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

January 28, 2015 | NPR · In Boston, highways started filling up with cars. In Rhode Island, the governor called up 270 national guardsmen to help get the power back on. In New York, the subway resumed regular service.
 

January 28, 2015 | NPR · In the aftermath of the shooting death of two NYPD officers, law enforcement officials are asking the popular navigation app Waze to remove a feature that allows users to see officers’ locations.
 

NPR
January 28, 2015 | NPR · Millions of Americans who served in Korea, World War II and Vietnam are reaching their 70s and beyond. So the VA is putting focus on how to make veterans comfortable in their final weeks and months.
 

Arts & Life

 Lydia Daniller
January 28, 2015 | NPR · Poet, novelist, memoirist and queer icon Michelle Tea makes a rare misstep in How To Grow Up, an essay collection that reviewer Michael Schaub calls “a well-intentioned, exasperating mess of a book.”
 

Flickr
January 27, 2015 | NPR · Lost in a deep depression, Marie Mutsuki Mockett visited a temple owned by her mother’s family near Fukushima. There, she found traditions and ways of thought that helped her work through her grief.
 

via Getty Images
January 27, 2015 | NPR · What happens when you try to make a burger out of a pun? One blog, two years, and dozens of recipes later, millions of fans can now cook up their very own Bob’s burgers.
 

Music

Alejandro Reinoso for NPR
January 28, 2015 | NPR · In South America, left-wing governments hostile to the U.S. are tossing out diplomats or shunning them entirely. In Ecuador, U.S. Ambassador Adam Namm is using music to do something about it.
 

Courtesy of the artist
January 27, 2015 | WXPN · The former lead singer of Men At Work tells the story of his band’s international success.
 

Mountain Stage
January 27, 2015 | NPR · Hear the Portland string band, with members of The Decemberists and Bearfoot, as it performs live.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab