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

AFP/Getty Images
September 2, 2014 | NPR · Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is joining the boutique investment bank Moelis & Company. The Virginia Republican was unexpectedily defeated in a June primary.
 

AP
September 1, 2014 | NPR · NATO leaders are expected this week to set up a rapid-response force to defend against potential Russian aggression.
 

September 1, 2014 | NPR · President Obama heads to Europe this week to take part in the NATO summit. The alliance is weighing how to respond to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine.
 

Arts & Life

September 1, 2014 | NPR · The process of becoming a man isn’t always an easy one, but poet Saeed Jones says that reading Real Man Adventures by T Cooper, can make the journey more joyful.
 

Alison Rosa
September 1, 2014 | NPR · Until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, this year’s box office figures were the worst in years. But critic Bob Mondello says there are bound to be some fall films that get pulses pounding again.
 

Jonathan Ring
September 1, 2014 | NPR · NPR’s Madhulika Sikka profiles Cumming, the author of thoughtful spy sagas like A Colder War. Cumming’s books provide plenty of action, but also grapple with the moral quandaries of espionage.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
September 2, 2014 | NPR · Check out our favorite dance tracks from the past month, featuring a new anthem from Recondite and some not-so-Basic House from the founder of Opal Tapes.
 

September 1, 2014 | NPR · Guitarist Joe Beck said he thought of the guitar as a six-piece band. Music reviewer Tom Moon says that’s exactly how Beck’s music sounds: layers of overlapping ideas. He reviews Beck’s posthumous release, “Get Me Joe Beck.”
 

Courtesy of the artist
September 1, 2014 | NPR · Plant’s 10th solo album lovingly layers elements in ways that mirror memory, creating new constructs from floating shards of the musical past.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab