Wednesday, 18 June 2014


Commune is a 2005 documentary film by Jonathan Berman. The film is about an intentional community located in Siskiyou County, California called Black Bear Ranch and features narration by Peter Coyote who himself once resided at Black Bear. Above is the trailer but here is a link for the full docu- film with Russuan subs. It goes well with a book I am reading by Richard Fairfield called The Modern Utopian: Alternative Communities Of The ‘60’s and ‘70’s, a quote from which is below. 

Winter Approaches
From Cold Mountain Farm, by Richard Fairfield
First published: The Modern Utopian, vol.3, no.2, spring 1969
Republished in the book The Modern Utopian, Process Press, 2010

So we all lived together, peaceably enough, until one night it was very, very cold, and wet and windy, and we could smell the coming of autumn. Then it was time to begin thinking about what we’d be doing in the winter- staying here or moving on- and making plans accordingly. Mostly we had to consider the hardship of a very cold winter, no gas or electricity, a one- mile dirt road, which would probably be inaccessible because of heavy snow (even during the summer, only jeeps and four- wheel- drive cars and trucks could climb the road).

There were five couples, three of the women were pregnant, and a fourth was nursing. The babies were due in October, November, and February. The first two couples wanted o deliver their own but not take the chance of doing it here. A single girl was already building her stone house for the winter. Another man intended to live in the big house for the winter. Almost all hoped to be here early next spring. By this time, two couples and a girl had moved entirely to their own shelters.

The communal garden was a monstrous failure. After the original enthusiasm of planting, hardly anyone cared enough to weed the rows. (Of course, the huge amount of rain this year retarded the growth of crops and caused the weeds to grow like crazy! And six acres is a hell of a lot of land to weed by hand. If we try again next year, we’ll certainly have to get a cultivator.) At least two acres of garden were lost, either because they weren’t weeded adequately or because they were planted too late and the growing season was too short, or because there wasn’t enough sun and there was too much rain, or because of the aphids, or the potato blight….

We didn’t become new people, we just became physically healthy people. We didn’t find a way of sharing our visions (in fact, we didn’t even have a conscious understanding of the need for such a thing), and we didn’t have a shared vision to bring us and hold us together.

We had ploughed and begun to plant the earth, but we had not pierced our own ego skins. Decay and stagnation had already set in. I went into the woods to meditate. The woods explained: it was high time we ploughed the earth of this community. We must apply the blade to ourselves and cut back the outer skin to expose the pulsing flesh. And then we must harrow and pulverise the outer skin and use our egos for compost. Then, in the new flesh, we must plant the seeds of the people we wish to become.

The Mandala of Great Nature, from The Modern Utopian

By North Utsire

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