New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune by Arthur KopeckyNew Buffalo Commune Taos, New Mexico
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Review--
Denver Post

Regional nonfiction

Memories of life on a Taos commune

Modeling Jewelry from New Buffalo.Ladies Modeling Jewelry

 

Sandra Dallas
Special to The Denver Post

Sunday, April 11, 2004 -

Oh, how the hippies have aged! It's been 35 years since America's young idealists and anti-war dropouts discovered Taos and established the New Buffalo Commune, time enough for one of the inmates to write a history of the movement.

Arthur Kopecky was there and kept diaries of the experience for 12 years. "New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune" (University of New Mexico, 312 pages, $24.95) recaptures not only that idealistic way of life, but also the love and serenity that characterized many of the New Buffaloans.

Kopecky and several friends showed up at New Buffalo in 1971 in the Mind Machine, a converted bread truck. The others split, but Kopecky, enthralled with New Buffalo, stayed on. At the time Kopecky arrived, New Buffalo was attempting to become a self-sustaining community, with everyone pitching in. "Commune living is like a crash-course in living with people - how to get along. New communes are housing and feeding people and are basically places where all people can come together," he writes

But as time went on, the author, who likes just about everybody, found that commune living required more than just coming together. He was critical of some visitors, including the peyote cultists, who spent most of their time in prayer and meditation and failed to help cook or plow. "Commune is a place for a family group to live together and work together, not a catch-all for an unrelated bunch of hard luck cases," he writes.

During his years at New Buffalo, Kopecky saw the commune become more focused on running itself in a businesslike way. The members worked together to raise crops, goats and chickens. Still, they remained dedicated to the idea that they were all one family. Kopecky's greatest contribution to understanding the commune movement of a generation ago may be in writing day after day of the love and generosity of these young people. They were not druggies but idealists (OK, they smoked a little pot) who thought they could live in harmony and peace with a minimum of material things. And for a time they did. Eventually, New Buffalo ended, but Kopecky doesn't get into that here because he plans a second book.

Sandra Dallas is a Denver novelist who writes a monthly column on regional nonfiction releases.


For more information on Kopecky or New Buffalo, please contact Amanda Sutton, UNM Press publicity at 505-277-0655, 505-277-9270 (fax), or asutton@unm.edu.

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