Black Bear Ranch

Siskiyou County, California, USA
Back to the Land/Anarchist
Free Love
1968 - Present

In today’s hyper-connected world, Black Bear Ranch in Northern California is unbelievably remote. The nearest town is an hour-and-a-half drive through terrain so rough that their online directions read as a series of increasingly dire warnings: “It is requested that incoming vehicle operators have funds set aside to tow or otherwise remove a stranded vehicle… If your vehicle is two-wheel-drive, please consider not coming up with it… If it’s winter, please consider not coming in at all.” Located on the  site of a gold mining ghost town, original structures, communal houses, and private cabins have functioned as a commune for over fifty years. Founded as “a mountain fortress in the spirit of Che Guevara, where city activists would be able to come up, hide out, practice riflery and pistol shooting, have hand grenade practice, whatever.” In the early days, they practiced a militant form of enforced free-love–to avoid coupling, individuals could only sleep together two nights in a row.

Founded on the principal of “Free Land for Free People,” by an anarchist group protesting American imperialism, racism, capitalism, and patriarchy, Black Bear Ranch is grappling with how best to uphold their values. An open letter published in 2017 by former Black Bear residents, called on the community to return Ranch land to the indigenous peoples of the Karuk, Hoopa, Yurok, Konomihu, and Shasta. Since the letter, the stated purpose of Black Bear Ranch has shifted from communal living towards ecological stewardship.  

Nam semper semper ex
In porttitor pellentesque sapien

Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.