From Me, to You Archive

#1 2009
CRYPTOZOOLOGY
July 2008: NEW BUFFALO!

I recently made a return trip to one of my favorite places, the northern New Mexico area (around the town of Taos). Aside from being one of the most beautiful locations in the world, this region has a long history as a haven for artists, writers, and bohemians. In the early 20th century, Georgia O’Keefe, D.H. Lawrence, and Ansel Adams are among the many who found inspiration in this primitive landscape. As the century drew past the half-way mark, others were drawn here also. In the sixties–seventies it was a thriving location for a bold social experiment that, using the old hackneyed cliché, became known as the “hippie commune”. Groups of young, free thinking individuals sought to create a home for themselves off the grid of material consumerism. Literally building their adobe pueblos by hand directly from the earth, these hard working, life loving kids attempted to be self-reliant and live according to the principles in which they believed. Peace, love, tolerance, freedom, harmony with nature. Naïve, quaint ideas perhaps in today’s fast paced, in your face, get out of my way, on demand, society. But these are ideas from which we could all obviously benefit tremendously today. The communes were the world in a microcosm. All the problems, frustrations, and disagreements had to be worked through just as in the larger world outside. The rewards were deeply gratifying and the question remained the same as today: Can we find a way to successfully live together on this planet through hard work and co-operation? The communes of New Mexico, and elsewhere, met with some success. A few of them still exist. Several of the key players went on to make great contributions in other walks of life and some of them are very well known. Others carved out a place for themselves and made an impression in a smaller, but no less important fashion. One of the communes that is making a sincere come-back is the pueblo of “New Buffalo” in the Arroyo Hondo area north of Taos, New Mexico. I have visited New Buffalo and have been fortunate enough to develop a cyber-friendship with the author of a fascinating book, written in two volumes, entitled New Buffalo: Journals From a Taos Commune and it’s sequel, Leaving New Buffalo Commune. The author is Arthur Kopecky, who was a long-standing and important member of the commune. The books are his journals of life and experiences there. It’s impossible to recommend these books highly enough! An amazing story that still hasn’t reached its conclusion after some 40 years. I’m sure that I am not alone in noticing that we have many of the same problems now that troubled us all back in the day. War, poverty, prejudice, the ecology… There are lessons still to be gained from these ideas of so long ago. These books will, at the very least, inspire the reader to think outside of the box about ways to live, and the things that really matter in this world at the end of the day. Growing is taking experience and knowledge and building upon it using what we now know. No matter what our political beliefs, our ethnic backgrounds, our economic, or social class, the truth is, we all have to share this chunk of rock hurtling through space. Can we find a way to do it? This is the question these kids attempted to answer way back in that distant age. And you know what, by blood, sweat, and tears they were able in their small way to find some answers, and not always the answers they expected. But they’ve come closer than anyone else has since, and for that alone, they deserve a very special place in America’s history. I firmly believe we haven’t heard the last of the “peace and love” message. At least I hope not, for all of our sakes! The story of New Buffalo is incredibly inspiring. By all means read these books and visit the author’s web-site, www.arthurkopecky.com. There’s plenty more related reading that may be of interest:

Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie by Iris Keltz
Beside The Rio Hondo by Pheadra Greenwood
Flashing on the Sixties by Lisa Law
Sleeping Where I Fall by Peter Coyote
Huerfano by Roberta Price
Imagine Nation by Peter Braunstein and Michael Doyle
The 60’s Communes by Timothy Miller
Beneath the Diamond Sky by Barney Hoskyns
Any title by Stephen Gaskin

All are available on Amazon.com

The list could go on and on, far too many titles to entirely list here. As always, FM2U is intended as a starting point in these areas of interest. To continue the discussion, please drop me a line through this web-site…

enjoy the journey,
Jimmy