... Harbin's Mainside area, where the pool area, the 3 guest buildings, the 3 cottages, the main Stonefront Lodge with its restaurant and market, the Harbin theater, and the Harbin main office are located, are not large. Here's an excerpt from our interview, which I transcribed:
… more intelligent than I am, and I don't place much faith in any predictions.
One practical thing is that we're trying to acquire a considerable body of land.
We're right in the middle of this, right now, under
the pressure of this cell tower attempt. … and, ah … So I see us expanding off the present property.
I think of the present property as being pretty fully loaded.
I want to see us be known nationally. I want college students on the east coast and the midwest to think of Harbin as a beacon of light
that they want to check out, and seriously contemplate being involved with. I think Esalen had that status like 20 years ago, where it was the center of everything.
“Living … “
I want us to be like that so we can have an impact on the society. As it is we're a little isolated island.
“Living the Future” certainly talks a little bit about that too. And why not hot pools' retreat centers
everywhere, you know, in this country?
Well they wouldn't be natural everywhere, but anyway...
Well, I mean you'd have to create some earthquakes or something to bring up some natural ones. But pools work and you can create beautiful milieus
although this is so nice as it is. And it just seemed to have happened organically, as far as I can tell,
and that's, yea, pretty far out. I imagine though that you've been – I mean you're a smart guy – you've been in the background
probably saying yay and nay, although the water has just flown out of the ground, and people have come up through the gates. And I know you, in the “Harbin Quarterly,” and in your book, talk about that self-governance is sort of where it's at, but....
I don't do much yay or nay, and on big issues, they'll say - managing directors will say - “we decided to do such and such. Are you o.k. with it? Or how do you feel about it?” And I usually say “fine.”
Not much yay or nay. Things like the budget and new construction and areas that I'm more 'knowledged' in than most of the managing directors – or
large scale finance – those are areas I'm very active in. Day to day management, I'm not active at all.
Well, you have the history in your mind, and it's kind of your history in some ways, and it's your vision, which I think is really far out.
Excuse me. I want to get my hearing aid.
(sound of drawer opening)
(Ish getting hearing aid)
So it's your history I mean, in some ways, and it's your vision that's sort of unfolded in conjunction with all the other good folks who have come here.
And, you know, you can't predict, - one can't predict the market, one can't predict the future. But the water continues to flow out of the ground.
And it could flow out of the ground in other places. The degree of freedom here that is so novel relative to so many other places that I've been to – and I've traveled a whole bunch – is quite unique and part of that, as I see it,
comes out of whatever happened in the 60s and 70s.
It created a kind of other possible way of seeing things that's
very open ended. Um, And so, - how that might take shape in other places probably
would play out in very different ways if that were the direction you were going in. But, um
Well, I think what's unique about us in terms of how we're run
is that, that contrasts us to other places,
virtually all initial communities, spiritual centers, psychological centers are dominated by a single person, who puts tremendous energy into it, and who
is able to raise money and put it on the map, and, uh … Well, I went to a talk by Timothy Leary and he said, ah ...
there's only two things that work in terms of community. One is the big beat, you know there's somebody with a …
(MacLeod, Scott. 2008. [Ishvara (Bob Hartley) - Harbin Hot Springs' Founder – Interview]. April 8. Harbin Hot Springs, CA: Personal Interview).
While I have neither the in-a-virtual-world conversation, nor an in-virtual-Harbin 'physical-contact-in-the-warm-pool-with-Ish' yet, methodological questions concerning participant-observation vis-a-vis the actual vs. in-world interviews, are important here methodologically. First, to get another interview Ish may not be easy. When I asked him on the telephone after our first interview, he said “I don't want to.” And while he might possibly agree to be interviewed in a virtual Harbin, the development of virtual Harbin would have to be much farther along for this to occur. Second, being bumped into by him in the virtual Harbin won't be the same at all. But such interviews and bumpings-in-tos – both actual and virtual - offer insight into Harbin's culture, especially vis-a-vis Harbin and economics, which we shall explore shortly.
Methodologically, interview-recording-transcription vs. interview-virtual world text chat transcript (with recordable voice possibilities) offer two versions of a similar participant-observation process, with different implications for ethnography. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/12/andromeda-puffs-excerpt-from-interview.html - December 13, 2010)