Philip Thatcher
“The Spirit of Canadian Literature”


9:50 – 10:15 Coffee Break (on site)


10:15 – 11:00 Presentation / Arie van Ameringen
“Folk Soul, Language and the Language of the Consciousness Soul”


11:00 – 11:10 Break (on site)


11:10 – 11:30 Movement / Eurythmy: “Springing from Powers of the Sun”


11:30 – 12:15 Presentation / Christiane Haid
“Rudolf Steiner’s Last Address and its Significance for our Section and the School of Michael”


12:15 – 1:30 Lunch (on site)


1:30 – 2:30 Artistic Activity / Poetry Workshop with Denis Schneider


2:30 – 2:45 Break (on site)


2:45 – 3:30 Presentation / Clifford Venho
“The Genius of the English Language”


3:30 – 3:45 Break (on site)


3:45 – 4:30 Presentation / Arie van Ameringen and Denis Schneider
“L’esprit de la langue française au Québec” (in English)


4:30 – 4:45 Break (on site)


4:45 – 5:30 Presentation / Glen Williamson
“The Playwright’s Process”


5:30 – 7:00 Break and Dinner (on site)


7:00 – 8:30: Poetry Celebration / Section Poets and Open Mic


Sunday, September 15 / Toronto Waldorf School

9:30 – 10:00 Eurythmy “Springing from Powers of the Sun”


10:00 – 11:15 Presentation / Bruce Donehower
“Spirits of Place: American Literatures”


11:15 – 11:45 Break (on site)


11:45 – 12:30 Conversation with Conference Participants / Moderators: Christiane Haid and Bruce Donehower
“What Lies Ahead for our Section Work in North America and Europe? How can we work together for the School of Michael? What are our future Themes and Topics?”


12:30 (Closing) Speech Recitation “Springing from Powers of the Sun”


12:30 – 2:00 Lunch (on site)


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Public Performance

2:00 – 5:00 Dramatic Reading

“Fire in the Temple”

Glen Williamson & Laurie Portocarrero

[with intermission]



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Conference Speakers and Panel Members

Christiane Haid, Bruce Donehower, Robert McDermott, Daniel Polikoff, Philip Thatcher, Arie van Ameringen, Clifford Venho, Denis Schneider.

The Speakers at the Conference are friends or members of the Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities in North America, and most are members of the Section Leadership team. Christiane Haid is the leader of the Section at the Goetheanum. The Conference events are open to friends and members of the Section. Blue cards are not required.

* The title of the North American Section Conference (“The Genius of Language”) is taken from a cycle of lectures by Rudolf Steiner that were given to the teachers of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart December 26, 1919 to January 3, 1920. This lecture cycle appears in German as Geisteswissenschaftlische Sprachbetrachtungen (GA 299) and in English has the title “The Genius of Language”  (trans. by Ruth Pusch and Gertrude Teutsch; SteinerBooks). While the Conference will reference contents and themes in this lecture cycle, we will not use the cycle as a primary text. Although linguistics falls within the purview of the Section, this is not a linguistics conference; it is a conference devoted to poetic language and the literary imagination.