Morningstar Ranch in Occidental, CA was an active open land counterculture commune (also known as The Digger Farm). In my upcoming crime novel, Don’t Stop the Music, two youths flee from the clutches of a San Francisco mobster and hide in the redwood hills of rural northern California at the enclave.
Morningstar was part of the changing society of young adults in the 1960’s that traveled back and forth between the Haight-Ashbury and Sonoma County. The commune was established by musician and satirical comedian, Lou Gottlieb.
Morningstar Ranch in Occidental, A Brief History:
Lou Gottlieb earned a Ph.D. in music from U.C. Berkeley and later became the bassist and lofty comic spokesperson for the musical trio, The Limeliters. After a brief stint reviewing concerts for the “San Francisco Chronicle,” he moved to his 30-acre ranch in Sonoma County in 1966 where he referred to himself as the “resident piano player.” Lou coined the acronym LATWIDNO (Land Access To Which Is Denied No One) for everyone coming to Morningstar. Life was unfettered, living off the land and providing the Diggers with free food for their outlets back in the City. The Ranch was in existence for a very short time due to the many complaints of neighbors. One such person relays the story of how a naked Lou walked to the fence line and as a greeting, scribbled “L-O-V-E” on the dusty belly of his pregnant partner.
Lou attempted to leave the land he owned to God. A series of court appeals culminated in the 9th district court ruling that he could not. The ruling centered around the fact that if God was named owner on a quit claim deed, there would be no recourse for the collection of property taxes. The finding, therefore, was that God has no property rights in the state of California. The Morningstar Commune frightened Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, and he vowed to remove it from the face of the earth.