Arthur Kopecky author of Leaving New Buffalo
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Leaving New Buffalo

Hello -- Glad you found us! 
My second book completes the story of my eight year effort at the New Buffalo free style commune. Like the first volume the journal format imparts a vividness and intimacy. One reviewer noted, the journals have the narrative momentum and simmering conflicts of a novel. There’s plenty of good reading here.
     I still everyday retain that love of the land that is central to my own being and in the sharing of country property and farms. I also include several essays about this intentional communities world view and my thesis that this is the only path that will bring a renaissance of progressive thinking and action. I hope you enjoy sharing these thoughts and adventures with me.
            In community with, Arty Kopecky

Book Description & Editorial Review

Peter B. Hales at Amazon, July, 2009

New Mexico Historical Review, August, 2008

An Incredibly Important Book! James H. Overton August, 2008

Taos Daily News Review

Su Casa Southwestern Homes -
Winter 2007

Journal of the West - Quarterly July, 2007

Book Chat-Mora-San Miguel Co-op

One of a Kind - Santa Cruz

Cover Art. Leaving New Buffalo by Arthur Kopecky

Editorial Reviews
Book Description
New Buffalo was Arthur Kopecky's first look back to the heyday of one of the most successful of the communes that dotted the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Kopecky described the magic and wisdom, the mix of people, the planting and the hard winters. Leaving New Buffalo Commune completes the story of Kopecky's eight years at that "hippie commune."

Kopecky was a young man from New York City relocated to California. He dropped out of graduate school at UC Berkeley during the height of the Vietnam War. "My travels with the Pride family in our Wonder bread truck, 'the mind machine,' eventually brought us to the New Buffalo commune in the fall of 1971 where a group of 'back to the land' idealists had bought a 140 acre ranch in the mountains of New Mexico," Kopecky explains.

Leaving New Buffalo Commune continues the story after the group had been at New Buffalo for five years. They were focusing on dairy farming and raising alfalfa. In the intervening years many people had come and gone, but a spirituality and a closeness with nature remained. These journals--slightly edited--record events as they were happening thirty years ago. Then, as now, AnSwei Livingproof (Kopecky) is promoting the goodwill

aspects of human nature, the non-war solutions. He warns, "It takes more than fine words and heartfelt songs; you need a plan of action. It can't be violent action; there is already too much anger."
Kopecky offers a description of an ethical and economic revolution that is the new paradigm, the next great progressive movement.

This is the second book based on the author's journals about life at one of the most famous communes of the "back to the land" era.

The family eating at the table.

December 15, 2006
Arthur Kopecky’s “Leaving New Buffalo Commune” (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 2006), far surpasses his previous volume in UNM’s counterculture series, “New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune.” Here, Art has either learned or been fortunate in the advice of an editor. As the poignant tale ends, Kopecky leaves, run off by reactionary hippies in March of 1979 who, in turn, were forced off the property by the famed Klein counter-coup (thanks to New Mexico corporation commission laws enforced in 1985, which found that the original directors, including Kopecky, still had authority over the commune). In effect, Rick Klein reclaimed the property. As Art says about Rick, the founder and original donor, “A great gift he gave to us; the people failed to make it prosper. The end of an era.”

Kopecky’s commitment to the commune, his hard work in the fields, and his progressive ideas, working with parciantes on the acequias, instituting a dairy, and his focus on farming—despite the chaotic nature of commune life, the slacker character of communards, and the geographical
limitations of northern New Mexico—is admirable. In his own way, this humble man displayed uncommon patience in pursuit of an uncommon, even heroic dream. For Taoseños, Art brings history alive. He reminds us all of the years when hippies were real hippies, and the tolerance and generosity for outsiders by native Taoseños was legendary.

Now the famed commune is owned by Bob Fies, who still invites passersby and spiritual enthusiasts to drop by this Arroyo Hondo historic spot. It may be time to consider the
Tipi Poles ready to ship. promotion of an annual Hippie Homecoming during the summer or fall solstice in Taos. Regardless of whether you lived on a commune or sat back and watched the parade, the impact on the soul and spirit and memory was unmistakable. Life was simpler and more intimate 30 years ago, but it was also more difficult to make a living, and the violence, though less deadly, was frequent. For sure, one comes away from Kopecky’s New Buffalo memoir remembering how cold the winters were back in the ’60s and the ’70s in Northern New Mexico. –Bill Whaley

