inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #26 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Mon 25 Sep 00 08:49
    

Yeah - that's how I pictured it. We used to come visit Coyote at Olema, and
it was just, you know, an afternoon's enterprise.

Also, was BB as much Coyote's place, or was he just another participant
there? I had the impression that Olema was definitely Coyote's house.
I was one of the people that, as you suggest, had the notion that there was
this network of communes of which Olema was the most accessible but they
were all part of a somewhat fluid community. How much did people move around
among these joints, or was that a total fiction?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #27 of 77: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 25 Sep 00 09:46
    
What a place to choose.  That part of California -- in particular Sawyers 
Bar -- is still unimaginably remote.  What year did you guys start?

In 1970 long haired friends of mine from Oakland and Skyline high schools
went hiking in the southern Trinity alps and were run out of the city park
in Red Bluff on the way home.  Where we were having a non-alcohol,
non-smoking picnic, the only thing making us objectionable probably being
loud conversation, generally dirty post-backbacking dust patina and said
hair.  And that's Red Bluff, a much bigger town on a major road.  Sawyer's 
Bar was so culturally remote from all the bohemian and hip and 
revolutionary upwelling.  
 
Why choose that place part of the back country? 
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #28 of 77: Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 25 Sep 00 10:53
    

If Black Bear hadn't been so remote, hundreds of people would have probably
passed through and stayed a few nights. That doesn't make for a stable
community. It makes for more of a crash pad. To get to Black Bear you have
to go down a twisting dirt road. Unless you know the way, you can't tell
where to turn when that road meets and equally twisting, dirt logging road.
Because it was remote, it took real desire to get there and real dedication
to stay. And no, it wasn't coyote's place. The interesting thing about Black
Bear was that it was never anyone's place. It was one of the few communes
with no single charismatic leader. Anarchist in the best sense of  the word,
Black Bear was run communally. The land did (and still does) belong to no
one and everyone, and everyone ran the place (although the meetings were
often endless and the conversations sometimes a bit too lively).

To reply to an earlier question: how did I know about Black Bear?
I had friends from Berkeley who had gone up there to live. Did I
think it would affect my novels? Nope. I wasn't a novelist at the
time in any extensive sense. I had had one novel published by
Shameless Hussy Press (one of the first feminist presses--a whole
story in itself), but primarily I thought of myself as a poet. But I didn't
go up there to write poetry. I went up there to live a different sort of
life. I've always been uncomfortable with
American materialism and in 1973, I was also acutely uncomfortable with
American foreign policy in Vietnam. I figured there had to be a different,
better, more real way to live. I found it at Black Bear. It wasn't a perfect
place, but it gave you a new way of experiencing life.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #29 of 77: Carol Hamilton (carolhamilton) Mon 25 Sep 00 11:58
    
In response to the question, "Why Sawyer's Bar?" I must say it was
just luck. A group from S.F. provided the impetus to get the land, and
they wanted a place where they could do anything they wanted without
the oversight of the law. For this, they figured they needed a very
remote place. 

When Elsa spotted Big Sky Realty, in Fort Jones, she yelled, "Stop."
and went in to see their listings. Black Bear Ranch had been on the
market for some time without any bites. It fit the criterion of being
remote. It also didn't cost too much, was surrounded by National
Forest, had clear year-round streams, a large mainhouse, a 100-yr-old
barn, very tall grass, indicating fertility, fruit trees--in short,
everything we were looking for. Sawyer's Bar was just incidental. They
had the closest post office. We soon found more friends in Forks of
Salmon and changed our post office box to Forks. 
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #30 of 77: Susan Keese (susankmag) Mon 25 Sep 00 14:29
    

I want to re-emphasize Mary's remark about the difference between
Olema and Black Bear. Though he tried at times to disavow the idea of
hierarchy, Coyote was the leader of the commune at Olema. And I agree
that one of the things that made Black Bear unique was the absence of a
central charismatic figure (it often seemed that everyone was walking
around as an archetype or hero of their own mythology) or unified
philosophy.
   In fact, I think we overestimated, when we started, the extent to
which our visions agreed. Everyone was into saying "Yeah man I dig,"
and making eye contact and assuming that they were on the same page. Or
maybe I am just speaking for my very young self at the time.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #31 of 77: whatsamatterU (dwaite) Mon 25 Sep 00 14:32
    
