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Breitenbush: My Story

Published November 2nd, 2019 in Community Perspectives

By: Andrew Mettler

Renewable Energy is what initially brought me to this Cascadian paradise. A quest for something different, something unique, something real. I will never forget the February day I first set foot upon this land, a forest sanctuary blanketed in cold, white winter. I knew there was something special about this intentional community and worker-owned co-op before I even left my vehicle. I arrived to do a meet and greet with the Breitenbush Systems Team. The Systems Team is in charge of operating the “electro-mechanical heart-beat of Breitenbush” (Peter Moore, Breitenbush Business Director). Two Systems Team members monitor and maintain our five systems 24 hours a day. Our systems include Hydro-Electric, Domestic Water, Geothermal Heating and Waste Water. The opportunity to work here was a genuine dream come true. An opportunity to live a potent lifestyle, off grid in the forest, with amazing people and nature, and the ability to truly be of service.

I have lived here at Breitenbush Hot Springs for five years. Initially arriving at the ripe age of 23, I was not far out of school for Renewable Energy and Energy Management at Lane Community College. Prior to Breitenbush, I installed solar energy systems throughout Oregon with a local Eugene company, Advanced Energy Systems. It was through working with members of that crew that I became aware of Breitenbush’s existence. In the Winter of 2013 the solar work was limping along, so I decided to submit an application to Breitenbush. Once I did my working interview in Spring, 2013 I was enchanted beyond words. Living and working at Breitenbush during the Summer of 2013 shaped my life in the most incredible way possible. I had made it, I had found my home, the place I belonged.

At the end of the summer of 2013 I stayed on as a fill-in for a team-mate who was on maternity leave. I then left in spring of 2014 to return to my solar career. In January of 2015 I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, vasculitis. This condition left me unable to work, barely able to walk and limited the use of both my hands. After a labyrinth of physicians and medications I began to heal. Even though I was healing I was still not fully capable of returning to my solar career, despite being offered a significant pay raise and promotion to supervisor. I decided to return to Breitenbush, to return home.

I landed back at Breitenbush in June of 2015 and am still here in service, until I am called to move to the next stage of my life. I have deepened my relationship with this land, community and business more than I would have thought possible. I am currently the team coordinator of the Systems Team, serving on the Breitenbush Board of Directors, snow plow driver, Engineer for the Breitenbush Fire Department and avid communitarian.

Here at Breitenbush we have an abundance of creativity and expression. My passion is music and at Breitenbush are able to connect with talented people with the same passion. We have a thriving music scene here at Breitenbush; a most eclectic blend of sounds, styles and flavors. We have a weekly jam, where anyone in the community is invited to participate. We have a fully functioning recording studio here at Breitenbush and are creating music to share with our extended and world community. You can check out some of the sounds of Breitenbush on our Soundcloud (Workshop in Progress), where we have nearly a dozen tracks. Most of what is uploaded comes straight from jams here at Breitenbush.

I will forever love and appreciate this place, and all it has done for me in my journey of healing and self discovery. I do not know how deep the Breitenbush life will take me but I know it will take me as far and as deep as I can push myself. I am eternally grateful to be here and be of service to this, community, land and lifestyle.