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 2020 and humanity's working to avoid shoals of rampaging coronavirus pandemic while keeping food on the table...and now as well dealing with global reckoning of racial injustice that's reaching a historic tipping point of mass awareness.
Life will eventually return to new sort of 'normal', but without bathhouse it would seem. Owners decided to permanently close it along with massage service, as announced May 1. (see SMS site notice) Evidenced by their website, they plan -- or had planned, before reality check of radically changing times -- on converting shutdown bathhouse into extra retreat space, dubbing it...Shambala House. (You tell your brother by the flowers in his eyes...as he's mindlessly re-purposing beloved spa?) Planned opening, to believe sketchy website sizzle, is 2021.
Could such a plan, so utterly mindless of enduring water-healing tradition of place, actually unfold? And if so, succeed? Are there really enough bourgeois-spiritual people out there willing to embrace a scene built atop grave of mindlessly destroyed bohemian healing oasis treasured the world over?
It might seem doubtful. Hardcore Springs' dedicated fans patiently await for current owners to play out their foolish fantasies in untenable diversionary takeover attempt, before at last realizing the spiritual nature of place won't allow any such private-minded detours from place being sacred healing land for ALL the people...seeing how the upper-chakkra zapping power of Mt. Shasta had royally short circuited their business reasoning into unsustainable fantasyland.
In meantime, with bathhouse gone, place is reduced to basic lodging only, cash flow dried up to point they offered bookings at 40% off in May.
Without bathhouse spa, former central draw for many, it might seem unlikely any viable business operation could ever sustain itself. Bathhouse crazily morphing into yet more retreat and class area would be just too weirdly tragic for legions of former visitors used to combining stay with leisurely soak, sauna, plunge, massage, and sunbath.
So the question again becomes: could ownership's outfits actually have enough following and connections out there to sustain place as pricey new-age retreat and not lose its shirt?
Chance to redeem place in Springs legacy
It might seem now more than ever a simple matter of time before ownership gives up and sells place to (hopefully) more public-minded hands. New, more egalitarian ownership might yet rescue realm...ideally with help of current owners once they appreciate it's in their best interests. For in so doing, they can redeem their legacy in ongoing Springs history of a place that they too love in their own, albeit currently bogart-minded way despite never fully attuning to its pure love-of-service, altruistic DNA...having faded away since 1950s when it momentously left Stewart family's 78 years of dedicated service and went through a long succession of mostly wildly inappropriate stewardships. see history They could well find a buyer with can-do spirit and progressive, open-minded vision for place, interested in gaining legal nonprofit status and once again pursuing true love-of-service healing, thus enabling place to once again become modestly thriving cultural center for growth-minded people...all, of course, if and when virus fades away enough for people to get on with lives and travel and mingle without undue worries of deadly contagion.
Barring amazing change of heart occurring -- or deep pockets tiding place over with foolish attempts to yuppify place into half-baked upscale, quasi new age healing and lodging retreat -- some are convinced that enough spring devotees need only intensely and fully visualize a perfect future stewardship to manifest in 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 become an open-circuit, community-rich resource. For again, becoming a nonprofit healing refuge and resource center for general public has always 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 right compassionate stewards and world will respond. see history
Keen visualization is 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 all who treasured realm over time -- including, again, present ownership, realizing they can redeem selves by finding appropriate new keepers to sell place to, at fair price, and thus create their ultimate positive legacy while still being able to enjoy place themselves, waking up and happily getting over current apparent need to control and bogart it.
Combine healing transformative energies with stone-pure intent and voila! A full-tilt nonprofit, a 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 positive outcome of crisis: people learning to shelter in place without going nuts by going more deeply within).
As divine co-creators, ENOUGH conscious beings together intently visualizing such a reality do indeed have the power to manifest it.
Alternative is unthinkable
If we don't, and current owners destroy place, as thousands have known and loved it, before giving up due to lack of patronage, then entire grounds could shutter, not just bathhouse. Gates could swing shut for time untold, as they did last in 1980s, sad testimony of tragic times and inability to find right energies to rescue place (one with admitted mongrel pedigree karmically) to assure greatest benefit in aiding planet's wellbeing.
It was rescued before by local management family from early 1980s through 2004, with unassuming low-key healing service in line with spirit of founder, plus willingness to work for peanuts (which became both initial catalyst for opening and eventual handicap as workers soon became over-exploited).
If operation closes due to meager visits even after planned grand conversion of bathhouse into more lodgings and classes on the river, and current owners aren't moved to find suitable new legal stewards but try instead to unload it to the first person with ready cash, then a forlorn For Sale sign could get slapped on shut gates. Place could eventually get snapped up by some investment concerns with even MORE inappropriate profit- and/or private-minded development intent ...and sometime-tragedy and lost dream of Stewart Springs would continue apace.
Wanted: openhearted investor angel(s)
to rescue healing refuge
The place so deserves a solid redemption. Remember, a Findhorn teaching center was almost begun there by Peter Caddy. 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 worthy cause coming forward in perfect time.
Enough mindful visualization by enough conscious beings pulling together COULD manifest this, refusing to give any validity whatsoever to plans of converting bathhouse heart of magic realm into yet more lodging and meeting area.
Sudden suspicious thought: Mineral tubs might still be available in future, but only for those drinking the kool-aid of current regime by enrolling in pricey workshops and lodgings.
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 along West Coast circuit, wanting/needing to push grand re-set button, as entire planet makes historic reality check.
Private-minded endeavors disregarding the will of the people won't make the cut anymore.
Fifteen minutes off I-5, Stewart Springs makes easy stopover point for shifting sea of growth-minded humanity seeking respite from hard times and wanting to continue light work on new levels...without having to buy into any locked structure of enlightenment model.
Within restraints of modest welling rate of mineral water spring(s) and limited usable land -- plus, given people learning to trust and embrace being in groups again -- realm's potential to become low-key happening healing retreat/workshop/rejuvenation center is staggering...but not as any exclusive, yupified model.
It always has been. It's simply a matter of present ownership realizing heavy karma of place's violent tragic past precludes even THINKING about trying to get rich off sacred realm...OR repurposing to perpetuate own pet shtick to detriment of affordable access and vital, free-spirited use by general public (claiming its helping to raise the vibration of the planet, disregarding destroying place for countless thousands) OR unloading place to first buyer with ready cash, regardless of appropriateness of intent.
Instead, owner -- current or future -- can only (and will naturally want to) dedicate efforts to re-building powerful medicine wheel...as a legal nonprofit retreat and mindful resort universally open to all ways.
Anything else seems almost certain to be destined to fail, having seeds of failure sown at start. Anyone investing heavily in place, with material returns in mind for even ostensible laudable goals, inevitably becomes preoccupied in recouping funds and getting ahead of game, in process critically watering down potential for healing powers of place to transform the people.
That's why its crucial for profit motivation to be taken out of the equation and be replaced by love of service.
Skeptics might wonder if such a high-minded nonprofit operation could actually get by financially instead of becoming money drain. Of course...in due time. Do the right thing and follow the bliss and green energy will follow 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 drop-ins. With its limited mineral water sources -- far less than any other regional spring resort -- calling ahead 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 had naively hoped there'd be concerted effort among current way-absentee owners, management, and work traders to open collective hearts and re-vitalize and beautify place, working in can-do spirit. Especially on hearing how Mathew Engelhart, founder of California's innovative and mindful Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain, was at first a partner (he later sold his interest...one can only wonder why).
Surely we'd hit rock bottom and the only way was up.
Anticipation by some was in seeing Springs experience dramatic rebirth as 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 for so long formed core of support base. (Possibly it did so only because it proved 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 rebel himself.)
In any event, it 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 suddenly looked back wistfully on old regime after experiencing recent disaster. We had clothing-optional banned, gazebo altar erased, and sweat lodge banished. Masseuse took slashed 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 employee discount; low echelon workers still worked at minimum wage...Then bathhouse is closed, with it the heart and soul of the realm.
To call intended repurposing of structure Shambala House is like cutting down all the tall majestic trees in Bay Area spot and then calling it Redwood City.
Future prospects couldn't look more dismal, short of closing front gates outright -- again, a possibility if current owners eventually give up gilded, half-baked plans and can't sell right away by inadequate or inappropriate publicizing and/or holding out for too much money, and eventually end up attracting detached deep-pockets buyer, perhaps some speculator who goes around snapping up distressed properties and then coldly decides how best to tweak places to flip for fastest profit.
Things had become so sorrowful that writer, once full-tilt volunteer, with grave reluctance unplugged from Springs in late 2017 after 18 years psyched work-trade (and nine years evolving this site).
Fact that current owners' Pneuma website has referred to Stewart Mineral Springs as Pneuma Retreat Center definitely boded ill for any fans nurturing hopes of visiting and experiencing even the faintest glimmer of former unfettered, grounded, spirit-soaring enjoyment of realm.
Place is obviously at hyper-critical juncture. Assuming worst rumor was only cynical imagining worst and place does morph into retreat lodgings for Pneuma-related groups only, Stewart aficionados can kiss place goodbye...or visualize universe manifesting new, service-loving, legal nonprofit stewardship bringing back bathhouse and restaurant and sweat lodge full tilt amid fresh community involvement.
The choice is ours.
Recent improvements on grounds
As breather from depressing developments, following is recycled writing on improvements made on place in recent years plus brainstorms for possible improvement projects. Updated perspective is shoehorned in. It was mostly written years before current crisis.
Physical upgrades seeking spiritual upgrades to match
Latter-day efforts by last owner, John Foggy --who's running of place, again, might look pretty good now -- 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 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 recent downgrade
In contrast, another project, deeply disturbing, was new owners in 2016 cutting down 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 clear 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 by new owners, rather than taking time to seek a more ecologically sound, innovative solution Dept. might've well granted variance on after ownership did due diligence in seriously 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 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 six feet from bathers trying to relax and meditate lying down in sauna?!
Ours did, blessed wayward springs that it is, at least ever since leaving Stewart family and later mason's service, service-dedication plug pulled and commercial speculation taking over. Having thus restored that measure of quietude worked wonders to relax heart of place.
One project many years under consideration before getting tabled was to install mini hydro power generator and tap Park Creek's abundant free energy upstream, as Oregon's Britenbush does (in their case supplying all electricity). This would reduce place's dependence on inefficient and environment-degrading grid electricity generation. Still on table is 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? 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 chance to feel creek's soothing energy on approach would help spa partakers better unwind into timelessness, being even more insulated from disruptive vehicular energies, mundane street-clothed business transactions, and sometimes 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 respite from such noisy busyness in order to slip into blissful meditative state and lock into healing mode.
Writer's convinced non-ideal bathhouse setup was, more than anything (beyond new conservative ownership), 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 bathhouse couldn't become more streamlined and self-serve. But it would go against 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...made to feel like quick-change fashion models and/or striptease artists.)
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 fairly 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? Especially after she brokered deal to current owners who apparently likewise hold its sacredness high...so high they don't seem to want anybody besides own groups to actually enjoy it eventually.)
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
Former inspired walkway, with heart stone center, above cold plunge (photo and stonework by Kiera, who later removed heart stone on falling out with management)
free-spirited 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 saunas, or some combination of 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 inevitable result.)
One could feel unaccountably pulled to help place along. Financial reward was seldom motive.
Take writer. With time on my hands and as it turned out part beaver, I felt a spontaneous pull to build up a rock dam, creating place's first cold plunge in recent times.
Built and reinforced over 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 end of Goodpasture days of 1970s, having no pool meant would-be plungers were often forced to wrestle strong currents threatening to carry them downstream and slam them into rocks, 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 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 largely due to starvation budget and absence of any more awake stewardship -- was that a cold plunge wasn't needed -- or, more likely, even thought about.
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 pouring, project done no doubt with fond hopes of permanence. Nature sometimes has other plans.
In recent 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, 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 have happened in recent years, one grounds manager was convinced that trying to create any deeper, more ambitious plunge would be futile effort, despite writer's assurance that one dam actually lasted over decade and gained depths up to five feet -- once, briefly, to over six feet, after backhoe brought in, before silt and gravel build-up 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 utterly smitten by place. One dedicated bath attendant and yoga teacher, Dustin, several years ago on
Longtime masseuse Debbie Davis >
quitting no doubt spoke for many former minimum-wagers-plus-two-bits on lamenting in rich irony, "I love this 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 deemed too outlandishly California for new owners' 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 can often create off-putting commercial headwinds 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 seem to have kept almost solely focused on place as cash cow and job security, dismissing all else as woo-woo ka-choo, new age hogwash...but dutifully paying lip-service to such when serving purpose, dreaming up catchy p.r. sizzle like "Indulge your Soul" to lure visitors. No better able to tune into place's healing energy or resonate with light-work tradition, 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 visitor hoping to unwind and heal from slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...not to experience even more at would-be refuge...suffered more keenly for having let guard down in fond hope of at last having found place of reputed healing serenity.
Dead man walking
This was largely product of former 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 futilely) to keep alive some hamstrung vision of place's higher purpose.
Many dismissed 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, resulting in pricing out and eventually lifestyle-changing out everyday folks of more unassuming, down-to-earth ways and modest means.
Any would-be laudable efforts were in part (as mentioned on home page) aggravated by late co-manager Ted D. fighting Stage 4 liver disease throughout his entire ten-year run, 2006 to 2016. And in part because there was always so much work to be done to keep place together without 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, unappreciated, and underpaid.
As said, one could feel unmotivated to build any more abiding appreciation of place beyond it providing paycheck...and perhaps giddy power rush now and then for helping run place beloved by so many.
All told, it was rough sledding for any more heart-centered workers hoping to build positive energy flows. Lord knows writer went through own tiresome big-frog-in-small-pond phase before resetting and happily becoming small fish in 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 it's gone...but, alas, might as well have still been 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, should add here that Pneuma, part of umbrella ownership, is a nonprofit that doubtless does good work. But -- reality check -- was 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 beggared 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 concerted group effort. They're focused on providing genuine service rather than narrow preoccupation in maxing profit, 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 was protected.
In rich irony, writer, seeking bit of escape, had watched Seagal's "Under Siege" movie on NBC Movie of the Week the night before, yet didn't even see his tall personage and exotically attired entourage touring grounds, being so immersed in coldplunge work. On my taking break, a local visitor asked, "You ever hear of Steven Seagal?" (He hadn't.) "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 to fire me."
In fairness, pressure to get jobs done quickly and efficiently and not always able to make due allowance for fragility of human spirit and ideal of some 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 such gnawing pressures. Admittedly, such 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 them.
Fine-tuning springs & ourselves
Places like Springs are, obviously, needed more than ever now, what with raging pandemic trying humanity. 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.
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, 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,
One-winged angel cannot fly!
Longtime, now reportedly gone, damaged creek island statue, a wing missing, symbolized all too well mis-management of Stewart Springs in recent decades.
Place wants to soar as thriving public-minded, culturally-diverse healing refuge but remains earthbound, hostage to inappropriate stewards
re-connect with nature -- sometimes in profoundly life-changing ways. That's why it's so tragic new 'owners' seemed seemed indifferent in erasing people's culture and time-honored ways in course of diversionary repurposing effort.
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 down the road ...only after being suffered long enough and money taken to help fund makeover. If former was case, again, present ownership might be brief one, and new one -- match made in heaven via conscious beings envisioning it unfolding in perfect time -- redeeming place, the 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 appears now it wasn't), 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 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 the fortune they're forking over is well spent, with efforts subsidized by public.
Writer should've realized current malaise would happen. After all, last, controversial manager was very one who brokered 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, attitude. (and 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 blow 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 quantum leap in bathhouse amenities. Breathing in mineral-water steam is 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 mis-match 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 failed
longtime spring devotees
Once more we've experienced absentee Stewart Springs owners . Again, first new owners in 34 years, despite ridiculous epidemic of rumors over 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 told managers to encourage making wisest decisions amid his 99% absence.)
Who knows where
the greywater goes?
New ownership, as reportedly told by outgoing manager, was committed to plowing back into place every cent of profit generated its first two years. If true, much of it seemed to be poured into developing expensive, outlandish new septic field for bathhouse tub 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 Foggy reign was that he was rebel enough to try staying under radar of sometimes 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 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 naturally a world of room for further zenning grounds and amenities and majorly mellowing operations. What's needed now, more than anything in light of current global disaster, is
every friend of Stewart Springs either envisioning current owners' hearts melting... or, if too skeptical to ever entertain such a miracle, picture them giving up, spirits contrite, seeking new future enlightened ownership to set up place up as legal nonprofit healing, retreat, and learning center...and thus redeeming place in Springs legacy, one they might yet enjoy, along with everyone else if able to adapt to new chill c/o policy.
When current mismatch is through trying to repurpose realm and and sees using place for private Pneuma world headquarters too problematic with budding awareness that they'd created insurmountable mountain of bad karma for selves -- and now, virus pandemic helping put decision over the top...then countless fans' focused vision will have helped cleared way for manifesting perfect new stewardship.
One dedicated working hand in hand with community to create a rustic Mt. Shasta cultural retreat and healing center.
It behooves everyone who's ever loved place to imagine this happening. It's simple matter of enough conscious beings insisting higher destiny of realm unfold with new, hand-in-glove, nonprofit 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, at long last restoring sacred healing realm for affordable, free-spirited use by all.
Damn-age is (almost) done
Future owner(s) will naturally re-open bathhouse and scrap oppressive clothing-optional policy, forging viable new policy with mindful intent in its stead creating respectable c/o climate, crucial to furthering place's powerful transformation potential, now so pitifully arrested.
Karuk-led sweat lodge could 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.
With future ownership open to idea, fans might form think-tank of ridiculously-loose-knit Friends of Stewart Springs and on wing brainstorm doable projects, strong on work-trades and donated materials. Employ far-flung talents of those living in region, or visiting awhile, and create 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.
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, among many: over time, loose-knit fans could organize to buy ownership shares, ultimately collectively owning and operating as legal nonprofit healing and cultural center, similar to Breitenbush.
The actual set-up doesn't matter so much as place becoming a legal nonprofit operation with appropriate intent, guaranteeing place forever stays people-friendly, progressive-minded, and service-oriented.
However universe manifests rescue of place after collective prayers and envisionings bear fruit, those who honor Springs's heritage for being rare, down-to-earth, service-loving operation most will naturally want to help make it best one possible.
Talk about empowering... Imagine something akin to Harbin's Church of Heart Consciousness or Breitenbush, only on much smaller scale.
One way or another, enough focused people -- once dread virus has run its course and humanity's on the mend again -- can manifest new, appropriate owner...rescue it from current owners' misguided efforts after they realize semi-private minded vision of place won't work in real world.
One might argue that new steward should get place at lower price (or at least at-cost), by way of erasing grievous karmic debt for having so long oppressed wellbeing and crimped heartsongs of 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 became to any who knew it in kinder times, and now dratted 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 in 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 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 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, focusing positive imagery, each fan adding input and momentum to ultimate manifestation.
We've been blessed to have it...even if now effectively kidnapped and held for ransom and now faces possibility of closing completely, with no appropriate new 'owner' coming to rescue it in time from being yet again snapped up by 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 and fresh involvement by community at large.
We're 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.
Thousands around the world would dearly love to see place evolve into positive nonprofit... a thriving rural retreat center dedicated to free-spirited purification, healing, and rejuvenation...one eager to at 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 checkered, often tragic history of misguided intents and wonky mismanagement by sheer will of devotees around the world.
Writer heard Jackson Wellsprings reportedly guaranteed preserving its service integrity over time because original owner had forethought to set up binding legal charter for grounds to forever remain non-profit healing place for public, even through owner changes; future Stewart steward might do well to emulate as much as own state law allows. (Calling legal wiz...)
As emerging divine creators, together over time, with enough pure energized intent and focus, we CAN liberate Springs.
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 Springs insist on it.