Sawyers Bar.  hmm.  I spent a summer hitchicking up and down the pacific
coast.  I may have been one of the few folks who crashed there for a couple
of days.  I met this wonderfull woman and her daughter in a (not a VS, but
like a VW) mini-van, who invied me for a hot meal and a shower.  I remember
it being a commune of some sorts, but don't reember much else or anyones
name.  Summer of 78.  I wonder if that's wehre I ended up.  Were there other
communities up in that area?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #32 of 77: Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 25 Sep 00 15:21
    

If you had a hot shower, you weren't at Black Bear (unless we'd been
baking bread and the water in the stove reservoir was hot and you
happened to get there first). Were there a whole lot of people at
the meal you had and did they all have their own plate and cup and
a little cubby to put it in when they were done? If you ate with
one or even four or five people, you were probably somewhere else.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #33 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Mon 25 Sep 00 18:24
    

>>Though he tried at times to disavow the idea of
 hierarchy, Coyote was the leader of the commune at Olema.

That rings so true with me - and I did indeed wonder about whether he was as
influential up there too.

This is so interesting!
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #34 of 77: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 25 Sep 00 19:19
    

I was wondering, given the times, if there ever was a problem where people
assumed you were like the Manson Family when Black Bear first started?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #35 of 77: Don Monkerud (don-monkerud) Mon 25 Sep 00 20:53
    
Remember that the Manson family happened after we'd been living at BB
for several years. I recall getting a copy of the NYT, Harriet's father
gave us a subscription for a time, and we were all shocked and
saddened by the Manson story. The Manson Family looked like us, sang
and played guitar, lived communally and we felt that this would set us
back years. People who saw us would instantly make the connection, or
we feared they would. We saw the world as a straight-hip dichotomy. 

We fancied ourselves somewhat as outlaws also, living outside lawful
society, smoking dope, dropping acid, having sex, letting it all hang
out. But I will also agree with some earlier comments, people reacted
to us in different ways. Most kept their distance and reacted
fearfully, but some were attracted to the energy, the joy, the critique
of the society. Funny to look back on a time when you could meet
someone and have instant rapport just because of the way you looked.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #36 of 77: Susan Keese (susankmag) Tue 26 Sep 00 05:00
    
I want to address two questions that have been asked.... one about
whether Coyote was influential at Black Bear. Coyote was influential
wherever he went. He has a commanding presence and is just that kind of
person. But the forces fighting 'followership' were very strong in
most of the individuals at Black Bear. When he visited and spoke,
people listened as they would to a respected brother, then mostly went
their own ways. I think too there was something in the irrepressible
anarchy of BBR that offended Coyote's deep-seated affinity for order. I
often thought I detected a judgmental edge in Coyote's attitude toward
Black Bear, though I think we were all trying very hard not to be
judgmental of anything at the time.

    Regarding the attitude of the locals towards us. Without
disagreeing with what anyone else has said,  I think it should be
remembered that the so-called straight people who ended up living in a
remote place like Sawyers Bar and Forks of Salmon were an odd lot in
their own right, tough and freedom-loving and not always on the best
terms with mainstream society themselves. 
   Over the years People at the ranch formed many important
relationships with their neighbors, especially with the local indians,
the Karuk and Hoopa. There are quite a few stories in the book that go
into detail about these friendships.  Later on (long after I left, in
the mid to late seventies) the remaining people at Black Bear -- of
whom Malcolm was one -- formed a forestry cooperative called Ent, Inc
that at one point employed more people than any other business in the
area.  I believe neighboring Yreka had a large Mormon population which
could never become reconciled to the sinful ways of the communards.  
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #37 of 77: whatsamaterU (dwaite) Tue 26 Sep 00 06:48
    
I don't recall a shower.  but now that you mention it.  I kinda felt on my
own to eat, but ended up eating with the mother and her daughter.  I crashed
in what they called the big house, if that helps...  Although I don't
remember other houses, just a couple of sheds or small barns.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #38 of 77: Earl Crabb (esoft) Tue 26 Sep 00 08:53
    
There were two stories in the book that mentioned an incident
in which someone was burned, and two remedies were applied.

In one story, the two remedies were applied side-by-side, and
one side ended up with no scar, while the other scarred.

In the other story, the two remedies were applied sequentially.

