Washington Post Article on Hippie History

5 myths about Hippies – by the WaPo

Quote from article:

“Yet it’s less the case that the hippies died out, disappeared or faded away, and more that all of us became hippies…. Yoga, to name one example, was championed by hippies long before it became a mainstream phenomenon. The same goes for organic food and vegetarian, whole-grain diets. And hippies celebrated casual dress, especially blue jeans and androgynous styles, rejecting the conventional wisdom that clothing should be formal and gender-specific. Their fashion sense paved the way for our current era, when many Americans wear casual clothing for all occasions and fewer and fewer workplaces require employees to dress up. All of these things, once considered symbols of the hippie lifestyle, are now fully entrenched in American culture.”

 

Masculinity on The Farm Commune – and much more!

The following link and quotes are from an extensive piece about both Stephen Gaskin and the gender roles on The Farm Commune. Those looking for insight into various details should read the entire chapter, which was well researched.

As a former member of The Farm, I can attest to the accuracy of many of the quotes and suppositions.

http://www.gutenberg-e.org/hodgdon/14_Ch_04-1_ed.html

On Sexual Relations

“Gaskin taught that heterosexual union could serve as an important form of yoga: that is, a body-mind discipline that developed individuals’ capacity to focus energy from the astral onto the material plane. He referred to this sexual yoga as tantric loving or tantric balling. In conventional sexual practice, he said, men (who, we will recall, were inclined toward the “hyper–John Wayne” by American culture) tended to rush headlong toward orgasm. What was lost in this egoistic haste was the possibility that the two partners could help one another quiet their minds and concentrate their attention on the flow of astral energy through the nervous system.60 To create this meditative state, it was important to proceed slowly, beginning with a generalized, deep massaging of the partners’ musculature.”

On Marriage

“Gaskin also shocked many in the counterculture with his advocacy of lifelong marriage, but, in light of the spiritual centrality of both karmic and tantric yoga in his teaching, marriage of some sort became a necessary component of his utopia. The law of karma pointed toward the importance of fair dealing with all persons. But the intimacy and vulnerability of sexual relationships—especially those of the tantric variety—presented many ethical challenges for Gaskin and his village of believers, who sought to change the world by introducing a pure, spiritual “vibe” into worldly affairs. ”

On Mental Health

“In one Sunday-morning service, Stephen told his followers that his goal for his students was that, if he were to allow a “fairly disturbed” person to pass through the front gate unannounced, each of them would interact with the newcomer with a compassion and truthfulness that would promptly cure him or her. This musing reflected his faith that an approach to mental health modeled after the “sudden school” of Zen could cure most of the disorders that modern medicine had classified—he believed, incorrectly—as illnesses. One former member testifies that, in fact, serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, proved impervious to this approach. Yet he calls Stephen’s teaching on this point a “small-t truth,” noting that the community’s consistent application of it to cases in which former mental patients had been misdiagnosed, and had come to believe their diagnosis, yielded impressive results. “It took about a week, and people were absolutely as normal as anyone else. I saw that a lot.”

On Division of Labor

“Mothers not otherwise occupied could leave the household to volunteer for work on the farming crew, at community kitchens, the soy dairy, the canning-and-freezing facility, the community’s school, and the telephone switchboard. In place of a dial tone, Beatnik Bell’s users heard a message prepared daily by the system’s operators, detailing items available at the store, as well as the labor needs of various work crews and cottage industries. Women’s labor both inside and outside the household contributed substantially to the community, because The Farm attempted to make up for its relative lack of capital by mustering many hands.”

It’s fair to say this particular online book explores many facets of The Farm in a deeper manner than many others.

Stephen Gaskin, free thinker and founder of the The Farm Commune, passes away at 79

By Craig Issod

Stephen Gaskin – well known founder of the The Farm Commune – died peacefully surrounded by family on July 1, 2014.

As a former resident of The Farm, I am in touch with hundreds of members and extended family and friends – most of whom consider Stephen to have been a force for good in their lives.

Stephen married my wife and I and we had our first child on The Farm – using The Farm midwives. I learned my first trades on The Farm and was able to parlay that knowledge into a number of successful careers.

Here are a couple links to news stories about Stephen’s passing:
Washington Post
New York Times

Here is a link to one of our articles written about The Farm:

A link to the current Farm Community.

I have many of my own thoughts about The Farm and Stephen’s influence on myself and others. I’ll share some here:

“First, I think I learned that brave people are truly few. Stephen, with all his faults, rose way above the pack in terms of bravery (putting himself out front – sticking to ideals). Not to venerate – because I feel that’s a human weakness, but we do need more people who act in the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” manner. On a more personal note, I think many of Stephens teaching were those of the ages…just modified for the way we (in the counterculture/baby boomers) communicated. He also emphasized DOING over being conceptual.”

“Dazzle them with your Fancy Footwork” is a quote I attribute to Stephen – not sure if I just heard it or if it was written.
In context the meaning was “hey, y’all have long hair and a funny way of dressing and talking, so when you go to work for other people do a MUCH better job than they expect and they will react properly”. In other words, hard work and honestly cut across all lines of society. It’s a simple but effective piece of wisdom which probably existed long ago and has been stated in other ways since. But we hippies had to hear it in a way that it appealed to us!”

Stephen’s influence is too wide and deep to fit in any article or book. However, as just one example, here is a small tribute to Stephen written by The Woz – Apple Computer founder – Steve Wozniak:

“In every walk of life we take care of each other and owe all that we achieve to friends and family. How we treat other humans is much more important than creating products and wealth. Our principles in life should always be much more important than that. As much as we can teach others, our actions and examples pass on the goodness in our heads to others.
Thank you for inspiration at a critical time in my life when I was deciding what sort of person I wanted to be.”

I think the Woz summed it up for many of us. Inspiration when we were deciding what kind of people we wanted to be….

And so, let me Thank A Hippie – Thank You, Stephen…

Note – picture below is not posted on this site – it’s from Robert Altman, a famous photographer.
Stephen Gaskin - by Robert Altman

Growing up Hippie – Living with the Rastafarians

Growing Up Hippie – Living with the Rastafarians
written by Craig Issod – © 2012
Republishing allowed with credit…

Introduction

I was born in Philadelphia in November of 1953 – a baby boomer, for certain, albeit on the younger end of that generation. Although many periods in history are full of upheaval and change, there is something unique about the speed and severity of the changes which started to occur as I entered primary school. The sequence of events are fairly well known, but to see them close at hand as a growing child was quite alarming.

I was 7 years old when JFK was elected and definitely remember all the hubbub. The country was ecstatic over our young and vibrant President and his beautiful family. The space race was on and I distinctly remember the feeling of pride as the first astronauts were conquering the unknown of space flight. The heroes of my youth were folks like Chuck Yeager, who flew the X-15 and John Glenn, the first man to orbit the earth. Those were heady times – but they seemed to come crashing down with the assassination of JFK. Most every member of my generation remembers exactly what they were doing at the very moment – and then, sadly, in the days that followed. I was in third grade at the time and remember our teacher sitting down and crying and telling us all. We kids also cried and were sent home early. The nation was transfixed as we watched events unfold from there.

For many Americans, this was the end of innocence – and while it may have been a faux innocence, it was never the less quite real to those of us who were children at the time.
Continue reading Growing up Hippie – Living with the Rastafarians

Music – the soundtrack of the hippie life

Jefferson Airplane in Central Park
Jefferson Airplane in Central Park

Music was a very important aspect of the counterculture – in fact, it may have been the single most important communication medium of the time. Virtually every home in the USA had a record player – and most people had multiple radios as well as TV – although Television was not the main medium for music. The rise of FM radio in the mid 1960’s assured better signal strength and much higher quality.

Book have been written on the music of the 60’s so we will not attempt to replicate that here. Rather I will lay out some of the major musical types, basic timelines and other facts and opinions which will give a historical overview.

For ease of classification, I will break down 60’s music into genres – although, as we will see, the music soon transcended any narrow definitions. What can be said is that the majority of the music is staunchly AMERICAN and that, by and large, it ended up conquering the entire world.
Continue reading Music – the soundtrack of the hippie life

Editorial: What was the hippie movement really all about?

Drugs?
Sex?
Rock n’ Roll?
Woodstock?
The Grateful Dead?
Abbie Hoffman?

Actually, it was about none of these things – but our popular culture and mass media need ways of defining and categorizing movements, so many of these descriptors are used instead of the more difficult reality.

A more accurate synopsis of the counterculture might be found by pulling some words, phrases and song titles/lyrics from the time.

The beat of a different drummer (think different, open your mind)
With a little help from my friends (community)
When I’m 64 (positive living and aging)
If 6 was 9 (alternative ways of looking at the world)
Castles Made of Sand (life it temporary and often a tragedy, but make the best of it)
Let it Be (know what you can change and what you cannot)
Presence of the Lord (spirit)
Freedom (Richie Havens – quest for equality and personal freedoms)
Are you Experienced? (do you know the “great unsaid” – referring often to deep spirituality)
Our House – coming out the other end and living a happy and grateful life

The hippie period of history was one where “all the balls were in the air”. The combination of distrust in the society, the government, the police and other institutions put almost everything up for grabs. However, human beings desire structure as well as direction. We in the hippie movement knew what we DID NOT want, but the question of what we actually did want was much more difficult!

