I note this man’s passing because I was there in spirit when Steven Gaskin led a calvacade of hippie conveyances across the U.S. I had devoured The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1968, the saga of Ken Kesey and his busload of stoned hippies crossing Amerika with a sign urging FURTHER . . . that book just about rolled me off my first marriage bed and out the door.
By 1970 I was done with that stultifying life and Gaskin’s even more electric 1971 journey leading 420 hippies out of San Francisco on the road to, it turned, out rural Tennessee, also caught my imagination. Then, over the next decades, I watched and learned and always, marveled, at their hippie staying power, their entrepenurial efforts, their evolving process and structure, their changing relationship to “money,” and their numbers, that even when dwindled, stayed usually way higher than most intentional communitites. Somehow, these pioneer rural hippies managed to “keep it together,” though not easily, even after Steven Gaskin stepped down from his original role as guru.
Here’s an obit from today.
Here’s an interesting story from 1986, re: why some members of The Farm left then. I haven’t yet read the whole thing, but it reminds me of other stories of the processes intentional communities go through. We need to celebrate their efforts; these small, intense, often failing or flailing experiments in human cooperation are helping us all to remember how to reconnect with each other again, after centuries of cut-throat, me-first separation.
Here’s some information on at least one shadow of The Farm that has, apparently, yet to be integrated — and makes me wonder if was implicated in Steven’s death. Was his heart simply too full of sorrow to continue on?