• December 2, 2011

    The growing number of assistants to the top level administrators are asked to work 29 hour weeks, like some members of maintenance are, in order to keep them under the statutory levels that would require them to receive health care benefits. More horrifying still, additional hours are “contracted” so that even if the person works more than 29 hours the additional work time won’t push them into the statutory level for benefits.

    That sounds like an evil legal loophole tactic that puts money over the health and well being of our community, the human beings who make Esalen magical.

    A long-term member of the community was kept at “staff fill-in” status in the Kitchen for months, to avoid having to provide her benefits. Another long-term member of the community has recently been struck with major illness, and has no health care benefits because he has been kept at 29 hours indefinitely.


  • December 2, 2011

    A contributor writes:

    I have heard from reliable sources that the donation given to Esalen to pay for the construction of Garden View was specifically given for the purpose of providing staff housing. Now there are only a few rooms left. Staff housing has trickled away. I invite anyone who has the name of that donor to release it… [I]t is important to protect the integrity of our donors’ wishes so that the generous supporters of Esalen will be confident in giving their gifts in the future.

    Another reader answers:

    The donor was Dr. John Heider, who sadly passed away in 2010. The donation was earmarked for staff housing, and the resulting project was Garden View. The Esalen board waited until John’s death to fully dishonor his wishes.

    Another reader answers:

    Your report about the Staff Housing is in attitude correct. The facts: I was at Esalen in the sixties, when my dear friend and companion John Heider spoke to Lany Stephens, a wealthy fan of Esalen about the horrid living conditions of the staff. We were mostly living in our autos. She donated the money to build the lower units along the hillside. This donation was understood to be for Staff Housing in perpetuity. David Price knows of this arrangement. Begining about 15 yrs ago, weaseling managers have wiggled the staff housing into the hotel system quietly. The present Staff units of Garden View were built later and probably belong to the Institute.

    Full contribution follows:

    The last time the staff housing at Garden View was threatened to be taken, the people who lived there forced meetings on the issue. In those meetings, the head of the gate and the person in charge of safety pointed out to the administration that it was important to have people close to the gate to help respond in the case of an emergency. People who live here are invested in the safety of our community, we know where resources are and are familiar with the geography of the property should emergency needs arise. This argument resulted in the administration backing down and deciding not to convert staff housing into guest rooms, apparently only for the time being.

    Has that argument lost its power? Do we no longer care about maintaining our community and our safety? Read the rest of this entry »

  • December 2, 2011

    “Wheeler gives a special spin to much of what he writes, a spin that seemed to me to be often of questionable accuracy in its understanding of Gestalt therapy theory and intellectual history and his analysis and construction of theory are remarkably flawed. Moreover, he frequently sets up inaccurate strawmen summaries of his theoretical predecessors as a support for his alternative.”

    “Wheeler has a tendency oversimplify and misunderstand positions and issues.”

    So read excerpts from a review of Gordon Wheeler’s book Gestalt Reconsidered in the publication Gestalt Journal. Wheeler’s deftly delivered revisionist take on gestalt is an eerie echo of his performances at Esalen, as is a must read for anyone who’s sat in a community meeting with the Esalen president or wonders how the institute has wound up where it is.

    The full article is available here [local backup]

    More excerpts follow:

    I did not find the accurate understanding of history and theory upon which the bold new steps were to be constructed and old contradictions resolved. Certainly my initial enthusiasm in scanning the book turned into incredulity and dismay at the theoretical weaknesses revealed by a thorough examination of the theory in this book… Read the rest of this entry »

  • December 1, 2011

    Esalen Point HouseFor the year of 2011, Nancy and Gordon Wheeler spent 69 nights in Point House lodging. They are allowed to to book them a year in advance. These rooms are generally full, and people wishing to book are often turned away, because the Wheelers are staying there for free. This is the bare minimum amount of money Esalen would have made in 2011 had the house been used instead by paying visitors:

    $44,100, plus 10% hotel tax = $48,510.00

    [The Wheelers receive over $200k yearly in salary and consulting fees, besides worldwide travel and lodging, from the financially suffering Esalen. They own 4 houses. —Ed.]