Communal Studies Association Conference, Day Two

Today Ramon, Delia, Art and I shared our experiences and fielded questions as a panel on northern California communes. I think the point I am trying to make in this picture is about bonding.

My sister, a psychologist, taught me that physical closeness with emotional openness (which she calls bonding) is a human need on the level of food, air, and water; certainly babies die when they are deprived of it. She says that bonding is scarce in modern societies, and that lack of bonding is the source of much of what we call mental illness. I think that the hippie communes of the 1960’s grew out of a hunger for bonding and the deep relaxation derived from an abundance of it. The bonding that we offered one another created relationships far more deep and durable than those with our blood relations, indeed, here we sat, Ramon, Delia and I, as close as family members nearly forty years after we met, due to the immensely intimate experience of living outdoors together in an anarchistic society.

I found homes for a whole bunch of my books, CDs and t-shirts among the attendees of the conference.

In the late afternoon, Nicholas Alva presented his musical Morningstar Idyll, based on the story of Morningstar commune, with songs by Ramon Sender, Joe Dolce, me, and others. Steve Fowler, an actor formerly with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and a neighbor and long time close friend of Lou Gottlieb’s played him so closely I felt he was channeling Lou’s spirit. Delia’s son Jeremy Sharp played Ramon Sender. Nick himself narrated, and a colorful cast of Gen X and Gen Y folks sang and danced the parts of the hippie folk. I was moved to tears when the full cast sang and danced my song “Thanksgiving Hymn” (the fifth song on Music From Living on the Earth). Afterwards, the cast presented me with a bouquet.

Boats on Tomales Bay as seen from the Marconi Conference Center.