Now after this destructive fire, made worse by global warming, we have an opportunity to re-vision Breitenbush so that in addition to continuing to fulfill our original mission we can effectively engage with the climate and social challenges of our time.
By engaging the community in supporting the revitalization of one of Oregon’s gems, we will be positioned to expand our work to include climate education, stewardship, and advocacy, as well as increasing our capacity to catalyze and participate in the social change and equity movements that our civilization and the environment desperately need. With such lofty and important goals, where do we begin? At the level of our community engagement, we begin with YOU.
Breitenbush Hot Springs was purchased in the late 1970s by Alex Beamer for $250,000. At that time it was an abandoned, rundown conference center in the ancient forest along the glacier-fed river. For over 45 years, Breitenbush has been a fully self-sustaining community cooperative focused on stewarding the land and serving our guests.
Breitenbush Hot Springs has been dedicated to exploring and bringing forth human potential. For decades we have lived, worked, served, stewarded, sustained, and celebrated this beautiful land and community sanctuary. We have committed to a credo of stewardship and service.
The original members of Breitenbush aimed to establish an intentional community and healing center based on principles of collaboration, mutuality, stewardship, and non-exploitation - to not participate in the corporate and economic models of oppression and inequity. At Breitenbush this means not exploiting the resources of earth, nor the work of the people building the community, serving the guests, and stewarding the land.
This is understood as service to the human spirit and to the natural world, service to the public - and also beyond - to a thriving community that sets an inspirational model for others.
Those who live and work on the land and those who come to the land for healing go beyond the land into the wider world refreshed and purposeful in their life and their service to the greater good.
The fire in September 2020 destroyed almost everything: 75 buildings including all of the guest cabins for year-round lodging, the Sanctuary for daily well-being programs, the Vista house for massage, and several community members’ homes. This fire also destroyed all of the Breitenbush Summer Homes very nearby.
Stabilization + Restoration Over the past year we have worked hard at restoring and stabilizing our beloved Breitenbush, including:
Forest stewardship and management, alongside of the Oregon Dept of Forestry
Removing debris and clearing the land without taking the topsoil
Milling wood from the fallen trees
Planting native tree seedlings in our nursery
Creating fire protection systems for the remaining buildings
Restructuring operations to support guests with Covid-19 protocols
Increasing camping opportunities by enlarging the camping space, creating more vehicle camping sites, and building glamping tents
Repurposing buildings that survived the fire to be utilized for guest lodgings and massage therapy
Crafting, reviewing, and vetting the 2022 - 2025 Business Plan
Hiring key personnel
Opening to guests slowly and gearing back up to 7 days a week
In addition to physically rebuilding and restoring Breitenbush we aim to expand its vision to focus on the issues of our times including climate change and equity.
The Four Pillars of Revisioning:
(1) Ecology + Ethics In response to both direct experience (namely the wildfires) and evidence-based climate catastrophe science, Breitenbush Hot Springs is increasing its commitment to being stewards of the ecology, to climate education, and to the ethics required to live in harmony with nature. We recognize the intertwined reality of the ecology and the economy.
We are all being called to live more locally, more communally. To share resources, both material and spiritual. To care for each other. To shorten the food-chain supply and expand access to healthy food and clean water. To return to living with humility toward nature, which is more powerful than we are.
Forty-three years ago, the foundational agreements for BHS included the conscious choice to not support systems that exploit each other nor other species nor make toxic the environment on which we are all depending and to which we can all contribute.
Global societies are being called to a new economic structure that challenges the systems that have created massive wealth for a very small percentage of people and continual adversity, poverty, and resource scarcity, marginalization, and exploitation for the most vulnerable members of our world community.
These are significant undertakings. Enormous calls to action for our time.
Breitenbush has a unique and central offering in these areas. Building a new model for society while stewarding the well-being of the land, the forest, the river, and the creatures in a forest sanctuary, off the grid in more ways than one, gives us the opportunity to live in accordance with the values of truly sustainable, ecological lifestyles. We are committed to being a center for climate education and a center with an economic structure based on mutuality.
(2) Climate Education BHS Systems Operations: We are exploring, with experts, the viability of implementing our rebuild with ecological building materials and permaculture designs to demonstrate the efficacy of self-sustaining systems. We endeavor to set a model at Breitenbush for our Pacific NW Region to live in harmony with nature. While not all possible technology can or should be implemented, we are committed to a thorough investigation of systems designs that set Breitenbush as a demonstration site from which our guests will be able to learn, be inspired, and explore implementation in their own communities.
BHS Educational Component to Systems Operations: We recognize that our innovation, stewardship, and new systems designs create an opportunity for education. Breitenbush can become a dedicated center for learning the trades needed for sustainable living in alignment with nature.. In partnership with existing educational systems, our aim is to train people in the necessary trades for stewarding the ecological designs needed for the earth and the civilization. We are particularly interested in training young people in these trades so as to empower and prepare them for the duty they are inheriting.
