Thursday, September 2, 2010

Solidago nemoralis: As a Harbin telephone operator (with writing a Harbin ethnography in mind), candidate to become a Harbin resident

Harbin ethnography:

... As an ethnographer, I'm personally exploring questions of hippie communitas as a kind of virtuality, at Harbin.

As a Harbin telephone operator (with writing a Harbin ethnography in mind without field notes) I was a candidate to become a Harbin resident, and then after 3 months, became a resident, I think, but to become a full resident at Harbin one had to stay for more than a year in 2005. I left after 4 ½ months, because I wanted to teach, and I didn't see this opportunity emerging at Harbin. During my time there, I also made a proposal to Harbin M.D.s (managing directors) to create a Harbin fundraising department, and a M.D. position explicitly for this, but this wasn't taken up. During my time there, my pay checks came from Heart Consciousness Church, although, in general, the 'church aspect' of Harbin is as low key as the effects of its warm waters. The reality of being a Harbin resident contrasted, however, for me, with the beauty of Harbin, both natural, and as a kind of realized vision of sustainable, alternative community, as well as with the ease of being a visitor to Harbin. I worked hard, lived upstairs and downstairs in the dorms in the Fern building, very close to the pools and pool area, and got to know Harbin from the inside out (2001 - the title of one of Victor van Kooten's Yoga books) a little. During my time there, both the masterpiece straw bale Harbin Temple and the Residents' Community Center were built. Building the Temple involved, on one or two days, everyone getting naked and throwing mud at the walls (and at each other, a little) to help with the plastering of this cosmic structure. The welcome Residents' Center, for residents only, with a group kitchen, piano, and comfortable, communal spaces, was a big and valuable contribution to life of Harbin residents; the Residents' Center has nice energy. It is also an expression of Harbin's communalism for residents, very much in a kind of 1960's Harbin way; Heart Consciousness Church put money into a nice space for residents. Harbin hadn't had such amenities before for residents, some residents camping outside on Harbin property for much of the year – living outside in northern California all year round is nice - and preparing food in the Fern community kitchen (it's like a youth hostel kitchen), where Harbin visitors also prepared their own food. Harbin residents welcomed the Residents' Center, - a good financial and community investment in residents. As a complement to this brief, personal, virtual Harbin history, my work experiences at Harbin helped me see it as the real place that it is, - as a resident. In the summer of 2005, after leaving Harbin in June, an opportunity arose to sail on Semester at Sea around the world, working in its field office, - another realized vision. And, as personal, virtual Harbin history, my leaving Harbin as resident opened the opportunity to eventually write this actual/virtual Harbin ethnography.

As a last, personal, virtual, Harbin history, a key facet of this actual / Harbin ethnography includes defining virtual (something not physical, but created by software to appear so), especially vis-a-vis Harbin Hot Springs, as visionary, too. ...

( - September 2, 2010)

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