February 16, 1935|
|Died||July 1, 2014
|Education||San Francisco State College, B.A., M.A.|
|Occupation||Activist, speaker, writer|
|Organization||The Farm, Plenty International|
|Spouse(s)||Carol Groves (1957-1959)
Carol Ladas (1961-1964)
Margaret Nofziger (1967-1975)
Ina May Middleton (1976-2014)
Stephen Gaskin (February 16, 1935 – July 1, 2014) was an American counterculture Hippie icon best known for his presence in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 1960s and for co-founding "The Farm", a famous spiritual intentional community in Summertown, Tennessee. He was a Green Party presidential primary candidate in 2000 on a platform which included campaign finance reform, universal health care, and decriminalization of marijuana. He was the author of over a dozen books, political activist, a philanthropic organizer and a self-proclaimed professional Hippie.
Gaskin was born in Denver, Colorado and served in the US Marine Corps from 1952 to 1955. In the 1960s, he moved to San Francisco and taught English, creative writing, and general semantics at San Francisco State College, where he was a student of S. I. Hayakawa.
Stephen Gaskin's writing class evolved into an open discussion group known as Monday Night Class, which involved up to 1500 students. The Monday Night Class was held in "The Family Dog", an auditorium on the Great Highway on the land side of Ocean Beach on the shore of the Pacific Ocean in the Outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. Stephen Gaskin spoke about his experiences with psychedelic drugs and paranormal experiences, as well as lecturing on the importance of ecological awareness. This popular weekly gathering was attended by hippies from all over the San Francisco Bay Area during the years 1969 and 1970. Stephen became known as San Francisco's acid guru.
In 1970, Gaskin was part of a caravan of 60 vehicles that crossed the United States to settle 60 miles south-west of Nashville, Tennessee, forming a community called "The Farm", which the Wall Street Journal came to call "the General Motors of American Communes". This community was "a platform from which to launch efforts to improve the lot of poor and indigenous peoples, whales, and old growth trees" For example, raising 1,200 earthquake-resistant homes in Guatemala as well as several public buildings and water lines to 5 villages, sending independent dosimetry teams after the Three Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, or giving the Rainbow Warrior equipment to escape from a Spanish harbor.
He went to prison in 1974 for marijuana possession, as members of the community had, against his recommendation, planted several marijuana plants on the property. He served one year of a three-year sentence. Following his release, his voting rights were rescinded. He brought a lawsuit challenging the legality of mass retroactive disenfranchisement under the Tennessee Constitution, Gaskin v. Collins. After winning in lower courts, the case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court and in 1981 returned voting rights to more than a quarter of a million convicts.
In Volume One: Sunday Morning Services on the Farm and earlier talks, Stephen Gaskin produced a substantial body of spiritual teaching. His ideas are now contained in books and tapes of the Sunday Morning Services which were published by the Book Publishing Company on The Farm. They speak of magic, energy and life in community as well as of service to humanity.
Gaskin was recipient of the first Right Livelihood Award in 1980 (listed as Plenty International) and an inductee into the Counterculture Hall of Fame in 2004. He was awarded the Golden Bolt Award by The Farm Motor Pool (for helping buy a lemon semi), and won the Guru-Off (without even entering), racking up 77 points to Krishnamurti’s 73.
Gaskin continued to work as an international activist, writer and speaker until a few months before his death from natural causes, in his home, surrounded by family. His topics ranged from humorous advice on all aspects of communal life and farming to modern communications, the counter-culture, spirituality, drug law reform, and social and ecological issues. He was a drummer in The Farm Band, an early Jam Band which toured in the seventies and eighties. His last published works were revised and annotated versions of Monday Night Class and The Caravan. He died on July 1, 2014 from natural causes at the age of 79.
In order of first publication date.
- — (1964). Forty Miles of Bad Road (Fiction, typed manuscript). OCLC 6235330. [WorldCat.org: A creative work submitted to San Francisco State College in partial fulfillment for the degree Master of Arts.] Copy available at the San Francisco State University Library.
