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

AP
July 28, 2015 | NPR · The altercation came just two days after Mexico’s national team won the Gold Cup over Jamaica.
 

YouTube
July 28, 2015 | NPR · The killing of the beloved lion, hunted for sport, has been condemned by wildlife conservationists. A conservationist in Zimbabwe says a ban should be imposed on the hunting of endangered animals.
 

Getty Images
July 28, 2015 | NPR · George Washington University is the latest and one of the largest private universities to drop its admissions testing requirement.
 

Arts & Life

July 28, 2015 | NPR · Bill Cosby was instrumental in opening the door for black stuntmen in Hollywood early in his career. He was to be a central figure in a new documentary about black stuntmen, but that has now changed. He will be mentioned, but his interviews have been pulled, following the latest revelations about the comedian, who admitted in court documents that he drugged women for sex.
 

Getty Images
July 28, 2015 | NPR · On demand is on demand, as it turns out, whether it’s video or audio. Even Tina Fey says so.
 

Courtesy of Andrew Gorkovenko
July 28, 2015 | NPR · Artists are reinventing the humble tea bag, letting its contents and simple shape and color shine in beautiful, fragile art. Some are even farming out the tea drinking to get to the used bags.
 

Music

July 28, 2015 | NPR · Almost 140 years ago, Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote a solo piano piece for every month of the year called The Seasons. Now saxophonist Ben Wendel has taken this famous body of work and reinterpreted each piece by bringing along a different artist every month. Reviewer Michelle Mercer says through these collaborations, Wendel is giving the listener insight into some of today’s sharpest musicians.
 

July 28, 2015 | WXPN · In Swedish culture, ABBA holds a significant place — one big enough for an entire ABBA museum that doesn’t have to wait for visitors. Hear the World Cafe interview with the curator.
 

Courtesy of the Boston Symphony
July 28, 2015 | NPR · He was with the Boston Symphony for 50 years, and his name was also stamped on the sticks of drummers from Buddy Rich to Charlie Watts to Questlove. Firth died Sunday at age 85.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab