All Things Stewart Mineral Springs
New Day Dawning
New Day Dawning
"Time seems to have stood completely still here...the Springs still retain the wildness and the remoteness the Indians once
knew and loved." -- Emile Frank
by S. Ward
Former longtime work-trader; volunteer
assistant manager under Mary H. 1999-2002
First posted 2013. Updated periodically
Now sailing through 2021, humanity -- working to avoid shoals of rampaging coronavirus pandemic while keeping food on the table and dealing with global reckoning of racial injustice -- reaching a possible historic tipping point of mass awareness...
Life will eventually reach some new sort of 'normal', but without a Stewart Springs bathhouse -- or so it would seem. First, 'owners' decided to permanently close bathhouse
and cease massage service, as announced May 2020. Then they got busy converting it into extra retreat and class space, reportedly tearing out bath tubs. Then they dubbed it...Shambala House. (Right. You can tell your sister by the flowers in her eyes...as he mindlessly re-purposes beloved spa. Planned opening, to believe sketchy website sizzle, is now projected in 2023 (as if anyone who truly loves place gives two hoots in hell).
Could such a plan, blindly disregarding the enduring, once-deemed inviolable, water-healing tradition of the realm, actually succeed? Are there really enough 'bourgeois-spiritual' people out there willing to embrace a scene built on the grave of a destroyed altruistic-minded spa oasis long venerated the world over?
It could prove doubtful indeed. So...hardcore dedicated fans of Spring patiently await current 'owners' to play out foolish fantasies in their untenable diversionary takeover attempt...before at last realizing the spiritual nature of place simply won't allow private-minded detours from realm serving as an affordable healing place for ALL peoples. In time they'll hopefully see how the upper-chakkra zapping power of Mt. Shasta had royally short-circuited their reasoning power and balanced awareness to have pursued such an unsustainable wonky, altruism-be-damned, exclusive fantasyland.
In the meantime, with bathhouse gone, place is reduced to basic lodging for groups doing events, retreats and workshops only, cash flow having dried up to point they began offering bookings at 40% off in May 2020 and likely even bigger ones since.
Without bathhouse spa, former central draw for most, it might seem unlikely any viable operation could EVER unfold. Bathhouse crazily morphing into more retreat and class area for anticipated droves of affluent visitors, blissfully unmindful of unfolding travesty, is just too beyond the pale to imagine ever succeeding.
Needless to say, such mindless action is mega shocking to the legion of former visitors happily used to combining stay with leisurely soak, sauna, plunge, massage, and sunbath.
Where would this imagined droves of newbies all hunkydorry with the current travesty of affairs come from?
So the question again becomes: can 'ownership's' outfits actually have enough following and connections to sustain place as some pricey bougeois new-age teaching center, hoping to snag undiscriminating groups to lease grounds and lodgings to to defray operating expenses -- and not lose its shirt? Or have pockets so deep as to continue feeding deep money-pit operation without worry?
Chance to redeem place in Springs legacy
It might seem now, more than ever, a simple matter of time before present 'ownership' finally wakes up, takes a grand reality check and gives up, 're-selling' place to more public-minded stewards who can restore it to its former low-key glory as a purification, healing and rejuvenation retreat beloved around the world.
For naturally, more egalitarian stewards could yet rescue realm...with help of current absentee ones once they appreciate it's ultimately in their own best interests. For in so doing, they'd redeem their now sorry-ass legacy at a place they too love in their own way, albeit currently in a more than slightly off-putting, brazenly bogart-minded manner. Sadly, they appear to have never attuned to establishment's extraordiny love of service tradition of working for the greater good, its altruistic DNA having been slowly fading away since the 1950s when place momentously left Stewart family's 78 years of dedicated service and went through a long succession of too-often woefully inappropriate stewardships. see history
Envision them finding -- perhaps with help of connection-rich fans with possible leads -- a new, appropriate 'buyer'. One with resources as well as can-do spirit and progressive, open-minded vision. One ideally interested in giving it legal nonprofit status to pursue true love-of-service healing, thus enabling place to once again become a modest thriving cultural center for growth-minded people of all walks of life (once virus fades away enough for people to mingle freely once more).
Barring some amazing change of heart occurring -- or deep pockets grimly determined and able to tide place over with dismal dream to yuppify place into half-baked, upscale, quasi new age teaching and lodging retreat -- some are convinced that enough spring devotees need only intensely visualize a perfect future stewardship to manifest in the fullness of time.
"Enough' is the key. And serious, laser-sharp visualization...no mere idle wishful thinking.
Deeply focused, positive visualizing by every Springs fan who believes place deserves to reincarnate as an open-circuit, community-rich resource. For again, becoming a nonprofit healing refuge and resource center for the public has been its destiny ever since founding nearly a century and half ago. Its DNA is still there, intact, hiding just below the surface, patiently waiting to be reactivated by the right compassionate stewards...and then the world will begin happily flocking there again. see history
is the key
Imagine a loving universe at long last giving place a giant green light!
All self-interested, defensive posturing, private-peace pursuits and non-public-minded preoccupations and diversions ...gone, POOF!
Perfect new stewardship and management, manifested by positive visualization of everyone who has treasured realm over time -- including, again, present 'ownership', realizing they can redeem themselves by finding appropriate new keepers to sell place to -- at a fair price -- and thus create their ultimate positive legacy while still being able to enjoy place themselves, once getting over current need to totally control and divert it for own private-minded fantasies.
Combine healing transformative energies with stone-pure intent and voila! A full-tilt, people-friendly, community-active healing, learning, and rejuvenating center... open to all to help planet heal from current historic ravages and pursue newly-honed solitude skills (perhaps one of positive outcomes of crisis: people learning to shelter in place without going nuts by learning to go more deeply within).
