I really appreciate the references to Stephen Gaskin’s legendary Monday Evening classes in the hazy, halcyonic days when the Haight was the epicenter of the hippie subculture, and “The Farm,” the commune he founded in Tennessee – one of the few hippie communes from the period that still around today, albeit in altered form. The title character in the Grateful Dead song “Saint Stephen” is said to have been influenced in part by Gaskin
(“Did he doubt or did he try?
Answers aplenty in the bye and bye
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
One man gathers what another man spills”)
It is intriguing that The Farm tried to do without money, with everybody pooling their resources, share-and-share-alike. That experiment didn’t exactly end well – hence the transformation from commune to co-op, with The Farm serving as the umbrella for several entities that did turn a profit over time.
In my hometown of Modesto, Harmony Enterprises is a thriving tie-dye company created by one of the families that helped found The Farm, then fled during that transition from commune to co-op. They are nice people, but have nothing kind to say about their years-long experience, nor Gaskin’s leadership; though I have not died too deep in those waters, best I can tell their complaint boiled down to the tension between the claims of the non-earners on the earnings of those who worked outside the commune and how that was resolved (I’m not sure which side of the divide they were on).
Intriguing that even one of the more successful utopian communes emerging from the sixties still had to take money into account . . .