Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Harbin domes: A Friend writes: "The culture here is not what I would call “hippy” at all, unless that refers only to the somewhat unconventional customs in a narrow category," I would say Harbin is hippy-informed, in the following ways, e.g. - in the cobb and bale Harbin Temple, - the Harbin, bubble Domes, ... but this is 2013, and things change, and how is one of the questions I'm asking in my Harbin ethnographic book

Here’s my email reply to my Quaker, email Friend from northern Idaho, Stef W., and his wife Liza, who just visited Harbin for two days leaving yesterday, and who emailed me most recently a few days ago inquiring about Harbin and my actual / virtual Harbin ethnography:

Stef W:

“We have enjoyed the pools and library and restaurant and the land.  Liza fit in more comfortably to the clothing optional life than I had expected. The culture here is not what I would call “hippy” at all, unless that refers only to the somewhat unconventional customs in a narrow category. Perhaps a major difference is level of affluence compared to traditional “hippies” of decades past.”

“Hi Stef,

Great to get your emails. I just left a message on your answering machine, mentioning a possible rendezvous on the porch outside the Harbin Blue Room Cafe at 1. I would say Harbin is hippy-informed, but this is 2013, and things change. As I said on your phone message, I see hippiness at Harbin in … - the cobb and bale Harbin Temple (also a kind of masterpiece), - the Harbin, bubble Domes on the other side of the valley from the Mainside area, - the Tuesday, Thursday and sometimes weekend dances, - Kirtan with Arpita and Kirtan on Sunday in the Temple, - the clothing-optionalness, - all the naked cuddling in the pools, - that many residents live in Harbin houses kind of communally, around Middletown, and some live in tents or yurts on Harbin property, - in the occasional wedding or memorial, … ~ 'hippiness' seems to come out of the 'woodwork' of Harbin.

That Ishvara lived in Berkeley and SF in the ‘60s, bought the Harbin property in 1972 and sold it to Heart Consciousness Church (HCC) in 1975, and then helped to start New Age Church of Being (NACOB) in 1996 at Harbin, both low key, (but the latter ordains ministers), and HCC itself (Harbin 'management,' aka the M.D.s, which in the past may have been a little ‘out-to-lunch’), and still lives on property, all inform Harbin’s New Agey-ness, and occasional funkiness, and also contribute to its significant, hippy influences ...

But culture is low-key and it's fascinating to learn of your ‘new-eyes‘‘ observations, and as a Friend, too. (I see very loose parallels between Quaker Meeting and the warm pool ... both can facilitate a remarkable gatheredness, there are parallels spatially between soakers in the warm pool and f/Friends in Quaker Meeting (although soakers at Harbin tend not to speak these days in the pool, rather some snuggle naked, or do Watsu), and both are 'officially' religious entities, the warm pool being Harbin's meditation zone, which I've also heard some Harbinites call their sanctuary). One question I'm asking and writing about anthropologically, using participant observation, in my actual / virtual Harbin ethnography, is how the 1960s and the 1970s ripple through to today at Harbin. I'll try to assemble links to the 3 1/2 draft chapters of my book for you, beyond my UC Berkeley Harbin video from November 2012 ( accessible here -, and learn what you mean about not being able to access some of this (here are the beginning 3 1/2, draft chapters of my Harbin book -, as well, at a later time.

I'm glad Liza has felt comfortable in the pools ... curious too to learn more of California state Attorney General Kamala Harris's thinking, per another of your questions.


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