Excerpt from a taped interview with Allen Cohen,
editor of the San Francisco Oracle,
voice of the Haight-Ashbury hippy scene,
by Edmund O. Ward.

   San Francisco: Haight-Ashbury is like a huge Indian nation made up of smaller tribes. Indeed, many people see us as descendants of the American Indians trying to win back our country. A community like the Haight-Ashbury is a halfway house where people can turn on, find gurus, find tribes to belong to and produce a beautiful tribal flower within this constricted, scientific, bureaucratic, orderly death-machine.

   We didn't plan it this way. It wasn't pre-meditated. It just happened. Over the last few years, people started moving here because of the cheap rents and the large Victorian flats — eight rooms or so. Five people would get together, put up $30 apiece and have a nice single room, share a kitchen. People started finding each other to get these flats— different people from different backgrounds from all over the world getting together in a cavernous flat in the Haight-Ashbury trying to work out all of their different insecurities, dreams, visions, suffering together, turning on together, developing after a while a great sense of loyalty to each other, love for each other, because they had tested each other under the most severe conditions — they were journeying together.

   The Haight-Ashbury started to develop a tribal sense. People living in small tribes together was happening — not for any premeditated purpose. That's just the way it happened. People started living in a tribe. They raised children in common, they lived together, loved together, very, very close intimate relationships began developing not between two people, but between eight people, ten people. Already you have a different setup for a social structure. Everybody was working on a tribal culture, although nobody knew it. It happened because the old relationships were dead, and people began being aware that the mass society needed a more intimate social arrangement. They needed to break away from the mass society and have their total lives made up of human, beautiful, loving personal intimate relationships because all of the rest of it was a drag.

   There were people who had farmhouses and wilderness houses where they had their own tribal culture going. Everybody opened up their house and their heart to each other.

   Haight-Ashbury is even developing its own economic forms: The Diggers give free food, shelter and clothing to people. Others are forming nonprofit organizations in order to share what used to be called profits together. It's a community of artists, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, craftsmen, leather makers, everyone is involved in creating, beautifying, extending their vision into the outer world. We realize that the real problems are not money, are not keeping your broken marriage together, your next job, your last job. They are how to make life more meaningful and beautiful for those around you.

   One of the most beautiful paraphrases of what I'm saying is a recent statement by Gary Snyder. He said, "We are not interested in things any more, but in states of mind." We are opening up the true potentialities of the mind, the full evolutionary possibilities of man, exploring those states of mind so that we can create new environments together.