As divine co-creators, ENOUGH conscious beings together intently visualizing such a reality indeed have the power to manifest it, for humanity is becoming empowered.
If we don't achieve a critical mass of group visualization, and 'owners' destroy place as thousands have known and loved it for ages, before finally giving up due to lack of patronage and/or limited deep pockets forever subsidizing money-pit, THEN entire grounds could shutter, not just bathhouse. Front gates could swing shut as they did last in 1980s, sad testimony of tragic times and inability to find the right energies to rescue place (one with an admitted mongrel pedigree karmically) to foster planet's increased wellbeing.
It was rescued before by a local management extended family, from early 1980s through 2004, with unassuming low-key, folksy healing service serendipidously in line with the spirit of founder, including willingness to work for peanuts (which became both initial catalyst for re-opening and ultimate handicap, as undervalued workers became illegally exploited).
If operation closes due to meager response, even after bizarro touted grand conversion of bathhouse, and absentee stewards aren't moved to find suitable new legal custodians, but try instead to unload it to the first person with ready cash, THEN a forlorn For Sale sign might get slapped on front gates. Place could then get snapped up by some investment concern with even MORE outlandishly inappropriate and sketchy intentions for people's healing realm ...and the sometime-tragedy and the sweet lost dream of Stewart Springs land would continue unfolding.
Wouldn't want that.
Wanted: openhearted investor angel(s)
to rescue extraordinary healing realm
The place so deserves solid redemption. Remember, a Findhorn teaching center was almost begun there by Peter Caddy of Findhorn fame in the early '80s. That's how much potential place has to become a global transformative point. (see book excerpts)
Visualize a positive future for place with person(s) looking to plow some of embarrassment or riches into a worthy cause coming forward in due season.
Enough mindful visualization by enough conscious beings pulling together COULD manifest this, refusing to give any validity whatsoever to drastic actions now afoot in once-magickal, now much beleaguered, realm.
Private-minded endeavors disregarding the will of the people and longstanding healing tradition simply won't make the cut.
Stewart's is well located midway -- along with Ashland's Jackson Wellsprings -- between California's sister springs Wilbur, Orr, re-opened Harbin, and Oregon's Breitenbush for traveling awake and awakening spring aficionados and nature-loving lightworkers seeking safe haven while traveling along West Coast circuit, wanting/needing to push grand re-set button, as entire planet makes historic reality check.
Fifteen minutes off I-5, Stewart Springs makes an easy stopover point for a shifting sea of growth-minded humanity seeking respite from challenging transitional times and wanting to continue light work and recharge on new levels...without having to buy into any locked, limited structure of enlightenment model or deal with a place more concerned about power and wealth and private-minded gigs than serving the greater good.
Within restraints of modest welling rate of mineral water spring(s) and limited usable land, the realm's potential to become a vital, low-key happening healing retreat/workshop/rejuvenation center is staggering.
It always has been. It's simply a matter of present 'ownership' realizing that the powerful medicine of the land, along with the heavy karma of the place's violent tragic past, precludes even THINKING about trying to either get rich off sacred realm or re-purpose to pursue own shtick to the extreme detriment of affordable access and free-spirited use by general public...while outrageously claiming it's helping raise vibration of the planet, disregarding having destroyed place for countless thousands to come to and heal, celebrate, and rejuvenate. OR unload place to first buyer with ready cash regardless of intentions.
Instead, a steward -- current or future -- can only (and will naturally want to) dedicate efforts to re-build its powerful medicine wheel as a service-dedicated retreat and mindful resort open to all growth-minded beings seeking purification, healing and rejuvenation.
Anything else is certain to fail, having the seeds of own failure built in from the very start. Anyone investing heavily in place with eventual material returns in mind, even with ostensible laudable goals attached, inevitably becomes preoccupied trying to recoup funds and get ahead of the game, in process watering down the potential healing power of place for all.
In umbrella Pneuma's nonprofit case, it's more complicated. For intent appears to be to use place, even running at a loss if need be as subsidized by public group bookings, in order to serve and grow its own affiliated organizations.
That's why its crucial for profit motivation to be taken entirely out of the equation forever at Stewart Springs...and be replaced by love of service...once again offering affordable healing and rejuvenating spa and nature retreat to a weary humanity.
Skeptics might wonder if such a high-minded nonprofit operation could ever actually get by financially, instead of becoming yet one more chronic money drain. Of course it could, in due time. Do the right thing, follow the bliss, and green energy follows to support it every time.
Place could well become so popular that it would have to follow setups of Breitenbush, Wilbur, and Orr Springs in requiring reserving visits ahead of time, rather than allowing former accustomed impulsive, in-the-moment drop-ins. With its limited mineral water sources -- almost certainly far less than any other regional rural spring resort -- calling ahead or reserving online would almost certainly become a given.
While putting damper on impulsive spur-of-moment visits that Springs once thrived on, often lending upbeat, happening vibe, on the plus side such a setup would make energies on grounds more relaxed and focused. Visitors' time spent there would be more valued for having tuned in to place and committed ahead of time.
Fondest Hopes Dashed
As said elsewhere, writer at first naively hoped there'd be a concerted effort among current, way-absentee 'owners', management, and work traders to open collective hearts and revitalize and beautify place, working in can-do spirit. Especially on hearing how Mathew Engelhart, founder of California's innovative, mindful Cafe
Gratitude restaurant chain, was a partner for a while. He soon sold his interest...one can only wonder why. ( It appeared he also wanted the fireplace in restaurant gone, which, judging from their site photo on renamed structure -- Yahippity Golumpus Forever Blissful Lodge, or some such ridiculous name -- is a done deal).
Surely we'd hit rock bottom and the only way was up.
Anticipation by some was in seeing Springs experience a dramatic rebirth as a thriving renaissance rural retreat after 34 long years under improbable, unapologetically profit-driven 'ownership'..one that at times seemed to barely tolerate bohemian-leaning, counterculture-friendly patronage that had so long formed core of support base. (Possibly it did so only because it proved so great for business, reportedly netting annual quarter-million dollars in last years under Foggy; possibly in part because he was, beyond off-putting relentless profit focus, something of a rebel.)
In any event, it had seemed a golden opportunity, after two generations of old regime, to realign healing energies and get place's once-powerful medicine wheel spinning merrily once again.
In our dreams...
One soon looked back wistfully on old absentee stewardship after experiencing recent disaster. We had clothing-optional banned, gazebo altar erased, sweat lodge banished. Masseuse took reduced cut and gift shop consignees' share shrank. Lobby's oracle cards disappeared. Over an acre of stately tall pine and cedar trees were mowed down almost certainly needlessly. Workers no longer got free monthly baths or even an employee discount; lower echelon workers still worked at insulting minimum wage...Then, incredibly, bathhouse, heart and soul of the realm, was indifferently gutted.
To call the intended repurposed bathhouse building Shambala House is like cutting down one-time majestic trees in the Bay Area spot and naming area Redwood City.
Future prospects couldn't look more dismal short of closing front gates outright -- again, a possibility if current 'owners' eventually give up private-minded plans and can't sell right away, due to perhaps inadequate or inappropriate publicizing and/or holding out for too much money, eventually ending up attracting detached deep-pockets buyer... perhaps some vulture speculator who goes around snapping up distressed properties and then decides how best to flip for fastest profit before flying off into the night looking for next easy prey.
Things had become so sorrowful that writer, longtime full-tilt volunteer, with gratest reluctance unplugged from Springs in late 2017 after 18 years psyched work-trade (and six years building this site).
Fact that current 'owners' Pneuma website from the get-go actually began referring to Stewart Mineral Springs as Pneuma Retreat Center boded ill, sounding alarm bells to any fan nurturing hopes of visiting and experiencing even the faintest glimmer of former grounded, spirit-soaring interaction with realm.
Place is obviously now at a hyper-critical juncture. Assuming worst rumor is true and place is indeed hellbent on trying to morph into some manner of mostly private compound for Pneuma-related groups subsidized by the public groups who can drink the Kool Aid, Stewart aficionados can kiss place goodbye...OR...visualize and pray for the universe to manifest a new, service-loving, legally nonprofit stewardship that brings back the bathhouse and restaurant and sweat lodge full steam, along with fresh community involvement.
The choice is ours.
Recent improvements on grounds
As a breather from so many depressing developments, following is some recycled writing on improvements made on place in recent years plus brainstorms for possible improvement projects. Some updated perspective's shoehorned in, but was mostly written years before current crisis, so kindly make allowances.
upgrades to match
Latter-day efforts by last 'owner', John Foggy --who's running of place, again, looks pretty damn good now in comparison -- have included building zenned privacy wall by cold plunge, new plumbing to all tubs, new drain lines, and new flooring in bathhouse (though, alas, losing venerable intricate mandala floor pattern), plus custom floor tile work in changing room, bathrooms, and office. Also: enlarging conference hall deck, new footbridge across creek, zenned landscaping all around bathhouse, plus new grounds steps and stairways, including new landing and stairway and up to dorm rooms #7-10 above bathhouse.
One nice addition was custom hearth work for bathhouse lobby wood stove (seen above), done by local tile artisan work-trader Monica, along with tile work on office, bathrooms, and dressing room floors. One of newer works tackled by grounds manager Josh was tiling floor and walls of two tub stalls and installing trey-fancy faucet fixtures...which, predictably, some love, others hate, others indifferent to.
One huge recent downgrade
In contrast, another project, deeply disturbing, was new 'owners' in 2016 cutting down a giant swath of forest above main road, just down from hillside cabins. Reason? To make way for installing new septic leach line for bathhouse's greywater, to be pumped across creek (?!). Possibly Health Dept. suggested that off the cuff as wild-haired solution to past furtive dumping into creek...which of course eventually got place in trouble as fact came to light. Maybe it was like, "Fine; we'll go with that" response rather than taking time to seek a more ecologically sound and innovative solution Dept. might've well granted variance on after they did due diligence in researching viable options. As sad result, some 30 mature pines and cedars bit the dust -- many no doubt busy happily growing while pioneer Henry Stewart, founding namesake, was yet still strolling grounds over a century ago.
Bridge of song?
Perhaps promise for potential of positive changes were best symbolized by rebuilt car bridge spanning Parks Creek and leading to bathhouse.
< Car bridge, during
construction, fall 2011, by Mendera and Mexican-American crew led by Jesus
Its former wood planks and timbers had rotted and unpainted metal understructure rusted up such a storm, crossing the stream could be something of an adventure. Bridge had been previously damaged by great Parks Creek flood of '90s and repaired.
One could view 2011 bridge rebuilding -- tackled by late Mendera and dedicated Mexican-American crew from previous owner Foggy's specs -- as reflection of spirit orchestrating restoration of place to former glory.
Bridge over troubled waters? Well, barring periodic raging deluges sending boulders size of VW bugs crashing downstream, waters really aren't usually all that troubled; they're often pretty mellow, actually; analogy only goes so far...
During reconstruction everyone used
former sole approach to bathhouse/office -- venerable old covered walking bridge (seen here), once called the Angels Bridge.
On subtle level this possibly re-activated energy patterns of former, more renaissance times when, among other things, bathhouse was protectively distanced from disrupting sounds and fumes of motor vehicles and drivers' wound energies circling it on three sides.
New policy, now over decade old, is for visitors to park below bathhouse and sweat lodge and stroll up short incline, or to park on upper road and cross covered bridge below restaurant. Let visitors walk a bit, lazy gats.
Former quasi drive-in bathhouse was self-defeating. How many spring resorts allow noisy vehicles to park directly by bathhouse, engines running and doors slamming and people yakking away six feet from bathers trying to relax and meditate while sitting or lying down in dark, womb-like sauna?!
Ours did, blessed wayward springs that it's been since leaving Stewart family and later mason's service, the service-dedication plug pulled and commercial speculation rampantly taking over. Having thus restored that measure of quietude worked wonders to relax the heart of the place.
One project many years under consideration before getting tabled was to install a mini hydro power generator upstream and tap Park Creeks abundant free energy, as Oregon's Britenbush does (in their case impressively supplying ALL electricity).
This would reduce place's dependence on inefficient and environment-degrading grid electricity generation. Still on table was goal to tighten grounds' aged patchwork electrical infrastructure, reducing energy waste and bringing place into closer harmony with nature, strengthening foundation for healing and transformation.
What might further help? (Once getting appropriate stewardship.) Though logistical challenge and requiring serious financial outlay and long-term disruption, it would surely fine-tune energies, creating chill freebody zone, to relocate laundry room and office to new spot, like open lot above bathhouse, and have visitors park along road and walk across bridges. Having the chance to feel creek's soothing energy on approach would help spa partakers better unwind and let go into timelessness, being even more insulated from disruptive vehicular energies, mundane street-clothed business transactions, and often hectic operational and maintenance hub-bub.
Virtually every other popular regional rural c/o mineral springs resort has office and laundry located away or well separated from bathing compound.
For good reason: fully clothed, foot-shod people arriving fresh off highway, money transactions, housekeeping runs, massage meets, churning washing machines and whirring dryers, etc. simply don't mix with bathers wanting a respite from such noisy busyness in order to slip into blissful meditative state and lock into healing mode.
Writer's convinced that non-ideal, now-late, bathhouse setup was more than anything (beyond new, conservative and exclusive-minded 'ownership', that is) ultimate cause of recently re-imposed nudity ban. Place, to own knowledge, was never clothing-optional -- other than perhaps casual de-facto -- before 2000, beyond 1970s' renaissance era under Goodpastures.
Another complication to changing setup: attendants would still be needed to track time, clean tubs, and stoke sauna and lobby wood stoves.
All other popular regional springs are self-serve.
But, as last manager pointed out, comparing Stewart to places like Harbin is like comparing apples to oranges. Not that the bathhouse couldn't become more streamlined and self-serve. But it would
go against the grain of place's long tradition of "Allow me to draw your bath, kind lady", working-it solicitude and infrastructure setup of offering private baths rather than communal pools. (This obviously also worked against ideal clothing-optional environment, visitors feeling put off by constant switching between private and public c/o zones with mandatory wrap-up in between...often made to feel, depending on mix of visitors and one's own mindset, either like quick-change fashion models, striptease artists, or shameless exhibitionists.)
Possibly relative scarcity of mineral water precludes ever making place self-serve short of some high-tech rationing system, as precious liquid must be carefully dolloped out. One tech solution: once set limit is reached, taps automatically shut off until reset by attendant for next soaker, sign lighting up and reading "No more water for you!" But just by moving office, laundry and massage meet, while keeping current attendant system, atmosphere would be transformed.
"I deeply love this place and hold its sacredness in the highest honor. Every decision I make reflects this commitment."
- Rowena Pantaleon, General Manager 2006-2017
(Why did so many come to doubt this sentiment? Especially after she brokered the deal to current 'owners'...who apparently likewise hold its sacredness high...so high, it seems they don't want anybody to enjoy it anymore besides themselves and groups willing to pay a pretty penny.)
As mentioned elsewhere, place has been trying to shake free of benign neglect for decades, ever since leaving Stewart family's super-grounded, dedicated management in 1954. It was outright closed from 1984 to 1988 but for special groups (including Peter Caddy's) -- and forever appears determined to find its way back. Even now, despite recent series of depressing and unfortunate events. As former front desk worker Brandy put it before getting sacked for essentially being human, "It's a hospital for light workers."
Stewart Springs might be likened to a stray dog, belonging to no one and adopted by everyone, regardless of who "owns" or manages it at moment. Sensing its sweet lost dream, nature-loving visitors of spiritually receptive bent and free-spirited
Former inspired walkway, with heart stone center, above cold plunge (photo and stonework by a local, Kiera, who later removed heart stone after falling out with management)
leaning, and with spare time on hands, were happy to plug in and help place along...sometimes for green, other times in exchange for baths and sauans, or some combination of the two.
Or at least take a pronounced proprietary
interest over place...as it's lacked a living-on-grounds owner-steward for over 40 years now. Stewart family had seasonally called place home during operation's first 78 years, as did some later owners. But last known, there wasn't even a manager staying on grounds. (Wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't even a resident caretaker. First absentee owner, then remote manager; nonexistent guests might've seemed the inevitable result.)
One could feel unaccountably pulled to help place along. Financial reward was seldom motive.
Take writer. With time on hands (and as it turned out part beaver), I felt a spontaneous pull to build up a diversionary rock dam, creating place's first cold plunge in recent times.
Built and reinforced over the course of several summers, starting in late 1990s and in time gaining mostly-volunteer help from others, it lasted (with breaches needing repairs now and then) til late 2012. Raging deluge from double whammy of sudden spring snow melt plus heavy rain finally wiped it out, and we had to start all over.
