“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.
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.
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.
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.” (UPDATE 12/19/2014: The domain registration for zendik.org expired on 12/2, and it is now owned and occupied by cybersquatters.)
- 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
- Mating in Captivity excerpt – The author of the FAQ referenced above (“the anger and bitterness has dissipated”) has written a memoir of her experiences, and this is the first chapter
- Hip Forums “discussion” – 844 posts on the topic, often a very ugly and nasty flame war that raged from May 2004 to July 2005
- Zendiks Down on the Farm – Article from Tejas – a journalistic outlet for Hispanic students at UT-Austin, published in May 1992. This is early in the Bastrop era, about a year after I left, and is a sympathetic and accurate portrayal of life on the farm during that period.
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.
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…
Savel here, I dunno if you remember me, but I remember you as being one of my heros there. You were always so fun and vivacious. I hope you are happy and healthy wherever you are!
Reve here. Just saying hello. Hope life is treating you well.
Hi. Not sure if this is you or not? This is Nicholas. Nicholas Young if you remember. Was just thinking about Zendik and my time there. Reading random articles and came across this. I hope you’re doing well and happy. Just thought I would say hi.
Love and Light
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.
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:
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.
Is this the Jade I met in Hawaii?
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.
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.
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.
Well said, 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.
i am glad you are well..i was saddened to hear of the end of zendik…do you have news of siah or bugs or chen?
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!
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”.
Hmmmmmmnnnnn (as [the Boulevard electronics geek] once said)…..
Where to start?
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.
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.
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…..
Thanks for saying that! I lost all those blog posts god damnit lol….
It’s on the wayback machine.
Go grab it here:
I would strongly reommend checking out the organization/movement Deep Green Resistance Derrik Jensen is a co-founder of. There are a myriad of problems with the group, but it is worth you looking into and seeing if there’s a place in it for you. It seems it may be a next obvious step for you, as Earth First! was for me….
There are, it seems, problems with all groups. I remember you well from Zendik in 1998, though you may well not remember me. It’s strange seeing familiar names here and feeling like a ghost, but I guess I have a habit of memory.
Derrick’s a good guy. I’ve been corresponding with him since about 2010 and consider him a good friend. Funny how things go around.
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.
Thanks man 🙂
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.
Thank u! It means a lot 🙂
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.
Hey Kord! You were always really nice to me! I’m glad we were friends!
hey kord..you probably dont remember me but i remember you. i use to live in new orleans but live in florida and sometimes france now..i hope life is treating you well
I didn’t read this entire blog, but my partner was just asking about my time at Zendik so here I am trolling the internet. I was just telling her about some of the awesome things about Zendik (learning communication skills, taking care of our bodies) and it’s so nice to see your name here. I hope you are well!
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.
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.
There is only one true and lasting definition of a cult.
“A cult is a religion THAT IS NOT YOURS.”
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…..
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
Wow, the FBI has a job with the title “Cult Inspector”?
I don’t remember that incident, but I don’t disbelieve it (I was on the road a lot in those days).
Yeah, I remember them coming out in Boulevard
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…..
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,
I really enjoyed connecting with you on the phone awhile ago, Madeline. Take care <3
I’m not sure why you deleted my comment, as I was pretty supportive of your main theme: Zendik Farm was a joke.
It hurt just about everyone associated.
Complications of sentimentality aside, I was there, and know, first hand, what they were up to,
and only realized how FUed it was after reading commentary of others’ years later.
If you’d like to actually engage in dialogue, you have every opportunity.
You want truth? Things like Zendik should be forgotten,
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.
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?
You never answered any of MY questions.
Unless and until you do, I have nothing to say to you.
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.
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.
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.
“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.” –Obbie
I prefer to see Zendik as a mountain of jewels corrupted by nuggets of shit- and not just the horse and goat shit we used for composting the garden. Just sayin.’ Metaphors will be metaphors.
If you are interested in the “eco-warrior” “violence” in Wulf’s writing go to “The Work of Wulf Zendik” website and read from the novel Blackhawk. It is a diary of a fictional eco-assassin. . As fiction, it has its strengths and pitfalls, but is a good read regardless.
It was NOT written as a guide to strategic activism, nor as a blueprint for Zendik Farm’s function.
But do read it for its ecological content and as a morality tale of the value of Life and Death. And for insights into Wulf’s thinking on this subject.
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.
I have fond memories and love for you, Jero. You were a great friend and I value our shared time. You are always welcome to be back in touch with me. Nom / Gnome
Good to get your response. I now live on the ocean in Hilo Hawaii and I am quite content with my life. I do some art and some gardening. I still live in a communal setting. Facebook says that I am not a real person, but- firstname.lastname@example.org
What does Facebook know?
