My Communitarian Journey
Below are chapter and page links to the new community visions I've had beginning in 1968 with the Communiversity proposal and continuing on through the years working with communitarians and tribal people, working to bring to reality to these projects with varying degrees of success and failure over my 50 years span as a social change and environmental protection activist.
I wrote the Communiversity proposal with the aim of sharing my eco-community concept for communitarians in an ad in the now long gone L.A. Free Press. Only one response but it was the one needed, a fellow communitarian who had inherited one of the original communal magazines, The Modern Utopian, along with its mailing list. We gathered in four more families and after a search for land to start a communitarian organizing commune, we landed in 1972 at Lime Saddle in the Sierra foothills halfway between Paradise and Oroville, CA. and Lime Saddle Commune was born.
Lime Saddle Commune - - Communities Magazine
We weren't like most communes in that we worked, and worked and worked. Long hours spent on getting a late garden in, individual cabins made, and communal outreach starting the publishing of Communities Magazine in 1972. I developed two more cooperative concepts then, the holistic social change by replacement ideology found in my Communitarian Socialism Notes and then shortly afterwards, the Communergy System. But my Communiversity proposal in the hands of Lime Saddle members was more or less dropped in favor of a more standard intentional community model, the Communitarian Village proposal. We did attempt to start a Communitarian Village in Oregon but our effort was so blasted as dangerously stupid by our own commune lawyer, focused only on writing his book on how to buy land, that our down payment on the land site was almost lost and the Communitarian Village effort dissolved. Lime Saddle lost it's reason for being for me then as focus turned to more radical outreach in the Bay Area and radical politics, lesbian separatism sweeping ideologically through the women, and Lime Saddle Commune fell apart after about four years. European-Americans do not know the first thing about cooperative living even though professing radical lifestyle change. Ego trips abounded and we even had our "guru" we didn't know about until we figured out all Lime Saddle Commune and Communities Magazine correspondence was going through one man and to the outside world, he was "Lime Saddle". We were firmly against usurpation of power over other communal members and it didn't take too long for original founders to start leaving including my wife and I and our two children and two other Lime Saddle members. We packed up after three years and after a brief spate of attempting to change Lime Saddle* we headed west eventually arriving at the Thomas Ranch in Humboldt County in 1975. In 1974 I also authored the World Community Land Trust* and with it impressed the United World Federalists organization with its former U.N. president head Dag Hammarskj÷ld and then current president Donald Keys who offered me a Fellowship with that organization. I didn't take their Fellowship as the body of the organization had no interest in my World Community Land Trust concept when I submitted it to them, unlike their leadership.
* See Coup de Ville
* Also see World Communities
Personal computers were just beginning to come into public usage. We even had a computer whiz making his own computer in a wooden box at Lime Saddle. Self-sufficiency rests on Information about available technologies, past and present, so it's a natural fit for computers to be used somewhere along the line for self-sufficiency cooperative community designing. But in 1972, a "communergy" system was a new concept. The idea did spark interest in a couple of other communal groups and even a Communergy network was begun unknown to me, the originator of the idea, by our own Lime Saddle office manager. A few more incidents of communal deception resulting in members leaving eventually forced us to leave too. But these types of obviously un-cooperative behavior were actually normal in communes formed by young Americans kids totally unfamiliar with cooperative living, and eventually, it was ego trips that killed most communal ventures.
I am a dedicated Communitarian, but I am not communal.
Been there, done that, and it's not for me.
Cooperative decision-making isn't easy
After struggling for years trying to materialize only a few of these new community projects, specifically a cooperative Communiversity community, then Lime Saddle Commune, Communities Magazine and the Communitarian Village, a brief rebellion, Coup de Ville, then finally onto the South Fork Salmon Creek Land Trust, all of these failed cooperative community ventures, I have come to the conclusion that intentional communities are very hard to organize if people desire to do it themselves and do it democratically. This is probably why most surviving intentional communities are tightly run authoritarian religious communities where major decision-making is left to a small council of elders or the community's founding spiritual leader and/or appointed successors.
Figuring out a way of setting up a cooperative community that is still loose enough for allowing individual self-determination like the freedom we have living in the mostly chance arrangements of existing towns and cities is the key issue for me these days. Cooperative decision-making in intentional communities striving to be democratic can sometimes be so unbearably difficult that people just give up or get fed up with other people trying to run their lives for them. This problem was a killer one for our commune, Lime Saddle, that I and my first wife helped organize in 1971. As I said power trips abounded and it doesn't surprise me any longer that the 1960's and 1970's communal movement went the way of the dinosaurs. The trick for communitarians today is figuring out how to co-operatize existing communities or build new ones that can figuratively socially fly, that is, they can rise above petty bickering and still provide the benefits of cooperative lifestyles.
"Eutopia" means "a Good Place". It is the opposite of Paranoia. Eutopia is an environment wherein one can relax, enjoy and love life in peace and security. It's more than this too so this Eutopia link is devoted to proto-biomystical ideas of "the Good Place".
1975 was another quite eventful year for me. My marriage, struggling to hold together even before Lime Saddle, finally came apart. It seems high stress does produce creative results with me, unfortunately. In 1975 I arrived at the Climax Social Evolution Theory. I painted my masterpiece work, the Ariel Lome painting. I changed my name in good hippie fashion to Ariel to represent my commitment to creating alternative America, something we hippies did like European Jews changing their names when they arrived in Israel. Eutopia was still in the air despite the collapse of America's Second Communitarian Movement. Jonestown and the fire-bombing of the SLA Commune changed America's mind about tolerating another American communal movement. At Lime Saddle before we left we watched our Communities Magazine subscription list plummet and later watched as most all American communes bit the dust within the next few years. Already established Christian communities whose members didn't mind the mind-numbing social restrictions and authoritarian leadership went on as before as if nothing had happened.
We were part of the Counterculture Revolution but our changes that we had made in our own lives failed to translate into mass cultural change or political action by Americans fed up with a dysfunctional social/economic system. The violence of the Left and ideological ties to militant totalitarian socialism scared mainstream America. So instead of moving to the Left and towards communitarian consciousness, America moved even more to the Right while the Super Rich gobbled up government politicians and transformed America into an open plutocracy.
Climax Social Evolution Theory and the Climax Series
This is the central organizing principle of all my social change ideas. It is a new holistic social evolution theory based on the biological succession climax community pattern seen in the natural world. The theory provides a basis for judging the ultimate value of things made in human society by using predictive analysis of which things will last and which will become extinct. It removes time and effort developing things that can't hold up yet consume most of everyone's livelihoods to produce.
The Climax Series shows how Climax Social Evolution Theory provides a holistic social and technological change parameter to set up sustainable social systems for eventually replacing all of existing dystopic ones. I did once organize all my communitarian ideas around the Climax Social Evolution Theory but found that "communitarian" is the better term for my social change outlook and community outlook, at least for sharing such ideas with others. That "Climax" word kind of bothers some people, not me of course, being bio-mystical and all..
South Fork Salmon Creek Land Trust
We were still a commune of sorts, our little family and three stray adults but gone was enthusiasm for intentional living as before. Too many problems and so the South Fork of Salmon Creek Land Trust was formed by me and a new partner, communal living finishing off my old marriage when I had hoped it would keep it together. "Learning experiences". My life is full of them. No sooner did we organize a group of eight ten homesteaders when the powers that be decided that hippies in Humboldt County couldn't get away with growing pot and the first of the large multi-agency drug eradication task forces descended on our land trust community and the adjoining one, grouping altogether about 16 homesteading families on about a 1000 acres of land to pull out every single pot plant the cops could find. We were counting on our crops to pay for the land mortgage and we did go into foreclosure that year barely pulling out of it in 1978. In 1979 something happened to me. I met God in a most amazing religious conversion experience and my life was changed forever afterwards.
Religious Conversion in 1979
I was a former atheist but a visionary and now I became a religious visionary as well. What a life! And of course God just had to give me a completely new radical set of Christian beliefs that would exclude me from comfortable fellowship in most any Christian church in America. Well, that whole side of me, Stephen as a religious person, is to me such a joke as I am not religious at all in the usual sense. But there's no denying that I am a visionary person, visions of all types, and that's what counted to God I guess, so I became a "Biomystic" and my life got intellectually complicated to say the least trying to balance my old communitarian social change activist self with this new set of religious beliefs.
New Community Models
These are the various cooperative community concepts I have proposed and often engaged in as a community organizer over the decades. They are only models for new communitarian social structures and not blueprints for reproducing exact replicas, e.g. the Communiversity model morphed into the Communitarian Village project under communal input. Time and circumstances determine the appropriate communitarian systems. But I believe they are good beginning models and present new ways of organizing our communities. In 1993 while living for a brief time in Carmel I proposed a Fort Ord conversion plan that would replace the whole army base with a "communiversity" type eco-community oriented teaching college or university. See the Monterey Projects page.
I am an inventor since childhood creating new things out of old or inventing new concepts. Since becoming a communitarian activist early on plus being the son of a carpenter, (and my son a carpenter too) I've naturally directed my inventiveness towards new community technology such as "Communikits", new ways of building. The Bigloo concept is my latest new building technology idea.
Well, of course with my love of animals and the history of Life I was into environmental protection and recovery and in 1968 wrote my first "eco-community" concept, the Communiversity. Environmental projects show further concern for eco-designing to stop the present continuing degradation of the planet by human community dysfunction.
You can thank the Vietnam War for putting the kabosh on my career as an artist and starting me on the trail of impoverishment as I directed my life to helping to establish new cooperative community where none previously existed. The Need for Holistic Social Change was uppermost in my mind as all the prevailing counter-culture remedies for American dysfuntionality were all one-sided viewpoints, sharing with the old Communist ideology a lack of holistic social vision. I tended to think that actual communitarian development accomplished more than mountains of theory because by building eco-community one gets the feedback loop where bad designing shows up pretty quick, unlike your typical governmental programs usually years out of date.
When the LEFT was still alive it handed off its radical ideology to the environmental activist movement where it did not belong at all. Only cooperative ideology knows how to create human community that can share the planet with the rest of Life. Look at what happened when radical Communism took over in Europe and China: they out did America and capitalists in producing toxic technology and environmental ruin. When I was doing my environmental activism I ran up again the leftover Leftist war ideology constantly, and it took literally 20 years for true environmental protection to overcome radical environmentalism. I and other community organizers have proven that the ideological bridge between peoples and their national allegiances however manipulated by corporate capitalism, still could and did change to meet ecological reality. And this changeover can and must happen worldwide if we are to survive as a species.
I've always had a natural inclination to bond with non-European descended people. I can look back at my childhood interest in the Brothers of the Spear stories in Tarzan comics for my inspiration, two boys, one European white, one African black, buddies together through thick and thin. My own close childhood friends were often Hispanic boys and this continued into adulthood, switching eventually to Native American friendships. My work with the Bear River tribe brought me into tribal association and concerns for over 20 years and there still no end in sight for that because of the still needed NACUA economic development project that holds so much promise for Native American economic growth and prosperity. Tribal-Communitarian Federation was the natural ideology that followed my life friendships.
Well, so much for organizing my old communitarian notes as historical documents. I'm 74 as of this writing and was looking forward to finishing up the old damaged Ariel Lome painting as the new Ariel Salome painting. Then painting more. But noooo..endless visionary brain says there's potential social change up the yin-yang in those old notes and bingo! Communitarian Club - - as new basis to change the world (diapers).
The Communitarian Club is my latest social change organizing project. We didn't have the Internet back in 1972 when we created Communities Magazine as an outreach periodical for communitarians to organize themselves into various co-operative community groups and ventures. We didn't have Facebook or Amazon and when I see again what we were trying to do with our annual Communities Commune Directory, how we tried to organize communitarian social change via putting people in touch with each other, well, the thought does come to mind, "Why not try communitarian society via a communitarian social activist network? So the Communitarian Club concept was born. Check it out if you want to replace Amazon and Facebook in your life and stop feeding the Super Rich plutocracy and its anti-Life on Earth political-economic system's control over America and the world.