Hippies invading Sonoma County, California again!

With the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco coming up, the West County Museum in Sebastopol is mounting an exhibit “The Hippies” that will open Oct. 30, 2016. The curators have collected memorabilia from the Hippie elders in our midst to recreate the environment that these rebels against consumerism and conformity built in the forests of Graton and Occidental 1966-1973.

Morning Star Ranch in Graton was owned by Lou Gottlieb, the bassist of The Limeliters a hit folk group of the 60’s. He opened his property to all, and refugees from the Haight quickly settled in. They built their own shacks, lived without electricity and often clothes, exchanged the work ethic for the ethics of living in nature in a state of “voluntary primitivism.” Sex and drugs, pot and LSD, guitars and any handy noise makers, were freely enjoyed by the denizens, but not by all their neighbors. The County Sheriff and Health Department became involved after vociferous complaints, and after many fines and much legal maneuvering by Gottlieb trying to keep his commune open, the County bulldozers destroyed the huts, and the now homeless hippies were forced to relocate.

Some moved to Morning Star East in New Mexico, but others to a few miles away in Occidental, where Bill Wheeler felt that he had enough land to share, and the hippies moved in. The land was free to all, but the living was too free for a neighbor who felt that the lifestyle was a threat to his children. Again, after legal action, the bulldozers moved in, and the hippie commune era in Sonoma County came to an end.

The West County Museum, 261 S. Main Street, Sebastopol, is open Thursday to Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


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