Word arrived recently that a Pacific Rim Park installation in Vladivostok had been demolished. Soon after, we heard about a terrible fire at Findhorn, the spiritual retreat in Scotland where one of James’s windows had found a home.

Once again, we find ourselves questioning“fire, space and wonder,” as Jim once put it after the Cedar fire devastated Ilan-Lael and we lost half our buildings. “Tragedy is part of what we accept whenwe come into this world, as well as joy,” James says in his book, “The Shadow Side of the Moon: The Cedar Fire.”

“It is how we choose to look on the rhythm of life. If we feel life must be controlled, then we must suffer, for it will not be. If we accept and trust mystery and the unending rhythms if the tapestry of life, each day can be a day of wonder.” The loss of Vladivostok and the window at Findhorn is — once again in the world of Ilan-Lael — an opportunity gained. We will meet the challenge with awe and beauty.

Farewell to a Jewel-like Celebration of Light

Findhorn News

Findhorn, the spiritual retreat center in northeast Scotland, lost two important buildings in April — and a significant James Hubbell-designed window — to arson. We soon received a letter from Roger Doudna, Coordinator at Findhorn Foundation Fellowship and Chairman of the Board at Park Eco Village Trust, which follows, and we are happy to report that we have the original drawings here at Ilan-Lael. Another firebird will be reborn, perhaps with your help!

Dear Jim,

Though I have sent word of the fires here to all the Fellows, including you, I have been deliberately delaying writing to you about the Firebird window panel that you so kindly sent here 33 years ago. It was meant to go on to Russia, but didn’t because we didn’t find someone we could trust with it at the time. It is with deep regret that I must now inform you that the recent fire in the Community Centre consumed it entirely. For what it’s worth, the loss of this exquisite piece was, for me, the real loss from the fires. The rest was bricks and mortar. The Firebird was art and I treasured it above almost all else which we value here. Only the Universal Hall itself and your windows there do I value more …

…it seems the burned properties (i.e. Community Centre and Sanctuary) are both insured for ‘replacement value’, and the lost objects within for ‘sentimental value’. The Firebird definitely qualifies as an object with sentimental value to us. Caroline Shaw has asked me to ask if you have any sense of what it might cost you to replace the Firebird today? Do you still have the original design for it? And can you suggest someone who might be able and willing to do that job for us on a commission basis?

As you may remember, Janet Banks helped Otto (Rigan) and Mayme (Kratz) with [other windows at Findhorn] and has done quite a lot of glass work herself. There are other glass artists in the area too, but we’re talking about having it done properly and are open to your suggestions about who, what and where it could be done.Is it better done in your workshop and senthere or done here under your guidance (if that’s possible)?

I hope you and Anne are still well and busy. And I look forward to hearing what you suggest.

—Sincerely, Roger

Farewell to Soil and Soul Park!

An Open Letter from James Hubbell and Kyle Bergman

The first Pacific Rim Park was built in Vladivostok in 1994. It was built on the site of the Far Eastern State University, the largest university in Eastern Russia. The University gave PRP a great site at the top of the city’s beautiful funicular station, overlooking the entire port of Vladivostok. Several years ago, the University moved locations, and the entire university site was poised to be developed. The site is now under construction for a new cultural center for Vladivostok. Last week the park was removed to make way for the land’s new use.

We are sad that the park is no longer standing, but also grateful for all of the doors that making the park opened. It was a great adventure to build that park. The stories and lore are epic, and the process of creating it formed the very DNA of the Pacific Rim Park project.

One of the many amazing things that happened during its building was when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the world-renowned Nobel Prize winning Russian author and political dissident, returned to Russia after 20 years in exile, Vladivostok was his entry point. During his short stay he came to our construction site to talk with us because he liked seeing Russian and American students working together. It was an early sign that the park touched people’s imagination.

It’s hard to talk about the park and not remember Gennady Turmov, who passed away last year. The Pacific Rim Park would not have happened as we know it without Gennady, who was the President of the University. Although the park is no longer standing, the friendships built there remain strong today. Pacific Rim Park is a family and has a family tree. The original site of the park in Vladivostok is connected to the parks that followed. Let’s pull together and continue the legacy by building a new park in Vladivostok and in more cities around the Pacific. The park’s removal is not an ending but an opening, an opportunity for more adventures as we grow the PRP family.

—James Hubbell & Kyle Bergman

When Battlements Open

A poem by James Hubbell, 1994

Across the sweep of a great land
from Pacific cliff to ancient Celtic coves
stretch lands and forests
On hills and bays in the farthest corner
to the east. To the southa fortress grew,
defenders of Czars and commissars.

Why, here, did we cometo build within the walls
and battlements above the Pacific fleet,
above this Vladivostok,a city boxed and silent
for half a century?
Why did we come?

We, too, built walls not to close, but to open.
Not to name, but to celebrate.
An amphitheater built by the
hands of the young,at times in the mud
their ancestors knew so well.

Built ‘til the bodies ached, built from bricks that had
walled the old, city from stone that had known the sea,
built to celebrate, to listen …
we placed a white pearl to remember the beginning.

May this effort be an opening,a birth, a magic place,
a place where angels enter in, where hope is born.

Enter this sacred land.
Bring again the song of the Firebird
that trees may whisper the love to all the people,
where leaves long fallen on a forgotten earth
will move again.
Bring back hope to a tortured land.
Awaken again, the beauty
that is the soul of Russia.

Please make sure to visit our new Pacific Rim Park website where you can view images and learn more about all the Pacific Rim Park sites.

PHOTO: Architect Alina Mizevich steps on to the site amid broken bricks and scrap wood to rescue fragments of “Soil and Soul Park” for use in a future park.
Saving fragments for use in a future park, 2021.
The pearl during demolition, 2021.
The pearl during demolition, 2021.
Fragments of the pearl, 2021.
Saving pieces of the demolished "Soil and Soul Park" for use in a future park, 2021.
The original bronze plaque for "Soil and Soil Park," 2021.
In an attempt to save the park, it was boarded up, 2019.
Vladivostok’s “Soil & Soul Park” under construction by students, 1994.
Vladivostok’s “Soil & Soul Park” with mosaic pearl and finished stone amphitheater, the very first Pacific Rim Park built in Vladivostok in 1994.

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