BHS Presenters: We have been hosting presenters at Breitenbush Hot Springs to provide inspiration, spiritual teachings, and opportunities for personal transformation for 40 years. One of our founding presenters was Ram Das. We have also been honored to host presenters from different spiritual traditions, inquiry practices, self-renewal teachings, and practices that connect people back to nature. As we seek to rebuild, we are now inviting presenters to Breitenbush based on their commitments to wisdom traditions, the ecology, social change, or practices of deep inner renewal and transformation.
BHS Community Living Model: The community that stewards the land and maintains the facilities lives the experiment of Breitenbush Hot Springs. Residents are stewards of the land, the community, and the ecology. The Breitenbush Community is a model for guests to better learn about living in an intentional community. A core explicit experience for our guests is to learn about how to create intentional community, collaboration, and reciprocity within their own neighborhoods when they return home.
BHS Educational Component to Community Living: The social sciences of community-building, trauma-stewardship, and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity are recent developments in society in response to pervasive societal concerns. Designing a resident community model that maintains a commitment to the ecology and to social change requires stated values, an agreed upon infrastructure, commitments to constant education and innovation toward the primary commitments of stewardship, and leadership models that promote mutuality and collaboration.
(3) Social Change The climate crisis puts pressure on multiple systems that have already marginalized and oppressed black and indigenous people of color. Housing inequity, resource inequity, health inequities, food scarcities, and more. Breitenbush is committed to a model of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (JEDI).
Recognizing and raising awareness about the ways in which white dominance has infiltrated societal systems that perpetuate hierarchical systems, racism, poverty, increased vulnerability to substance abuse, trauma and criminal activity, health disparities, access to basic resources, and increased vulnerability to substance abuse, trauma and criminal activity.
Commitment to understanding and repairing inherited, implicit bias.
Commitment to understanding and creating opportunities for intergenerational healing.
Acts of reparation for wrong-doing, including reparation with nature in response to exploitation and misappropriation of resources.
Recognizing the fundamental inequities in our larger society, Breitenbush is committed to increasing equitable access to participation in programs, councils, or other areas of engagement.
We will be establishing the JEDI scholarship fund for guests of lesser means.
Increasing the welcome and outreach Breitenbush provides to BIPOC guests.
Recognizing the value of a direct relationship with nature, and with community, we aim to increase access for BIPOC, LGTBQ, youth and seniors, and guests with disabilities.
We do not discriminate against any community member or guest because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.
Each of us contributes to inclusion. We all have a role to play. Our culture is the result of our behaviors, our personal commitment, our curiosity, how we collaborate, and the ways that we courageously share our perspectives and encourage others to do the same.
In turn, our inclusive culture inspires us to take risks, to speak openly, and to be bold. It brings us together in innovation. Our inclusive culture empowers all of us to connect, belong, and grow.
We are committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion and connectedness. We are able to grow and learn better together with a diverse team of employees. The collective sum of our individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, innovation, self-expression, and creativity that our community members and guests bring to BHS is reflected in our culture. We welcome the unique contributions that you can bring in terms of their education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran’s status, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation and beliefs.
(4) Indigenous Wisdom Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center sits on the unceded land of indigenous tribes.
There are ceremonies, teachings, and practices that were developed and carried on specifically for the honoring and vitality of the hot springs and the people who sought healing here. Ceremonies that were born at a time when the native peoples could freely communicate with the land and when the land spoke to them. The sacred wisdom of this land still exists today in the souls, hearts and minds of those tribal peoples still here today whose ancestors walked this sacred land in which we are honored now to partake.
We have endeavored over the years to continue a respectful relationship with the land and these tribes. While we have hosted regular ceremonies and sweat lodges, our efforts to demonstrate the respect stated in our values have not been enough. We are committed to increasing our respect and acknowledgement of the people and the land which we now inhabit and are stewarding for the greater good of the community at large.
We are actively seeking teachers, presenters, and wisdom holders to join our events calendar and our well-being programs.
We are requiring all of our presenter faculty to be educated on issues of racial justice, colonialism, and the impacts of capitalism on native communities.
We have co-created our land acknowledgement statement with guidance from local indigenous persons to include an accurate representation of the history of the land, the ongoing and vital presence of indigenous peoples and practices, and accurate use of the names of the tribes, the land and the mountains.
This co-created Land Acknowledgement Statement is available to all guests and included in all Breitenbush Orientations for new guests and group events. Our Guest Presenters will be required to include this in their events at the beginning and end so that their students can feel the importance of this acknowledgement and carry it with them.