Marketing the Revolution – My 13 Years at Zendik Farm

“How do you put thirteen years at a commune on a resume?”

I started asking myself that question shortly after leaving Zendik Farm in 1991. Since early 1978, I had been a prominent member of that community and at times a highly visible public spokesman. But after hitching my identity to Zendik for over thirteen years, I suddenly became just another long-haired thirty-something with no money, no job, and a very long gap in my employment history.

During the early 90’s, a friend pointed out that what I had experienced was equivalent to a divorce. I had severed my social and emotional connections with an extended family I had lived with for many years, including a handful of children I’d helped raise who I would never see again. Just as in the end of a marriage, that it worked so well for so long is hard to reconcile with how it went so wrong for me in the end.

It’s important to point out that as I write this in 2013, Zendik Farm is a far different place than it was when I left in 1991, and THAT was a far different place than it was when I arrived in 1978.

While I was there, I would describe Zendik Farm as an intentional community of 20-30 adults and 5-10 children, founded in the late 60’s by Wulf Zendik and his common-law wife Arol Wulf. We practiced a life of frugal self-reliance – based on an ethic of environmental conservation – on an organic farm with vegetables, poultry, goats, horses and all the work these things demand.

We promoted “tribal living” as a way of life that would minimize environmental impacts and reject consumerism. The commune was offered as a model of Wulf’s vision for society, and as a refuge from the mainstream world.

Their location is a moving target that last rested in West Virginia. When I joined them in 1978, they were in Gainesville, Florida preparing to move to California, where they eventually settled on a five-acre farm in Bonsall (north San Diego County).

The proximity of commercial agriculture drove them out of Bonsall, and in 1982 they bought a hillside compound in Topanga, a rustic community in the Santa Monica mountains between Malibu and Canoga Park.

By ’86 they went looking for cleaner air and room to farm and ended up with 75 acres near Boulevard, an outpost east of San Diego near the Mexican border on the crest of Tecate Divide. But that place was too dry, so they moved to Bastrop, Texas (a farming community east of Austin) shortly before I left in 1991.

The community I joined was a bit new-age and a bit back-to-the-land. Each member had a high level of personal autonomy, and was encouraged to express his/her creativity and environmental consciousness in the design and construction of their own personal space. In practice, these spaces were in adapted outbuildings, trailers, garden sheds, crawl spaces, and any other space that could be made into a “space”.

Between the Topanga and Boulevard periods, we were forced to live in tight quarters. When the leadership discovered they could build social cohesion by constricting personal space, cramped quarters became the norm. By the time I left, the founders had suites, the favored elites had dorm rooms, and the rest of us were in bunk houses.

For money, we published a newspaper that we sold on the streets as an underground newspaper. So part of the farm was a publishing operation that produced a 32- to 64-page magazine three or four times each year. On Fridays and Saturdays, a van full of Zendiks would invade a metropolis like San Diego or Los Angeles. Individuals would be dropped off in the morning at their designated neighborhoods with a bagful of “mags”, which they’d spend the day convincing passing pedestrians to buy for “a dollar or two” per copy.

That’s what I did 2-5 days/week, 12-30 weeks/year, for a good ten years.

I found myself talking to hundreds of people – one at a time – each day. I learned how to squeeze a complete and compelling pitch into a short attention span, to quickly and concisely respond to common questions, and to thoughtfully respond to uncommon ones. I got really good at one-on-one conversation, and on my best days I thoroughly enjoyed my role as a proselytizer and evangelist for a visionary environmental utopia.

The philosophy I was promoting is basically what I believe and promote to this day:

The chemistry of the Earth is getting altered in a way that threatens the survivability of human life. This problem is caused and exacerbated by over-consumption: the wasteful production of “stuff” that is casually discarded almost immediately. Our economies are designed to encourage consumption, waste and pollution. What is needed is an economic system that encourages and motivates conservation and low-impact living.

Looking back through human history, we see our species having evolved to live in tribal groups, where individuals support each other sharing skills and resources. Modern life is isolating and counter to our biological heritage, which leads to stress and an emptiness that we try to satiate with drugs like alcohol, food and shopping. Where the very old and the very young were once part of the extended family, now they’re institutionalized. Worst of all, our co-operative nature has been suppressed by a system based on competition.

Given that the religion that the world operates on is money, that prime motivator must be replaced by a reverence for the world that sustains us.

Based on that last sentence, Zendik presented itself (when convenient) as a religion… militantly athiest, yet spiritual. It was a belief system that was willing to answer the Big Questions with, “We don’t know. Let’s trust science as it tries to figure it out.”

The Zendik propaganda I sold presented assorted facets of this belief system through essays, poetry, artwork, cartoons… whatever we could reproduce well on newsprint. It expressed a vision of a world in which everyone was connected to a community… a large extended family where day-to-day life and work were integrated. Self-reliance would be brought to the most local level possible, and a moneyless economy would liberate the environment and society from the destruction wrought by greedy global financiers.

This is what I spent thirteen of the best years of my life promoting.

But as one of my former comrades once said, “Revere the art, not the artist.” The Zendiks presented a compelling belief system, but just like everybody, they were and are flawed people. Some had volatile and bombastic personalities. Positions in the hierarchy were based less on merit than on personal favoritism.

Worst of all, living there brought out a disturbing mean-spiritedness in each of us, and as a group the Zendiks had an uncanny ability to make enemies out of people who could have and should have been their friends.

Wulf’s and Arol’s authority could only be challenged by each other, and that was how they restrained their extremes. In their writings, Wulf was bombastic, militant, and take-no-prisoners; Arol was all hearth-and-home and let’s-get-along.

Personally, they were each the opposite. Wulf was compassionate, considerate of differing ideas, and went out of his way to accommodate even the most troubled person. Arol had little patience for anyone who wouldn’t unquestionably toe the line to her dictatorial whims. She was harsh, often used bigoted language, and could be brutal and mean.

Wulf generally stayed behind the scenes, writing and approving business decisions. On most mornings he would “make the rounds,” checking in on the status of major projects. Arol was the field general to Wulf’s commander-in-chief, running day-to-day life and dealing with operational or interpersonal crises as they’d arrive. They were only effective as a team, as Wulf’s compassion restrained Arol’s tyranny.

The End Game

The deterioration of my relationship with Zendik Farm happened slowly over several years, and in many ways, it was centered around my relationship with computers.

I had been trained at a university as a computer programmer, but computers were only found at big corporations in the mid 70s, and I was not interested in corporate life. I wound up at Zendik looking for something else. By the mid-80s, computers became more compact and affordable, and I quickly understood how they could streamline our writing and publishing operation. I was unable to get the rest of the group to understand this.

Eventually we came into a simple computer (a Commodore 64), which reunited me with the art of writing code. I wrote and deployed simple data tracking applications in BASIC, and won a programming contest with a synthesizer program developed in machine language. Yet the computer was dismissed as “Obbie’s toy” and my exploration of it was seen as a frivolous hobby.

In early 1990, the Zendiks were given a complete Mac-based desktop publishing system, but I wasn’t allowed to touch it. “Computers make you crazy,” I was told.

I saw this as a complete contradiction of one of the pillars of their belief system: the Genius Potential Principle. It states that every individual is a potential genius in some area, where “work becomes play.” Society functions best when each person is allowed to work in the field where he/she functions best. I enjoyed programming, I’d proven my proficiency, yet I was denied an opportunity to practice a craft I had invested much of my life learning.

While I was brooding over this hypocrisy and injustice Arol said, “you’re just miserable here,” and sent me off on a series of long road-trips to sell mags.

Once in exile, it turned out that I thrived on the road. I sold thousands of mags monthly in fresh new territory, and was energized by the social interaction that came with it. I built a network of new friends in the cities and college towns on my circuit, and I became a fixture on the parking lots of Grateful Dead concerts. I enjoyed more personal freedom than I had known in years.

While I was touring, the Zendiks were completing a move from California to Texas. By the summer of ’91, I was in an old step van called “The Battlevan” when I came “home” to the Texas farm expecting to reload, recharge, and be on my way with the next tour.

In my absence, the farm had become more authoritarian, and Wulf was presented less as a social/political philosopher and more as a spiritual guru. Arol sat me down and said that I wasn’t going on the road any more. Road life had corrupted me and “made me a Deadhead,” and my articulate communication skills were needed at home.

For the next three days my articulate communication skills were put to work stripping fields of nasty stinging plants while fire ants feasted on my blood. I was told that I would be moving from the Battlevan into one of the bunk houses. In spite of my 13 loyal years of service, I was to be treated as an “apprentice,” a nooby.

An ultimatum was issued: sign over the Battlevan, or hit the road. My relationship with the Zendiks showed no sign of improving, so I left that day in the Battlevan, with somewhere between five and ten dollars to my name.

Recovery

I did low-wage temp work in Austin until I could afford to move on, and did more temp work here and there as I got back on my feet. It took a couple of years and a good deal of trauma to establish a new life, but I managed to do it.

When I disassociated myself from Zendik Farm, I still believed in its professed values, and was even willing to sell their propaganda on a contract basis. But just as we were about to come to terms, they backed out… they feared that I would saturate selling territory they may wish to work themselves. The bridge was burned for good, and I was on my own.

I have read many accounts written by other ex-Zendiks that come across as extremely bitter. These people probably wonder why I’m NOT bitter. After all, I gave the Zendiks thirteen of the best years of my life and came away with next to nothing. On the other hand, many of these people handed over thousands of dollars in trust funds, tools, sound equipment, vehicles, etc.; while all I gave up was a beat-up old car and a few hundred bucks.

The most precious commodity we accumulate thru our lifetimes is our experiences, and my time at Zendik overflowed with valuable experiences that will stay with me forever. I got to travel to every corner of the country, and to meet and have conversations with hundreds of interesting inhabitants of each stop along the way. I got to participate in dozens of protests, rallies, concerts and other events that are now milestones of history.

There are many things I learned at Zendik that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I learned a conservation ethic and how to apply it in every aspect of our lives. I learned how to live and co-operate with other people. I became focussed and articulate in one-on-one conversation and in speaking to groups. I found that an appropriate level of discipline can make life go much more smoothly.

If I had it all to do over again, would I do things differently? As any Star Trek freak knows, tinkering with the timeline is a dangerous thing. I’m very happy with where I am in my life right now, and my time at Zendik led me here.

Early in the summer of ’91, I was selling mags out of the Battlevan at a Dead show in Indiana. Near the end of the day, I met a girl from Kansas named Kristi (not her real name) who hitched a ride with me thru the rest of the tour. We developed a short relationship, and she became an important support person during the aftermath of my departure from Zendik.

We split up later that year but kept in touch, and some new friends she’d introduced me to became my neighbors at the “Berkeley KOA”. Two years later, while visiting these friends in Kansas, I was taken to an event where I met RoZ for the first time.

So if I had never met the Zendiks, I would have never met “Kristi”, and therefore I would have never met RoZ. RoZ and I have been happily married since 1995, so things turned out fine.

Epilogue

Zendik went thru two more major moves and a handful of minor moves after I left, first from Texas to North Carolina, and later to West Virginia. Wulf passed away at the North Carolina farm in 1999, and I’ve been told that Arol became a “monster” once he was gone.

Arol died in June 2012. In early 2013, the commune disbanded (there are rumors of serious debts) and the West Virginia farm is on the market for just under a million dollars.

It is not my job to defend the Zendiks (It hasn’t been since 1991), nor is it my job to condemn them. I just think that there’s a lot to learn from this experience.

Linkography

The following links go to what others have said about Zendik Farm. I may not always agree with the attitude or the tone of many of Zendik Farm’s critics, but as someone who spent thirteen years there, they ring true.

  • Zendik Farm - The commune’s web site, domain was dead for a while, now an “eShop under construction.”
  • Zendik on Facebook – nothing new since September 2012.
  • Zendik Farm Justice Foundation – Facebook page for angry ex-members
  • Work of Wulf Zendik – repository of Wulf’s writing maintained by ex-members
  • “Ghost of Wulf Zendik” MySpace page
  • Who Are These People? – In-depth profile from Washington DC CityPaper, November 2005
  • Zendik FAQ – highly critical, angry and bitter – but mostly accurate – description of life on Zendik Farm compiled by an ex-member who spent five years there long after I left
  • Hip Forums “discussion” – 844 posts on the topic, often a very ugly and nasty flame war that raged from May 2004 to July 2005

Ground Rules for Discussion

Judging by some discussions I’ve seen, the topic of Zendik Farm can be quite contentious, so some ground rules are in order. This is not a place to air personal grudges. It is more important and constructive to discuss what current and future social experiments can learn from Zendik Farm, and how their failure could have been avoided.

With the exception of Wulf, Arol and Fawn, no names are allowed. This discussion is moderated, and the owners of this site reserve the right to reject, redact, or edit any comment.

109 thoughts on “Marketing the Revolution – My 13 Years at Zendik Farm

  1. Thanks so much for posting this! It’s hard to find an objective view on the topic of life at Zendik Farm but you’ve done a beautiful job. So many amazingly beautiful positives and also many horrific negatives. The negatives aside, I would never trade the 11 years I spent there for anything else…

  2. Wow, Obbie! This is a spectacular summation of the grand Zendik experiement. It made me smile a lot, and even cry a little bit. I think I just fell in love with you in a way that I never did when we knew each other.

    Thank you for putting succinctly into words what I have been feeling for 23 years since I left my Zendik family behind. Love. Admiration. Bitter-sweet gratitude. I was only with the group for 3 or 4 years, but I have always described those years as the single greatest growth experience of my life. I would not have missed it for anything.

    You are my hero, Obbie. Thank you for your compassionate, objective summation of one whopping spectacular social experiment; that’s what Zendik Farm was to me. I am grateful for the small role that I played.

  3. I remember asking myself a number of times “Why is this person from Texas selling a magazine in Madison?” When one finally approaced me he informed me that society was “bullshit” (at my age then I tended to agree) and I bought one, I still have it somewhere but I remember it seemed to be mostly written by people with monosylabic “nom de plumes” in praise of an old man with a beard.

    I forgot about them, until years later I remembered that back then I did not have google and being a geek by nature I tend to delve into research more than most people, so thanks for writing this. It serves no purpose to me whatsoever other than help satisfy that nagging question of mine I started asking on State Street in 1992 “What makes a person travel 1000 miles to sell magazines in praise of an elderly, bearded man?” (for some reason I have not had the same question about Jehovah’s Wittnesses…go figure)

    Now that it is dissolved, I am a bit worried about two things. The people who have been there longer than you were without the rebounding ability that more youthful people have will really be like fish out of water. I hope they find this writing of yours and find a way to ask you for advice because it seems like you would happily give it, and it would be usefull. The other thing I am worried about is that every magazine seller, every farm hand, every weed puller, every car donor, every magazine buyer and every trust-fund donator gave their labor and their time and their resources to build a better earth and society and now what is left is a giant house for sale that is being sold for the benifit of the heirs of Wulf and Arol. It worries me that some worthy charity who might make use of such a space will not be able to unless their donors give money to their heirs of Zendik.

    • RE: “I am worried … that every [member] gave their labor and their time and their resources to build a better earth and society and now what is left is a giant house for sale that is being sold for the benifit of the heirs of Wulf and Arol.”

      I am hounded by two words that come up in the failure of Zendik and other communes I’ve crossed paths with: “autonomy” and “equity.” Early on, they believed in giving members a certain amount of autonomy, but that eroded over time. As for equity, I think they didn’t want to go thru the trouble to devise a fair and equitable way to distribute equity. It was too easy to put Wulf’s and Arol’s name on the deed and be done with it.

      • Arol and Fawn and [redacted] took so much from so many people, it is shameful. They took and took and took from my family, it is shameful. All the blood, sweat and tears went into Arol, Fawn and [redacted]’s deep pockets, it is shameful. In the end, the society that most of us live in, is a kinder society than what Arol, Fawn and [redacted] had to offer. If society thinks government controls our every waking hour, Arol, Fawn and [redacted] controlled a lot more of a person. Just my thoughts.

        • Jade and I had an off-line discussion on my reasoning for redacting names on non-founding members of Zendik Farm. I felt that some elements of her contributions were worthy of sharing with The Rest of the Class.

          Jade has graciously granted me permission to do so:


          Obbie:

          I am not and have never been a Zendik or an ex-Zendik, a family member of mine joined and quite honestly figured it out quite quickly but couldn’t leave for their own reason (which was a good reason and one which I supported). It only took us about a year to figure out that the farm was not what it was telling people it was.

          I do believe the majority of us are looking for utopia, the perfect world to live in and I do believe that the perfect world is in each one of us either in a small way or a large way. But you have people like Arol, Fawn and possibly Wulf (i never met him so I can’t be the judge of that) that come along and find people that are unhappy with their lives, unhappy with the way they were raised, unhappy with something and they offer them what they perceive to be utopia, the perfect world.

          I did find that other people, not Fawn or Arol, were good, kind-hearted people that truly believed in what they were doing, that they truly believed they had purpose in doing it and even though they followed the rule of Fawn and Arol (and yes, Fawn’s present husband) and were nasty to others, in their hearts they were good people but only allowing their minds to be controlled by bad people.

          I do so worry about the older people that are still there or have had to leave and even the youngs ones that were born there and knew nothing else. It will be a hard road for them. Especially the ones that have lived in the confines of the Zendik organization and have never worked outside of it so therefore they will have no Social Security, no pension, no 401k to help them in their golden years. My heart especially goes out to them.

          Arol and Fawn knew exactly what they were doing and they knew they were ripping all these people off. That is what is so sad. I would still open my doors to many of the people that I met at the farm but I would never open my doors to Fawn or her present husband.

          Thanks for your feedback, always appreciated.

          Jade

  4. Dear Obbie,

    I am thankful to have run into your blog. I lived at Zendik for 14 ½ years and just left as it’s near final collapse. I find it fascinating to hear your experience and also note how fundamentally similar ours and so many were. Even with the years apart and with Zendik being such a different place in detail form between these times.

    In the end there was a force of us who had stuck around through so much we were definitely demanding that we own some part of what we were doing. We were also much more about making allegiances with lots of other people and also starting to truly see and treat each other as actual friends. (Almost impossible to do in a heirarchy).
    There was this huge struggle in the last years and we persisted as there was an illusion (and we believed) that we all kind of owned “Zendik” together by this point and that the past “heirarchal” thing was over. As life forces pressed the issue, it became sadly and shockingly apparent this would never be, so a gang of us pretty much left together- which for the most part was the end of Zendik.

    This was such a crucial time as I saw life pressing for us to be more cooperative, to really change the shittier aspects of Zendik- so the good could fully grow. It sadly didn’t go that way. But.. it could have.
    And I too am not in the end bitter at Zendik or regretful of my time there as it made me who I am and I learned so much. It was MY life. I am left though deeply sad. Sad because the promise and possibilities of it all was so large and ultimately good. And truly sad as I miss sharing my life on a day to day level with many.

    What I loved about what you said is… what can we learn? As there truly is much to.
    What could have made it go right? For all it’s negatives… something very unique and also altruistic existed there or else, it wouldn’t have affected so many positively. Yes, so many were burned (almost everyone). But most would also say in the same breath that they would never trade that experience. And in the end, it was my belief and practice of the philosophy, so ingrained in me while there, that led to my departure… what I saw around me no longer matched up with what I believed in. Similarly to you grasping and loving the genius potential principle and finding yourself in an evironment that squashed you.

    In the end my greatest lesson is learning that we are all human, no better- no worse. And all there is ahead, is a decision to truly put effort into being friends as humans. On the same plane. Not from some position, whether it be celebrity, president, or charismatic commune leader… but no matter what our title we are all human and struggling and need to find ways to relate, learn and work together.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences… it made me want to reach out.
    Vie

    • Hello Vie,

      Thanks for sharing. I am curios if you are familiar with the idea of exoteric Vs. esoteric knowledge in groups? In case not, I am sure it will be familiar.

      The exoteric is the appealing part, like America rebelling for freedom from the British. The exoteric knowledge and teaching being “all men are created equal”. Then evidence emerges that this is not the case, like the continuation of slavery and the former colonial master ridding iteself of slavery before the “land of the free” does, but then the exoteric teaching modifying itself to make freedom and equality equated to property rights, with slaves being property of free men. So the point being that contradictions are seen, the message stays the same but its interpretation is modified.

      Then on further inclusion into the system the esoteric knowledge is learned and that would be “All men are not equal, if they believe this then great but if they really are then everything we have falls apart and we are more important than freedom”. So the esoteric people promote the exoteric message to gain or keep followers but the real purpose is to keep a core group in power (like slave owners, robber barons, bankers etc. etc.).