Since the end of the Goodpasture days of 1970s, having no pool meant any would-be plungers were often forced to wrestle strong currents, threatening to carry them downstream and slam them into rocks (as had happened more than once), if they didn't cling for dear life to friendlier rocks
while submerging -- sometimes succeeding, but once breaking person's ribs -- while doing rebirthing (!) That, or be hard-pressed in low-flow season to find a spot deep enough to immerse short of awkwardly laying flat in rocky shallows, pointy rocks sticking into back or belly.
Maybe thinking of management operation -- often a bit spartan, sketchy, and indifferent around edges due to starvation budget and absence of any more mindful stewardship and vision -- was that a cold plunge wasn't needed -- or, more likely, even thought of.
That, or efforts to keep plunge pool were abandoned due to periodic rampaging creek floods soon erasing any determined effort...along with steps of any stripe leading in. Writer once found a concrete step slab in creek while moving rock for dam. It had apparently been torn loose by creek rampage, reportedly almost right after cement pouring, project done no doubt with fond hopes of permanence. Nature sometimes seems to have other plans.
In later times many work traders -- notably Kiera, Aurora, and late Mendera along with Jesus's Mexican-American crew for modest pay -- joined in or took over maintenance and repair of dam and further zenning plunge area...including long-needed stone steps leading into plunge. After writer stepped aside due to health concerns, Mario took over, doing great shakes braving icy water in wetsuit and painstakingly moving up to one-ton rocks about with come-along, rebuilding and deepening plunge to best level in years...until yet another deluge brought efforts back to square one. Working with nature's a trip.
Since so many wipe-outs had happened in recent years, one grounds manager was convinced that trying to create any deeper, more ambitious plunge would be a futile effort, despite writer's assurance that one dam actually lasted over a decade and gained depths up to five feet -- once, briefly, to over six feet after backhoe was brought in, before dam-trapped silt and gravel built up and soon erased luxuriant depth that ephemerally made plunge a genuine dive-able swimming hole.
Myriad others made similar strides over time, harnessing often considerable talents and dedication, either for bath-trade, lodging, campsite, or pay so modest it would be out of the question if not for being so smitten by place. One dedicated bath attendant and yoga teacher, Dustin, several years ago on quitting no doubt spoke for many former
Longtime masseuse, Debbie Davis >
minimum-wagers-plus-two-bits when lamenting, in supreme irony, "I love the place, but can't afford to work here anymore."
Another former attendant, Seth, felt inspired to paint bathhouse ceiling in soothing sky and clouds motif that graced bathhouse many years...before unaccountably being painted over -- probably skyscape was deemed too outlandishly California in eyes of new 'owner's' conservative taste. And Nathon, who later celebrated wedding to Sarah Sunshine on grounds to staggering overflow of family and friends -- largest gathering in recent times -- did wonders with front gates
by water-blasting away gloomy dark surface of long years, revealing cheery light wood tone hiding beneath. And gardener Russell transformed the grounds with greatest profusion of thriving, colorful flowerbeds in decades, to the delight of visitors and staff alike.
Of course, being a for-profit enterprise could often create off-putting commercial headwinds one had to get beyond -- for visitors and workers alike -- before being able to tune into place's innately powerful healing properties.
< Once-happening peoples' altar inside spring gazebo, now empty and forlorn. It was at first replaced by cheery sign warning No This, No That, Violators Prosecuted, ostensibly posted to discourage curious from climbing over railing to check out adjoining untapped red springs
Indeed, some past managers and employees seemed to have kept almost solely focused on place as a cash cow and job security, dismissing all else as woo-woo ka-choo, new age hogwash...but dutifully paying lip-service to it when serving purpose, dreaming up catchy p.r. sizzle like "Indulge your Soul" to lure in visitors. No better able to tune into place's healing energy or resonate with light-work tradition and under constant pressure from 'owner' to max profits, they could -- and frequently did -- go on stupifyingly outrageous power trips, displaying curt, often blatantly rude, sometimes downright scary, behavior.
This was, of course, more than a tad non-conducive to any visitor hoping to unwind and heal from the sundry slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...rather than experience even MORE at would-be refuge...suffered more keenly for having let guard down in fond hope of at last having found a place of long-reputed purifying and healing dedication.
Dead man walking
This was largely product of former, remote 'ownership' attracting management who would agree to focus on maximizing profits, but who, in case of couple Ted and Rowena, at same time seemed to struggle (often, it appeared, futilely) to keep alive a hamstrung vision of place's higher purpose.
Many dismissed any such effort as an impossible tightrope act, pointing out that one cannot serve two masters.
Result seemed to be building intent to attract those 'more refined' and -- big coincidence -- more affluent visitors, those willing to drop more coin, resulting in pricing out and eventually lifestyle-ing-out everyday folks of more unassuming, down-to-earth ways and modest means and unassuming ways.
Any would-be laudable efforts were in part (as mentioned on home page) aggravated by late co-manager Ted D. dealing with Stage 4 liver disease throughout his entire ten-year run from 2006 to 2016. And in part because there was always so much work to be done to keep operation running without any bigger staff that it was easy to either rev into callous, hell-for-leather overdrive, courting fast burn-out, or unplug and goldbrick, feeling overburdened, non-appreciated, and underpaid.
As said, one could feel unmotivated to build any more abiding regard for place beyond it providing a paycheck...and perhaps the giddy power rush now and then for helping run a historic institution beloved by so many and held in awe by newcomers.
All told, it was rough sledding for any more heart-centered workers hoping to build more positive energy flows. Lord knows, writer went through own tiresome big-frog-in-small-pond phase before resetting and happily becoming a small fish in the big sea.
One former-employee friend vowed, after abysmal experience with manager and eventual firing, never to set foot on property again until old management was gone. Now gone...but, alas, might as well still be there.
For former, frequent alternative-culture indifference/hostility and bourgeois mindset suddenly seemed only magnified -- to point of widespread shunning of place by countless of place's biggest fans and longtime supporters. (In fairness, add here that Pneuma, part of umbrella ownership, is itself a nonprofit, one that doubtless does good work. But -- reality check -- is so egregiously misplaced trying to do its own private thing at Stewart's on a for-profit basis, with ownership costs effectively being subsidized by public, that it beggars the imagination.) see rants
This is not to say overseers and staffs at nonprofit, or even what might be called compassionate-capitalistic spring resorts can't also get caught up in similar power trips and mundane, workin'-to-make-the-rent headspaces. But it seems less common. People often feel more inspired being part of a concerted group effort. They're focused on providing genuine service rather than narrow preoccupation generating green, gaining intangible rewards in spirit and inner fulfillment as well as (ideally) live-onable paycheck.
In any event, intent and awareness are always bottom lines regardless of business structure.
Innate healing energies of Stewart's in time often won over such disconnected workers. Work efforts became happy tantric fusion of spirit and matter.
Strange but True Dept.:
Hollywood's macho action actor Steven Seagal once tried buying place when tenuously on market in late '90s. Insultingly low counter-offer was promptly refused. No telling what might've happened. Open one day a year to public, like Dunsmuir's historic Shasta Springs resort, now super-private St. Germain Foundation retreat? Surely place seemed protected.
In startling irony, writer, seeking bit of escape, had watched Seagal's "Under Siege" movie on "NBC's Movie of the Week" the night before, yet didn't even see his tall personage with exotically attired entourage touring grounds the next day, being so immersed in coldplunge work. On my taking a break, a local visitor asked, wide-eyed, "You ever hear of Steven Seagal?" (He hadn't.) "Well, he was just here." Manager Mary's mother, Pat, having 11 years helmed office, later told me how she glared at him through window as he walked off. "I just knew the first thing he'd do if he bought the place would be fire me."
In fairness, pressure to get jobs done quickly and efficiently and not always able to make due allowance for the fragility of human spirit and hold ideal of keeping a dignified work pace, especially with rigid profit focus by' owner', sometimes made keeping mindful headspace challenging to impossible. As work-trader never needing to earn money at Springs to put food on table, writer was happily spared any such gnawing pressures. Admittedly such a situation was uncommon. (see Something About Mary) Workers scrambling to keep roof over head couldn't afford luxury of noble sentiment or quixotic vision if ownership chose to over-work and under-reward employees.
Places like Springs are, obviously, needed more than ever now, what with raging pandemic trying humanity (and social order polarizing and unravelling). Places like Stewart's (once safe again) can offer natural medicine enabling purifying and strengthening immune system, any viruses having to work harder to infect one.
One-winged angel cannot fly! >
Longtime, now reportedly gone, damaged creek island statue, one wing missing, symbolized all too well mis-management of Stewart Springs in recent decades. Place wanted to soar as thriving public-minded, culturally-diverse healing refuge, but remained earthbound, held hostage by inappropriate, far-absentee stewards
Growing numbers are awakening and dedicating lives to healing and unfolding higher selves. As society reaches some semblance of 'new normal', more sojourners will seek such sanctuaries on the road, vital ports in the storm, safe havens from fading yet still dominant dark forces gripping fair planet. Accessible place amid nature to push re-set button, rejuvenate,
re-connect with nature -- sometimes in profoundly life-changing ways.
That's why it's so tragic new 'owners' seemed indifferent to erasing people's culture and time-honored ways in course of pursuing their diversionary, wildly inappropriate repurposing fantasies.
Maybe it was only unwitting effort, unable to connect the dots, rather than intentional and seemingly trying to tick everyone off so people wouldn't care if gates shut sometime down the road ...only after being suffered long enough and money taken to help fund makeover. If former was the case, again, present 'ownership' might be a relatively brief one, and new one -- match made in heaven via conscious beings envisioning it unfolding in perfect time -- redeeming place, beloved realm at last becoming a full-tilt, service-loving, healing and rejuvenation spa and retreat.
If latter is the case and it was intentional, it's more problematic but not unsolveable...with, again, enough intensive visualization by all who cherish realm and, now, assist from virus crisis ruining business as usual, such as it was...one with apparently no love of healing waters, but instead with seeming bent on turning place into academic training center for professional psychologists to gain new therapy tool for clients and new, framed certificate to clutter wall and gather dust, reassuring clients that the fortune they're forking over is well spent.
Writer perhaps should've realized current malaise would happen. After all, last, controversial manager was the very one who brokered the sale! New owners must've resonated with her "refined" vision of place, as they seemed way too content to have her continue managing, running rubber-stamping staff with new relayed orders by remote from 150 miles away during last two years, continuing to flex counterculturally-indifferent, at times outright authoritarian, power trip. (God bless us all.)
There's a clue, Sherlock.
Changes under future, open-minded stewardship
With advent of more affordable solar electric panels -- some 80% cheaper today than in 2010 -- along with breakthrough of denser, long-lasting storage batteries like Tesla's, Stewart, could borrow page from Wilbur Hot Springs and get at least some of its electricity from sun. (Wilbur, like Breitenbush, is totally off-grid.) One idea kicked around was to set up solar-operated stirrer for mineral water reservoir to keep minerals suspended.
Insulating bathhouse would further reduce electric use and firewood. Its ceiling has so far stayed uninsulated
< Amazing stone sculpture created by cold plunge, engineer(s) unknown, summer 2012. Overnight earth spirits, perchance, wanting to gobsmack mortals' minds?
because ancient wiring sheathing in attic crawl space is so brittle it can't be safely buried under batting.
Installing solar water heaters on bathhouse roof or nearby, though possibly marring rustic charm a tad, would reduce propane use when sun can assist heating process for free with zero pollution.
Electric service carts for housekeeping in warm season could go long ways to keep grounds energy settled, as anyone who ever witnessed their whisper action at Harbin (or at any golf course) will testify.
Building faux-natural hot fresh-water pool -- even simpler ambient temperature one (mineral water's too limited to allow communal mineral pool) -- somewhere within earshot and sight of creek would greatly boost communal energy and enable elders and handicapped easier access to creek water -- if not creek itself, with solid, railing-ed steps -- further aiding and abetting people's enjoyment of place.
Adding a steam sauna, as former Harbin, and Jackson Wellsprings did in recent years, and Orr has long had, would mark a quantum leap in bathhouse amenities.
Breathing in mineral-water steam is the third part of traditional water therapy, along with soaking and drinking. Writer wasn't fan of steam baths until experiencing Jackson's in Oregon.
Generating steam from mineral water with special equipment seems to make all the difference: one senses beneficial minerals being absorbed with each breath, same as with every moment spent soaking. Dry saunas are great, but so are steam and wet saunas. Stewart visitors had long been frustrated how one couldn't throw water on stove. Even though enchanted by fire view through glass door, it rendered throwing any water on it as begging disaster.
If not earmarking area up from bathhouse for new welcome center/front office, instead could possibly build gazebo and plant grass where visitors could congregate and maybe have acoustic music concerts, poetry readings, group meditations and such in nice weather. It wouldn't take much expense, with volunteer local supporters happily pitching in on work-trade basis, given cool, nonprofit stewardship.
Tile work by Monica; centerpiece
reportedly found on grounds
Pipe dreams? Maybe.
But potential is there for even more dramatic transformation...again, if enough people holding vision see current 'ownership' mismatch in stark perspective: barring miraculous melting of hearts, they might ultimately prove no more than brief regressive blip in longterm evolution before place again amps up pioneer founder Henry Stewart family's 78-year service tradition...one echoing that of Native American rescuers, that land be forever honored as sacred, an affordable place dedicated to purifying, healing and rejuvenating of ALL in loving arms of nature... regardless of life station or lifestyle.
New 'ownership' cavalierly
betrayed longtime spring devotees
Once more we've experienced absentee Stewart Springs stewards . Again, first new 'owners' in 34 years despite ridiculous epidemic of rumors over the decades every time new manager bristling with proprietary airs like they owned the place appeared in front office. ("Act as if you own the place," last owner Foggy had told managers to encourage making wisest decisions amid his over 99% absence.)
Who knows where
the greywater goes?
New 'ownership' reportedly told outgoing manager that it was committed to plowing back into place every cent of profit generated during its first two years. If true, much of it seemed to be poured into developing expensive, outlandish new septic field for bathhouse waste water drainage, located down from cabins.
As said, it tragically involved clear-cutting an acre or two of mature trees. Though project enormous drain of funds (early estimate was $130,000.), it was perhaps karma of former sometimes-shady operation for having emptied bathhouse tub graywater into Parks Creek so long, and county health department maybe finally checking up on place...possibly actually being invited by new owners, wanting to be totally compliant with powers that be, possibly on advice of outgoing manager, and of course likely threatened with operation closure if problem was not duly remedied. (Maybe project was halted after first, dwindling bathhouse visits, then mandated virus closure, sparking decision to permanently close bathhouse, not being up to health code and not wanting to go a penny more into debt to complete.)
Roguish charm of the Foggy reign was that he was rebel enough to try staying under radar of often cumbersome, nit-picky county health and building regulations, thus keeping operational costs down and change efforts more relaxed -- but in this case at unfortunate expense of polluting creek with bathers' diluted toxins. But, again, surely there was some more ecological water-treatment solution out to problem out there if parties were willing to research viable creative option and then gain county code variance.
Another change with 'owner' turnover -- for what it's worth now -- was staff reportedly no longer working for 25 cents over minimum wage (though heard report to contrary recently that wages, at least for non-management employees, were still rock bottom). This would improve worker morale and dedication to operation if workers felt new land stewards hadn't been seemingly intent on stealing place away from everyday people, or offering tightly controlled, bland substitute for former prevailing wild, free, open-minded spirit...now forlornly locked up in some dank dark dungeon under locked down bathhouse.
Many bailed. One new worker quit second day, seeing writing on wall, knowing conscience wouldn't allow working there to aid and abet betrayal of place's cherished traditions.
Sky's the limit
If place eventually returns to original pure-love-of-service mode under new stewardship as currently distinguish sister springs like Oregon's resident owned-and-operated Breitenbush, there's a world of room for further zenning grounds and amenities and majorly mellowing service operations.
What's needed now, more than anything in light of current global disaster, is, once more, every former aficionado of Stewart Springs either envisioning current legal title holders' hearts melting...or, if too skeptical to even entertain such a miracle happening, picture them GONE...giving up,
spirits contrite, seeking new future enlightened stewardship to set up place up as legally nonprofit healing, retreat, and learning center...thus redeeming place in Springs legacy, one they might yet enjoy along with everyone else if able to live with a new chill c/o policy.
When current mismatch is through with misguided fantasy and it sees the writing on the wall of using place for private Pneuma world headquarters being terminally problematic, with dawning awareness that they'd created an insurmountable mountain of bad karma for themselves -- virus pandemic helping put decision over the top...THEN countless fans' focused vision will have cleared the way for manifesting a worlds better new stewardship.
One dedicated working hand in hand with community to create a rustic Mt. Shasta cultural retreat and healing center in alignment with founding family's vision.
It behooves everyone who's ever loved place to imagine this happening. It's a simple matter of enough conscious beings INSISTING that the higher destiny of realm unfold with new, hand-in-glove stewardship to make it so.
Bend time and visualize it as already here, hovering over grounds, gaining strength and clarity with each passing day...ready to descend and hit the ground running at precisely right moment to at long last restore sacred healing realm for affordable, free-spirited use by all.
