Children of The 1970’s Commune

“A rigorous home-grown diet, mystical jargon, and meditation in a tepee”

via: “The Commune Comes to America,” Life, July 18, 1969, pp. 16–23:

“Their hair and dress, their pioneer spirit, even their Indian teepees evoke the nation’s frontier beginnings. These young people were members of a commune, which they created for themselves as a new and radical way of living. Scores of these communes sprung up all across the U.S. In the wilderness areas of the West, Southwest, and New England, the new settlers built their own homes, adobe huts, log cabins, geodesic domes–share their money and labor, and legislate their own laws and taboos.
According to LIFE, the youthful pioneers, unlike the earlier Americans who went into the wilderness to seek their fortunes, were refugees from affluence. Though there have been previous such experiments in the U.S., the communes represented an evolution of the philosophy and life-style of the hippie movement. Most members fled the big cities—New York’s East Village, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury—where they were beset by crime, police harassment, squalor, and disillusionment. They sought in the land, and in one another, meaningful work, mutual love and spiritual rebirth. Their religion was rooted in many faiths—among them Christianity, Hinduism, and Zen Buddhism. Some communes permit LSD and marijuana, but many discouraged their use or even banned them. Some take a broad view of sexual morality, but in many communes couples practice traditional American monogamy, and sexual behavior is often surprisingly pristine. Young children, however, are raised by all the adults and by the older children of the commune, which itself was often referred to as “the Family.”

Full article and addional photos here

7 Responses

    • well, I hate to pressure you, but you certainly peaked my interest Melissa. And now I feel like maybe you might need to write us a follow up post about that. I’d love to hear more!

    • Well I have nothing to complain about as I have half the amount of young boys as you, Jessica but I will keep the idea in my mind. Gimme like six months. haha.

  • The circle of friends we tend to associate with in our small river town have started a commune. It is slow growing, but they have purchased a parcel of land and have recruited several families (we were asked, but we don’t plan to stay here, although the land is absolutely beautiful and the idea is fascinating). There will be a common building and individual and group homes, community gardens and pastures for cows, sheep, chickens. The idea is to be self-sustaining, live incredibly simply, and return to roots. I was able to sit and have coffee at the couple’s house who is starting it one morning and it was incredibly interesting stuff…loved this read and thank you for sharing it! I think I would happily live on a commune and have that constant cameraderie and the knowledge that friends were always around to visit with and to help out.

  • When I was in my first year of college, I was determined to join a commune. I read everything I could find and then found one that was in a rural area just outside my town. I ended up writing a paper on it for a Sociology class. I went to visit it and took my husband (who was my new boyfriend at the time) and was amazed at how wonderfully polite the children were. Everyone there was so nice. We were supposed to stay overnight and there was a small snowstorm that fell while we were there too. But they wouldn’t let us sleep in the same room, so we opted to go home. I never could pull the trigger because although it was so nice it was a religious commune. It seems that most of the communities I’ve found are either not productive because they allow drugs and chaos ensues or they are successful and religious. Most of the people on the commune I visited were deadheads who were sick of living in a drug culture but didn’t want to conform to mainstream society and so they adopted religion to help them through. They would come to shows and after would pass out pamphlets and ask people to join them or visit.

    I think I’ve read about some that are newer urban type communes where people buy a large house or apartment complex together. Most of them pool everyone’s resources and have a what’s yours is mine philosophy, which I don’t know I could get on board with completely. However I do like the idea of the whole community raising the children together and that although you mostly count on your own parents, you know you can learn and feel comfortable with the other adults within the community..

  • I remember being around some hippie commune people (very briefly – like a couple of hours/party) in my area in the early 70’s. I was about 13-14 , these people were much older than me, in their 20’s. Not going in to details how I ended up there…I vividly remember me and my friends being really turned off at the hippie moms sitting in a circle holding babies and kids running around everywhere, some breastfeeding, just tokin’ away smoking pot & drinking. It just felt wrong with the little kids around. The moms all were wasted. The entire group looked dirty – I am sure they were very poor, too. The guys – ugh – just no. We didn’t stay long.

    That was my experience – I knew – no communes for me!

  • In the late 1970’s I had just finished my Associates Degree after my first hitch in the Army and read this People Magazine article about a kid hitchhiking to work from the Renaissance Commune found dead in a ditch with multiple stab wounds in the back that the local coroner tried to label a “suicide” so I packed all my stuff up in my car and drove up there from Connecticut. I spent a couple years there doing half a dozen jobs with the Commune’s various projects with an incredible diversity of individuals from all over the world and met the first great love of my life whom I lived out in a tepee in the woods with in the last Summer of the 1970’s taking moonlight swims in the small pond beside it. It was a memorable happy experience although my family was totally freaked out when the Jonestown Cult mass suicide happened and my uncle offered to let my best friend from high school take one of his guns when he went to check up on me there, which I thought was funny. Wherever I go the big dark dramas we see on television always tend to turn into situation comedies. I don’t know why that is, but I like it.


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