      Was this the case with Zendik? I am not calling anyone slave owners or Robber barons, but did it seem like it was not really a commune or collective after a while?

      Anyway, if you are with clever people I am sure you will make your own stuff happen.

      • Stumpy,

        Not sure I totally follow.
        But yes, in the end I thought to myself “This is no different then having the Queen of England and then the commoners.” It’s didn’t come across as black and white on the surface- but was the case when push came to shove. While on the surface, yes, something else was being espouced (sp?).
        Do I think Arol and Fawn are just evil? No. I think Arol was sincere in her desire to change the world and make it better. In many ways she had immense compassion, insight, gutsiness and affected many people positively. In other ways she was an out of control beast who aggressively attacked people and a hypocrite. She demanded people look at themselves relentlessly, but in so many would not look at herself. All I can say is she was human. And it takes 2 parties to make someone out to be more then that. I played my part. I learned my lesson. And many many more along the way. I have no regrets. But a strong desire to make the most out of the lessons learned.

        • Vie,
          Arol did look deeply and relentlessly at herself long before you joined Zendik Farm, and even years before I left in 93. What she saw was a woman who, given the choice, would have done something altogether different with her life. She had no choice.

          Arol pulled The Big Lie that corrupted Zendik Farm and our old ideals, and sent us on a downward spiral since. She went from being a believer (albeit a humanly flawed one) to being a manager (with less and less respect for the group she had to manage).

          The turning point was in the summer of 1990 with Arol’s words, “I still believe that the way people ideally should live is as a commune. However, at this time it is not working for us.” If (and its a very big “if”) she had been honest she would have said: “Wulf’s vison is becoming too inconvenient and its time for a compromise. I want to have a life IN SPITE OF THIS. We can still keep Zendik around the edges of what we do as well as we can, but the bottom line is too make this [Zendik Farm] manageable and packageable, both in how we function with each other and how we present ourselves to the outside. I may still sympathize with Zendik, but I no longer believe in it.”

          Arol never really moved to Texas with us, she moved to Texas next to us.
          Zendik Farm became the place and group she felt (a bitter) responsibility to manage, but that she could “go home from.” And close the door tightly behind her….

        • Something in Gnome’s latest comment made me think of one obvious symptom of a spiral away from the ideals and toward something less righteous.

          When I left, Zendik Farm made its living selling mags that came out every few months. They would be laboriously produced, and whether the buyer was looking for intellectual or visual stimulation, our mag produced. We provided a rich expression – a mini-manifesto – of our philosophy that we then went out and hawked for a dollar or two.

          A decade later, they made their living on a bumper-sticker slogan on semi-mass-produced t-shirts.

          They made a lot more money on the t-shirts than we did on the mags, but I think Wulf wanted to be remembered for more than a t-shirt slogan.

          • When the t-shirts became such big sellers and the profits from them skyrocketed, Arol thought she could build an empire based on a fashion statement. The Farm became heavily in debt, Arol had her diamond jewelry collection, and Fawn wore Victoria’s Secret lingerie. Of course, that is all justified “when the bottom line is to save the Earth.”

            Yes, something less righteous than our old Original Zendik ideals.

  5. Hey Obbie!
    I never knew you, but my name is Kyra and I lived on the farm in later phases. North Carolina to West Virginia. It was great to read what you wrote. It made me think that no matter what time-frame we lived on the farm (Gainesville to San Diego, Turkestan to North Carolina) the experiences were similar. Even though we think things were very different depending on when we lived there, it seems like it was more surface things that changed. The underlying experience was similar.
    I would like to throw out there that you are expressing feelings and recollections 22 years after the fact. The people that come off “bitter” now are pretty fresh out of that experience. I think it is probably one of the stages of dealing with it all. Some of us happened to do it online. Some not. But I like the image you gave of a divorce. With that, there are many stages, usually including one where you are furious and bitter. Also neither you nor I (as far as I can tell from reading your account) had children on the farm. Anyone who lived there any length of time knows that was a different ball-game for most. I am grateful for the people I lived and worked with every day. I am still in contact with many of them, and I love that. I love them. Take care all you ex-Zendiks… if that really is your name!
    Love,
    Kyra

    • Hi Kyra…

      Some of what you said here has me rethinking what I went thru in the end of my days at Zendik. My “end game” was much more drawn out than most (thru over a year of exile on the road), but I remember feeling quite angry during the beginning of that exile. By the time I left for good, most of that anger had worked itself out, and leaving was the logical next step in that progression of events.

      I’m bothered by people who use the way they were treated by Arol and others as a reason to reject the ideals that Zendik promoted. I see this as akin to rejecting the teachings of Jesus Christ because of the crusades, Inquisition, and pedophile priests. (Please don’t read this as an endorsement of Christianity.)

      For the record, I did “have” a child at the farm who failed to see his second birthday (obviously I had some help). It’s a long, sad, and complicated story from my early days there. More importantly, I did see how other children and their parents were treated there, and you’re correct in characterizing it as “a different ball-game”.

      Cheers.
      Obbie

  6. Hmmmmmmnnnnn (as [the Boulevard electronics geek] once said)…..

    Where to start?

    Hmmmmmmmnnnnn…..

    Moderators note: Gnome asked for the following story to be added to his comments. Names of people outside the founding family have been changed or redacted.

    I was living in the city [Austin] but still kept an affinity with ZF in 94. Got a call from [one of his primary care-takers], saying Wulf wanted to move to the city and live independently of ZF, could I help make arrangements. I thought Wulf had sunk into a doom-and-gloom fit of depression, as he sometimes did, or a high-blown fit of idealistic but unrealistic battle prowess, as he other times did.

    It turns out he wanted to leave because he saw the “core” (mostly Arol’s matriarchal mafia by then) as “security buffs who have no interest in The Truthway.” People who just want their lives spelled out and rigidly defined for them without thinking or questioning. Arol no longer believed in him or his thinking or ideals, and Fawn was on Arol’s side. Wulf said he was being kept in a corner as a quirky old man who may have some interesting insights, but was ultimately silly and unrealistic. Wulf, of course, still saw himself as the cutting edge philosopher of this age. Wulf even wanted to take the name “Zendik” with him and felt the Farm should have to rename itself. Arol sent [another long-time member] to talk to Wulf, and Wulf’s only response to [him] was that he should leave with him. THERE WAS NOT A PHILOSOPHIC BOTTOM LINE TO KEEP WULF ON THE FARM. Ultimately, Wulf’s frail health left him with no other option but to stay. It was a choice between Zendik Farm and a convalescent hospital.

    Telling, eh?

    • I remember when all that went down. I really wanted to leave with him but I knew the separation wouldn’t last and he’d be back. If I admitted to wanting to go with him, I would have been on Arol’s permanent shit list and therefor tortured for the remainder of my time there. So I stayed silent, like a coward, and felt horrible when Wulf asked me directly and told me that he expected that I would leave with him. Awful time. I have few regrets but I regret not backing him up in that moment.

  7. Hey obbie thanks for writing this it is healing to read…i lived at zendik for 11 years and just left 6 months ago….it has been tough to say the least ….some days i just go thru extreme embarrassment…..how could i have let myself be so used? The last 3 years i was there i street sold 3-4 days a week every single week and i wwould get really sick in winter and just kept going out….it was suicide and i get deeply angry that i pushed myself that hard and got so fucked at the end there….i really stayed for the people that were my true friends ..forr i knew my leaving would make their lives harder….while living there i found a long distance girlfriend who i fell deeply in love with…it didnt work out partly because of my insane allegience to working and living at zendik…..my heart was crushed and yet i kept going until finally my friends were ready to leave…these last 2 years have been fucking hell and if it werent for my dear friends i dont know what i would do…..i pray for all of our lives to be prosperous and full of love….take care, peiro

    • Peiro, your blog was actually the best thing on the Zendik Farm website…. maybe the ONLY worthwhile thing….. though Wulf Zendik and Derrik Jensen were very similar in ways, and polar opposites in others. It was good to see some radical environmental focus on the site, and weird because the Original Zendiks of another era were pioneering radical environmentalists. You were the best thing left…..

    • What I see in your writing this is someone who is pretty durable, so though you may be pretty bummed out I see some positives in your situation.

      No more selling while ill. Seriously, you are correct when you said “suicide” because working while ill can lead to pnuemonia and not give infections a chance to heal and actually kill you. When I have been to poorer areas of the world I was always shocked when people would talk about how a relative or family member “worked themself to death”. What you were doing in selling was how it happened there and it can happen here too.

      You fell in love while in Zendik. Sure you blew your chance by being devoted to Zendik but the fact is that there are others and they are out there and you are not with Zendik anymore. (and even those of us never in Zendik blew it with love…happens all the time) So this combined with your new found health should make meeting someone special much easier and much more rewarding, so you have that to look forward to.

      Keep at it. You are doing fine. You are coming out of an extraordinary situation so what you think might be aloneness is really just uniqueness.

  8. Peiro, keep up the good work caring for the environment. Your efforts never went unnoticed. Another thing, when you least expect it, the love of your life will just walk in, keep the door open.

  9. Hello,
    As many have stated, thank you Obbie for writing your piece, it was very insightful, well thought out and well articulated. I also enjoyed how you have grown through the hardships that you faced.

    I think all of us who spent any amount of time there can relate to the journey you describe. It took me a year after leaving to stop feeling totally depressed and start looking for away to make it and have a good life. I know it is a struggle to adjust after leaving from the farm and it can really help to connect with others who have left.

    I personally never had much problem with Arol and Wulf and in many ways had it easy at the farm compared to others but I was really pissed by the treatment of some of my very dear friends there. That is all in the past now (for me personally, I know some are still processing and are justifiably still angry) and I look at everyone I knew there with great love, appreciation and fondness for all that we went through and tried to create at the farm. I want you all to know how sorry I am for anything I may have done to you in my own Zendik zealotry and if you want to talk or if there is anything I can do to help anyone I am happy to help.

    Kord

  10. ObbieZ,

    Well written piece. Even more interesting to read the comments by the ex Zendiks. I myself became engaged with the subject of Zendik Farm through my interest in cults and mind control which obviously is a very different perspective from yours. I have spoken with several Zendiks over the years including [one member] in New Orleans and [another] in Asheville as well as several others whose names I can’t recall despite their brevity and catchiness. I always presented myself honestly as a skeptic and was told again and again that it was not a cult.