Su Casa Southwestern Homes – winter 07

By Charles C. Poling

Leaving New Buffalo Commune, by Arthur Kopecky, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 213 pages, 29 photos, 2 maps, paperback, $19.95.
In this second volume of Arthur Kopecky’s journals about Taos commune life, the author’s bittersweet, starkly honest tale of the disintegrating hippie utopian dream reads with the narrative momentum and simmering conflicts of a novel. His first book, New Buffalo, also used the structure of daily journal entries to document the quotidian tasks and hard-earned, often ephemeral triumphs, the circle-room good vibrations and venomous spats, the lofty goals and gritty grind of the back-to-the-landers who settled into New Buffalo commune circa 1971. Energized by idealism, Kopecky and his compadres set about learning, in faltering, stumbling steps, how to be farmers, eventually settling by friable consensus on dairy farming as their cash endeavor.
The whole trip never quite worked out. Leaving New Buffalo shows why. The journal format, shorn of embellishment, excessive analysis, or the perspective of hindsight and maturity, simply unfolds the story frame by frame. Finally the moral of the hippie myth—if such can be distilled from that confusing, even chaotic historical moment—stands bare, and really it’s the moral of America: a perfect society will never form around imperfect people. And who’s perfect?
The narrator of the story, Kopecky is both observer and protagonist. His integrity and objectivity, writing as events unfolded 30 years ago, make him a reliable interpreter of this archetypal counterculture scene. Never quite the leader, Kopecky participated as a sturdy standard-bearer indefatigably promoting the vision of New Buffalo as a model community for a new Aquarian Age.
Anyone who thought all hippies were lazy layabouts need only read a few days of Kopecky’s journals to dispel that notion. He and a handful of other core members toiled away, day in, day out, like all farmers, from haying to irrigating by shovel, from the continual firewood runs in the mountains to solar construction projects on their “pueblo.” Still, dopers, alkies, wigged-out lunies, and freeloaders dropped out and dropped in frequently. The commune—really a leaderless, loose-knit affiliation of renegades—never embraced a fair or effective method for controlling membership and weeding out the slackers or—worse—the troublemakers.

Finally, naturally, it was the troublemakers (at least from Kopecky’s perspective) who drive out Kopecky and Sandy, his partner and eventual wife, but not after he and a few others nurtured New Buffalo into a nearly sustainable, professional dairy farm with the self-perpetuating structure of nonprofit corporate status.

Still, a sense of impending failure pervades. They lived in constant empty-pockets poverty. Fewer new, young, idealistic recruits dropped in. The “precarious perch” of subsistence farming always threatened to snap and drop the commune off the economic edge. At one point Sandy, now a mother of two, lamented that she and Arthur were “getting older and getting nowhere,” that New Buffalo was a “dead end.”
Despite well-intended but sometimes misguided efforts to implement their vision of a cooperative enterprise based on brotherhood, the jealousies, clashing visions, hurt feelings, and utter lack of a governance system began wedging into the tribal unity. Soon a disgruntled communard named Rebel and his lady split, but just far enough to sit on a hillside with his rifle and take potshots into the dirt around Kopecky. The end was near. Kopecky had become too dominant, perhaps too domineering, and the others expelled him and Sandy plus the kids in an ugly scene of thinly veiled threats and vindictiveness. They moved away, the dream over for Kopecky. A handful of years later, it also ended for New Buffalo as a going agriculture venture.
Kopecky, Sandy, and the two kids migrated first to a dairy in Nebraska, then to California, where they have remained. Kopecky now works as a finish carpenter. New Buaffalo itself has undergone various transformations. This past summer I talked to a Taos architect who said he had recently helped with the renovating and remodeling of the buildings for the most recent owner, a doctor from California.

Kopecky hasn’t lost the faith, though. With the accrued wisdom of years, he writes a brief concluding essay summarizing the fatal flaws of the old “Left consciousness” and asserts a budding “new paradigm” based on self-reliance, diminished consumerism, free enterprise, communal cooperation, and sustainability. Idealism dies hard for Kopecky, which is an endearing trait, but the sometimes naive optimism of these 30-year-old journals has yielded to a tempered acceptance of our foibles, best summed up in his shortest line: “Ah, humans.”
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Manhattan, KS

Jul 2007

LEAVING NEW BUFFALO COMMUNE  by Arthur Kopecky, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), 213 pp., $19.95 pb.
Arthur Kopecky recorded his experiences at new Buffalo, a 1960’s New Mexico commune. His first book New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune (2004) described his early days there. This study looks at how New Buffalo fell apart. The journal is an excellent primary source to show the successes and problems at the commune in the late 1970s
Timothy Miller, the academic expert on the 1960’s commune experience, provides a brief historical setting for New Buffalo. For a better overview of the experience, a reader unfamiliar with New Buffalo should see Miller’s The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond (1999). Kopecky’s book is not a starting place to understand commune life, but it is an important element.

