Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Friday, February 4, 2022

"Changing the Perception"

"Years after its founding, the Fellowship experienced a series of controversial incidents that led to the decline of its wine business. Allegations of sexual abuse and end-of-world prophecies that never came to fruition seemed to hurt the perception of the group and its leader. To be fair, despite allegations, Burton has never been convicted of what has been alleged and Dambeck said a lot of things that have been said about the Fellowship haven’t been entirely accurate or fair (emphasis added).

"But that’s not why we were at the Fellowship that day and perhaps those perceived inaccuracies and misconceptions can be cleared up at another time. On this day, we were at Apollo to see another unique aspect of the foothills and the beauty it can offer for visitors."

[ed. - A local reporter is charmed by Steven Dambeck and his visit to Oregon House. Most businesses cited in the story, including Artisan Lavinia, Clover Cafe, Yubakami, and Grant-Eddie are owned and operated by Fellowship members. YES Charter Academy is heavily influenced by the Fellowship.

To be  fair, Mr. Summa, if you read this blog, you'll find a lot of things that have been said about the Fellowship by Fellowship members haven't been entirely accurate or fair. That's worth another story in itself.

UPDATE: It is reported that, as a result of an ultimatum from Robert Burton, Steven Dambeck has chosen to take a leave of absence from the Fellowship.]

"Changing the perception: a tour of the foothills and what it has to offer"


February 4, 2022

By Robert Summa

“If you build it, they will come.”

That famous line from the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” perfectly sums up what some in the foothills of Yuba County are trying to do to not only change the perception of the area but also bring more economic opportunities for the people who call the place home.

Earlier this week, I met with longtime foothills resident Steven Dambeck, a 40-year resident of Oregon House who is seeking to bring change to a region of the county that is ripe with potential.

His passion for the area and its people is evident from the moment you meet him. A current member of the Fellowship of Friends, a somewhat controversial non-denominational religious organization that has called Oregon House home for years and is filled with a plethora of stories waiting to be told, Dambeck has a kind, loving spirit and an eagerness to sell the place he has took pride in for so many years.

Currently, Dambeck leases about 12 acres of land on the Fellowship property for a business he calls Yubakami. But what he wants for the foothills would not only benefit him, but also the county as a whole and the industrious residents who reside in this remote landscape filled with twisting roads and immense beauty.

What Dambeck said the foothills desperately needs is a way for the small-scale farmers of the area to more easily get their delicious products into the hands of more consumers. He said by doing so, the foothills would see greater economic prosperity among some that are struggling to get their homegrown goods out to a wider audience.

His plan, Dambeck said, was to get what he called a “food hub” into the foothills that would provide services such as a creamery and slaughterhouse. Services that are needed so farmers there can expand their clientele and scale up production. To achieve this, Dambeck said he would be seeking to get Yuba County’s help in developing a business plan for the underserved area.

Along with a food hub, Dambeck wants to help foster the creation of more experiences in the foothills that could provide a reason for visitors, such as those from the Bay Area or Sacramento, to stay longer and make the trip more of an extended visit. After spending nearly an entire day with Dambeck this week, the possibility of those experiences was on full display.

With me on my tour was CEO of the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce, Marni Sanders. She’s an important part of what Dambeck is trying to accomplish. He wants to demonstrate not only what’s possible business-wise in the foothills, but also highlight the diverse personalities of some of the kind-hearted souls who occupy these lands and what the area could offer if the necessary improvements were made.

He said the fertile alluvial soil found in different areas within the foothills was ideal for farmers. During the tour, he pointed to several empty lots where if people were willing, could be turned into productive and successful farming opportunities.

“We have to find farmers who care about the land,” said Dambeck. “And we need to find markets for the farmers.”

He said this area that once served gold miners was now pristine land just ready to be used.