Black Bear Ranch (1 Viewer)

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I'm sort of surprised not to find any posts about Black Bear Ranch on here. It's one of the 1960s holdout communes still going in the US. I've watched this film about it a couple of times:

In the last issue of Slingshot a couple of us interviewed Osha Neumann after a screening of Commune at our Infoshop: http://slingshot.tao.ca/?p=115616

I also reviewed a book, West of Eden, about communal living in California that featured Black Bear prominently:

http://slingshot.tao.ca/?p=115608

what has mainly inspired this post though, is a link one of the comrades who participated in the interview sent me calling out the Ranch:
cleardot.gif

https://unsettlingklamathriver.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/an-open-letter-to-black-bear-ranch-commune/
 
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ev wood

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Many of the folks living at the ranch actively despise the documentary. It's pretty outdated to life at the ranch and has the tendency to draw LA'ers to come up and see if its real / take pictures of us like we're zoo animals and leave. By and large when I was living there (two years) we resisted sharing information about our location with just anyone because of the stress it put on land / residents / animals to deal with the constant influx of strangers that would mainly eat up our winter storage, tell us how we were doing it wrong, and sit on the porch smoking pot all day (and playing those god damn hand drums, fuck those things) while the rest of us were working. Integrating new folks is a difficult and lengthy process, a lot of people like the idea of the ranch but are turned off by the hard work - at best the bad seeds would take our resources, at worst they would take our resources and go all lone wolf on projects without communicating it with the residents resulting in tearing apart cabins to "fix them", using up a months supply of cheese for a single meal, and "weeding" our precious medicinal plants in the garden.
That's not to say that we hated people showing up, or that we weren't "allowed" to tell anyone. Some folks became truly dedicated and part of the family, and bringing in outsiders that had knowledge, willingness to learn and humility enhanced our lives in many ways. However the open door policy had a habit of hurting us as much if not more than it helped, which is why residents on this site have probably been hush hush about it (myself included.)

Insofar as the open letter to Black Bear, many of those who partook in writing it were ex members of the ranch who have gone on to purchase property in the surrounding area and interestingly enough closer to the river which was much more widely used as sacred ground. Black bear's location made it an unfriendly settlement in the area (valley between high mountains), most of the creeks on the land were too small to draw salmon from the big river, and the berries that made up a large portion of the Yurok's diet wouldn't grow up there. It was used, but it was not home. Furthermore, for the most part ranch residents have had a good relationship with the surrounding communities, while I was there we participated in firebreaking, trash pick up, noxious weed removal and salmon counts in the two closest communities and for our neighbors on the mountain. Many of the residents that "graduate" go on the become members of the communities, raise their families and protect the land. Black Bear does draw in people that aren't great, which brings us back to my previous paragraph about why the residents can be secretive about it.

I don't mean any of this to come off as offensive, but the ranch is sacred land for me and countless others, it is a place for learning, community, and for those lucky enough to appreciate it to figure out a way of life further removed from the patriarchy. For many of us it was our first incarnation of home. It's impossible to understand without living it, and though it is guarded by the mountains it is still quite vulnerable.
 

creature

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lemmee tell you..

i tried to get to black bear ranch & damn near destroyed my toyota camry trying to do so..

they are way the fuck hell in nowhere & way the fuck hell flakey..

but probably ok & cool, but way the fuck hell away from anywhere..

as far as i can tell, don't go if you want to involve yourself in a project based community..

i only got with about 2 miles after physically tracking them down for a week (not including research), & although they seemed anarchistic, they did not seem organized..

actually lead to a pretty bad experience.. but that was just mine..
 

ev wood

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Oh god I can just imagine taking a Camry on those roads, I'm surprised you didn't destroy it.
Organization is based on the group that is there at the time, and given it is comprised of people who met for the first time hours into a national forest on the site of an abandoned mining town, on the whole it's about as organized as herding cats.
 
D

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THIS!! Gotta bump this! This place will change your life!!! I lived there for 3 months and plan on going back in the spring. If anyone needs details/instructions how to get there let me know
Hi.
This seems like something I would be into. Any info you feel like sharing would be greatly appreciated. I would love to find a place where I can learn and contribute.
 

creature

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Never actually made it to the ranch..
They seemed too disjointed to even give decent directions or maintain any kind of landmarks on the fire roads in.

There is a 4 or 5 way branch at their drive, which isn't marked, and if you take the wrong one (even if it is what you are *told" to take), it can seriously fuck your vehicle.

Spoke to them for almost a week before heading in, and as much as they seems to be open to visitors, it doesn't seem they are/were coherent enough to cover the simple responsibility of marking the way in, other than make excuses for why they don't.

Never made it in, but was def not impressed enough to try again, especially given the work I put into helping someone get there beforehand & trying to bring in someone else, directly.

Was not left with the impression that the 'community' really engendered communal responsibility.
 
