Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Free City Collective 67/68

The Free City Collective
San Francisco - Fall 1967 to Spring 1968

In the summer of 1967, the Diggers gave away their last, final, possession — their name. Henceforth, they called themselves The Free City Collective. One of the last events that the Diggers (under that name) created was the Death Of Hippie in October, 1967. The name "diggers" had become so widely used that it was like a ripple wave in a pond. People called themselves Diggers all over the map of the now burgeoning counterculture, in the same way that the Berkeley Provos had adopted the name of the Dutch group the previous fall.

The Digger vision, which had loosely been "Free Street" now expands into the vision of the Free City, which included not just the Haight-Ashbury but many other of San Francisco's unique neighborhoods: the Mission, Fillmore, Chinatown, Castro, Potrero Hill, Noe Valley. The Free City Collective, ever life-actors looking to expand their art, brought their events to the stage of the larger urban context. Free City Convention, Free Poetry Readings on City Hall Steps, Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice. These were the cycle of events that the Free City gang created to put forth a newer more communal energy. Free Food Distribution was the new Free Food program. Instead of free food distributed to groups of strangers in the parks, the Free City Collective began distributing free groceries to the communes in the City. The Food Conspiracy later took up this need, albeit on a "for-pay" basis.

The energy of Free was transmuting itself from the street back indoors inside the walls of the new communal spaces that had popped up all over the City, usually in old Victorian houses that badly needed the loving care that the hippie counterculture bestowed on San Francisco's "Painted Ladies."

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