- — (2005) . Monday Night Class. Recorded and transcribed by William Meyers (Rev. and annotated ed.). Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9781570671814. OCLC 318941623. (Subscription required (. ))
- — (2007) . The Caravan (Rev. ed.). Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9781570671951. OCLC 77004166.
- — (1974). Hey Beatnik!: This is the Farm Book. Farmer-Centred Agricultural Resource Management Programme. Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ASIN B0006W3AZE. OCLC 1309762. This book was printed on low quality paper which deteriorated rapidly. A few copies are in library inventories.
- — (1977). McClure, Matthew, ed. Volume One: Sunday Morning Services on The Farm. Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9789139900863. OCLC 4128110.
- — (1977). Stephen Speaks to San Francisco (Pamphlet). Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ASIN B000722Y14. OCLC 23292310.
- — (1978). This Season's People: A Book of Spiritual Teachings. Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9780913990056. OCLC 3049964.
- — (1980) . Mind at Play. Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9780913990247. OCLC 609405566.
- — (1999) . Amazing Dope Tales (Third ed.). Berkeley, CA, USA: Ronin Publishing. ISBN 9781579510107. OCLC 41419976.
Earlier editions published as:
- — (1980). Amazing dope tales and Haight Ashbury flashbacks. Summertown, TN, USA: The Book Publishing Company. ISBN 9780913990292. OCLC 7817614.
- — (1983). Irrwitzige Dope-Geschichten und Erinnerungen an Haight-Ashbury (in German). Linden, Germany: Volksverl. ASIN B0024HN626. OCLC 74755699.
- — (1990). Haight Ashbury Flashbacks (Second ed.). Berkeley, CA, USA: Ronin Publishing. ISBN 9780914171300. OCLC 23609888.
- — (1986) . Rendered Infamous: A Book of Political Reality. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780913990322. OCLC 644929240.
- — (May 1983). "The Hidden Holocaust". New Age Journal. Boston, MA: Rising Star Associates. ISSN 0746-3618. OCLC 679402858.
- — (1997) . Cannabis Spirituality: Including 13 Guidelines for Sanity and Safety (Second ed.). New York, NY: High Times. ISBN 9780964785861. OCLC 39608629.
- — (2000). An Outlaw in My Heart: A Political Activist's User's Manual. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Camino Books. ISBN 9780940159648. OCLC 680493217.
- Plenty International
- Ina May Gaskin
- Counterculture of the 1960s
- Alternative lifestyle
- Meunier, Rachel (2007-11-08) [1994-12-17]. "Communal Living in the Late 60s and Early 70s". thefarm.org. Summertown, TN: The Farm. Archived from the original on 2012-05-13. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Gaskin, Stephen (Spring 2000). "Stephen Gaskin for President". Synthesis/Regeneration. St. Louis, MO: Gateway Green Education Foundation (22). ISSN 1083-7639. OCLC 494613727, 494613727. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Bates, Albert (1993-10-16). J. Edgar Hoover and The Farm. International Communal Studies Conference on Culture, Thought and Living in Community, New Harmony, IN, USA. . thefarm.org. Summertown, TN: The Farm. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Martin, Douglas (2 July 2014). "Stephen Gaskin, Hippie Who Founded an Enduring Commune, Dies at 79". The New York Times. New York Times.
- "Gaskin v. Collins, 661 S.W.2d 865 (Tenn. 1983)". CourtListener. Free Law Project. December 12, 1983. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- "Stephen Gaskin". thefarm.org. Summertown, TN: The Farm. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- pekelhc. "How to rate a guru?". www.globalideasbank.org. UK: Global Ideas Bank. Archived from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Stephen Gaskin, Hippie Leader And Farm Founder, Dies". newschannel5.com. July 2, 2014. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014.
- Farber, Philip H. (October 1998). "Paradigm Shift Interview of Stephen Gaskin". Paradigm Shift. Kingston, NY: Philip H. Farber. 1 (2). Archived from the original on 2001-11-12. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
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