Big Something intern Ruby Kimberly put together this look back at Drop City—frequently cited as the first artist/hippy commune—in Trinidad, Colorado. Kimberly writes:

In passing through the region surrounding Trinidad, CO today, one encounters a vast expanse of arid and sparsely populated land where, for a brief moment in the 1960s and 70s, became a strangely futuristic rural stopping point for young idealists and travelers traversing the country who sought new and radical experiences to transform their lives and society at large. Indeed, from 1965 through the early seventies, a small plot of land in this southeastern corner of the state played host to one of the country’s first rural artists communes– a bastion of radical innovation and youthful idealism called Drop City.

Influenced by Buckminster Fuller, Allan Kaprow and the experimental Black Mountain College among others, Drop City was founded in 1965 by Gene Bernofsky, JoAnn Bernofsky, Richard Kallweit and Clark Richert and John Curl, the 7-acre tract of land located four miles north of Trinidad became a living work of “Drop Art”, a concept that called for the informed integration of art into everyday life developed by the founding members while at the University of Kansas. It quickly gained notoriety for its unique and visually striking structures based on Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, which were constructed with panels made of automobile roofs and other recycled materials that residents built for the purposes of housing and community space. As a testing ground for efforts in renewable energies and alternative lifestyles (most of which failed), Drop City became the model for many other hippy communes.

I spoke with John Curl, Drop City resident and author of “Memories of Drop City”. Here (in the slide show above) Curl, who is a poet and notable activist in the modern cooperative movement, reflects on the joys and trials of trying to transform mass society through creativity and communal dedication.

Below is a trailer for a documentary-in-progress filmmakers by Joan Grossman and Tom McCourt. You can find out more about the film HERE.

We greatly appreciate your feedback in the comments below or by email: thebigsomething@krcc.org. Thanks!

 

4 Responses to Looking Back at Drop City

  1. John says:

    Wow is all I can say. Looking at the highs and lows of a very successful ’60s commune is really a trip. The angst to do this is emerging again in these times and the execution and complexity/difficulties that exist in an alternative society are truly fascinating.

    Good stuff you guys. I hadn’t previously ever heard of or noticed “Drop City.”

  2. Mary H says:

    Another wonderful glimpse of live in CO that I never knew existed. I’ve lived here 15 years, and so many cool things I never knew.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR BRINGING BACK THE BIG SOMETHING!!!

    Mary

  3. I spoke with John Curl, Drop City resident and author of “Memories of Drop City”. Is there a audio of your discussion? I am trying to learn about Drop City, and the thought of listening to the interview is very interesting.

    Thanks

  4. Noel Black says:

    Click play on the slide show at the top of the post, Sarah. An interview with John Curl plays under the images.

News

Courtesy of
October 1, 2016 | NPR · She wanted to promote exercise — and challenge the belief that women aren’t as physically capable as men. So she jumped into a chilly, choppy lake.
 

Getty Images
October 1, 2016 | NPR · Throughout the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has accused her opponent, Donald Trump of being sexist. The Trump campaign has responded in ways that may seem counter-intuitive.
 

October 1, 2016 | NPR · Sleepovers at the National Air and Space Museum’s huge annex near Washington, D.C., offer a real-life night at the Smithsonian.
 

Arts & Life

October 1, 2016 | NPR · You may be back in school, but your bookshelf doesn’t have to reflect that — we’ve got three YA fantasy novels for fall starring three girls grappling with the impact of magic on their lives.
 

September 30, 2016 | NPR · Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood knows tough times. A single mom at 17 who once worked at a French fry factory to make ends meet is Hollywood royalty today. A favorite of director Tim Burton, Atwood is now costume designer for his adaptation of the darkly comic, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and the upcoming Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
 

Courtesy of Lionsgate
September 30, 2016 | NPR · Deepwater Horizon is the tense and terse story of the Gulf oil rig explosion that became the biggest man-made ecological disaster in history.
 

Music

Getty Images
October 1, 2016 | NPR · A history of NPR’s jazz thing, and a goodbye, from its editor.
 

Courtesy of the artist
September 30, 2016 | NPR · The award-winning conductor, pianist and composer performs “Fascinating Rhythm” and other standards with Marian McPartland.
 

Courtesy of the artist
September 30, 2016 | NPR · 22, A Million is a radical — but logical — departure from Justin Vernon’s past work. Music critic Will Hermes thinks it’s the most compelling record he’s heard all year.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab