Hippie Family Values was honored with two awards in October. The Communal Studies Association presented its 2019 Outstanding Project Award to the film at its annual conference. As noted in my Autumn 2018 post, the CSA membership includes an eclectic mix of intentional community dwellers along with scholars from anthropology, history, religious studies, political science and other disciplines. So it was particularly gratifying to be recognized by these experts in all things community. I also had the pleasure of returning to the East Bay Media Center for a screening at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival, which presented HFV with the Grand Festival Award for Utopian Documentary.
When I was in town for the East Bay Media Center screening in June, I had the pleasure of spending two afternoons with Ramón and Judy Levy-Sender. Ramón, a musician, writer and artist, is a legendary figure in the Bay Area counterculture. With Stewart Brand, Bill Graham and Ken Kesey, he co-organized the 1966 Trips Festival. With Lou Gottlieb he co-founded the open-door commune Morning Star Ranch. and was later a pioneering member of Wheeler’s Ranch. With two other composers, he also co-founded San Francisco’s groundbreaking Tape Music Center, an incubator for experimental artists like filmmaker Bruce Connor and composer John Cage. Judy is also an artist and writer. I look forward to reconnecting with them in October, when Hippie Family Values screens at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival.
In July, I attended the International Communal Studies Association conference at Camphill Village outside of Hudson, NY. I arrived early for a three-day pre-conference immersion, living and working in the host community of developmentally diverse adults, along with conference goers from Israel to Rwanda. Friday night, the post-screening discussion with this global audience of scholars, activists and community residents underscored shared experiences, challenges and rewards across an incredible range of intentional communities.
A week later, I returned to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where I had spent the summer of 2016 with editor Jim Klein, turning 100+ hours of footage into a rough cut of the film. Yellow Springs was founded by followers of Robert Owen, who established the utopian community of New Harmony. It’s also the home of Jim’s alma mater Antioch College, shaped by visionary president Arthur Morgan, founder of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities (now the Foundation for Intentional Community). A stop on the Underground Railroad, a hotbed of civil rights and anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s, it was the perfect place to edit the film. Our screening at the historic Little Art Theatre packed the house, thanks to this terrific article in the Yellow Springs News.
A few days after her annual Mother’s Day Sale, Kate and I set off for a trio of back-to-back screenings. First stop: Telluride. Jill, our host at the Wilkinson Public Library, lays out a table of hors d’oeuvres, while Kate sets up an alluring display of mugs, bowls and other pieces, fresh from the kiln just a week or so before. Dulcie and Charris now live just 30 minutes outside town, and are there with Phoenix (a wriggling baby at the beginning of the film, now 12 years old) to join us for Q&A.
The next morning we’re back on the road, headed for a 7pm event at the Taos Center for the Arts, 350 miles away. We grab a quick bite at Zuma Natural Foods & General Store (and café) in tiny Mancos, CO, and head directly to the venue when we arrive in Taos. Our film is kicking off a weekend of “Counterculture Cinema” at the TCA, including a 50th anniversary screening of Easy Rider during “Dennis
Then it’s back up to Colorado for our third event in beautiful Salida, at a cool new venue housed in a historic church. Our gracious hosts in Salida are graphic designers/natural builders/adventurers Katie, Mike and 6-year old Dutch, whose guest room is a restored Airstream trailer.
We enjoyed spirited Q&As at all three screenings, and are already planning our next mini-tour through the Colorado Rockies.
Look out, Paonia!
On the first Saturday in March, I drive down I-19 from Tucson, then get off at the Amado exit and head west to Arivaca, AZ, a tiny hamlet just 11 miles north of the Mexican border, where Programmer Bart Santiello has created an annual Cinema Paradiso in the desert. I’m thrilled to find an audience of nearly 90 people squeezed into the community center for Hippie Family Values. It’s the final film of the two-day program, and after a lively Q&A, the crowd segues into the courtyard for a potluck dinner, but I must head down to La Gitana Cantina, the oldest bar in Arizona. The Wayback Machine is playing an after-party there, and soon people are crowding onto the back patio to join us for dancing under the stars on this cloudless spring night.
The following Saturday I’m in snowy Corvallis, Oregon, for a sold-out showing at the Darkside Cinema, a funky alt/indie/ movie theater in the historic downtown. Then in April, it’s back-to back screenings in Kansas, at Emporia State University (see review in Emporia Gazette) and the Lawrence Public Library. Just as in Arivaca, about 90 folks show up for the library screening, and we have to keep setting up more chairs to accommodate them. Joining me for post-screening discussion are eminent communal studies scholars Tim Miller and Deborah Altus, who conducted hundreds of interviews with commune dwellers from Florida to Alaska (with NEH funding!), and thus put the stories from the Ranch into a much broader context.
