In the mid-1960s, as the New Left expanded and rose to its antiwar apogee and countercultural movements had begun to stir, a nucleus of poets, politicos, artists and philosophers converged in the culture cradles of the Haight-Ashbury and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Whatever they called themselves–Provos, Motherfuckers, Diggers–a leaderless, anarchistic movement found expression on the streets and storefronts of New York, San Francisco and Amsterdam.
Reinhabitory Institute: Young people don’t know much about Freedom Summer or the Free Speech Movement and I think they know even less about the Digger Movement. What do you think the most important things for today’s young generation to know about the Diggers?
Coyote: One of the things about being young is you think you’ve invented everything. You think you’ve invented sex, you think you’ve invented political understanding, you think you’ve invented … everything because it’s all new to you. And it’s very hard to imagine that these old rheumy, crusty people sitting across the table were once edgy and sharp and hip and all that. So I would say the main dividing line between today and those days is was the sense of hopefulness. And empowerment. And that we actually believed that we could make a change. And we actually on some level believed in the high school civics class definitions of how government worked and operated. And so it made all of our political engagement joyous. And heady. And another problem with being young, is that you don’t know what you don’t know. So what we didn’t know was how to take care of interpersonal relationships. We didn’t know that we embodied all the problems we were trying to solve. We didn’t know how to be skillful and gentle with each other. Continue reading Interview of Peter Coyote by Reinhabitory Institute
Reinhabitory Institute: I read what you’ve written about your political awakening, but there was a lot going on at the time. So what was it about the Diggers, or they the Digger movement or the free movement that particularly attracted you and compelled you to join that and not something else. There was a whole counterculture and a whole radical movement going on and so what was it that led you to the Diggers?
Kinal: It’s one of those accidental things in retrospect, but, you know, it couldn’t have happened any other way. I wasn’t a flower child, although that was very compelling, spending your days stoned and beautiful in Golden Gate Park. I had been very active in SDS in graduate school at Indiana University but my political awakening really came through the first family that I married into, the Handelmans who were socialist, atheist, intellectuals with many artist and theater friends. Continue reading Interview of Destiny Kinal by Reinhabitory Institute
Kent Minault, one of the original members of the SF Mime Troupe, a satiric theater troupe which has performed for free in Bay Area parks for the past fifty years, has created a show called Diggerty-Do. Surprisingly, despite having lived as part of the Digger Family for 45 years, Kent’s show is the FIRST time I understood how all the pieces came together, a true history, that Minault acts with a great deal of animation and verve. –Destiny Kinal
Gunnison Collins interviews Kent Minault as part of the series MESS (Media Ecology Soul Salon) - Gerry Fialka Laughtears.com
In the early 70’s, David Simpson and Jane Lapiner moved to Petrolia at the top of northwestern California’s Lost Coast and the mouth of the Mattole River. Old friends and collaborators Freeman House and Nina Blasenheim soon joined them. Together with Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann, the men of this group articulated our ancient relationship with our home watersheds they called bioregionalism, one of our century’s Big Ideas that has put its stamp on grassroots organizing and watershed restoration. The Mattole Restoration Council and Mattole Salmon Group, organizations these former Diggers helped found are considered significant benchmarks for salmon and community restoration across the planet. Continue reading David Simpson: Living on the Land and Off
Perhaps the best description, to my mind, of who the Diggers were historically comes from Eric Paul Noble, who is the keeper of the Digger Archives. Eric, an extraordinary researcher and historical commentator, is in a unique position to interpret the contribution today of a history that now encompasses nearly fifty years.