1967 Summer of Love
On January 14, 1967, the outdoor Human Be-In in San Francisco popularized hippie culture across the United States, with 30,000 hippies gathering in Golden Gate Park. The Monterey Pop Festival from June 16 to June 18 introduced the rock music of the counterculture to a wide audience and marked the start of the “Summer of Love”. Scott McKenzie‘s rendition of John Phillips‘ song, “San Francisco“, became a hit in the United States and Europe. The lyrics, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”, inspired thousands of young people from all over the world to travel to San Francisco, sometimes wearing flowers in their hair and distributing flowers to passersby, earning them the name, “Flower Children“.
Bands like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), and Jefferson Airplane continued to live in the Haight, but by the end of the summer, the incessant media coverage led the Diggers to declare the “death” of the hippie with a parade. According to the late poet Stormi Chambless, the hippies buried an effigy of a hippie in the Panhandle to demonstrate the end of his/her reign. Regarding this period of history, July 7, 1967, TIME magazine featured a cover story entitled, “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture”. The article described the guidelines of the hippie code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”
It is estimated that around 100,000 people traveled to San Francisco in the summer of 1967. The media was right behind them, casting a spotlight on the Haight-Ashbury district and popularizing the “hippie” label. With this increased attention, hippies found support for their ideas of love and peace but were also criticized for their anti-work, pro-drug, and permissive ethos. Misgivings about the hippie culture, particularly with regard to drug abuse and lenient morality, fueled the moral panics of the late 1960s.
When the Summer of Love finally ended, thousands of hippies left San Francisco, a large minority of them heading “back to the land”. These hippies created the largest number of intentional communities or communes in the history of the United States, forming an alternative, egalitarian farms, and homesteads in Northern California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, and other states. According to Timothy Miller, communes were organized in many different ways, some along religious, political, and even sexual orientation. Poet and writer Judson Jerome, who studied the American commune movement, estimates that by the early 1970s, about 750,000 people lived in more than ten thousand communes across the United States.
- The Farm
In 1967, Stephen Gaskin began to develop a philosophy of hippie perspectives at San Francisco State College, where he taught English, creative writing, and General Semantics. Gaskin’s “Monday Night Class” became a broad, open discussion group involving up to 1,500 students and other participants from the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1970, Gaskin and his wife, Ina May Gaskin, led a caravan of 60 buses, vans and trucks on a cross-country speaking tour. Along the way, they checked out various places that might be suitable for settlement. When they got back to San Francisco, they decided to return to Summertown, Tennessee, where they bought 1,700 acres (688 hectares) and created an intentional community called “The Farm“. The Farm became a widely respected, spiritually based hippie community that still thrives, although it is now more a hip village of 300 than a commune of 1,200. The Farm continues in many public-service and philanthropic enterprises through the Farm Midwifery Center, Plenty International, and other sub-organizations.
- Strawberry Fields
The second commune on the west coast
Started by former Boston stockbroker and later probation officer Gridley Wright, Strawberry Fields, named after the song by the Beatles, occupied forty-four acres of land in Decker Canyon, in the arid hills above Malibu, California. Nine adults and six children made up the original community, housed in two old houses and a barn. Over fifty people ended up there during its five months of existence. It was a stopping off place for Timothy Leary as well as other well-known figures in the psychedelic movement. Annie and the Family were one of the original families to take up residence there; they later went on to take part in the magical mystery tour and to live in a number of other communes in Europe.