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A People's Hxstory* of the Sixties

To assure that our hxstory survives the inevitable tendency of revisionism, it's critically important that we grow our own versions of what happened and why. This page is where we will publish recollections, memoirs, histories of the Digger movement and the rise of the Sixties counterculture.

We have six chapters from Peter Coyote's memoir of the Sixties (published as Sleeping Where I Fall, here as Free Fall Chronicles). We also have Ramon Sender Barayon's Home Free Home, a detailed and beautifully written hxstory of the Morningstar and Wheeler's Ranch free land communities. There is an article on the Artists Liberation Front, and a section for Oral Histories.

For any social movement, there is a buildup, a prelude. The San Francisco Bay area provided a fertile ground for the growth of new movements: artistic, political, social, and cultural. The Diggers seemed to combine all these elements in their ideas, and presented a message that appealed to hippies and revolutionaries, to priests as well as poets. The following topics mark the digger movement's birth and rise in the midst of the turbulent social hxstory of the mid-to-late sixties. 

*[hxstory, pron. but written to remove any gender implications. the etymology of the word 'history' is presumably gender-free and comes from the Latin word istoria (7th or 8th cent.) and earlier from ancient Greek ιστορια meaning inquiry, research, account, description, written account of past events, recorded knowledge of past events, story, narrative.]

Outline for a History of the Digger Movement

  1. Seeds (1955-65) (Precursors of the Counterculture)
    1. San Francisco Poetry Renaissance
    2. Beat Generation
    3. Civil Rights Movement
    4. Berkeley Free Speech Movement
    5. Student New Left
    6. Merry Pranksters and LSD
    7. Avant-Garde Art Scene
    8. S.F. Mime Troupe: Guerrilla Theatre
    9. Anti-War (née Peace) Movement
    10. Dutch Provos
    11. English Diggers (1649)
  2. Sprouts (1965-66) (Haight-Ashbury Coalescence)
    1. Psychedelic Shop
    2. The Trips Festival
    3. SF Mime Troupe Bust
    4. Acid Rock Dances
    5. The Fillmore & Family Dog
    6. San Francisco Oracle
    7. Love Pageant Rally
    8. The Love Book Bust
    9. Artists Liberation Front
    10. Hunter's Point Uprising
    11. ALF Free Fairs
    12. Love Pageant Rally
    13. The Human Be-In
    14. H.I.P. Merchants
    15. Hell's Angels
    16. Summer of Love
  3. Flowers (1966-68) (Digger Emergence)
    1. Early Digger Sheets/Articles
    2. Free Feeds in the Panhandle
    3. Free Frame of Reference, first free store
    4. Trip Without A Ticket
    5. H-A Free Clinic, Switchboard, Crash Pads
    6. Digger Public Events:
      1. Intersection Game
      2. Death of Money
      3. New Year's Wail
      4. Invisible Circus
      5. Easter Sunday on Haight Street
      6. End of War at the Straight
      7. Death of Hippie/Birth of Free
    7. Communication Company
    8. Black People's Free Store
    9. Morningstar Digger Farm & the Open Land movement
    10. Tie-Dye Shirts & Flak Jackets
    11. Digger Bread at All Saints Church
  4. New Seeds (1967 on) (Digger Movement Expands)
    1. Free City Collective
    2. Free City News sheets
    3. Free Food Home Delivery Service
    4. Black Panthers in Oakland
    5. City Hall Steps Noon Daily
    6. Poetry Bust
    7. Free City Convention
    8. A Modest Proposal
    9. The Digger Papers
    10. Summer Solstice 1968
    11. New York Com/Co Yippie!
    12. Berkeley Provos, L.A. Diggers
    13. Hearthshire/Hearth School (Free School)
    14. Free Print Shop
    15. Kaliflower
    16. Black Bear Ranch
    17. Olompali Ranch and the Free Oven
    18. Free Bakery at Jellyroll Press
    19. Angels of Light & Cockettes
    20. Free Food Family: Inter-Communal Bliss
    21. Planetedge Posters
    22. Planet Drum & the Bioregional Movement
    23. Earth Life Defense Committee
    24. Frisco Bay Mussel Group
    25. Food Not Bombs
    26. The Little Free Inn
    27. The Free Garden movement
    28. Free Farm Stand in the Mission
  5. Digger Resonance
    1. Anti-Nuclear Movement: Direct Action, Affinity Groups
    2. Winter 1983 Panhandle Free Food
    3. Really Really Really Free Market
    4. Other...