Is it commonplace that such incidents are remembered so differently
by BB people?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #39 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Tue 26 Sep 00 12:44
    

>>Ent, Inc

That is lovely!
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #40 of 77: low as dogs, high as kites (sd) Tue 26 Sep 00 12:51
    
who said the ents were moot?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #41 of 77: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 26 Sep 00 14:13
    

Whatever happened to Coyote?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #42 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Tue 26 Sep 00 14:24
    
He's around. Reasonably busy as an actor, mainly, I guess. I run into him
from time to time up here in SF.  Others will know better than I, for
sure.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #43 of 77: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 26 Sep 00 15:24
    
This is Peter Coyote you're talking about, I presume?
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #44 of 77: dog (bud) Tue 26 Sep 00 15:58
    
Not to drift too much, but, although I enjoyed his book, his was the
type of personality that I avoided back in "those days". The group I
glued myself to wasn't very well known and we stayed around the
Martinez area. Revolving between there and River Pines. Not very far
away, but enough for us at the time.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #45 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Tue 26 Sep 00 18:20
    

(Cynthia - yes.)
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #46 of 77: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 26 Sep 00 19:02
    

So Peter Coyote was the charismatic leader of a commune near Olema, if I
read this correctly?  That's confusing to me, because I know that Peter
Coyote spent some time at Black Bear.  So he was actually at both??
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #47 of 77: Susan Keese (susankmag) Tue 26 Sep 00 19:57
    
To address Earl's question -- in working the book I was aware that two
people recalled the story of Dick Valdez burns rather differently. We
three editors talked about it and decided-- and stated in the intro, I
believe -- that we would let each piece speak, Rashomen-style, for each
person's memory. You know what they say about the sixties -- if you
remember them, you weren't there.   I think I have an excellent memory
-- plus as a writer, I was taking notes, even back then. But when I
passed the piece that I wrote around to double check it, there were
people who said, 'That's not the way I remember it.'
   If you read all the pieces you will find that many of them
contradict one another in spirit or viewpoint as well as in fact. But
collectively I think they convey a sense of What It Was Like better
than if we had narrowed it down to a single definitive version. There
never was a single definitive version of anything at Black Bear!
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #48 of 77: Don Monkerud (don-monkerud) Tue 26 Sep 00 20:43
    
Coyote did visit several times. His bus broke down and a number of
people stayed for several weeks at BB. He did carry on, stories, talk
till all hours, plans running at 90 mph. Because several hundred people
had come and Coyote stayed for this short period, some of us, me
included, felt overwhelmed. We avoided the main house (no big house
here) and ate in small groups, avoided the main house for the most part
and did our own thing, complaining most of the time about too many
people being there, how we were overrun etc. BB was always best when
the roads were closed and there were fewer people, as I suppose any
place is.

In light of Susan's comments about the local people, my comments about
how people thought of us had more to do with the outlying areas;
especially places like Yreka and Etna, the nearest "towns." People who
lived on the river gradually became friends, after an initially
critical stance -- we were city kids, didn't know up from down,
wouldn't last a season, etc. Some of the old timers had come from
places like NYC during after the depression or WWII or the Korean War
and adopted us, seeing in us, I believe the spirit of their own youth.
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #49 of 77: OZRO W. CHILDS (oz) Tue 26 Sep 00 22:08
    
I'm wondering how the Black Bear children turned out.  Do you think most of
them resented their unconventional childhood or teenage years, or look back
on it with longing?  Do the parents have regrets, or do they think their
kids ended up far better and successful than they probably would have been
otherwise (there are, of course, many possible definitions for
"successful").
  
inkwell.vue.88 : FREE LAND, FREE LOVE: Tales of a Wilderness Commune
permalink #50 of 77: blather storm (lolly) Tue 26 Sep 00 22:57
    

(Maybe some helpful context re Coyote - he was one of the Diggers in the
Haight area back in the 60s. Susan mentions them in her post <8>. It seemed
to me - correct me if I'm wrong! - that many of the communes were spin-offs
from or extensions of this group. Ron Thelin to Red House in Forest Knolls,
Coyote to Olema - etc. Black Bear certainly prototypical, or at least to
those of us who DIDN'T ever get up there, mythological. What are the others,
Wheeler? um, what else? Anyway, whether or not there was really a sense of
network probably depends on who you talk to. But Coyote was pretty well
known among this crowd, as he was a rather charismatic guy and he collected
devotees to some extent. You can read his memoir, "Sleeping Where I Fall"
for his own point of view.)
  

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