Most in the counterculture were very young – so-called “hippies” were often as young as 15 (I was!) to as old as 25 (although a very few were older). In a general sense, the counterculture consisted of young men and women who had not yet taken their place in society.

So, what to do???

Much of the answer was found in a single book of the era – in fact, most every true member of the counterculture probably read this tome as it contained the instructions about “what to do next”.

That book was Be Here Now – but Richard Alpert (Ram Dass):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Here_Now_(book)

Richard Alpert, for those not familiar, was one of the two Harvard Doctors (he, along with Timothy Leary) who first experimented with LSD and other major hallucinogens. Much of this experimentation was done legally – and with the blessings of the school as well as other institutions. It was only after “the man” (government, law and order, etc.) discovered that these compounds were a danger to their authoritarianism and consumer culture (the status quo) that they were make illegal. By that point it was too late to put the drugs back on the shelve – the secret was out and Leary and Alpert proceeded to turn on many millions of people worldwide (illegally, by that time).

Be Here Now (Amazon link):
http://amzn.to/1i0wHnR

The book made a number of important points, specifically:

1. Mind (your head, your outlook) creates your world
2. Drugs were just a quick shortcut for a peek at true spirituality – they are not the True Path to a good life.
3. A real life entails “chopping wood and carrying water” in the Zen Buddhist sense – meaning that you wake up each day and do what needs to be done to continue with life.

These may sound like simple guidelines, but to many people – even today – they reinforce that life is about daily living – about the so-called “here and now”, as opposed to worrying about the future and the past.

The book was, as wikipedia puts it, a “seminal work” and “the counterculture bible” and it’s influence on the direction of the counterculture cannot be underestimated. It drove many of the movements toward “back to the land” and “right livelihood” which took root in the early 1970’s.

Technology and the Hippies – Overview

“Forget antiwar protests, Woodstock, even long hair.
The real legacy of the sixties generation is the computer revolution” – Stewart Brand in an article from Time Magazine
(Article is reprinted here on our site)

Many of the articles, FAQ and presentations on this site will detail further about how personal computers, the hacker and maker ethics, open source software, online communities and the internet blossomed directly from the counterculture. Art, science and technology combined into the brew that created much of our modern and connected world.

Some well known books on the subject are linked below:

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

Here’s a  link to a well written review

——————————

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

——————————

Specifically, the personal computing and networking world was born out of visions – NOT just visions to sell more things, but visions of how to connect the world and give us all access to information and knowledge. As chronicled in the books above, much of this grew from worldviews which were influenced by psychedelic drugs.

Using Steve Jobs as an example:

“Steve Jobs grew up in a lower-middle class suburban neighborhood in the 1960s. When he was a young adult, in theearly 1970s, he delved into eastern mysticism, Zen Buddhism, and hippie ideals.”

* “I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.” – Steve Jobs

* At another time, Jobs said “taking LSD was “one of the two or three most important things” he did in his life.”
Article Link: Did Taking LSD Make Steve Jobs more creative?
Apple - Founders
One hardly needs to say more – the defining persona of the entire personal computer revolution was a hippie! LSD and other drug experimentation was just one of his many counterculture habits. He was known to walk around barefoot or with small tattered sandals, eat raw or vegan foods and even eschew frequent bathing!

Steve Wozniak was also, as the pictures show, a long hair, prankster and hacker. As a drop of the University of California Berkeley, he certainly fits the definition of a counterculture member. His ethics are pure “hippiedom” – i.e. he’s not in it for the money, he enjoys nothing more than helping people, etc. – and, as a bona fide of his hippie roots, he paid for and organized the US Festivals, some of the largest post-Woodstock rock festivals ever created.
US Festival Link
US Festival Link2

Although the two Steves are famous examples, many of those working hard on the code and hardware had lofty ideals of changing the world. This site will document many of the unsung (and sung) heroes of the baby boomer generation who took part in the technology and other recent revolutions.

*by no means is this site promoting the use of illegal drugs, walking barefoot in the modern world nor avoiding showers or baths. These are just indications from the past that Steve and others were members of the “counterculture” in various ways. We would, as a matter of recommendations, suggest healthy eating and lifestyles as well as meditations and other spiritual pursuits.