02 Jul Resident Spotlight: Lois Smith
She has spent a lifetime living and working in Camphill communities, but it was finding a place for her mom that brought Lois Smith to Camphill Ghent. It was when her mother, Anne Smith, turned 100 years old and was still living in a third floor walkup apartment in Brooklyn by herself, that Lois decided it was time for a change.
Familiar with Camphill Ghent from its infancy, Lois was living in Camphill Minnesota, in her 26th year as a coworker there. She had visited Camphill Ghent when the community was about six months old, witnessing firsthand the growing pains that accompany any new venture. “It was the idea of pioneering a new community” that intrigued Lois but the time wasn’t right to make a change.
So, a few years later when Lois decided it was time for a move, she reached out to former Executive Director Deborah Grace and worked out a trial period to come stay and check out the community with her mom, Anne. “It was a chance for both of us to be here together,” said Lois of her mother’s move to the Adult Home and Lois’s transition to Magnolia House. Anne thoroughly enjoyed her time at Camphill Ghent, living in nature for the first time in her life, according to her daughter. “She had five seasons of nature here and I was able to share that with her. It was such a happy ending.” One of Anne’s favorite memories of her time here was the resident and staff art show in the Joan Allen Art Gallery in which several of her watercolor paintings were displayed. Lois got her mother a painting set for her 50th birthday and she took to it naturally, becoming a prolific painter.
Growing up with her brother Michael in a household surrounded by music and art, Lois graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in art history. Shortly after graduation she married and moved to the Catskills where she worked in various venues, fully part of the “Hippie generation.” In 1974, Lois was 27 years old and, in keeping with the times, was interested in living in some sort of intentional community. She heard about Camphill Copake where ended up living for eight years, working in the weavery where she met many people including Margrit Metraux, Christina Bould, Sylvia Bausman, Judy Fletcher and Louis Reich. Copake answered a question for Lois and proved to be the first of many Camphill communities she would call home. “Everything I was, there was a need for,” she said of the fit with Copake. “It’s amazing what you have to offer when you can find a niche for it.” Lois moved from Copake to a Camphill community in Austria where she lived for five years before coming back to the United States and living in Beaver Run. Her next and final move was to Camphill Minnesota where she spent the remainder of her career.
Now, two years later, Lois loves her co-house living experience in Magnolia and feels it’s the perfect fit for her. After years of isolating Minnesota winters where she lived in an apartment below the weavery, Lois loves that she can see her neighbors when she wants to without leaving Magnolia House but also has the privacy of her own apartment. The cultural life in the Camphill Ghent community and the surrounding towns and villages is also something Lois loves about her new home.
“I feel blessed and lucky to live in this community,” said Lois, referring to the gardens, music, activities and the maintenance of it all. “I feel grateful to be taken care of. There are lots of things to love about Camphill Ghent.”