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.
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.