Breitenbush Hot Springs logo
Breitenbush Hot Springs logo

Restoration & Evolution

Published April 22nd, 2009 in Community Perspectives

We have just passed through a year of work projects, at the same time pursuing a demanding planning process with Marion County to create and win approval for our “50-Year Plan”. Taken together, these efforts define what the straight world calls “development”, and what I think is more precisely described as restoration and evolution. Restoration—looking back and honoring the designs & dreams of those who came before us, people who, against the odds, lived at and built this place that we, the current crop of human creatures, like to visit, or call home. Evolution—looking forward, designing and building what we have the vision and initiative to add to this creation.

In the realm of restoration, we continue what seems to be our endless work to bring back to life this beloved quirky resort. It’s an aspect of our endeavor to preserve sanctuary. New foundations on old buildings, new valves and pumps where old ones have given it up, things like that. Last winter we finally did something that we have been talking about doing for 30 years—we installed a sprinkler system into the Lodge. This was no small inexpensive task, or it would have been done long ago. The Lodge is a hotel made of wood, in the fashion of the 19th century, built in the early years of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. From basement through the first floor with its great halls, to the second floor with all of its modest hotel-rooms, and up to the never finished 3rd floor meeting hall, the new sprinkler system provides a measure of security that the venerable old building has never known in its lifetime. This of course is just one of many projects we undertook over the past year. Others include restoring Buddha’s Playhouse, the unique cob meditation sanctuary located at the end of A-Row, repairing the 80 year old reservoir on which we depend for domestic water, installing over 40 new radiators (old ones actually—we continue to search scrap yards and secondary markets, buying and trading for these functional antiques, once produced in the millions, now discarded as useless vestiges of a bygone technology) in many of our buildings, structurally repairing other old buildings, and many other improvements.

In the realm of evolution, we make more robust our satellite-based high-speed internet connectivity and other communications technologies. We’re re-designing and re-engineering hydronic heating systems for these old buildings, using the hot springs to make our village comfortable for human habitation year-round. We dream into the future, creating a site-plan (and convincing the authorities to approve it) that uses best practices for constructing new eco-friendly homes, geothermally-heated greenhouses, educational structures, and alternative energy production facilities using the four elements—fire, water, air, and earth. (Symbolically, fire for solar energy, water for hydroelectric and geothermal energy, air for wind power, and earth providing constancy in heating and cooling.)

Restoration. Evolution. Legacy work. What makes it all go is that crucial distinction that separates “life” from “life-style”. It’s an investment.

In the meantime, we carry on with our primary mission of service – making sure you can get here in the winter when it snows, cooking and serving organic food to nurture your body, maintaining in their purity the hot springs sauna and pools to embrace your essential healing and pleasure, and working towards a triumph of the commons, i.e. a world in which those needs we all share—clean air, water, food, beauty, society—is experienced directly.

– Peter Moore