    That brings me to the point of my comment which is that, while understanding and sympathizing with you for being victimized, I wonder if you feel bad for scamming so much money from people or maybe even convincing other wayward youth to come to the farm. While I acknowledge that you’ve been victimized and you also acknowledge that you’ve been victimized, there doesn’t seem to be much acknowledgement that you may well have victimized others or put them in a position to be victimized. It’s easy to abdicate all blame to Arol, and I’m sure much of it belongs there, but you do have a responsibility to think for yourself and you do have a responsibility for your own actions.

    Peiro mentions that he experiences “extreme embarrassment”. Quite frankly that seems correct to me. When you throw boulders into the lake of karma that is the likely result whether you understood what you were doing or not.

    MadMike

    • Ah… the “c-word”. I was wondering how long it would take for that little bit of lexicon to come up.

      Here’s my problem with the word “cult”: no one ever uses it to describe something they like or agree with. It’s also a word that is defined differently by every person that uses it. Let me pick it apart, starting with the “official” dictionary definition:
      1) a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
      2) a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
      3) a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

      Of course, most people utter that word to invoke images of Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, or whoever is the latest weirdo of the week; lumping all kinds of implications onto the definition of the word.

      I’ll have you know that Zendik Farm was the third “cult” to influence my life. The first was the Roman Catholic Church, and the second was the United States Navy; and I would submit that of the three, the Zendiks were the most benign “cult” I’ve ever lived with. Unlike the Zendiks, both the Catholics and the Navy demanded strict adherence to their dogma, unquestioning obedience of the hierarchy, and had NO tolerance for dissent or alternative points of view.

      Compared to mainstream religions or the military, there was little or no “mind control” at Zendik Farm. Education, yes. Mind control, no.

      The other word you seem to like that I have a problem with is “victimized”. That seems to imply that we were all duped, kidnapped, coerced or something. We all knew what the deal was and what we were signing up for, and after the trial period all new members were briefed on the what would be expected of them going forward. We all sincerely believed in the cause we were promoting, and we all knew that our cause would be more powerful if we could recruit more people into it.

      Again, it’s a defamatory lexicon. The ex-members of one cult are “lost souls,” ex-members of another cult are “retired heroes,” but members of a cult we wish to disparage are “victims.”

      The only way we feel victimized is that we left with little or nothing, but we knew that was the deal when we joined. We learned a value system we still respect, our lives were enriched by experiences we had while connected with Zendik Farm, and we grew tremendously personally and professionally while we were there.

      Now we must learn to embrace these values and experiences, so we can rise above those who would tarnish those experiences with the c-word.

    • Im embarrassed that i gave so much to something that wasnt what i believed it was, but i dont have guilt for the money i raised because most of those years i wasnt talking to people about zendik or trying to recruit people….i even had girlfriends that i loved and never pushed them to move to zendik….and i wasnt claiming to be victimized …the one karma thing i have gone thru is breaking down the arrogance i learned at being a zendik….and i have since apologized and made a mends with people who i felt the urge to…when i look at my life i see that i spent 11 years on the street trying to express ideas that i thought could change the world….i was naive but far from a scammer…none of that money went to me and i never really cared about that and still dont…..

  11. Ways to spot a cult as apposed to real communities such as Twin Oaks or The Farm.

    1. Yes fancy slogans and essays, but No constitution or by laws.
    2. Community has been around for 30 years, but everyone is twenty something, except the leaders. –Turnover.
    3. Excessive amount of pictures and writings of its leaders or a few people, and everyone else is in the background.
    4. Who owns the real estate, Members, A trust, or just a couple of owners.
    5. Are you supposed to hand over bank accounts, Deeds, and Pink Slips to another individual, or a corporation in which you do not own part of. A Real egeltarian community does not ask you to hand over anything, you keep it and just don’t use it. real egeltarian communities: “you come in with nothing and leave with nothing” , look at Transfer of Property and net loss / net gain.
    6. Do a Google search for blogs concerning a community, I’m not saying one should take it at face value, but if many people are saying the same thing, its likely to be true.

    • When I was at the farm in Boulevard, one day the local Sheriff called. He really liked the Zendiks and called to let us know that the FBI had been asking questions. So Arol called the FBI and invited out their Cult Inspector for a visit. After the tour one member excitedly asked if we were a cult. The guy said yes. Arol asked what makes a group a cult in the FBI view. He said that if you have a united ideology, eat together, and home school, then you are a cult.
      I would guess that The Farm in TN and lots of other communes are consisted cults. I personally am happy that the government has called me a terrorist, (that’s another story) and that I lived in a cult. I must have done something right. Heather Forever

  12. Dear David B.
    You may be a nice guy with giving motives, but you seem sadly misguided in your understanding of alternatives cultures and communities….
    “Cults” (a word as nasty, discriminatory, and flat-out bigotted as the n-word for black people, by the way), new religious movements, communes/adopted communal families (such as Zendik), and liberal intentional communities are really altogether different lifestyles with different goals and definitions….
    Zendik had its strengths and shortcomings, but never professed to be a liberal intentional community….
    Please do not hold them to that standard, they have not said that about themselves.

    In short, if you are looking to live or build an alternative lifestyle/commune/community, be very cautious and conscious about who you look to join. But remember, you are asking to join them they are not kidnapping you.

    I sure as fuck wouldn’t ASK to join an Israeli kibbutz and then be blameful that they expected me to behave like a Jewish convert. They live the way they do for a reason and if I tied to join I am only asking to be part of that reason. By golly, they might even want to circumcise me! Hahaha…..

  13. Hi Obbie,

    Thanks for all of this. You know, even back when we were there, things happened that I still don’t talk about except with those who were in it at that time. And I’m still angry, mostly at myself, for following advice that left my life shattered for years to come. I am grateful to you and others who are taking time to talk about your experiences. I don’t know if I can, yet.

    I’m glad you have made a good life for yourself.

    Love to you,
    Madeline

  14. Moderator’s note: FourthWin submitted a comment a few days ago that was not approved, as I did not feel it was a constructive contribution to the conversation.

    Responses to this comment will be embedded within it.

    I’m not sure why you deleted my comment, as I was pretty supportive of your main theme: Zendik Farm was a joke.

    That wasn’t my main theme at all. I suggest you re-read my post, as you don’t appear to have comprehended it the first time.

    It hurt just about everyone associated.

    And everyone associated also grew and evolved in some way.

    Complications of sentimentality aside, I was there, and know, first hand, what they were up to,

    How long were you there? I read your discussions on that other forum you’re participating in (thanks for driving traffic to this post, by the way), and you don’t seem to say whether you were there for ten days, ten months, or ten years. I sense someone who was there for about ten minutes, got weirded out and split, and now you’re ranting fifteen years later about how “awful” it was?

    and only realized how FUed it was after reading commentary of others’ years later.

    ‘Cause you weren’t there long enough to find out on your own? Did you leave because it was too wonderful, and then decide to write about it years later after reading some of the other bitter bitchers?

    If you’d like to actually engage in dialogue, you have every opportunity.

    To what end? All you want to do is to insult and belittle anyone that’s been there, which – I’ll repeat – is not constructive.

    You want truth? Things like Zendik should be forgotten,

    Why? So no one can learn the lessons of the things that went wrong? So no one can learn from the things that went right? There will be future social experiments. If they are to succeed, they need to benefit from the experiences of those of us who have walked this path.

    but you know (in your heart) that some other sap (like me, like you) is going to get wrapped up into this sort of stuff if you aren’t honest.

    “…this sort of stuff”? Your lexicon reeks of snarky dismissiveness. So the Zendik experience didn’t work for you. So what. You leave, go on with your life, and they go on with theirs. I don’t think I could live with the Amish, but that doesn’t make them evil incarnate.

    I don’t know what point you are trying to make… warning people away from a commune that no longer exists? To tell everyone how “horrible” it was? I can’t discern any objective to your postings other than to be a screaming five-year-old, pointing a finger and yelling, “look at that!

    The Zendiks presented a belief system that has value, and some day someone is going to try to launch another community based on these values. I want the next social experiment to get it right. If you don’t have anything to contribute to that end, then I guess you don’t have anything to contribute.

    • All of this blog and exchange is good, Real, and helpful. However, I found Obbie’s last paragraph above INVALUABLE….
      I can only hope Zendik, as it was meant to be, may continue. Perhaps with a new name, image, and style…. and with both lessons and inspirations from our old communal family we were all once so hopeful about.

    • I’m still curious about a lot of the questions I sent you before, but I’m even more curious how you regard the “eco-warrior” violence advocated, and explained in graphic detail, by Wulf’s writing?

        • First, thanks for allowing my comment to appear. You didn’t censor and didn’t edit. We’re getting somewhere, hopefully, with dialogue.

          I’m not sure what I’m supposed to respond to but I will respond to the obvious questions.

          I’ll respond to every obvious question, save one. Obvious questions are those with question marks. First, i should address this:

          “That wasn’t my main theme at all. I suggest you re-read my post, as you don’t appear to have comprehended it the first time.”

          Look, I am absolutely pissed about the way that Zendik treated people and I am disgusted by the way that people treated each other under that regime. I read your statement in the same way it was written, but with a different light: as a parent, would I want my kids involved with this group? Absolutely fucking not. I think you would agree.

          “How long were you there?”

          I mentioned this before (in the post you referenced, and thanked me for) but, essentially, “Long enough to know better.” I made friends and had enough of the experience (sex, parties, selling trips and internet). I also worked my butt off, 7 days a week. I lived there. In Bastrop, Texas, on an easy bend of the Colorado River; a beautiful place.

          ” I sense someone who was there for about ten minutes, got weirded out and split, and now you’re ranting fifteen years later about how “awful” it was?”

          Much longer than ten minutes, thank you, and you knew that from my post. I lived there. I went through a bunch of shit there that I really don’t appreciate being summed up as “10 minutes.” Cut off from family, cut off from the world (by dogma) and then to mingle on the superficial lines of “selling.” It was a mind fuck.

          “‘Cause you weren’t there long enough to find out on your own? Did you leave because it was too wonderful, and then decide to write about it years later after reading some of the other bitter bitchers?”

          Dude, this is you being bitter. Sorry that plan, that you devoted so much time to, failed. I really am. I was there long enough (see previous post) to understand. I had the sessions, the work for weeks.