We all know that you’re unreal!
Hero its me niad if you could only know how often you creep into my thoughts my dear friend.I’m in Mendocino cnty Calif email me thewheel6544@Gmail.com
Hey! I went (eventually) to Humboldt after Boulevard. When and where were you a Zendik?
Jero it’s me Nia im in mendo city have been in my thoughts and heart all these years and miles.never forgotten my dear friend
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?
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.
That is the real Zendik legacy. Taking what you learned and START A REVOLUTION! Drop in, make friends, be REVOLTing, but remember to have fun.
forgive yourself you are only human..it was too late by then anyway
Where can I get a ‘zine?
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….
What gave you the impression that Zaz was anything other than what I used at the time of that post? Regardless, interesting take on your end.
Have no doubt, there will be updates.
You have yourself a great and bright day, you know…
Still waiting for Zaz’s updates….
It as been over a year.
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.
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.
It’s so good to hear from you. One of the best things to come from this blog post has been all the reconnections.
I sent an email your way, but for the benefit of The Rest of the Class, private messages can be sent by clicking on the “Contact” link in the main menu bar.
I’ve tried three times to send you an email. If you didn’t get one last night, we might want to contact the NSA.
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,
What is the acronym for Learning and Spiritual Development, anyways?
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
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.
siah..are you well? happy? safe? sorry about the farm end. i live in florida now..retired. still go home to nola alot though.
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.
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.
I was a minor player, and am still willing to be one if it means getting something material back for what I contributed in that form.
Hi Michael! Thanks for those sweet words! I remember staying at your place! Your kindness made a big impact on me! I will come see you next Jazz Fest if you are serious!
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.
L, I loved your photography. I remember feeling a definite frisson as we looked at a portfolio together in Florida.
Hey Lawrence! I really enjoyed knowing you! You taught me a lot!
I feel similarly to what you wrote “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.” I wish I could see you all now and what you are up to! I’ve moved on from Zendik in many ways, although the communication skills and community skills I learned there I will always have.
Do you know how to get ahold of Quia? How do you spell what he went by… Sequia? Our friend we used to milk the goats with all the time? I think he was originally from CO and had blond hair. I loved our friendship and have no way to find him, as I don’t remember his legal name!
Hey Siah! I hope you and yours are well!
Great to have your contributions Siah!
I am just waiting now for the input of Reverend Doctor X from Madison. Those were the days………
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..
“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.
ha ha ha ha! that’s funny.
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
So glad you’re in touch Keen….I wonder often how your life has unfolded…
I will be in touch.
Your old friend,
Gnome / Nom
P.S. A big hug and hello from Ms. Brady, Old Lady…. you know the story.
I love u Gnome…hook up with Obbie and get my num. Call as soon as u can …doesnt matter the hour…cant wait to talk to ya…ttysoon…
“Fuck off and die you zombies… Save some air for the kids and the puppies.” –from a song Keen improvised back in the day
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?
Hi I was a kid at the farm. Not sure if you remember me. But I’m trying to get in touch with keen for my mom cat. If you got face book look for Brandi Fitz
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.
So that would mean the kid is now 26? Blue, you might be a Grandpa.
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…
Hey Rasha or anyone else interested, it’d be cool to get in touch sometime if you see this. This is the Josh-who-never-figured-out-a-proper-name. I’m at email@example.com these days.
Dude Ro! How’s Jen and the baby? Holla!
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.
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.
Licorice Unicorn is, at the very least, a great name for a cult.
Kinda is, Ian.
And glad you liked Strontium Rain. Old Zendik music really did have its strong underground merits.
I loved the unique sound of that album. Rather discordant but great.
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!
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….
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.
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
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.
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
I will return to this forum for advice and inspiration from time to time.
Good luck All! Jon
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.
Someday I hope to open up and talk about my stay at Zendik….
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…
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.
“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…
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
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
A brilliant and beautiful response. Thank you, Obbie. You saved me the trouble of responding…
I think there was always this control mindset rather then allowing the actual inner artist we all have to get it on.
I spent most of my time around Arol, still. Keeping your outer thinkings in line with a way to be–already lined out in Wulf’s old writings keeps people in check methinks..although it did tend to be done with a little Kare eh?
I always felt it was like following orders most of the time.
Just my thinkings…millions of interesting people in the world that want to get together. If we get controlled we rebell
Although I tend to get a little more haughty then the rest eh?
Hey Gnome..good to hear you around and getting it on somewhere.
Interesting reading…my only interaction with ZF was buying and reading the zines in the 90s at concerts and such in California. I liked the zines and found much that was compelling in the ZF worldview. I was impressed by the sharpness and “present-ness” of the ZFers I spoke with; reading posts here by ZF veterans has only reinforced that impression… i confess to a mild obsession with reading blog posts about ZF in subsequent years. It seems obvious from my reading that Wulf’s death left a void, but also that many good people gave a lot to try to keep his vision alive. Success or failure at that doesn’t seem to me to be the point; what’s important was the effort. Something is terribly wrong with the way we billions of humans interact with each other and our planet; a good-faith effort to bring that up and propose, through example, an alternative, is something to be honored and remembered. Good luck to you all.
I loved my time at Zendik. I was a Florida/NC bastard. Did a year.
Any attempt to perfect (verb) the human being is essentially totalitarian. But I have an autocratic personality so I dug the place.
Arol and Fawn were grifters in my opinion, but I’m no better.
Anyway I can bench press 300lbs and am fairly rich now. I thank Zendik for that. 😉
Lyndon, did you do an installation in the haunted house one year in FL that involved toilets and nudity? That was awesome.
Do you remember me, Savel? I met you in Austin as I was coming to Zendik, and then you came back right as I left. I should have something interesting to say about Zendik but really I’m just so happy to scroll through all this and see people’s names I know and cared for. I hope you are well!
Yes I was naked. In every way.
300lbs? F you! Jeanne was just talking about you tonight as Z haunted house stuff came up you naked feces throwing chimpspawn. I do miss you
Yes, 300. I threw no feces. You miss nothing. If you missed me you’d kiss me. Where’s my kisses?!?!
Thank you so much for this! I spent the last hour crying and healing and reaching out to wonderful old friends! My experience at Zendik Farm was similar to everyone else’s. I’m grateful for it all!
Respect, Peace, Freedom, Unity, and Love!
What years were you involved in Zendik, Vicca? Don’t believe I met you, but may have heard of you. Would like to touch in….. Gnome/ Nom
Hi! I was there around 96-99. How about you?
I think you came in during the three months I stayed at Zendik. I hope life has treated you well.
As for my time at the farm, it was a great learning experience, I am truly a better person for having been there, and perhaps also for being kicked out when I was =)
Oops, thought you were there well before me Vicca. I guess you were actually there after. Oh well, all is good….
In Melbourne Florida, slightly north of Vero Beach, I would periodically sell or trade or give food to Zendik Farm buyers who would travel by car to my two acre forest and bamboo garden. I have forgotten their names, but I was impressed at their commitment to good food. I had lots of bananas and citrus, and at one point ZF had lots of slightly out of date dietary supplements that were probably salvaged from a health food store. We bartered when we could. I was not a ZF member but I enjoyed our interactions. And they seemed to as well.
Upon visiting the Vero Farm, I was impressed with the apparent efficiency of the small teams that were building a small barn, or outdoor shower facility or whatever. To my green eyes, life there was somewhere on the path toward communal enlightenment. Nevertheless, I noticed a hint of despair or a look of resignation in some of their eyes. In particular, I recall a sad far away look in the eyes of an otherwise very attractive woman who was sorta tending some children in the yard.
I recall that there was a beach house in Vero in addition to the larger agricultural acreage west of town. One of the stories circulating, was that ZF Beach Side had worked out some sort of schedule, with the neighbors, of when skinny dipping in the ocean was tolerated.
With little notice, I got word that the whole farm was being packed up and moved to NC…for greener pastures.
A few years later, a friend’s artistically engaged teenage daughter joined the NC farm for a while. She was moved by the burial of Wulf.
hey… to be honest, I was there much too long ago (and for far too little time) to have much of an opinion about Zendik Farm one way or the other. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, the dominant theme of my life has been refusing and resisting authority at any cost- and if I can’t find an external authority to challenge, I usually begin to cheerfully sabotage and destroy myself.
I mention this because- yes, Arol and a lot of other people there were (or acted like) self important, all knowing, bossy, controlling, neurotic, too cool for school hippie freaks. And my seeing that for what it was and more or less laughing at it openly is probably the reason I only lasted a few months. I left that no-talent band a really nice 100 watt SOVTEK guitar amp- I don’t think I could have carried it with me anyway. I remember sitting on the roof of a shed at the back of the property after dark. smoking, playing with this really nice Abysinian cat named Abby- I would mention people and by name, but for some reason you would rather I not.
Anyway, I am looking for someone whose Zendik name was [redacted]. Her real name was [redacted] but she chose [redacted] because she wanted to, as she put it, “x the Christ”. She was originally from Lubbock, Texas- which she none-too-affectionately referred to as “Buttock”. I have no idea what her last name was. This would have been in Bastrop. somewhere in the neighborhood of 1996-1997. Mr Admin, if you have any idea who I am referring to, or what happened to her- would you be so good as to drop me a line? Thanks.
As far as all the cult stuff, well, yeah. So?? Keep on keepin’ on, everyone. History is full of great ideas that were put into practice by flawed people who went on to embody the very things they most despised. Try not to take it too personally. It’s no one’s fault but our own if our loneliness and alienation makes us overeager and willing to conform to the wacky norms any group that doesn’t reject us outright. Take a deep breath, sit down somewhere, and figure out who the fuck you are, what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it. When you are willing to die for those three things, you’re cult -and (inconveniently, it seems) normal society-proof.
Just my two, no-doubt-worthless cents. Namaste, fuckers. 🙂
I remember you. I remember that amp. It got carved up beyond recognition. I remember you being a rather good guitarist that I wanted to play with. Yeah, the Zendik band of my term was iffy for sure, but I don’t know if I’d say no-talent. The band leader of during the time you were there had some serious control issues. While being very talented in his own way, his technical ability was limited and I don’t think he fancied the idea of someone showing him up. Everyone called him a genius, but then we would turn on Tool, or Primus, Aphex. I always wanted to the genius potential to be proven out by being as good as one of those artists. One of the things that eventually lead to my departure was this idea that you had to improvise music all the time for it to be good, and yet the major players influences were all very structured rock, punk, electronic. I always thought it made us mediocre and prevented us from honing a message or developing real technique and mastery of our craft musically. I also never understood why there could only be one band. Only one of the people I played with in the band at Zendik is making music of any consequence today (apologies if there are others and I am not aware), and she was a genius in her own right before she ever made it to Zendik.
I loved my time at Zendik stayed for about 6 months when they were just outside of Austin, I nearly moved in with a lovely lady living out in those parts, ended up going with Patch to California eventually to Hawaii.
Hello Obie, Zendiks from all eras. I don’t have much to say. I was just sitting here in my home office working away, talking to my brother in IM about how I am glad that I spent my late teens/early 20s at Zendik learning how to work and focus rather than staring into a bong despite the fact that it was “wierdo cult” to use his description.
Those of you who’ve heard from me and are in touch know that I have my grievances, mostly with the treatment of others. I had nothing to lose when joining as I was just a teenage shithead with no money or prospects other than what was between my ears, and I gained quite a bit as a member of Zendik. I’m over the negative stuff now, as it’s been supplanted by more recent and far more negative experiences (that I’m also over lol). Any injustices I observed or had been the subject of at Zendik Farm were no more egregious than what goes on in your typical workplace or relationship, but perhaps were just amplified by the commingling of both that is atypical of mainstream society. Alongside the bad stuff I made friendships that will last a lifetime, learned skills that serve me to this day, and had unforgettable experiences that I can never duplicate. I am so grateful to know those of you who I am in touch with.
ObbieZ, we’ve not met that I can recall, though it’s possible through some of your associations it may have happened while I was living in Austin. I want to thank you for this space and endeavoring to create a clearing house for the positive. It’s been (and continues to be) entertaining, fond-memory jogging, and reminding me of people and experiences I’d thought I’d forgotten.
I am redundantly redundant in that last sentence!
BTW if anyone wants to get in contact and say hi, or cuss me out for being a self-righteous dickhole, or trade inorganic GMO recipes for double-gluten cookies, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope it’s ok to broadcast my own email address.
Sure, but don’t blame me when the spam-bots come calling. 😉
Lol right? It’s ok I use them to test my filters!
My only contact with this group was buying the newspaper/magazine back in San Diego in the mid-eighties. I remember the Zendik guy, after a little discussion about current events and whatnot, pressing me a little bit to try to get more involved in a movement or politics or something like that. Then I said it was all beyond hope because not only had people elected Reagan, they re-elected him! The Zendik guy seemed to reluctantly agree with me, in a good-natured way.
