The Taylor Camp to me represents the spirits of the 1970s and the state of mind that surrounded these profound years and shaped a whole generation.
The Taylor camp was an alternate community started by Howard Taylor, on the beautiful and mesmerizing island of Kauai in 1969. Kauai, at the time surrounded by crystal clear ocean and dense jungle all around; a perfect scenario for the free minded... The camp ocean-front utopia, had no leaders nor rules: the ultimate 'free spirited' form of community.
It all started when 13 Berkeley alumnus fled their campus and got thrown in jail because of interactions with police brutality during the anti-war movement. They found refuge on an empty piece of land owned by Taylor, where they ultimately took roots and create a parallel way of living.
“But Taylor Camp wasn’t a commune,” Wehrheim writes in the introduction of his book. “It had no guru, no clearly defined leadership, and never had a single voice. It had no written ordinances. It wasn’t a democracy. It was much more than that: a community guided by a spirit that created order without rules.”
There was no electricity or amenities of any kind. The society dropouts started building their beach-front tree houses with bamboo, scrap lumber and salvaged materials.
The residents lived off the land (and the occasional food stamps) and fished.. The children went to school and even got a ride from the school bus after some campers convinced the driver to include Taylor Camp on his route. Word of the village spread far and wide and more hippies, surfers and troubled Vietnam war veterans arrived to start a new life in the ungoverned beach community. At one point the camp held 120 inhabitants.
But everything was not seen through rose color glasses.
“I tried not to romanticize Taylor Camp,” Wehrheim wrote. “Anyone who reads the book or looks at the film will find a story that includes addiction, disease, alcoholism, violence, and sexual abuse: the same things that one finds in any community.”
After eight years of living in a somewhat functional community without rules or rulers, the story of Taylor Camp came to an end. The Hawaiians had run out of patience for the band hippies living rent-free on one of the island’s most beautiful spots. With the tourism industry on the rise, Taylor Camp was considered an eyesore. Complaints about the nudity, drugs, sanitation and even theft got louder and louder, until the hippies’ luck ran out.
"Sometimes, to see and understand a larger historic picture, you simply need to focus in on a tight handful of people that represent not only what was happening in many other places but also the dream of many other people at that time" Wehrheim stated.
Some campers recall spending the best time of their life at Taylor's camp, which impacted their life in more ways that one could describe.
This utopia state of mind, fighting for freedom in times of heavy war and rebellion was one way for these young spirited minds to not confine their soul. This little glimpse of history and time is precious, and stands for so much more than 'hippies on the beach'.
Simplicity of life sometimes brings out the best in people. I can totally relate to that.
Get lost in these amazing images of a space without time...
You can buy the book and watch the documentary right here!