The Post: Community Updates
We are posting regular news updates here whenever possible. The most recent posts appear at the top. The list on the right may help you locate specific posts.
Major reports and announcements can be found on our Rebuilding News page.
Since our announcement last month of a fall 2016 opening, we have been striving on many fronts to get ready for the Phase 1 rebuild.
Pools: Harbin has submitted a number of plans to the county for necessary renovations to the pool area. We recently had two of these plans approved. These renovations include a total rebuild and renovation of the Harbin pool’s pump room and a large retaining wall on the hillside just above the swimming pool. Work on these projects are underway.
Environment: Ground crews are working hard to remove “biomass” from Mainside and adjacent areas. The work they’ve done has had a very dramatic effect on the visual appearance of the Mainside landscape. Though at times it is difficult to come to terms with amount of tree loss, the work being performed now sets the stage for future regrowth.
Harbin Design Layout: Harbin Management has been working (and reworking) the puzzle of facility placement of Phase 1 services. They have also been in heavy consultation with our architects (Mithun) for Phase 3 design layout. As soon as we can provide visuals we will post them.
Back to the build…
Late last January the Managing Directors and Department Representatives met with Mithun for a two day charrette (design discussion) in Middletown. This was an opportunity forHarbin people and Mithun people to connect, build relationships and trust with the architects as well as initiate the creative process. On day one, the Mithun team of five introduced themselves, their work, and a bit about their design process. After introductions, there was an opportunity for each MD, each Manager and Representative to speak from the heart on what Harbin means to them. This helped the architects to begin their process of deeply listening to the group’s needs, dreams and desires for the rebuild.
In the afternoon of day one, Residents were invited to participate in a two hour discussion to allow Mithun to further understand who ‘we’ are. The meeting was well attended and each person had an opportunity to make a statement or ask a question. The Mithun team was impressed by our Heart Consciousness, openness, and our enthusiasm. The discussion about the land and the living water was reassuring, and the team from Mithun was receptive and taking notes throughout.
On the second day, the Department Managers and Representatives were led through a series of ‘exercises’ to help Mithun further understand our community and the guest experience at Harbin. Later that morning, small groups were formed focusing on Pools, Wellness, Welcome Center/Administration and Rooms/Cottages. All had the opportunity to explore and draw on overlays of topographic maps where we felt the buildings, pools and features could be located, considering traffic flow, parking, and aesthetic aspects.
Each group had a short visit to the land with the architects to see the actual space after working on our drawings. This allowed deeper understanding of what would and wouldn’t be feasible or realistic. The groups returned to the ‘drawing boards’, eventually presenting our designs to the entire room. Although the drawings were just an exercise in terms of the final designs, the purpose was to help Mithun extract essential principles and concepts so they can create a few design options.
The process was inspiring,engaging and enjoyable for all involved and after two days together there was a palpable feeling admiration between both parties. We’re all looking forward to meeting again.
If you can imagine a color dominating or symbolizing a period of time, then perhaps for Middletown and Harbin this false greenery depicts our time for the last few months better than any other. It comes off as awkward, slightly hesitant, maybe dishonest, juvenile – as though it is being asked to carry a message that it doesn’t yet have the voice to speak. Somehow both sickly and hopeful at the same time, this hydroseed spray is comprised of both fertilizer and grass seed, a blend of the past and future, an odd mix of death and life.
A similar theme resurfaces for us as we work toward restoring Harbin. We recognize the wave patterns; hope, grief, hope, grief, hope… What parts of our past still have something to contribute? What old spirits will nourish and inspire all these new plans…what do we care about most? What did we take with us when the fire came?
On a personal level, each of us here has had to swim in these waters and share as we could, our feelings with those still around, still remaining. But for a greater collective of people, perhaps this hasn’t been acknowledged, or acknowledged for you. This pendulum of hope and grief is not solely ours. We’ve heard from many guests how sorry they were to lose their “special place”. They spoke to us about the deep feelings they’ve endured since September; their loss of community, social support and place of retreat, not to mention the waters and land. Perhaps it is difficult to explain these feelings to people in your world who don’t know what Harbin was like, or what it meant to you. This message is to say we are there with you and that you are not alone; that the way you may be aching is recognized.
This is a process of patience. It’s a dance between the fertilizer and the seed. It’s awkward, humbling and real as dirt… and spring is coming.
We laughed, we cried, we got to use fancy magic markers…over the last two days an extended circle of the Harbin management team had the opportunity to engage with the architects from Mithun in a design process called a Charrette (think highly organized brainstorm session). There was a quick recognition between Harbin and Mithun that we shared similar ideals about listening to the land and sustainability (and that we all just liked each other). This seemed to create an immediate trust bond within the room. We were informed that it “often takes months” for clients to reach the level of vulnerability and openness that we established within the first few hours. Later in the day, while reviewing some primitive sketches with Harbin residents, the Harbin contingent broke out into rounds of applause. The lead architect smiled and reflected on our unique enthusiasm: “no one ever claps at these things.”
In thinking of a recreation of Harbin, naturally the focus centers on the physical aspect of buildings, landscape and layout; determining the What and the Where to put it. Though these considerations are absolutely crucial and on our minds constantly, it is so encouraging to shift thought from the What and the Where to the Why… Thank you Renee Marie for reminding us of this in your beautiful, vulnerable message and allowing us to repost it. To help recreate a culture that can contribute to healing of this type recalls to us a large part of what we are building for.
2016 promises to be a year of many choices for Harbin. The decisions, plans and projects initiated now will determine how Harbin will serve its wider community for decades to come.
In this brief moment, before all the wheels start spinning and the sketches are drawn up, please help us set an intention; an intention to be guided in our choices by deep listening, clarity, transparency, healing wisdom, sustainability, human potential, human kindness and the land itself. Thank you.
As we head into a phase of visioning for Harbin’s future, we find it helpful to look over your comments, postings and emails (keep them coming) about how guests and residents engaged the Harbin environment. Some strong themes emerge; a profound sense of relaxation, self-acceptance, shedding of body shame, personal growth, the wisdom of nature and the ability to center. Here’s to carrying the best of our past into the future.
Wishing you a year of exciting choices and good decisions!! Happy New Year.
Erosion from ground saturation is a big issue for the Harbin landscape this Winter. Our fire crew has been working extra hard to drape these coiled necklaces of straw on the hillside above the Mainside area. These wattles, in combination with barley seed, hay bales and felled trees are the main defense against El Niño. With luck, Mother Nature will approve of her new adornments and the pools remain clear of debris.
Harbin was featured in this article by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We thank them for telling a part of our story.
By the time you read this each of our residents and staff members should have received a donation check from the staff relief fund totaling just under $1000. Your generosity has had a very direct financial and emotional impact on our community. On behalf of our residents and staff, please accept our warmest gratitude.