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Breitenbush Hot Springs logo

The Ender of Assigned Gender

A big stir around our circle recently has been a conversation/debate about what defines gender and who gets to decide. It appeared as a proposal to both recognize and actively support transgender people in their struggle for inclusion and acceptance in society, starting with women-only events at Breitenbush (whether sponsored by Breitenbush or not). It is noted that transgender people are perhaps the most persecuted population of all, suffering a host of abuses, from sexual violence to ridicule, ostracism, shunning, lack of public services, loss of employment and family abandonment, among other cruelties. To be clear, Breitenbush has always recognized the self-stated gender of women in Breitenbush-sponsored women-only events. However, there is one women-only event sponsored by a group (not Breitenbush) that invites “women born women” only. This group of women has been coming to Breitenbush for 30-years and might be variously described as: radical feminist warriors at the forefront of the revolution to […]

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Celebrating

There is a magnetized sign that sticks to surfaces in my kitchen, it says, “Kindness is My Religion”. It gives me joy to see it. I tell my daughters that joy is the most revolutionary act possible if the heart remains open to the suffering out there, without denial. I don’t know if my daughters entirely get it yet, but I observe they’re taking it in. It’s a practice, living intentionally with kindness and joy.

Breitenbush was envisioned as an intentional community at our beginnings in the late 1970s. Kindness and joy were assumed to be at the heart of the community co-op, even during the inevitable disagreements over personalities, principles or practices. You can find kindness and joy embedded in our Credo, written in 1978. Thirty-five years later, these qualities have found expression in a covert sort of way in the Breitenbush Facilities Council Charter, adopted in 2013, wherein the final principle is […]

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Grace and Commitment

peter-14Spring is budget season for Breitenbush, a time when we who live and work here participate one way or another in evaluation of the year gone by, and financial planning for the year to come. The first day of our new fiscal year is always April Fools Day, an apt symbol I think. Finance is, for me, a mysterious and creative domain. I often smile that I’m an intuitive artist acting as a business director, but Breitenbush’s budget process turns that little personal joke into reality, as it forces into focus the partnership of intuition and mathematical rigor required for successful financial planning. Good budgeting requires the balance of left and right-brain hemispheric participation to make it go well. At least that’s my experience.

I close my eyes and spin back in time. The Breitenbush that I came to in spring, 1978, had neither a budget season […]

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Rebirth of the Age of Children

ChildcareThis summer, our childcare provider person decided she needed to move on to her next adventure. Maria’s decision set into motion our community’s response to finding our next childcare provider, and this, in turn, led to larger questions—like, what do we really want for the children who live with us at Breitenbush Hot Springs?

Coincidentally, we’re experiencing a relative baby boom at Breitenbush, a sort of rebirth of children being born and coming to live in our community. This, after a longish period during which we had few, if any, children living here year-round. For starters, we now have the baby boy I adopted with my partner a couple of years ago. I cannot adequately describe how it changed my life to change diapers again, and do all those things that new parents do. Raising children is like riding a bicycle, you never forget how really, but […]

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Nature Nurture and Human Nature

Nature density as a remedy for nature deprivation was not among the original concepts we started with when we began the arduous work of repairing and preparing to re-open the defunct Breitenbush resort. In the 1970s we were enamored with more idealistic and romantic notions of self-reliance, appropriate off-the-grid technologies, organic foods, consensus decision-making, egalitarian gender and labor relationships, and a kind of “be here now” nature-based spirituality, not to mention love of the hot springs. The dozen or so of us who came together to do this work between 1977 and the early ‘80s assumed that any commercial business that evolved out of our efforts would reflect these foundation principles of our community.

We weren’t too far off the mark in that assumption, for indeed, people do come to Breitenbush intrigued by our homemade hydroelectric and geothermal energy grids, and curious about our co-op business model and community life in a forest village. I […]

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It Depends On the Way That You See

Last issue, I wrote about 5 guys who, in 1928, pressed their hands and put their initials into the wet concrete of their just-completed 15,000 gallon reservoir at the top of the hill above the Breitenbush Lodge area. It was built to serve the summer-only resort and is now under-sized, cracked and leaking. But, because of the Grandfather Clause, we continue to use that reservoir today, as we have done for decades. Meanwhile, work continues on a new 180,000 gallon reservoir, estimated to be completed this fall, which is engineered to serve the essential needs of our year-round community and retreat/ conference center. This summer we also began the work of excavation and laying in the piping necessary to connect the new reservoir to our historic Lodge (for fire suppression) and to our domestic water system that distributes clear drinking water to kitchens, bathrooms and hydrants throughout Breitenbush’s public zone.

This new pipeline installation project […]

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Vishnu the Preserver and the Breitenbush Reservoir

Lord-vishnu-With-snakeBreitenbush Hot Springs is all about the water. It’s in our name, it’s in the constancy of the hot springs and river that pour into and through the land, and its what provides the flow and thermal dynamics that we use to create electricity, heat and other essential services for ourselves and our guests.

It’s always been all about the water. In October of 1928, five men pressed their hands and scratched their initials into the wet concrete of their newly completed water reservoir. It was a fine accomplishment, built into the hilltop above the structure we now call the Breitenbush Office, and designed to hold some 15,000 gallons of potable water. From that time forward, it became possible to store clean drinking water pumped from the river, and to gravity-feed that water through a pipeline distribution system to the cabins and Lodge. This was an essential […]

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Universities of the Soul: Linking Up the Centers in a Network of Light

There is a quote sent to me by a friend at the Findhorn Foundation, in Scotland:

“Start sending radiances to the group known as the Arizona group. As the love flows, it will unite you with this group. Get a globe and start marking the centers on it. You are part of a tremendous network and each member is closely linked…. This is a network of light; therefore each should be linked with the others…. Learn to feel the intertwining and intermingling of each center…. The strength comes through the linking up (and uniting) of the centers.” – Eileen Caddy, Flight into Freedom and Beyond

These words, penned more than a half century ago, presaged the creation of the Findhorn Community. Ms. Caddy described this message as a direct transmission from spirit. Two years later, in 1962, Findhorn was founded on a sandy bit of an old Royal Air Force base, next to a toxic […]

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Passages in Village Life

In 1959, Pete Seeger wrote a song adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” King Solomon, who is credited with writing the original poem 3000 years ago, was waxing philosophic about there being a season for all things: birth and death, planting and reaping, weeping and laughing, war and peace—you get the idea.

I think it’s cool that a guy who lived 3000 years ago could pen the lyrics of a rock song that topped the charts in 1965, but that’s not why I raise this historical anecdote. I’m thinking about seasons turning right here in the mountains of Oregon, and times for every purpose under heaven.

Seasons turn. It’s winter as I write this. Snow lies thickly in the boughs of the trees and upon the land to the river’s edge. Just past winter solstice and the holidays, these are among the shortest, coldest days of the year. But I know […]

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The Long Strange Trip Continues

birthI’ve been reading a new book recently, Birth of a Psychedelic Culture by Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner. Having lived within the chronological and experiential realms of said culture, I have a greater-than-casual interest in it, and its cascading social effects. In the memory banks of this book you meet professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert at Harvard University, and their 1961-62 psych-lab experimentation with human consciousness, spiritual dimensions and LSD. It didn’t take long for the experiment to “go viral”, and what started as a small group of academic true-believers quickly morphed into a generation of psychonauts using psychoactive substances and dreaming into universal oneness, planetary peace, and political progress. People came together and pretty soon co-ops and communes emerged like magic mushrooms out in the country and deep in the city, challenging and redefining established notions of personal style, family, gender-roles, economic relations, service, citizenship-—in […]

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