D

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Your experience is like a metaphor for all my experiences related to intentional communities. It seems everything is so clandestine. I get it, a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch. But shit, its like being back in high school im trying to prove myself and im just not cool enough. Thier loss, cause im badass ;)
 
D

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Sometimes it seems like no matter what I try, im on an alien planet speaking a foreign language.

Square peg,round hole complex. Whah whah...
 

Odin

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(even if it is what you are *told" to take), it can seriously fuck your vehicle.
It seems everything is so clandestine.

Okay so I may just be speaking out of my
ass... but it felt just a second ago like a clairvoyant piece of fuckin instinct...

should you take a vehicle?? it's called black bear ranch like clan of cave bear...telling you to "take it" may have been the whole point. your not gonna get there with an internal combustion junction whats your function?...

sounds like... I should grab or learn learn the most primitive gear... go... get lost... fight walk and starve... maybe for months... with still less than a chance of mice stealing cheese at @Tude house while ming is frisky/ of making it there.


Clandestine seems to be the point... and an announcement of effort simply a first step.

I don't really know shit though... just a homebumodin.
 

creature

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@ev wood gave some background, and I wasn't expecting anything like a welcome center, at all..
I've had plenty of experience with communal living & intentional communities, including trying to start one of the fuckers out in the fucking boonies, to know that getting there is yer own problem, for the most part..

My fucking toyota camry was pretty solid..
Many, many hard, potholed& unpaved roads..
The following was explained to me:
The 'ranch' has/had several folks with vehicles, but being where it is & money being as scarce as it is there, automotive runs are done only when necessary, not because conditions prohibit it.

So... If that is true...
It just seems that folks didn't go out of their way to follow through on their intentions.
Dig this:
I spoke to them for a *week* ahead of time, & though I can't recall everything, what I was told was to stop in at the little hamlet where the secondary road turns off the main & runs along the river & *they* would be able to show me a map of the fire roads or some such.
I know fire roads..
Been driving Datsuns, Toyotas, Volkswagens, shitty little ford geos & big ass GMCs, etc on them for fucking decades..
So.. I go to the hamlet, stop in, look at their maps & they tell me "the road to black bear doesn't show here, but when you get to the top, take the one to the right"..
Now, *before * I head up, I call them *again*, and they say " yes, take the one to the right of the fire road.. "
I get to the 5 way branch, or whatever it is, and only 1 or 2 are marked FR#.. Sooo..
I go to the right of the rightmost marked FR..
It unfortunately is *also* a fire road, so *this* is actually the road i should havr used for reference, rather than gone down.
My bitch with this road was not the potholes, not that it was, at points perhaps less than 7' wide, nor even that the edge was at times along a 200' high precipice..
My bitch was the fucking rocks, and if, in fact, it had been the road to bbr, I would agree.. "They must not want people coming here"..
I had a passenger, a young woman who *also* wanted to check the place out (& oddly, when I mentioned that development, receptivity seemed to increase greatly, but perhaps only seemed), and after driving out a mile fucking *backwards* on that fucking road & then getting back to where there was cell service, I asked them, rather heatedly, "Why don't you have the way in marked??" & the answer was "we have problems with some of the locals, and the take down what we put up".

& that is just bullshit.

You don't live in the fucking woods & not know how to clearly & permanently mark a trail unless you are just lazy or fucking irresponsible.
& it the attitude that justifies it is "well, let them find us, because it will keep the weak ones away" then don't fucking make a public presence for yourself, & post "no trespassing" signs & stay in your fucking woods & rot, but *dont* give a more or less open invitation, or worse *specifically* accept an inquiry & then be too fucking limp dicked to mark the way in, in such a fashion that any 11 year old cub scouts that can swing a fucking axe could do.

Little shit like that that is ignored tells you a *lot* about the people whom ignore it.

Has nothing at all to do with my car vs. the fact that I did not walk or horse or bike in.

Anybody who has seen me work knows I am *not* *that* fucking soft, even if I do use a machine to take me from place to place.

Now.. Maybe, since I've never actually been there, I dunno..
Maybe it's just an enclave of folks poking around at fire pots & latrine holes..

Maybe I just talked to the wrong person (though i wss referred to them as being some 'elder' or some such).

I dunno..

Anyways..
The girl I gave the ride to went home, which was probably best for her, but it's a bit unfortunate, because I really would have liked to have had the experience..
 
D

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I've met all sorts of people whom have went through there or lived there. Always been interested in checking it out, but it does seem really hard to find a way out there. The experience seems to vary and heavily depend on who is out there at the time. Most intentional communities never live up to their ideals in my experience. They have their own class systems, hierarchies, and privilege among everyone. I have never seen anything truly spiritual or intersectional. Seems to be something that only exists within and among people living through that in themselves.

Those people are out there, but they are hard to find or are met by chance alone usually.
 
D

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Thats it. Im startin my cult. Or maybe joining the church of the flying spagetti monster. Are they still around?
 
D

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It'd be nice to find people who are working on "manifesting" more than expensive cars or free beer.
 

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