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Home Free Home: A History of Two Open-Door California Communes

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25


During the late 'sixties, two open-door communal ranches existed in Sonoma County, California. Nothing quite like them had ever existed before, and people came from all over the country to live there. Together they rediscovered a tribal, neo-primitive way of life which consumed less energy and offered more freedom than our regulated, consumption-oriented Great Society could give. It was a magical five years until the Sonoma County authorities discovered they could use the health and buildings codes in a punitive manner to bulldoze the houses, expel the inhabitants and close down both communities. Their names were Morning Star and Wheeler's Ranches. Different in many respects, they both celebrated the freedom of each individual to 'do their thing,' as long as no harm came to anyone. But the change was too sudden for many neighbors, who feared that drug-crazed hippies would lead their children astray. In the case of each ranch, one politically powerful neighbor acted as the catalyst, and saw to it that the District Attorney acted on their complaints. By 1973, it was all over.

Among the survivors, four felt compelled to put together the story of what happened. Among those whose original manuscripts have been combined in this book are Ramon Sender Barayon, Bill Wheeler, Gwen Leeds and Near Morningstar. Ramon and Bill collaborated to interview many others whose words have been transcribed from tapes and included. We hope that somewhere in the following chapters you will experience the gift of tears and the ecstasy of laughter. It is a gentle story when compared to the violent confrontations then occurring in the cities. And perhaps it will tempt you to transmute your own territorial imperative into its opposite, brotherly love, by heeding our own very dear and recently deceased Lou Gottlieb's advice:

"I urge anyone who owns land and wishes never again
to experience one instant of boredom, who wishes to
live in a continuing state of elation, to deny no one
access to that land and watch what happens."

Ramon Sender Barayon