Today we give the Weird Knowledge sector to one of the important fields of the science that more or less putting our brain cells into the chronologic order. We mean History of course.
We like it, because it also gives us some information that is shockingly unknown and lost in time. And as we are talking today about Communes, we have extracted from Hippie’s Oblivion the story of the lost City .
In today’s world, it’s a concept that sounds like the basis for a reality show cooked up under the careful eye of Armani-wearing big wigs: Throw a bunch of artists together and see if they can live away from society, nourished solely by their creative juices.
But back in 1965, this scenario was more real than any “reality” show ever would be.
Back then, it was an actual place. Located in south-central Colorado, it wasn’t on the grid, wasn’t for profit and wasn’t like anything yet to be seen (though it would be heavily copied).
It was DROP CITY
Referred to as the first hippie commune, this tight community of DIY geometric domes was grounded in a heady counter-culture combination of self-sufficiency, art and invention.
In 1965, the four original founders, Gene Bernofsky ("Curly"), JoAnn Bernofsky ("Jo"), Richard Kallweit ("Lard") and Clark Richert ("Clard"), art students and filmmakers from the University of Kansas and University of Colorado, bought a 7-acre (28,000 m2) tract of land about four miles (6 km) North of Trinidad, in southeaster Colorado. Their intention was to create a live-in work of Drop Art, continuing an art concept they had developed earlier at the University of Kansas. Drop Art (sometimes called "droppings") was informed by the "happenings" of Allan Kaprow and the impromptu performances, a few years earlier, of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Buckminster Fuller, at Black Mountain College.
As Drop City gained notoriety in the 1960s underground, people from around the world came to stay and work on the construction projects. Inspired by the architectural ideas of Buckminster Fuller and Steve Baer, residents constructed domes and zonohedra to house themselves, using geometric panels made from the metal of automobile roofs and other inexpensive materials. In 1967 the group, now consisting of 10 core people, won Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion award for their constructions. The Firesign Theatre folks had a commercial ~"kids, tear the top off your daddy's car, and send it, together with 10 cents in cash or coin, to Drop City, Colorado..."
The community grew in reputation and size, accelerated by media attention, including news reports on national television networks. The peak of Drop City's fame was the Joy Festival in June 1967, which attracted hundreds of hippies, some of whom stayed on. With the complex of eight domes and geometric buildings constructed, Curly and Jo, the only official owners of the property, signed it over to a non-profit corporation consisting of the entire core group (then about a dozen). The deed stipulated that the land was "forever free and open to all people".
But tensions and personality conflicts were already a problem within the group, and soon became unbearable. By the end of 1968, some of the original occupants of the community had moved to Boulder, Colorado to start an artists' cooperative, "Criss-Cross", whose purpose, like Drop City's, was to function in a "synergetic" interaction between peers (no bosses) to create experimental artistic innovation. Among the innovative endeavors to evolve out of Drop City are:
in 1969, the early solar energy company – Zomeworks, in Albuquerque, NM;
the artists' group "Criss-Cross", operative in New York and Colorado in the 1970s;
the development of the "61-Zone System" by ZomeTool of Boulder, Colorado;
and in the early 1980s, an important discovery of a cubic fusion of interpenetrating fractal tetrahedra by Richard Kallweit.
By 1970, many intentional communities had developed in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, some of which were inspired by Drop City. Libre, north of Gardner, Colorado was founded by several ex-"Droppers", and was among the more well known. Some communities continue to exist in some form today (notably in the Taos, NM area).
At Drop City, debris and building remnants from the original settlement remain at the site today, though it is not inhabited. By 1977 it was abandoned, and the members of the non-profit who were still in touch decided to sell off the site to the cattle rancher next door. The last of the iconic domes was taken down only in the late 1990s, by a truck repair facility which now occupies a portion of the site.