Damn-age (almost) done
Future 'owner(s)' will naturally re-open bathhouse and scrap oppressive clothing-optional policy, forging viable new policy with mindful intent, creating respectable c/o climate crucial to furthering place's powerful transformation potential, now so pitifully arrested.
Karuk-led sweat lodge might be re-instated with grand ceremony and celebration -- if interested after having gotten latest bum's rush from ancestral land and group hasn't found new permanent ceremonial spot to group's liking by then. (Word is that they did at last, somewhere along a creek.)
With future stewardship embracing idea, fans might form a think-tank of ridiculously loose-knit Friends of Stewart Springs, and on wing brainstorm most readily doable projects, strong on work-trades and donated materials. Employ the far-flung
talents of those living in the region and those visiting awhile, creating a thriving rural community healing and cultural center.
It would become one of growing pockets of transformed gathering spaces interconnecting planet's like-minded enlightened operational models of human-friendly living.
Imagining best possible place, see angel investor, progressive-minded wealthy person(s) wanting organization's riches to best help humanity, being alerted to current plight and opportunity, and then universe connecting them to 'buy' and liberate place.
Stray thought possibility: over time, enough loose-knit fans could maybe organize to buy ownership shares, ultimately collectively owning and operating the historic healing retreat as a legal nonprofit similar to Breitenbush.
The actual set-up doesn't matter so much as place at last becoming a legal nonprofit operation...with appropriate intent guaranteeing the place forever stays a people-friendly, progressive-minded, service-oriented healing sanctuary. Again, it's already in place's DNA with 78 years of essentially such service by the Stewart family; it merely awaits reactivating.
However the universe manifests a rescue of the place assuming enough collective prayers and envisionings in time bear fruit, those who honor Springs's heritage for being a rare, down-to-earth, service-loving operation would naturally want to help make it the absolutely best one possible.
Talk about empowering... Imagine something akin to Harbin's Church of Heart Consciousness or Breitenbush, just on a smaller, more intimate scale.
One way or another, enough focused people -- once dread virus has run its course and humanity's on the mend again -- can manifest a new, appropriate owner...rescue it from current owners' misguided efforts after they realize semi-private minded vision of place won't work in the real world.
One might argue that new steward should get place at lower price (or at least at-cost), by way of erasing the grievous karmic debt of having so long oppressed wellbeing and crimped heartsongs of untold thousands of place's once-dedicated devotees.
As place's intangible yet invaluable business asset -- good will -- was destroyed wholesale, a dollop of genuine good will on their part would help smooth things out and redeem now-tattered honor, thus having aided ultimate transformation of place to its highest, flying-with-the-eagles destiny to serve humanity
Despite nightmare place has become to any who knew it in kinder times -- and now, dread virus exponentially aggrieving human condition -- this too shall pass...
One might allow self to get excited in anticipating Springs' possible future role as world transformation brings humanity back
into balance with nature and one another.
Of course, some note how much easier it is to heal and rejuvenate at an undeveloped
pristine hot spring one has to hike to to reach. Such places, as Stewarts was originally in prehistory, are uncomplicated by commercial or even noncommercial man-made overlays, blissfully free of any karma created by man's unenlightened behavior. Indeed, some will only visit such undeveloped springs. They feel near-zero pull to any developed ones with their clutter of man-made structures, off-putting clock-watching, and ouchy fees. ("Dead frog skins" was what some tribes called green paper currency.)
Maybe with likely dramatic earth changes to come, new mineral springs will surface, beckoning mankind as in days of old deep into arms of pristine nature for timeless primordial womb-like immersive healings.
Meanwhile, as we witness Mother Nature on the run in the twenty-first century (cue Neil), we work with what we've got. And we've got Stewart Springs...the way all who have loved place and realize its infinite potential visualize it BECOMING, each fan adding input and momentum to ultimate manifestation following liberation from current clutches.
We've been blessed to have it...even if now seized by filthy lucre and, again, if current "owners'" fantasies go bust, it faces the possibility of closing down and being put back on market with no appropriate new 'owner' ever coming to rescue it in time, and so again getting snapped up by some insufferably sketchy, profit- or private-minded parties.
Remember that contained in Chinese character for crisis is the character for opportunity. It's worth watching over, now more than ever, holding vision for future transformation under new enlightened nonprofit stewardship, with keen involvement by community at large.
Yes, talking serious money -- land traded hands for $2.6 million in early 2016. But it's a drop in bucket in larger scheme of things. Of course, attracting the right deep-pocketed benefactor would be worlds easier if there were set up some sort of nonprofit Save Stewart Springs organization, but that's beyond my kin. Anyone out there feel called?
For thousands around the world would no doubt dearly love to see the place evolve into a positive nonprofit... a thriving rural retreat center dedicated to free-spirited purification, healing, and rejuvenation...to at long last join Orr, Wilbur, Harbin, Sierra, and Oregon's Breitenbush and Jackson Wellsprings as West Coast nature-healing havens, having once and for all banished its checkered, often tragic history of misguided intents and wonky mismanagement by sheer will and collective vision of its myriad far-flung devotees.
Writer heard Jackson Wellsprings reportedly guaranteed preserving its service integrity over time because original owner, Mrs. Jackson, had forethought to set up binding legal charter for grounds to forever remain non-profit healing place for public, even through legal steward changes; future Stewart steward might do well to emulate as much as own state law allows. (Calling all legal wizes...)
As emerging divine creators, together over time and with enough pure energized intent and focus, we CAN liberate the Springs to serve the greater good once again.
The universe is on our side. Collective vision of place becoming a lighthearted universal healing, teaching, and rejuvenation center CAN prevail IF enough people who cherish the Springs simply INSIST on it.