I love discovering these local countercultural scenes at each screening, and finding the connections from place to place, past to present, in the hippie diaspora that stretches across the continent.
Driving through the heart of NoCal’s Emerald Triangle, even with windows rolled up and AC on, an unmistakable aromatic fragrance fills the car… I’m headed south on the 101 from last night’s screening at Humboldt State to the Redwood Playhouse in Garberville. Thanks to promo help from KMUD DJ John Hardin (listen to his August 28 interview with me), the playhouse fills up nicely as showtime approaches.
But the speakers are not producing sound. In a last ditch effort, tech guru Dan Miller lights a bundle of sage and waves it beseechingly over the sound board. Miraculously, only a few minutes later, the screening proceeds without a hitch.
Flash forward to early October, deep in western Illinois farm country. Energy-generating windmills tower over fields of recently harvested corn and soybeans. Just west of Kewanee, the Communal Studies Association’s annual conference is being held at Bishop Hill, a well-preserved 19th century Swedish religious commune. Here I have the pleasure of sharing the film with scholars of communes and intentional communities, past and present – anthropologists, historians, political theorists, religious studies scholars – alongside longtime members of communities across the spectrum from The Farm in Tennessee, to the Jesus People USA on the north side of Chicago, to the Amana Colonies in Iowa.
In the course of two days, these new colleagues give me a new perspective on my own film. CSA founder Don Pitzer finds in Hippie Family Values “a graphic illustration of the developmental process within communal groups that I call ‘developmental communalism’” which he and sixteen other scholars elaborated in the 1997 book America’s Communal Utopias.
Briefly, in contrast to a simplistic success-failure model for assessing intentional communities, the lens of developmental communalism “examines whole movements and how they change over time, from their idealistic origins to their communal stages, and beyond…The communes of the most vital historic and current movements are creatively engaged in a developmental process that both precedes and may extend well after their communal phase.” Moving into its fifth decade, the Ranch community faces the inevitable challenges posed by the succession of generations.
Late on July 22, 2018 you may have felt a downshift in the rotation of the earth. That was mother nature trying to compensate for the loss of a prime force, Susana Mary Mincks. Sue was the Director of Fun, an incredible mother, wife and caring companion, beloved grandmother, devoted educator and a bright reassuring matriarch of how love is always the answer. A civil rights and anti-war activist in the 60’s, a pop-culture entrepreneur in the 70’s, a pioneer of Pima County Adult Education in the 80’s, an inspiration in the 90’s and a caregiver who never knew what ‘too much’ meant. She is survived by a family and tribe who can only hope to achieve at least a few of the kind of inspirational relationships which were common-place everyday occurrences for her. It takes a village… or Sue.
Here’s an update on upcoming screenings. AND I am thrilled to share the news that our film won the Award of Merit for Feature Documentary at the recent University Film & Video Association annual conference in Las Cruces last week!
SEP 1, 7pm
Humboldt State campus, Arcata, CA
SEP 2, 7pm
Redwood Playhouse, Garberville, CA
Communal Studies Association Conference, Bishop’s Hill, IL
Arivaca Film Exhibition, Arivaca, AZ
Other events brewing from Oregon to Kansas to Boston!
If you’d like to help me organize a screening near you, please contact me.
Our sold out April 12th screening at the Loft left over 100 people waiting at the door (photo shows Loft lobby before April 12th premiere). So we’ve scheduled an encore: Saturday May 26th at 2pm.
»Event details and purchase advance tickets
Meanwhile, our Phoenix area premiere is set for Sunday May 27th at 1pm, at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
»Event details and purchase advance tickets
I’ll be at both events for Q & A!
Please help us get the word out to your friends in the Valley, and to all who missed the Tucson premiere April 12th (or want to watch it again on the big screen!).
We had a fabulous time in Santa Fe last weekend: a dusting of snow the morning of the screening, a full house in the cozy cinematheque at the Center for Contemporary Arts, and a spirited Q&A. It was great to have three generations of Ranch women–Kate, Dulcie and Bella–there to answer questions with me, and such an enthusiastic, appreciative audience. Huge thanks to every one of you dear supporters who made it possible!!