          I decided to start writing about it because I realized some kids were getting screwed in the same way. Money and cars and belongings signed over. Working like crazy only to get broken down later. “Life artistry,” my ass; while the concept is whole, I (and many others) ran afoul of the politics associated with the group. Did our work at a high level of “mastery,” as we’d learned the skills before, and just got creamed for being too serious.

          [I want a dialogue] To what end?

          I’m not sure, at this point. I’ve largely forgotten about this stuff. I guess I’m trying to learn how to teach my children not to make my own mistakes. I think that spending time there, and buying in to the line, and trying to learn the line, was wasted time. Worse than that, it made me suspicious of others for many years.

          “Why? So no one can learn the lessons of the things that went wrong? So no one can learn from the things that went right? ”

          After a lot of internal discussion, you’re right. If you can’t learn from failure (and I regard this as a colossal failure) what can you learn from? You and I may disagree what might have went “right” in this instance, though.

          “…this sort of stuff”? Your lexicon reeks of snarky dismissiveness. So the Zendik experience didn’t work for you. So what. You leave, go on with your life, and they go on with theirs. I don’t think I could live with the Amish, but that doesn’t make them evil incarnate.”

          QFT: the Amish never asked me to be a member. Zendiks did.

          It’d be fair to say that you have dismissed me many times by asking how much time I put in there. I wasn’t a weekend camper, and certainly wasn’t a tourist. I worked and tried to make the place work. Ultimately, I was dropped off on the side of a highway.

          “I don’t know what point you are trying to make… warning people away from a commune that no longer exists? To tell everyone how “horrible” it was?”

          As one of the less that 1% of Americans (let alone WW population) with personal experience of what you’ve endured, who could imagine that I’d want to comment and discuss? The point of my original post was to suggest that not all that glitters is gold. I certainly don’t chalk up my experience there as “horrible,” but I will say that has effected me in many ways. It was one of the more intense experiences that I’ve ever had, spiritually mentally and physically.

          “The Zendiks presented a belief system that has value, and some day someone is going to try to launch another community based on these values. I want the next social experiment to get it right. If you don’t have anything to contribute to that end, then I guess you don’t have anything to contribute.”

          This has stuck in my craw for the last year. On the one end, I wanted to respond immediately and say “Zendiks” don’t have the belief system to launch another community: the people involved in the idea started with those ideas. On the other end, I wanted to say: the ideas the Zendiks carried out were nothing less than control features, with monetary and societal consequences for most of the individuals involved.

          I know Wulf “relieved” a busker of his guitar on one of my first days there (unless the busker was telling lies, and spent 2 months without his guitar whining about it.) That was the power paradigm. That should never happen again. That is what people should forget.

          And the violence. The stupid violence advocated in Wulf’s writing. Nothing to shape a lasting community on.

          If you have any other questions, please let me know. I await your response.

          • OK, so “ten minutes” was a snarky exaggeration. Sounds like you were there for months as opposed to days.

            You put some effort into your reply, so you deserve a little effort from me. I hope you can allow me a bit of time to digest this and respond.

            Briefly, we were there at different times. The Bastrop farm was nothing like the Bonsall farm. I left as I saw Zendik transitioning from the place I knew to the place you knew. I will elaborate later.

            In the meantime, you said that you “tried to make the place work.” What was it that kept you there? What possibilities did you see that you wanted to make work?

            Those are the things I’m trying to focus on: the glittering jewels of possibility embedded in a mountain of shit. The shit is discussed ad nauseum at many of the links above. This thread exists to find and polish the pearls.

          • For a variety of reasons, the “ground rules” of this thread forbid the naming of any Zendik members other than Wulf, Arol and Fawn. So the name of another individual has been redacted. –moderator

            Replying to my own thread, as I can’t reply to ObbieZ response for some reason.

            I’m glad I deserve “a little effort”. Seriously?

            The thing that pushed me over the line was the aristocracy. It was so prevalent that a group, carrying out complex tasks, would be preempted, suddenly, by someone with no clue because that person just got back to the farm and needed a job. Whole projects (buildings, plantings, harvesting) would be just totally derailed by people who had no sense of the task at hand.

            What kept me there? Hunger. I was a kid (19/20) and really hungry. Plus, there were a lot of hot chicks.

            I was repulsed by Wulf’s violent ideas, but thought they were going to go by the wayside. After all, the group was going into town and selling stuff, not only merch but produce.

            I was also really good at what I was doing, supporting [another member – let’s call him “farmer Bill”] on the farming side. The guy was illiterate, but knew his shit about how to run large farming stuff. We worked the fields on the tractors while most folks took off to swim on Sundays.

            I learned a lot from him. I’m quite sure he learned a lot from me.

            In every job I’ve had since, there’s been a [“farmer Bill”]. A person that I’ve helped, and who has helped me. This has been a selfless exchange of ideas and knowledge.

            A couple women kept me there, a couple ideas about how to improve the way things went. I learned a lot about how to say things to people in a way that “stuck,” that is sharing ideas and practical knowledge so that they resonated. That kept me going.

            Teaching someone how to weed. Teaching someone how to split some wood. Teaching someone how to make a knife. Teaching the pigs to sit, fetch, and roll over. Waking up to the guinea hens cooing because I’d give them some granola in the morning. I had a lot of fun there.

            All of this stuff was so disconnected from what the “upper group” was going through. Stealing guitars, plotting overthrows, paying bills. At this point in my life, I’m beginning to understand the concerns the upper echelon of the farm had.

            But I still think they handled it badly.

            A group of like-minded individuals should be able to work in a democratic environment. This was a regime. I’m glad it’s over. I hope that no one falls into such a situation again.

            I hope you be less snarky in the future. I’m willing to discuss this, in an honest manner, at any time. I look forward to your response.

          • As I mentioned earlier (in fact, from the start), Zendik in the 80s and Zendik in the 90s were two very different things. On the other hand, a lot of your criticisms transcend the generations. The waste of resources, authoritarian leadership, violations of trust, and all the rest of the usual complaints were typical all along.

            But the complaints aren’t the topic here, and I’m glad that you did find something to contribute to what IS the topic. In spite of all that was done to us, in spite of all that we did to others, and in spite of all the malevolence that we witnessed, there was something that attracted us all to the place and that kept us there. Further, there was something that we all gained from our time there… new skills, experiences and personal growth that have value in this screwed-up world we are forced to adapt to.

            A group of like-minded individuals should be able to work in a democratic environment. This was a regime.

            True, but a completely “democratic environment” wouldn’t work either. Too much time spent in meetings. I was at the Diablo Canyon occupation in ’81 and saw how “consensus process” worked. Any one person had veto power over any proposal. So a small group of people (in this case the RCP) would bog down meetings with pointless arguments over things like whether a US flag should be flying over the camp. Hours would pass and nothing got done.

            Point is, history is a long struggle of societies and civilizations trying to find the perfect balance between dualities: authoritarianism vs. anarchy, individualism vs. collectivism, pacifism vs. militarization, industrial vs. artisan, etc. They were definitely on the wrong end of the authoritarian/anarchist spectrum.

            What the Zendiks lacked, and future efforts need, is a more formal structure for decision-making authority and equity sharing. They had no defined structure. It was all improvised, though the founders retained the deeds and ultimate authority. The farm was managed like a small business, but lacked the board and bylaws a collective small business must have. So the leadership answered to no one, and no one shared in the equity that they helped to build.

            Zendik Farm is no more. But even though the people who promoted them were flawed, ideas produced at Zendik still have merit and must go on.

  15. I was a Zendik in Boulevard until I left in the night 28 years ago.I still think about the place- and dream about the place. I guess a lot of us do. Don’t know why! It is good to see the blogs from Obbie, Kezo and Nom. I love you all. I do not have fond memories of Arol.

  16. I’ve been here so many times and had my say but never posted them. But now as I embark on starting a real revolution I’m increasingly drawn here to purge myself of what I feel I need to say.
    In answering this question:

    “It is more important and constructive to discuss what current and future social experiments can learn from Zendik Farm, and how their failure could have been avoided.”

    Arol and Wulf were ordinary people. Neither were or are great icons of the eco movement or will even been remembered for saving the world much less the environment, except for a few die hard fans.

    That is and was the problem and why ZF failed.

    There was never a revolution.
    30 some years and what did this revolution accomplish for the World?
    Nothing.
    That’s it.

    I was a Zendik before I even heard the word as was most who stepped foot on Zendik grounds. That is THE reason we all lived there. I didn’t need Arol, Wulf or Fawn to tell me how I felt or feel inside.

    Let me tell you just how I do feel.

    I am disgusted.
    I am disgusted that GMOs are being force fed to us without our consent.
    I am disgusted that we are destroying this planet.
    I am disgusted that police abuse is the normal SOP for law enforcement.
    I am disgusted with the powers that be.
    I am disgusted seeing people living on the streets in shopping carts eating from trash cans.

    Since leaving Zendik I’ve done a lot of thinking, growing and learning but something about Zendik will never leave. So, I’m giving in 100%. I’ve done my work and had extensive training in leadership and motivation, earned both my associates and bachelors degrees. Done so much research into non profits I could be a nonprofit lawyer.

    Have no doubt the Revolution Lives and I’m bringing it with my band of Zendiks but we’re not into it to have our own dance studios, our own farm and our own organic food. No. We are doing this to help our community, to create jobs, to feed the hungry and house the homeless and to end this destructive reign of corrupt corporations.

    You guys did good building a Zendik Farm, my hat is off to you all.

    We are building a Zendik Corporation (don’t worry it’s not called Zendik anything), a hybrid nonprofit that is going to kick some serious ass. Our zine is done and we’re training to hit the streets.

    But again, this is not about MY pain, not about My survival, not about MY farm. This is about US. This is what it should have been to begin with, this about saving the Planet instead of just ourselves.

  17. No old Zendik has ever heard of a ZaZ and I doubt Zendik Farm, in its best and worst, was anything you were ever involved in.

    You sound like just another wannabe activist ranting of why others aren’t good enough.

    But if your path and purpose are True, please return to tell us of your accomplishments and whatever victories you’ve secured AFTER you have made your difference and won tangible results.

    THAT would be interesting….

  18. Which brings me to this.
    Every nonprofit that shuts its doors has to dissolve its assets according to federal law.
    In setting up our nonprofit it is stated in the articles of incorporation that upon dissolution all our assets go to the United Way and Greenpeace. It is against federal law for ANY assets to go to an individual or group that was involved with the nonprofit at the time of dissolution.
    Fawn, and the entire old or new Zendik group better watch out for that Cozmic Pizza Delivery dude.

  19. Obbie! My dear friend! I have been looking for you! I live in Germany now and have a great life. Please email me. I even tried to email the Zendik for your address but never heard back. Oh, right…others can read this.
    I was at the farm twice, for just under six months each time. I went there when I had nothing and no one and needed a place to be. They were there for me and asked nothing from me other than hard work. I learned a lot about farming and sewing and making cheese and tofu. When I was at Topanga I might have stayed if I hadn’t just gotten out of the orphenage and wanted to go to the rainbow gathering. By the time I went back when they were in Boulevard the lack of space and privacy was hard to deal with.
    I still miss the kids and in my heart they are still 7 years old. I saw on the internet that -oh I forgot no names – OK, one boy is in a cool woodworking program and the pretty dark skinned girl was a modal on got to go to Libia and meet Gadalfi before he was killed.
    Heather Forever

  20. Heather,
    I always liked you and what you shared in your passing time at Zendik Farm. Of course, I like you before Zendik too and what you shared with me then was a pivotal point in my adolescent Learning and Spiritual Development that helped me become a Zendik.
    Glad you are well and in touch again,
    Gnome

  21. What is amazing is I’ve been wanting to communicate with all my Zendik friends since I heard about the demise of the farm– and here is a ready made forum. Cool. Here goes… For almost 20 years I had the pleasure and the honor of hosting Zendiks at my house in New Orleans when they came down to do their thing. I never made it to any of their home bases so my only experience was meeting and getting to know them in my own home, and I must say with deepest conviction: I love and respect you amazing people. Each one of you showed fierce intelligence and commitment to what I consider the most urgent healing processes. You were beautiful soldiers in the only war that counts and you allowed me to take part in this important work if only as host. And hear this, any time any of you are coming to N.O. you are welcome in my house as Zendiks, ex-Zendiks, as extended family. Peace to you my friends! Michael

    • Hi Michael!
      You were always so friendly to all of us. Your home was artistic and cool, like you. Thanks for always being so generous and kind. Seeing your message made me happy. It’s good to know that you’re still Michaeling about.

    • Michael!!
      This brought tears to my eyes! You are awesome and our roles are/were equally important :) You’re an extraordinary person for letting us into your home for all the years and letting us into your life as well.
      I hope you and your family are doing well. I’m sending my email directly to Obbie, to send to you, please shoot me an email so we can stay in touch. (Nika also wanted to reach you)
      And many of us who stayed with you on our last trip there are looking for a place to move back together and I can keep you updated.
      Much love,
      Vie

      • i am from nola and had the pleasure of hosting some of you guys too and spending stints of time at the farm. i am interested in putting energy to a new thing. keep me posted please. i moved out of nola after katrina. am in florida now

    • i was sad to hear of the demise of zendik but it was predicatable. i visited there when it was in austin and vero beach and north carolina. i am not surprised fawn and clan got all the money and feel a lawsuit should be filed collectively by all former zendiks to keep the money and proceeds of the sale in a charitable trust, since everyone as a zendik was a family member. a good legal arguement could be made. also the funds should be used to support the people who lived at zendik for significant periods of time since they did not receive salaries for all the work they did. fawn is selfish and cares little for others, she was just biding her time. but she can be stopped, it is not to late. a lawsuit needs to be filed, a class action to halt the sale until an agreement can be reached. you can’t legally run a non profit then trnasfer the money to an individual. if property was in a a non profit name and the property is sold, it must go to another non profit, not an individual. that is the law. i am a lawyer, i should know. would love to hear from any former zendik who wants to embark on an action to truly resolve this equitably. i never stayed on zendik because although the ideals were valid, i never trusted arol or particularly fawn. wulf was sincere.

  22. Thank you for writing this. Your perspective seems very fair and consistent with my experience at Zendik which started as yours was ending. I lived at the farm from early 1991 – 2008. We met briefly a couple times. Once you brought some protective glasses or goggles out so the kids could watch a solar eclipse.

    This part of your writing struck me very true: “In their writings, Wulf was bombastic, militant, and take-no-prisoners; Arol was all hearth-and-home and let’s-get-along.
    Personally, they were each the opposite. Wulf was compassionate, considerate of differing ideas, and went out of his way to accommodate even the most troubled person. Arol had little patience for anyone who wouldn’t unquestionably toe the line to her dictatorial whims. She was harsh, often used bigoted language, and could be brutal and mean.”

    • Obbie’s passage, emphasized here by Dan/Siah, explains quite a bit to me about the big picture of Zendik Farm. In my two and a half years there, I had a very limited experience with Arol, and practically none with Wulf. Mostly I appreciated the hierarchy at The Farm because I tended to respect and admire those at the upper end of it compared to those who just walked in the door. (Those in the “middle management” segment of the Zendik community whom I wasn’t much attracted to, tended to move on sometimes with the aid of a shove.) I was also the recipient of some favored attention from The Tree House family (in Bastrop) because of one intimate connection and because I had a little spare change, or at least credit, rattling around in my pockets. So, I was spared the brunt of despotic interference in my life. . . until I wasn’t. I truly have no regrets. I arrived at Zendik Farm emotionally desperate for a different life and I certainly got one. I don’t believe I would have the skills that serve me in my community now (nfnc.org) if I hadn’t learned what honesty meant at Zendik Farm. And, I’m still learning, every day! I remember digging a few fence pose holes with you early in my Zendik episode, and after some soul searching discussion, you told me that if my motivation living at Zendik Farm had to do with lifestyle (and what a wonderful lifestyle for the most part!) rather than revolutionary philosophy, then I probably wasn’t going to work out at The Farm. In my hubris and my desperation, I blithely side stepped that truth. Though I am happy to live in a much less structured community out here in the “Death Kultur,” I do miss many of you out there with whom I shared a rich life.

  23. Hello, first off I was never a member of Zendik farm but I followed what was going on there through your magazines and later your website. I always wanted to visit and see it for real, it sounded too good to be true. Even though I have never met any of the zendiks in person, the values and principals of your “revolution” we’re very appealing to me and struck a chord deep inside….

    I’m sorry to hear that it all ended…just wanted you to know you made an impact on people that you’ve never met, what I liked the most about you values was the genius principal…it’s so simple yet so true…

    Anyways wish all of you the best, best of luck with your future endeavors..

    Peace!

  24. “It has been reported that incoming women to the commune are required to do naked cartwheels on Wulf Zendik’s grave, while the elite membership plays the bongos and chants ‘Hairy Charisma.'” –the most absurd (and funniest) statement about Zendik from a long list of online “Zendik” absurdities. Taken from the old (now defunct) Zendik Farm Wikipedia site.

  25. Hello Gnome, Obbie,and Jero … I am soooo glad to see you all still breathin air! I am really happy to read your posts… it helps alot…..I too think of all of you daily…please feel free to contact me anytime….i miss you guyz…and Love you all …hope to hear from you… keenbarnes -at- hotmail -dot- com

    • Hi keen, happy to see you responding. I guess that the Zendik thing won’t leave you either. It was so long ago. It was a good time for me until it ended. Send me a message. Where, what, when and how you doing?

  26. I knew Wulf as a great musician and was personally a friend to me. He took me in when I has no one and gave me my physical and mental health back. For that, I will always have a fond memory of him.
    Arol, on the other hand, was a devious, money grubbing prostitute who coerced another resident to have a child with me behind my back. That experience colored the rest of my life and made it impossible for me to have another. I was never able to have contact with that child and he will end his life not knowing me. Thankfully, I met a wonderful partner that I have been with for 25 years and who knows about my experience with the vile, selfish, evil communalists who claim to be on the side of humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. This message is to those who took part in that deception and to wish them grief and pain all the days of their lives. Arol, [redacted], [redacted], [redacted], [redacted], [redacted]. ROT IN HELL!

    • I always liked you Blue, and though our overlap was brief, you were friendly and helpful and very funny….

      BUT- there is enough weird semi-fictional conspiratorial shit floating around online about Zendik as it is, lets not use this forum to add to it.

      When you were at Zendik, you simply “needed to get laid” and the would be mother was “into it.” The sex was as casual and consensual and open as sex there tended to be. A pregnancy was not expected. When the pregnancy was known, the mother may have been encouraged but she did want the baby.

      You left before the pregnancy was confirmed.

      You returned to the Farm months later for a short time, but left publicly after Arol made an insulting reference to your basic unhappiness there.

      In any event, the mother left with the child on amicable terms with Zendik Farm in 1990, the child was less than three years old.

      Since then, there has been nothing stopping you from trying to reconnect with your son and his mother, In fact, you have a legal right to. You still can attempt to reconnect.

      In a sense, this is all the consequence of casual but consensual sex between a man and woman leading to pregnancy. By the time the pregnancy is known, the man has long moved on. It could have all happened in a motel as easily as a commune.

      But when life gets you down, just remember to call Hershel Shapiro, plastic surgeon….
      Only HE has the true word on What It Is.

  27. Hello out there. Nice to see a lot of names that I thought I might never hear from again here. I was at the farm 2 different times for a total about 3 years or so. Once in TX for 2 years and a year in NC. I still think about Zendik often. After I left the second time I was depressed and angry. I am sorry to say that I think I pissed a lot of people off as I was one of the main posters on the now infamous hipforums thread. People on the farm were upset enough to have someone call me and ask me to stop. A short time after that me and another ex-zendik were threatened with legal action for putting some of Wulf’s writings online. We dumped the project.

    Me and another guy who had spent 6 months at the farm when I was there and a few other people in Austin started making plans for a community. We bought a farm and tried to form a community (it was very un-zendik, Arol would have hated it). Echowood Farm was born and we gave it a go for 5 years but never got above 7 or 8 people at a time. I won’t really go into the details but the point is that in those 5 years we came up against so many of the same situations and problems that I saw Zendik go through. During that time I regained a whole new respect for the farm and the people that had been there.

    I always felt like Zendik was almost there. They almost had it. There were problems that went on for decades and the community as a whole was powerless under the tight control of Arol. Almost had it.

    • Good to hear from you Rasha! Been awhile…..

      Just wanted to say, after a few blundered attempts of the past, Wulf’s writings finally do exist online where you and anyone else can freely and easily gain from them. Check out The Work of Wulf Zendik website.

