History of the Arizona Manzanita Branch

History of the Arizona Manzanita Branch

In 1993, members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society in Arizona embarked upon a year of study to prepare for the establishment of the Manzanita Branch. Since it was to be a state-wide Branch, we sought to recognize the extreme, diverse personalities of the Arizona landscape, and to more deeply connect to overcome the vast distances in Arizona that separated us—often 150 miles to 400 miles.

To facilitate this work, we explored several questions, all of which we believed would help us in our respective regions, helping to ground Anthroposophia more fully in Arizona through a shared experience of honoring our unique Arizona geography.

“How can we school ourselves to be aware of what surrounds us?” 

This was one of the central questions about which we studied and worked for a year in preparation for the inauguration of the Branch. We recognized we needed to unite ourselves despite the hundreds of miles separating us. Some of the questions shared during this year-long study and reflection:

• What is surrounding us?

• How does the geography of each specific environment influence our work?

• How do the parts relate to the whole?

• What are the inspirations for how we relate to each other?

Goethe - The green snake and fair lilly


Our year of study culminated on a crisp, fall October weekend in 1994 with a spiritual geography conference. Members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society in Arizona met at a retreat center in Prescott, sharing the fruits of our year of preparation and formally inaugurating our state-wide Manzanita Branch. 

Gifts of Diversity

Out of this spirit of the gifts of diversity, the work of the next 26 years brought many conferences, workshops, and lectures to our diverse communities. Traveling guest artists in speech, eurythmy and anthroposophical lectures, arrived to travel among our communities (Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Prescott, Flagstaff) nurturing our fledging anthroposophical and Waldorf initiatives, helping to connect our members and friends, uniting us as a Branch and creating a larger community from around the state.

Within the next 35 years many notable events, weekend conferences, lectures and workshops were held. Each of them helped to build the fabric that is now the Manzanita Branch, as well as support our Waldorf initiatives – a commitment made early in the biography of anthroposophical work in Arizona. 

Initiative Development

These early years of initiative development, establishment of study groups, conferences, workshops and schools were truly those of a pioneering stage of Branch life. They nurtured the seeds and roots of the burgeoning anthroposophical life in Arizona.

Beginnings in Tucson

Anthroposophical Work in Tucson, Arizona has been continuous since 1983. It was then that the existing Anthroposophical study group was formed and continues its study of Steiner’s books and lectures to this day. One of its primary goals was to create a strong foundation that would result in the birth of a Waldorf School.

The dream became reality with the first, small kindergarten opening in 1993 in a rental facility, and is today the Tucson Waldorf School, accredited in 2010 by AWSNA. The study group was also instrumental in bringing the Christian Community initiative to Tucson, which also now serves Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff.

The Tucson Waldorf School sits on 10 acres of desert land settled beneath the inspiring Catalina Mountain range. The land was donated by a group of parents, and the school offers parent-child, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grade one through eight classes. Over the years, the study group has sponsored many workshops and lectures, and many of the pioneering members are still active today, not only in the study group, but also in the Waldorf and Christian Community initiatives.

The future holds the reality of a Waldorf inspired High School as a group of parents has formed to bring it to fruition. The study group meets once a week as it has since 1983.