“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” goes an old saying. Recently we took a ride down that road to catch the view. Upon inspection, the hell realm we expected to see wasn’t such a bad place—like most worries, it was mostly made up of fear of the unknown.
This story begins last summer when I welcomed both the State Fire Marshall and the chief of Marion County Building Inspections to Breitenbush. They hadn’t been on property for 20 years, and it was time to update the relationship. Turns out, they came with an agenda, and because they represent the state, their agenda soon became our agenda.
The story really began last spring when, with every good intention, we planned to replace our old fire alarm system (it sounded like an air raid siren from the London Blitz, World War 2). This new $20,000 state-of-the-art […]
On November 1, 2006 old friends Alex Beamer and Peter Moore met to reflect on Breitenbush.
Alex Beamer is the visionary who founded the Breitenbush Community in 1977. He spent five years at Breitenbush, 1977 to 1982 and returned in 1988 to serve as general manager until 1992. Peter Moore came to Breitenbush in 1978 where he lived and worked until 1985. He returned in 1988 as Booking & Marketing Director, leaving in 1993. In 2004 Peter became Business Director, a position he continues to hold. The following are excerpts from their meeting.
Peter: I remember the first day I got to Breitenbush, in the spring of 1978. After a day working together, we spent some hours talking. You spoke of forming a community with a way of living that is an expression of one’s principles, unmediated by any leader or priest or shaman. […]
Life in the village. Rhythms of the tribal corporation keep us moving, dispelling the nonsense that passes for normal in the “real” world. These rhythms regularly produce real results at the springs, including a few bright new buildings on the land this year. After replacing the heat exchanger in Wellhead #1 (big project from last winter), a beautiful geothermal temple was built to house the heat exchange plumbing located within. Then, in the fall before winter’s grip, the Compost Pavilion rose up and two Earth Tubs were placed within. There they are, churning, turning 50,000 pounds of kitchen waste per year into black crumbly compost for garden starts. Nearby, at the nexus of trails leading from main camp to guest cabins, a spacious new information kiosk was built. Now you can view trail systems on the maps and read up on other community news & views, history […]
The great thing about governance at Breitenbush is circles. We’re not squares up here, nor do we move in straight lines, and we certainly don’t rely on the pyramid for our power structure either. At Breitenbush it always comes back to the circle, both symbolically and in applied practical terms. Meetings provide a good example. We have lots of them, (it’s how this organism of a worker-owned co-op communicates with itself), and they always take the form of a circle—doesn’t matter if it’s the office team of 6 people on a Monday afternoon or the full membership during Business Renewal Days in February. Each meeting begins with a circle of hands and silence—to ground the energy and attune the group—then progresses into personal check-ins, followed by the agenda, finally closing with another circle of hands and silence.
There are circles within circles here and governance flows and spirals through them all. Ultimately, the power rests […]
Breitenbush has always been a bit “woo woo”, we’ve known that since we first bought the ghost-town resort in the 70’s. But recently, when the Chief Ranger of nearby Detroit Ranger Station called us a “Wooey”, it piqued my curiosity. He explained it’s an acronym that stands for “Wildland Urban Interface.” A WUI is a permanent human population center deep in the forest and mountains—a modern frontier settlement. The Chief was talking about Breitenbush’s unique situation in the canyon, and he was concerned. We’re 10 miles from the nearest town and electrical grid, 50 miles from the nearest fire department or hospital. We have 125 buildings on our land and half as many staff who live here year round. At any time during the year there may be 100 or more guests on property. Close by, scattered along Breitenbush River and Devils Creek, are 72 “Summer Cabins” […]
Hot springs draw people like no other place. Wherever they occur, folks have formed communities around them for healing, spiritual renewal, celebration and the pure pleasure of slipping into pools of hot water in remote, beautiful settings. Breitenbush certainly drew me for all those reasons back in 1978 when our “intentional community” was just beginning to form. In 2005, we’ve evolved in so many ways, but the current community at Breitenbush is still service-oriented, eclectic, eccentric, respectful and a little loony—much like the people who started the community at Breitenbush more than a quarter century ago. We’re as dedicated to transparent truthing, organic foods, renewable energy, holistic healing, spiritual growth and authentic individualism as we ever were. That such a nonconformist organization can so thrive is no doubt linked to our pristine hot springs setting, and I remain cautiously optimistic about the future.
Walking the land, I […]
“Breitenbush Hot Springs, may I help you?” … or 20,000 Guests and 2 Phones
There is change in the air at Breitenbush. The crisp winter days are upon us, making my cabin oh so cozy and the steam above the hot springs ever more visible and inviting. The upgrade to the hydroelectric system continues, and has been graced with a magnificent Torii Gate that towers symbolically over the headgates of our power system. And, believe it or not, we’re upgrading our phone system!
For any of you that have visited Breitenbush over the years, jokes about our phone system are bittersweet. But then, the best jokes often have their roots in painful truths. We know (boy, do we know!) how frustrating it can be to reach us for any reason, even the simple act of making a reservation. We’ve managed to run our business with […]
From my desk at home I look out my window at a village shaded with old apple trees, doug-firs and vine maples, and adorned with unique porches. Beyond that, I see the majestic peaks of Devil’s Ridge. In an hour I will cross the footbridge over the raging Breitenbush river and head to the kitchen to cook dinner for sixty folks. What I will face when I get there, in my book, is nothing short of a vegetarian cook’s dream. The walk-in cooler will have a colorful array of organic produce, cheeses, eggs and tofu. The pantry is well stocked with organic beans, grains, and anything needed to turn out warm loaves of fresh bread. The kitchen is amply equipped and creative freedom is encouraged.
It really doesn’t matter who is helping me prepare dinner tonight. All of my fellow kitchen team members are fantastically talented cooks, as well as being some of the […]
I spent half a day at the Silverton hospital recently while Kathy, my partner, underwent a surgical procedure. There I met the vivacious elderly manager of the visitors’ lounge before I colonized the corner chair overlooking the Japanese gardens and began to work out of my briefcase. An hour later I was still there, working away at important but now forgotten details, when the elderly volunteer approached me asking who I had come with so I’d get the word when she was out of the procedure room. Kathy, I said.
From that we got talking about our lives—mostly she talked and I listened. She’d been born in a farmhouse just a couple of miles from this very hospital. She’d visited every state in the union before settling down in her hometown to retire and live the good life with her husband. She observed knowingly that Silverton is […]
Breitenbush has a deep-seated commitment to hydroelectric power generated on-site from the Breitenbush River for all of our electrical needs. As a remote facility our alternative is burning diesel fuel, and the choice is clear!This past summer a hardy and creative crew, led by talented Breitenbush alumnus Conrad Zevely, dug into the massive and complex project of completing the fish diversion channel and screen which is now part of the hydro intake. With the completion of the new fish diversion system, fish will return swiftly and safely to the river, should they be drawn into the flume at the intake pond.
For years, our old wooden flume carried river water to the powerhouse where it turned the turbine and generated the electricity for our retreat center and community village.
This past summer, just as Phase 2 of the fish diversion project began, the old flume finally gave […]