      The originators of this site remain unknown…

  28. Hello all.

    I was never a part of Zendik Farm but I became introduced to it around ’98 or ’99. I bought one of the magazines at a music festival in Charlotte, NC. I liked a lot of the ideas in the magazine and it seemed like something I’d like to be a part of. But at the time I had a girlfriend I was very much in love with and had been at the same job for several years and I knew joining Zendik wasn’t something I would be doing.

    2 or 3, maybe 4 years later, again at a music festival in Charlotte. I think I still had the job at that time but no longer had the girlfriend. I was approached by a Zendik selling CD’s. I listened to her talk and bought one. She wouldn’t remember me of course but I immediately developed a bit of a crush on her that I’m not sure I’ve ever completely recovered from (: Kira might have been her name? Anyway after that I would check out the Zendik website from time to time and thought more and more seriously about joining or at least visiting the farm, especially after I was soon laid off from work.

    But then I decided to try college, as it was something I had thought about doing for years but had never acted upon. I still kept following Zendik though, checking their website every now and then. In my 2nd or 3rd semester, which would have been 2006 I think, I had to do a project for a folklore class. I decided to do mine on Zendik. I did a telephone interview with one of the Zendik members but I can’t recall his name at the moment. While researching the project, for the first time, I came across the negative stories and criticisms of Zendik. It changed my perspective, dampened my enthusiasm, and eventually I completely lost interest in actually joining the group.

    But I was still interested in how Zendik was doing and what they were up to and still checked the website from time to time, just not as often as I had before. It had been quite awhile since the last time I checked it. Something reminded me of it this morning so I went to check it and of course am just now finding out that they have disbanded. After the bad experiences I’ve read from other people I’m glad now that I never joined but I still feel a little sad to see it end. Whatever problems there may have been with the attempt and with some of the leadership, I think most Zendik members were probably sincere in their desire to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly society. I wish them all the best.

  29. It is rather interesting to read first-hand accounts of the downfall of Zendik Farm. I had some correspondence with one of the Zendiks in the mid 90’s, and had looked into an apprenticeship in Bastrop. I met a kid selling Orgaztra (sp?) cds at a concert in Baton Rouge. Good music. The cd got me interested in what Zendik Farm was about, so I wrote a few letters, read the responses, and thought it sounded like a great idea.
    As fate would have it, I ended up getting involved with aan ACTUAL cult around that time. (I’m not trying to provoke any visceral responses by using the c word. It was was actually a cult. Feel free to google it. Licorice Unicorn, or perhaps try The Walker Witches.) I was involved in it for several years, and had deeply dedicated myself to it’s ideology. It was also a communal setting.
    The reason I felt the need to share any of this is because of the many parallels I see between the inner workings of this group and Zendik, as related by Obbie, et al. The demise of both groups could have been pulled from the same script. Except where Zendik was built on good ideals, Licorice Unicorn was built on lies. But the tyrrany and favoritism were identical in many ways.
    And, like Obbie, I truly believe it was an important growth experience for me, as well. I wouldn’t undo it if I could. It helped shape me. It may not have been as well-intentioned as the Farm, but the people there tried to do their own bit of good in the world. And when it fell, it was for a remarkably similar set of reasons.
    Several of us were hurt and embittered by the outcome and what we felt to be betrayal. Some were even scarred, deep down where healing takes it’s sweet time, if it ever happens.
    I know this isn’t all that relevant to your discussion, but I felt the similarities were too great not to share. I’m not going to say it is equal to the amount of your life some of you dedicated to Zendik. My involvement was only a matter of 5 years or so. But I was there to see pride, egos, selfishness and bitterness bring it to an end. And to experience the disillusionment that most if not all of it’s members shared after it was over.
    I have never really spoken about this to anyone other than the former Licorice Unicorn members, and a few close friends. I wish I could end this post with some pearl of wisdom I’ve dredged up from it all, but everything I learned has already been said in other posts on this blog.. I suppose I just think this is a story that needs to be told as well.
    There is considerably more to it than I have stated so far. If anyone is interested in hearing it I would be glad to share, but I’d rather not waste your time otherwise.

    BTW, Strontium Rain kicked ass.
    Take care.

  30. let me start out by saying I’m not a great writer. that said.
    I had the Z mags for several years which i’d gotten from my upstairs neighbor.
    gotten to the end of my rope as far as work/life and started reading the magz behold a place where I belong 21 years old mind ya.
    made a call 400 dollars come live with us! dropped all my shit and made a plan to take a bus to Bastrop tx with girlfriend in tow knowin about the interpersonal relationships.
    fine. new world foreign great exciting!
    mind ya country boy from north Carolina.
    loved it!!!! I was the demo king in my mind well I was,and ate it up!
    jealousy was a big issue at first being I brought my girlfriend but soon faded with interest of others even Fawn.
    enough history.i will never be the same from this experience, still dream of it to this day 22 yrs later.
    glad I didn’t see the fallout, still my extended family who I miss!

  31. first, i’m glad to see all the thoughts laid out here… feels good tome anyways…
    one thing struck me was how my own thoughts on the whole experience are sort of all in the lingo… dont know what to do about that…

    I’m glad i went and glad i went through all i did, I feel like the person I am today was largely forged there, with all y’all, present or not, just the involvement with the concepts… and i just respect the hell out of anyone who spent years, and hope they do too… and I just don’t think of any part of it as bad or wrong or even a “failure”, but the pains, painfulness, pain and struggle, especially the personal/interpersonal stuff is just, like wow, yeah we did that… i guess for reasons that seemed good at the time, or out of doubt, confusion, or even what thehell… i always chalked the roughness up to my own inadequacies and obvious need for anyone to just learn more, grow more, whatever… but i went there for organc farming, art and philosophy and that was pretty much there, and i did all of that – but i’ve made my way as a carpenter because of chazz law arol and everybody else i worked with there and all kinds of other skills, exposure to ideas and practical experience on uncountable levels… I only felt really like, not liked, by only a couple folks over ten years… I am kinda self-absorbed in general, and lose focus enough so consistency has always been a problem for me , but at least the effort was made to help me with that, and i really appreciate that more all the time… so y’all know who you are…

    ONE MORE THING
    this is the best distillation of A BUNCH OF REASONS why i moved in and went for it there… so hope this is appropriate…

    Wulf would try to be honest, completely forthcoming, and when people freaked, he realized any dream of everyone being honest was never going to happen unless somebody dared to be totally honest, and proved it worked out, so he started with himself, as an artist, after he freaked and realized honesty was the way, and then the deeper concept of ‘truth is power’ not just in a ‘manifest your will’ physical sense, but in the more important ‘living in heaven because you take responsibility so you enjoy life and feel good about your ‘self’ and your ‘path’ because it is like a work of art and you’re aware of that and the sense of fulfillment comes not from outside yourself but from the sense of connection with everything else, all created by the awareness expanding and expanding, the seeking of truth, the truth of the Self.
    the battle for redemption is not for a physical soul, it’s that of living a moment to moment conscious existence, a battle of moment to moment will; either the willing to be good, as that is understood by a Self (which while in formative years is felt, rather than Thought), or (not) which just by lack, connotes ‘not good’, let alone willing to do ‘bad’ consciously, which while causing guilt-pain, the emotional part of a self subconsciously recognizes being bad as being ‘good’ for the self, because of whatever reward for the risk taken is felt. The quality of a life of conscious experience, of the sense of a self, is moment to moment ‘feeling good’ or ‘not’, so is equivalent to heaven or hell.
    We mostly live in hell because we do not like ourselves mostly, because we look outside of ourselves for fulfillment because to look inward and at our ‘self’ is to become aware of the ‘self’ as a judge, and that brings awareness of our Self’s beliefs, our ‘stances, positions, biases and fantasies’ etc, self-awareness. Go deeper, why bother? Because… we want to feel good. We prefer it. It feels good to solve problems, to create projects, to accomplish what we decide to do, it feels good to succeed, and the greater the attempt to succeed in ANY endeavor, the greater the self awareness, as the self’s strengths and weaknesses are exposed. This natural progression leads to expanded consciousness, expanded ability to succeed, it’s an inevitable progression, evolution. Thought is the new DNA… specifically the threshold of thought/awareness that is the experience of oneness with everything, infinity, etc…
    yes the whole must be cared for, but to care the best, achieve the most relief of suffering or bringing of pleasure, etc, to do that, to achieve that, you have to become the best you can, and to do that requires focus, discipline, courage, perseverance, and creativity
    Wulf’s gift; life artistry, cosmic pizza, internal dialogue, holistic perspective, writing
    Innocence means not knowing better, ignorance
    awareness means being on the hook, capable of choice, Response-able = responsible = knowing better, ie, right from wrong = knowing, understanding, and the natural expansion of consciousness, which reaches a threshold inevitably in a seeking mind that creativity is a natural force, a power, an energy, that it is accessible, it is the edge, the brink, the line to cross, the beginning of infinity, the feeling of infinite power in choosing to cross it, the sense of self as power, the beginning of understanding the self in infinity is the same as infinity in the self, the sense of fullness

    Fullness=oneness w/everything=god awareness of oneness w/everything is awareness of god = infinity, infinitude
    Being a zendik was about becoming totally honest w/yourself, and not just for self-improvement but for the purpose of gaining power by gaining awareness, gaining access to energy levels and consciousness that only by being truthful about feelings, and ruthlessly criticiquing the “self” so as to be a warrior for peace, a seeker of enlitenment, a creative being, an artist at life.
    Awareness of this oneness is followed by the realization that the whole must be cared for as it IS the self, the self is the whole. Enlightenment. All is holy. Holism.

    I am still trying to adopt a lot of this, or similarly expressed ideas, and still believe in promoting this kind of thinking anyways… as for how to live… hmmmnnnn….

  32. Jyre,
    Though coherence was never your strongest virtue, it is good to get your input.
    Glad your time with the NeoZendiks meant so much and worked so well for you.
    We have certainly all left Zendik Farm as much more skilled people. The best of us became much more honest, insightful, perceptive, and conscientious people as well.
    A few of us have stayed ecologically and culturally aware and active. I hope that number grows. This blog and the connections it has enabled may be the beginning of such growth.
    Cozmically yours,
    Gnome

  33. im so glad for this sight and your insights.
    I lived at the farme for a year in 95 96 befor that I spent 14 years at very lefty intalectual comunity mostly based on marxism I found wolfs work very rafreshing.it was so gutsy and downe to earthe and honest. He came down from the ivory tower to live on the earth with real peaple and there real problems.I loved my time there and the paeople I met I was luky enogh to see some wolfe raps when I was there. Thank you for this wonderful sight I have soom sadness about the farm and also alot of hope much love Redwood

  34. I lived at the farm in boulevard in 1986, I was only 12 years old. I remember you and the Commodore 64. I remember how you guys used to be allowed to smoke herb only once a week after Wulf’s videotaped weekly rap. I recall how no-one was allowed privacy, if you were to be sleeping with another member it had to be announced publicly prior or announced the next day. I recall how everyone washed they’re clothes in cold water, except for Arol. I recall being chased by Arol and others when into town in a ’64 impala sedan, shame on us for trying to leave. I recall how you were called square if you dared not look grandly. I remember the enemas. Each member had a high level of personal autonomy,you say? Not by 1986… When we announced we were leaving I was fed a spoiled goats milk, “protein drink”, they always told me I was greedy about that drink, guess they decided to teach a little kid a lesson, I vomited for 3 days. Did you forget to mention the Wiccan influences?

    • I was very hesitant to approve this comment for two reasons:

      1) You seem to have missed the “ground rules for discussion”, which implies you didn’t bother to read the entire piece. “This is not a place to air personal grudges. It is more important and constructive to discuss what current and future social experiments can learn from Zendik Farm, and how their failure could have been avoided.” Yet all I see is a list of bitchy grudges prefaced by “I recall”.

      2) I DON’T recall anyone matching your description passing thru the farm in ’86. Some of your “recollections” sound accurate (albeit irrelevant), while others reek of bullshit. I won’t bother to spell out which are which, because that isn’t the point (see point 1 above).

      If the purpose of your comment was to bitch about how horrible everything was for you, this is not the place for you and further comments will not be approved. If, on the other hand, you have something constructive to contribute on “what current and future social experiments can learn from Zendik Farm” and how its ideals can be further promoted, then your comments will be welcome.

  35. Wow!
    I met some of You while you were in
    Ocean Beach, CA, in 1998’ish.
    I was a professional Soldier at the time,
    But was touched by your message.
    I was under government contract so couldn’t come visit you guys.
    But my wife did, France Sauvage.
    She lived on the farm near Austin.
    She was asked to leave, too “high
    Energy” or something. Your
    Message affected my decision’s while
    In some real hell holes overseas. (That’s a VERY good thing!). :)
    In fact after 9/11 I began trying to change the US Army from within.(or even a small
    Part of it), but was told to shut my
    Mouth by my commander. So I did, and quietly got out of the Army.
    Sad to hear the Farm is gone.
    However, like a stone thrown in a
    Pond, your efforts continue outward,
    In ways you probably cannot imagine.
    I intend on starting a small commune organic farm type thing either in Boulevard
    (Funny, ain’t it!) or just over the border
    In Mexico.
    I will return to this forum for advice and inspiration from time to time.
    Good luck All! Jon

  36. This is excellent. It is a great resource to see everybody here (known and unknown names… although I doubt that any of us lack all that much of the unknown with so very much in common experience together).
    I wish I could put us all in one room…. but this is the next best thing without sharing good beer.
    Thanks everybody. I’ll be absorbing this for awhile. Stay in touch.

  37. This post and all the follow-ups were a fascinating read for me. I stayed at the Bastrop farm for a week in ’92, writing a piece about Zendik for my zine, Nuthing Sacred. It’s surprising to learn that Arol had already “checked out” by the time of my visit, as her energy and enthusiasm for the Zendik mission seemed genuine. It’s also sad to hear so many people weighing in on the tyrannical aspects of her personality – how sad to hear that Arol may have regretted the life she’d chosen.

    For my part, my one week there was an inspiring, game-changing visit that opened my mind to the possibilities of alternate lifestyles, communal living, and Wulf’s assertion that one’s duty to a friend or a partner was to “get the bullshit out of them.” And ourselves.

    Before I left, Wulf asked me to stay, saying that he felt I could bring something valuable to the community. He was very, very sweet about it and I was touched. But I knew the lifestyle was not for me. For every bit of healthy problem solving, creativity, and effective social organization I observed, there things that creeped me out in a big way – the outsized fear of homosexuality (and the idea that it was fetishy, chosen behavior) and the very obvious “elites” that existed, which seemed a direct contradiction of everything the Zendik mission was about, to name two.

    But. While I was there, I went on a magazine sell. I worked on a fence building project. [A member] taught me how to make cheese. I developed a little crush on [one of the guys]. I had some real conversations. I learned a lot about Wulf’s philosophy and was inspired by the group’s passionate commitment to it, even when I disagreed with them. I had two really enlightening interview sessions with Wulf and Arol I milked goats. I slept in one of the bunk houses, in a bed whose legs sat in four cans of kerosene to repel fire ants. I witnessed the fear and mistrust that some of the locals in Austin felt for the Zendiks. I ate fresh, unprocessed food for the first time in my life. I met someone who became one of my closest friends there. I watched the magazine team at work and compared notes. I found myself changed.

    And I still carry the visit with me and revisit it in my mind all the time, because it really was a formative experience. That, to me, says it all right there.

    • I remember you, Jay, and especially remember Nuthing Sacred- an awesome publication and you did a mighty piece on Zendik.

      Is there a way your Zendik article could be put online?

      I wold love to see it again and I’m sure others wold appreciate it too…

  38. I don’t have the time to write a lot, but just wanted to say how great it is to see names here that I have thought about so many times this past 20 something years. I was only at Zendik a short year and a half, but it has haunted me since then. I learned so much! Mostly good times. To ‘see’ Ix, Nom, Keen, And other familiar names here makes so happy. Send me an email, say hi! Can Obbie give out emails?
    Ix, I can’t listen to Gloria Gainer without missing you!
    Kai, boulevard and Bastrop.

    • I can give out private emails, but only if all parties involved let me know that they’re OK with it.

      Of course, this would not happen in the public comment threads, so you can send a private message thru the “Contact” link on the left, or by clicking here.

      Someday, when I have more time, I hope and intend to open a forum where users can send private messages to each other.

  39. “Wulf Zendik was an inspiration to many and I am honored to have met and talked with him many years ago n Topanga.” –Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, shortly after Wulf’s death in 1999
    Doesn’t exactly go with the flow of this thread, but still felt a need to include it…

  40. Back in about 1996, I ran into a young woman who was canvassing a Zendik magazine at a B.B. King concert in Kansas City. Umm, honestly I thought she was very pretty, and so, listened to her speel about her organization. After looking at the magazine, though, I became very intrigued. Zendik seemed very professionally run, not the image of the hippies short lived peace and freedom movement on a superfiscial scale of the 60s and 70s. So, after visiting a friend in Dallas a few months later, I decided to tour the Bastrop Zendik facility.
    I was amazed and impressed. Everyone seemed kind and hard working. Mister Wulf connected with me briefly and he came across as cordial and introspective. The place was very progressive I thought. Not at all what I thought a commune would be. And although I was just passing through, I somewhat wanted to be a part of Zendik. I’m very independent and am not supposed to be swayed by what I saw, but I found it very hard not to be. As for some of the people who had a negative experience there, I cannot vouch for that, as I was there for only one day. But I got the impression that though the Wulf’s are only human, they tended to only reflect the true nature of the other individuals demeanor. So it may have been difficult for the Wulf’s critics to grasp what is involved when taking a post-modern personality and transforming it into a pre-New Age green philosophy. But I would like to congradulate the Wulf’s and their legacy and those who supported them. They created direction towards an unavoidable future with grace and hard work that, enevitibly, the world, at some level, will have to follow.
    Thank you for the experience no matter how brief.

    Bryan- Documentarist and Ultradistance
    Hiker

  41. I’d be interested to hear how ex-Zendiks think the movement would have benefited society as a whole. It’s hard for me to understand how it was radical and revolutionary when it was unsustainable and reliant on everyday commerce. If the world monetary system had collapsed, and the “death culture” had crumbled around you, would you have been able to survive with no festivals to sell t-shirts at? One assumes living on a farm would leave you better prepared than most, but by all accounts you were very much hooked into, and dependent on, the grid. My contention is that your social alienation would have made you less likely to survive in the absence of the culture you railed against, and that the Zendik philosophy would have given you little tangible benefit in a post industrial world. Would not a philosophy that attracted enough skilled people to run a sustainable farm have been preferable?

    • I’d be interested to hear how ex-Zendiks think the movement would have benefited society as a whole. It’s hard for me to understand how it was radical and revolutionary when it was unsustainable and reliant on everyday commerce.

      This wasn’t the first movement to oppose capitalism that depended on merchandising in order to pay the bills. And it won’t be the last. I can’t think of ANY non-profit that doesn’t rely on merchandising for a significant part of its income. Do you have a better idea?

      If the world monetary system had collapsed, and the “death culture” had crumbled around you, would you have been able to survive with no festivals to sell t-shirts at?

      Surely a lot better than most. We were well-practiced in food production, construction, mechanics, electronics, and numerous other assorted survival skills that would have come in quite handy in such a world. Also, we were a rather resourceful group, full of improvisers and unconventional thinkers who would come up with solutions that the rest of the world might be blind to.

      How would YOU survive in such a world?

      One assumes living on a farm would leave you better prepared than most, but by all accounts you were very much hooked into, and dependent on, the grid.

      And we remained prepared for the times the grid went down, which it did frequently. We lived in places prone to storms and power outages, and we learned to live with them. I built the Boulevard pool on top of a hill because it wasn’t only a place to play, but it was backup water for the gardens and livestock when the power (and the well pump) went down.

      My contention is that your social alienation would have made you less likely to survive in the absence of the culture you railed against, and that the Zendik philosophy would have given you little tangible benefit in a post industrial world.

      All right, have you ever been to Zendik Farm? Have you ever lived there? Or are all of your assumptions based on “something you heard” or “read on the Internet”, or an image you painted in your mind after meeting some street seller(s) and/or reading a mag? Because that last sentence shows you really don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

      Would not a philosophy that attracted enough skilled people to run a sustainable farm have been preferable?

      We had no problem attracting skilled and talented people. It wasn’t the “philosophy” that caused ZF to fail, it was the way the leadership treated the rank-and-file members. There were a lot of Good Things to be learned from this experience, and those are the things we need to keep going.

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