Historical Praxis

The Serendipity Quote

To authenticate a reminiscence, to ferret out small facts and make large inferences, to see connections, to ambulate mentally — these are the tasks of detectives who work with books. The wider their frame of reference and the keener their skills, the more productive their detection. | They need two guardians as well: a firm and unwavering skepticism at their right hand and the Prince of Serendip at their left. Then their adventures will be all but limitless, for the books that possess them are the record of life itself.—"Adventures of a Literary Sleuth" by Madeleine B. Stern

Herodotus (c. 484-425 bce)

Herodotus of Halicarnassus here presents his research so that human events do not fade from time. May the great and wonderful deeds—some brought forth by the Hellenes, others by the barbarians—not go unsung; as well as the causes that led them to make war on each other.

Thucydides (c. 460-400 bce)

With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said. And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. My conclusions have cost me some labour from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.

Marc Bloch (1886-1944, shot by a Nazi Gestapo death squad)

In a word, a historical phenomenon can never be understood apart from its moment in time. This is true of every evolutionary stage, our own and all others. As the old Arab proverb has it: "Men resemble their times more than they do their fathers." Disregard of this Oriental wisdom has sometimes brought discredit to the study of the past. —The Historian's Craft, p. 29

Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989)

The writer of history, I believe, has a number of duties vis-à-vis the reader, if he wants to keep him reading. The first is to distill. He must do the preliminary work for the reader, assemble the information, make sense of it, select the essential, discard the irrelevant—above all, discard the irrelevant—and put the rest together so that it forms a developing dramatic narrative. Narrative, as it has been said, is the lifeblood of history. To offer a mass of undigested facts, of names not identified and places not located, is of no use to the reader and is simple laziness on the part of the author, or pedantry to show how much he has read. To discard the unnecessary requires courage and also extra work, as exemplified by Pascal's effort to explain an idea to a friend in a letter which rambled on for pages and ended, "I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write you a short one." The historian is continually being beguiled down fascinating byways and sidetracks. But the art of writing—the test of the artist—is to resist the beguilement and cleave to the subject.—Practicing History, p. 17

Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

The Role of the Historian

We need to become the critics of the culture rather than its apologists and perpetuators. We who are fortunate in having the resources of knowledge are especially equipped for such a task. Although obviously not remote from the pressures of business, military needs, and politics, we have just that margin of leeway, just that tradition of truth-telling (however violated in practice) which can allow us to become spokesmen for change. This will require holding up before society forgotten visions, lost utopias, unfulfilled dreams—badly needed in this age of cynicism. Along with such visions, we will need specific schemes for accomplishing important purposes, which can then be laid before the groups that can use them. Let the economists work out a plan for free food, instead of advising the Federal Reserve Board on interest rates. Let the political scientists work out insurgency tactics for the poor, rather than counter-insurgency tactics for the military. Let the historians instruct us or inspire us, from the data of the past, rather than amusing us, boring us, or deceiving us. Let the scientists figure out and lay before the public plans on how to make autos safe, cities beautiful, air pure. Let all social scientists work on modes of change instead of merely describing the world that is, so that we can make the necessary revolutionary alterations with the least pain. —The Politics of History, p. 14

[More Howard Zinn quotes]


Cover sheet for the first of the Free City News compilations. The Free City Collective used the same Gestetner machines that the Communication Company had been printing on from January to August, 1967. They published Free City News from Fall, 1967 to Spring, 1968.
The Serendipity Quote
The Digger Archives is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Cite As: The Digger Archives (www.diggers.org) / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 / All other uses must receive permission. Contact: curator at diggers dot org.