The Diggers and the Summer of Love

Living on the Earth-Digger bread-100 dpi
Page 57 of Living on the Earth, with the Diggers’ recipe for
mass quantities of bread baked in coffee cans to serve
for free at their 2 PM soup kitchen in the panhandle
of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, in 1967.

Mmmm, the Summer of Love.

I was living in San Francisco the year before (1966), and, in my 17 year old eyes, it was all magic, artists and musicians, color and innovation.

I was visiting family in Ann Arbor, Michigan when the media created the Summer of Love. In March 1967, two articles about the hip scene in the Haight Ashbury appeared, one in Time Magazine and one in Esquire. Before that date, none of the freaks I met in Ann Arbor had heard of the Haight; after that date, all of the freaks I met were planning to go. Multiply that times everywhere freaks were.

When I came back after a winter of wandering, the Haight was crowded and sodden with hard drug users and dealers, winos, panhandlers, young runaways, and various religious orders trying to recruit converts. So, I settled in the houseboat haven at Gate 5, Sausalito, which, in 1967, was all magic, artists and musicians, color and innovation.  Soon I began working out of my own art studio there.

I met Peter Coyote in the Haight Ashbury Free Store one day and learned about what the Diggers were doing that summer. Now THAT was magical: The response of the resident artists and musicians to the wave of human misery that was the Summer of Love breaking over the Haight Ashbury. They fed people at 2 PM, daily, they opened “free stores” that gave away donated clothing and furnishings, they started a free clinic that still operates. It was compassion in action. May the Diggers be forever celebrated in the history of Bay Area counterculture.

Still Peace and Love,

Alicia Bay Laurel