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Hearthshire Community and Hearth School

Index of Articles

Land Reunion '96 by Claude
Hearthshire School by Jasmine

See also:

Web site for Hearth School (minimalist version) and The New Hearthshire Forum (requires password after emailing their webmaster)

Hearth Land

Mailing address for Hearth School: PO Box 210631, San Francisco, CA 94121.

Note from editor: Emilia has been the driving force in getting these materials to me. She sent the three evocative photos of the reunion which are posted on this page. They remind me of Roundtop in Oregon where KF was building a country home ... so very long ago. Like some ancient instinctual urge to return to the mother stream, these digger archives seem to be a siren call for us survivors. --en

     

Land Reunion '96

By Claude

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Over the 1996 summer solstice, one hundred members of the Hearth community, gathering from such divers locales as New York, New Mexico, Micronesia, Mexico, and the West, celebrated their 25th year of stewardship, and the 29th year of liberation, of "the land." Fifty acres located in the saddle between Poonkinney and Imtomel, northwest of Covelo, California, the land is yet another branch of the Digger tree rooted in the Haight, 1967.

Visions of urban apocalypse emerged out of my experiences in San Francisco, and by July 1967, I had placed an order with the Cosmic Redistribution Service for rural land that would be refuge and a place where survival skills could be learned and taught. Bill Love (Loughborough) and Alan Myerson, of the Committee Theatre, introduced me to Bill Buck (William Benson Buck III), who quickly grasped the concept and offered money to help. By October 1967 H'Lane and I had found and bought the land, an army truck, and some other equipment. Bill Buck's generosity amounted to some $11,000.

By March 1968 we were residing on the land, maintaining contact with Digger and Free Family folks in San Francisco and Marin. We felt we were a sister to the Black Bear community, although in the first three years we had a very low population.

In 1971 H'Lane and I decided to move with our children, Clane and Haud, to New Mexico, where I still live. Having defined the land as having been "removed from commerce," we sought out a new steward for the land. I believe it was at the Briceland truck stop that we encountered the parents and kids of Hearthshire School on an outing in someone's WWII "duck" vehicle. We offered to give them the land if they would accept solemn stewardship over it and honor its original vision. In April 1971 they accepted.

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To make a long story short, Hearthshire (now the Hearth School, a legally constituted California educational nonprofit) had a long history of social/educational experiments, and raised a fine crop of kids, occupying the land up until about 10 years ago. At that point, consensus was reached that de-occupation and restoration were necessary. Everything - the detritus of 19 years of anarchic occupancy - was cleaned up, and no one lived there until recently, when Glen Bear (aged 85) moved up, erected a tipi, and took up residency for his final years. He had last lived there in 1972, and still feels it is the most beautiful land he has ever seen. He is, I believe, helping the land by clearing up some of the accumulated dead and down fuelwood that threatens the old growth douglas firs and ponderosas. Stewardship continues.

As "steward emeritus," I have periodically visited the land and with members of its community to nourish the legend of the Digger legacy. I commend the Hearth community for their dedication to the founding vision, and am now partaking with them in a process of evolving our vision to reflect certain realities of the mid-'90's, and our own increasing awareness of the land's needs. We are also defending the original boundary of the land, which is presently being wrongfully contested by a rancher neighbor who ought to know better.

This is just a sketch in a long and intense history of activity on this land. A.L. Kroeber knew of this ridge and mentions it (in "The Handbook of the California Indians") as the boundary between the acorn/basket weaver cultures and the river valley/salmon fisher folk cultures; in fact, a boundary between two major language groups. They met there to fight or trade. Artifacts of these peoples have been found there, and their descendants live nearby.

Keep the faith.

Claude Hayward

[At the moment, I'm not online. Reach out to me at HCR 67, Box 5, Anton Chico, NM 87711; (505)427-4202.]

     

Hearthshire School

By Jasmine


My experience with Hearthshire School started in August 1968 at a sign-up booth at a fair in Precita Park in San Francisco. Evidently the Shire School, the original "free school" in San Francisco, had a full enrollment, and so the spillover, led by Michael Shire, Pam Gogulski, and Paula and Al Martinet (who dropped out when he became politically involved with the Brown Power movement), made use of incorporation papers from "The Hearth" (a community preschool located in a church basement in the Haight) to form a new free school. Some of the Hearth students and parents also made the transition to Hearthshire. We amended the papers to include children up to age eighteen and, later, people of all religions and sexual preferences.

Hearthshire School was free in every sense. There was no tuition, and we had no mandatory classes. The teachers donated their time and materials, and money for expenses such as rent was also donated. Many of the teachers were parents, but there were also some altruistic people who had no children and worked for the love of it. We had a number of school sites, beginning in downtown San Francisco on Bryant Street, and in the Mission district, first at 16th and Bryant Streets, and later at an old building with a vacant lot that eventually became the home of Kaliflower. Some of the families were nuclear, but many of us lived communally, at houses variously located at Church Street, Valencia Street, Capp Street, and Laidley Street.

The school was very big on field trips. We would go on day trips to Muir Beach to gather mussels, or to Mt. Diablo. Some field trips were more political, as some teachers took interested students to the riots at San Francisco State or People's Park. We also went on a two-week camping trip to the Mendocino National Forest, and to Big Sur.

More and more we felt we wanted our children to run free, away from the confinements of the city. One of our community inherited money and donated it to the school to buy land. In the spring of 1971 we headed up toward Humboldt County, and ran into Claude and H'Lane Hayward at the Briceland garage. They had property near Covelo that they were willing to give to us as long as we maintained it as open land. We agreed, and the papers were quickly transferred.

In May 1971, I arrived at the land with my six-month old baby and my two older children, along with a group of Hearthshire parents and teachers and many children (some of whose parents remained in the city), and a group from the Oakland Free Bakery who had come by way of Black Bear. Some other members of the community were already there, having made the trek from Briceland to Covelo by horseback over the mountains.

At the time we arrived, the only existing structure on the land was an A-frame barn. That summer Claude joined us for a short time and organized a mammoth barn raising that used pure people power to greatly enlarge the barn's capacity. There were a few individual cabins built, but the barn became the community center where most of us ate and slept and partied during cold weather. During the summer, most activity took place just outside the barn under some huge old fir trees, our outdoor kitchen. Because we parents and teachers were so busy building, putting in sanitation systems, and feeding everybody, there was little in the way of formal classes. The children tended to run in packs. More and more single young people began to show up.

When winter finally came, many of the children whose families had stayed in the city returned there. The first winter there were upwards of 20 people living in the barn, and we had over 60 people, drumming and feasting, to celebrate our first Thanksgiving. Still, many found that first winter too hard (we were snowed in most of that time), and the situation just too primitive with no electricity or running water. By the second winter, the majority of families had left.

Over the next few years came a series of new people, mostly single, intrigued by the challenge of living on the land. These were widely diverse, including gay men and women, Vietnam vets, teenaged runaways. Most stayed only a short time, but nobody forgot the experience.

I myself left the land in 1978 to move down into Round Valley, fifteen miles away, after my two older children had left to go to public school and my younger son began making demands to do the same.

A few years later an offshoot of Hearthshire School sprang up in Round Valley, and lasted for about five or six years. Some children who attended were born at the land or their parents had lived there, so there was a close connection.

Today there is only one person living on the land, Glenwood Bear, who had lived there during its heyday and who has returned to live his last years there.

The land has seen a lot. Children have been born and others conceived there. There has been a death by suicide and a shooting incident. There have been many gardens, many feasts, much music. Our community is now spread over the world, but it is still close knit. We gather every year at summer solstice to have our annual meeting and party. We also have workshops where young people from the Hearthshire (now Hearth) community and the local community come to learn crafts, to create ceremonies, to experiment with wilderness skills.

This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Hearthshire on the land. The beautiful, open, and loving young people who came are living proof of the ideals of our community.

Long live the land!

Jasmine Parker
ne้ Frances Parker
Goat Berry Sky

 
 

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