Charles Reed Center for Western Studies
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Four New Buffalo ladies, 2006. Suzie Creamcheese, Sandy, Peggi Sue and Kiva.

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Book Chat newspaper article about Leaving New Buffalo Our Kiva
Our Kiva
****ONE OF A KIND! DON'T MISS IT!, December 29, 2006


Sue Reynoldson (Santa Cruz, CA) - See all my reviews

At the Bolinas commune, I couldn't figure out why Arthur Kopecky was under the covers with a flashlight every night writing in his diary when everyone else was sound asleep. A couple years later when I caught up with him at New Buffalo, he was still at it. As the decades passed, I wondered if anything ever came of it. In 2004, I googled the recently published *New Buffalo, Journals of a Taos Commune,* which was published to great critical acclaim. This second book is a real cliffhanger: How will the visionary leader end up leaving New Buffalo? Arty was always criticizing everyone else for lack of commitment. He must get kicked out, but how could the world's most committed communard be forced off the farm he had coaxed up from a patch of Taos desert? Who will the bad guys turn out to be? Yes, a nail-biter, but more important, a vindication of the 60s. It is disheartening that nearing the end of oil, the media continues to denigrate the important accomplishments of the back-to-the-land movement. Arthur Kopecky's journals are living proof that the "hippie trip" had a point, and in fact was often very focused. They show that city folk, with a lot of hard work, can survive on a self-sustainable farm without food stamps (if the government will leave them alone; with the wars on drugs, terrorism, and immigrants and possibly a new draft, the government will be even more an issue in the future). As we approach the end of oil as cities become increasingly unlivable, many will by design or destiny find themselves in a country way. The successes and

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failures at New Buffalo are instructive, and they are entertainingly and heartbreakingly described in these journals. Most important in the demise of New Buffalo was the lack of initial structure. But this book is not a primer on how to structure a commune. For that, google the 40-year-old Twin Oaks and hundreds more at the Foundation for Intentional Communities site. Read these journals for the joy of the ride: for the beautiful descriptive passages of the land and its inhabitants and the hilarious anecdotes, for the exhausting and elating interpersonal relationships, for the late night runs across the moonlit mesa, for a high-fashion Halloween party in the kiva after the day in the dairy, for the almost-forgotten appointment at the clinic kept covered with goat cum. Read it to your children to laugh together and give them hope for the future. Who knows what the future of Arthur Kopecky, a.k.a. Answei Livingproof, will bring? I can't wait to find out, and I hope there will be more journals to read. (You don't have to read the first book to "get" this one; it briefly recaps the first.)

Bolinas Pride Family Dinner 1970

Bolinas Pride Family Commune 1970

Peter B Hales, Chicago, Ill USA July 2009

Diaries are uneasy works to read; few reward the process. Samuel Pepys's diary of London during the years surrounding the Great Fire is perhaps the model for the finest of the form; it is rich in everyday details, and over time reveals an authorial voice that eventually enlarges into a sensibility.

Such is also the case with Kopecky's diaries of life in the New Buffalo commune in the counterculture years and beyond. It is quite hard to get an accurate picture of the life of those years, even for those of us who lived in and through them. They are so fraught with romanticism and brassy hyperbole, cheap moralizing, and selective memory that one rarely feels the daily tenor of the times.

This is what Kopecky gives us. At first, the diary entries seem a bit shallow, even naive, and the narrator less than fully conscious to his surrondings. But the experiences of daily life change that for him, and so we are treated to the growth of a perceiving identity; moreover, as Kopecky becomes more attuned to his surroundings we find ourselves increasingly familiar with the cast of characters, with the nature of the climate and the land, with the tug of love and loss, the tension between staying and going, that were central to the counterculture as lived by those who stayed long enough to grow with it, and help it grow.

Kopecky's is a story not of triumph but of perseverence, and then, of failure,a failure that is, finally, tragic, and readers will feel that tragedy even as Kopecky himself experiences it not in epic sweep (though the failure of New Buffalo stands in for the failure of counterculture ideals) but in personal loss, and then (as the second volume, LEAVING NEW BUFFALO recounts at its end), personal redemption. In that volume, Kopecky attempts what he never did in the daily diaries-- he seeks to sum up, to generalize, to moralize. That's the only failure in this remarkable two-volume window into a time, place, and (counter) culture. One need not have any particular interest in the hippie movement to find the books deeply engrossing-- just as one needs not care particularly about plague-years London to find Pepys's diaries marvelous. Both do what we hope all imaginative writing will do-- they transport us back into the fabric of a moment, with its smells and noises, its epiphanies and interruptions.
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