Fritz Haeg – Open Call

Fritz Haeg is calling artisans of all trades to contribute their diverse skill sets in the renovation of the historic hippie comune, Salmon Creek Farm, peacefully nestled in the Northern Californian redwoods. 

In 1971 Salmon Creek Farm was founded as a commune less than two miles from California’s Mendocino coast in Albion. Over 30 acres of second-growth redwoods slope to the south from a meadow and fruit orchard on top, to Big Salmon Creek in the valley.

A small community cottage in the orchard is followed by seven owner-built cabins secluded on footpaths throughout the property, two small abandoned cabins hidden in the wilds across a tributary that bisects the land, an octagonal sauna on it’s last legs, various out-houses & out-buildings, and perhaps the remains of historic commune structures yet to be discovered buried deep in the woods.

One by one the original founders moved away – three of whom settled on three sides of the property – until an official closing ceremony was held in 2012. With its purchase in November 2014, Salmon Creek Farm starts a new chapter. The revival begins with researching it’s social and ecological history, exploring the land and structures to understand what is there, fixing up the cabins, establishing food gardens and generally bringing new life to the place.

INVITATIONS

Builders, carpenters, crafts-people, farmers, gardeners, makers, permaculturists, woodworkers are invited to send letters of interest (to scf-at-fritzhaeg-dot-com) for residencies in one of three cabins while contributing to the revival of the structures and land for 2 to 6 week stays, and longer if things click. Also ceramicists, cooks, dancers, foragers, furniture makers, musicians, oven builders, sign makers, textile artists, weavers, wood carvers, etc. But right now the first priorities are the cabins, just waiting to be brought back to life.

Later we’ll welcome book-makers (to revive a version of Times Change Press, which was housed in one of the structures in the 70’s) and archivists (to create an on-site archive of both our new life on the land and the historic commune, with materials, artifacts and accounts from the original communards). Two other cabins are alternately available for short-term rentals (to help subsidize initial repairs) and a rotation of visiting artists.

I’m not exactly sure what this place will become, but it will be determined in large part by these early pioneering visitors.

Cabin 2: Dawn

INAUGURAL WORKSHOPS

In conjunction with their exhibition in Chicago, Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971the Graham Foundation is commissioning RSVP Cycle-inspired workshops starting at the Sundown dome in Los Angeles – the home of almost 15 years of communal domestic activity (now available for short-term rental) – and continuing at Salmon Creek Farm from November 10th to 16th (referencing RSVP Cycles: Creative Processes in the Human Environment, 1970 and Taking Part: A Workshop Approach to Collective Creativity, 1975). The founding communards will join us too, guiding walks, recounting stories, marking the changing of hands from one community to another. There are a few spots available (of 24 max) for the Albion workshops, which would be especially ideal for those considering a longer visit. Send letters of interest to scf-at-fritzhaeg-dot-com.

HISTORY

“The ’60s communards came to Albion Ridge as settlers looking for land. In 1968, the commune at Table Mountain Ranch became the first of many on Albion Ridge. In the decade following, hundreds of young people would join them on the Ridge, sometimes permanently, more often not; thousands would pass through. This is the story of the Albion “nation”—a community of communards and back-to-the-landers, as well as a miscellany of antinomians who made their homes here. It begins a little known but important chapter in the history of utopia in Northern California, one that focuses neither on media stars, nor on the most bizarre and outlandish but on the experience of groups of ordinary young people who came to the Mendocino coast in the ’60s and ’70s, many of whom continue to reside here.

In 1971, Robert Greenway, a Sonoma State professor and Sally Shook, formerly a suburban Washington, D.C., housewife, and their collective seven children settled at nearby Salmon Creek Farm on Middle Ridge and invited others to join them. Closer to Albion, Carmen Goodyear and her partner Jeannie Tetrault established Thai Farm, a “women’s land” and a small collective/commune. Trillium, also a women’s commune, was settled just down the road. It was not so intentional. “We were just trying to get to more of a country scene. I didn’t move up here to be a commune. I didn’t move up here because of the women. I just saw the beauty, the Mendocino coast” (Weed). One estimate is that by the mid-’70s, the communards/back-to-the-landers, that is, “‘permanent’ settlers on Albion Ridge may have numbered 500 or more” (Moonlight)

The house at Table Mountain had to be rebuilt, sleeping quarters constructed—they were scattered around the house in woods connected by paths. Gardens were begun, animals—goats, sheep, geese, a pony, and chickens—gathered and tended in a process that became the norm and was followed at Salmon Creek Farm and at the women’s communes down the ridge. The sleeping houses were built sometimes from the rag-tag outbuildings that abounded on such homesteads, sometimes from scratch by hand. The “big” house was communal, with a kitchen and a place for important gatherings; the sleeping houses were more or less private. Times Change Press at Salmon Creek Farm published accounts of communal life…”  – excerpt from West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California