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The Breitenbush Community - Who We Are and What We Do

Breitenbush is an intentional community and worker-owned cooperative. We all live in this rugged and beautiful mountain setting, 154 acres, and serve thousands of guests year-round. Our emphasis is on service - to our guests, each other and to the greater global and universal community. Working at Breitenbush requires dedication to this service ethic, a sense of joy and excitement about your work, acceptance of personal responsibility and accountability, a desire for creativity and productivity and a willingness to communicate openly and honestly at all times.

We are a small community - especially in the late Fall, Winter and early Spring when fewer than 65 permanent staff live here. Our community includes persons of all ages. Many children have been born at Breitenbush and we provide childcare to support their presence in our community.

Our staff is organized into teams: Office/Guest Reception, Kitchen, Maintenance, Systems, Projects (summer only), Guest Hosting & Security, Housekeeping, Childcare, Administration, Events & Marketing, and Healing Arts. We elect a very active Board of Directors from amongst our membership to which our Business Director is accountable.

Living and working here, while very rewarding, is also challenging for some. Housing is rustic and most people share bathroom and cooking facilities. To protect native wildlife, no dogs are allowed on Breitenbush property and the number of cats allowed is limited.

We generate our own electricity from the river and supply our heating needs from geothermal wells. The hot springs and wells provide the mineral water for our hot tubs and steam sauna. We have over 100 buildings on the property which include: the Lodge, a large dining and conference building, a kitchen and small dining space, a massage / healing arts building, staff dwellings, guest cabins, a Sanctuary, the Forest Shelter, Buddha’s Playhouse, Cedar River Yurt, and various other structures.

Most of the structures at Breitenbush Hot Springs were part of a hot springs resort built in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s when using the hot mineral waters was considered an important way for people to heal from various maladies. In the early 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the land was a favorite place for people to camp or have a simple cabin and enjoy the beautiful natural environment and hot waters. For ten year the property was idle.

Alex Beamer purchased the property in 1977 and spent several years restoring the old resort and getting it ready to host guests again. People who wished to put their energies into this project, and who worked well with the people already here, were invited to come and join in restoring the facilities. In 1981, the Breitenbush Community started hosting guests on the property, who participated in a variety of workshops, celebrations or personal retreats.

In 1985, the community purchased the land from Alex. In 1989, we formed a worker cooperative corporation through which the workers now own the business. The worker/owners make most of the major decisions about business and community affairs, and elect our Board of Directors. To be a worker/owner, a community member must be employed for one year, be an employee in good standing, and pay a $500 membership deposit. Currently about half of our community members are worker/owners. Maintaining the Retreat and Conference Center provides the livelihood for those of us who live here.

As each year passes, more and more people come to Breitenbush. A whole series of books could be written about our adventures, explorations and lessons learned in this grand experiment. Currently, the community ranges from 60 to 80 adults and children. We live rich, full lives here. There is an abundance of interesting people, new ideas, healing practices, friendships, challenges, Spirit and nature.

From an article by Peter Moore, Business Director, September 05 - January 06 Catalog:

“The thing that blows my mind about Breitenbush’s current human community is that we, this eclectic group of eccentric people, are able to function so well in so many critical areas. We operate an entire small town in the middle of the wilderness, including making our own electricity and heating our buildings with hot springs. We maintain enormously complex technical systems. We govern ourselves through an enthusiastic democratic process in which the power structure is circular, not pyramidal. We greet and serve 20,000 guests per year, and feed organic vegetarian mega-meals to everybody. At times we’re contentious, but we maintain high standards. It’s a happening scene."

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© 1999 Breitenbush Hot Springs. Site updated - Winter 2015