Hello everyone,none of you probably remember me. I stayed on the farm in Bastrop for 2 weeks in the summer of 95or 96 . After hitching a ride with the group from a Lollapalooza concert. I spent the next 2 weeks learning how to grow tomatoes, make yogurt, and learned I loved tofu and goat cheese. There was always something to do, and someone to talk to. Though I was young (19) I found some flaws. But in the short amount of time I was there, life was good. I spent the next few years traveling with renaissance fairs, because I was looking for the welcoming feeling that I got from the farm .But with more freedom. Now I’m a mom with a teenage son, I’ve tool lf him of my time on the farm, and my adventures of the gypsy life on the road. And I’m glad I have those stories tho tell. And anyone from the farm who I had the pleasure to talk with, and meet, Thank you for your kindness and openness, at a time in many life when I needed it .
I wonder how many folks who’ve read, followed, or contributed to this thread have also read the other online input about Zendik- including the factual bitterness, slanted but sometimes accurate mudslinging, and weird semi-fictional conspiratorial fantasizing?
A google search on “zendik” reveals this blog and thread, the Wulf Zendik Wikipedia piece, the Sex, Money, Mind Control: The Zendik FAQ piece, the Washington City Paper article “Who Are These People?, and more all on the first page…
While this blog and thread exists to focus on the subjectively positive and “what can be gained,” it differs from the other online pieces in that it is also objectively accurate. When untruths are submitted, whatever the motive, they have been printed with an honest and factual response.
Eager for feedback on this…..
Where’s my feedback?!?!?
I have read this whole blog, and none of the others, yet.
I’ll keep you posted!
Very much looking forward to your feedback, Coz. Hope to see it soon….
Been a long time….
Please feedback. It won’t take too long.
To ObbieZ and all the Zendikites, I appreciate this blog site. I appreciate all the info on your experiences you have shared. Each of you are pioneers. It is too bad that one of the beasts you set out to conquer (greed in the end) crept into the program. However as Obbie says there is a whole lot that you did learn and are able to practice today. Frequently it has to rain for the flowers to grow. You are not alone in your quest. I have observed and written on the issues you worked on and certainly we humans, (me included) have got alot to learn about one-ness. I have been creating a a 36 acre retreat called Spirit Lake (after the name of a poem that came to me when I began it) since ’99 near Wilmington, NC. Though I have had to sell half of it to finance it since I began. I had visualized an artist/think tank retreat that is still in the making. I have learned alot about myself and inter-connectedness on this project.
Yesterday morning I actually toured, your now very vacated, North Carolina site on Ragan jackson Rd. and took a few pics if any of you wish to see them. Probably the huge old oak tree by the big barn with the amazing exposed roots is one of my favorite living objects that is there. I could sense the joys and pains that you felt there. Many remnants still of your presence 16 years ago. Such an awesome site!
My parents live behind and adjacent to your former site there. They shared their tractors and some blueberry plants with you. Although they are very conservative Christians, you made a great impression on them. I only had the priviledge of visiting your community one time while you were there about the time that Wolfe passed.
I wish each of you the very best. I enjoy this dialogue. If nothing else came from your experiment this is a doorway for proceeding on the path you began. And as you know we must proceed, Zendiks and no-Zendiks together, on this path we call life.
Thanks for shedding light on it.
Hey there. I realize this is rather old but I am an ex-Zendik who lived on that property. Your photos would be much appreciated, if you still have them. Of all the things I’ve read here, so far, your comment about that beautiful oak tree pulled on my heart the most and made me miss that land. That physical place was everything to me. I’ve plenty to say about my experience in the group and what I learned but right now, I just wanna focus on that land. Will you post the pics somewhere? Instagram? Facebook? I’d love to check em out. Thanks for offering! 🧡
Moderator’s note: As you may have missed from the “ground rules for discussion” at the end of this post, commenters are asked to not use “real” names. This is to prevent the discussion from becoming personal in an uncomfortable way, and also to respect any efforts of Zendik alumni to establish new lives and careers. I have redacted the name of the person you seek, while offering hints that will make it clear who you’re talking about for those of us who know.
Life long friend of [redacted] I think known as [redacted]. She was part of the family since Topanga Cyn in CA. Once part of Heavans Gate many many years ago I understand. If anyone or she knows how to contact her I would love to speak with or communicate if not and she reads this Love always.
Brad is seeking the person who was a caretaker for the children, a matchmaker for the adults, and a “Valley Girl” before she became a Zendik. She was with the group from the Topanga days until the bitter end (as far as I know). If anyone has contact info, please ask her if she wants to hear from Brad, and if so reply privately here and I will forward it to Brad.
She can found on facebook under the first name she used as a Zendik…
Just wanted to say Hi
Always liked you… Memorable times….
“From a bad-ass to a strator for the Revolution” you once described yourself…
How have you been and how has Life unfolded for you?
Nom / Ian Gnome
if you could direct me to some of the music we did in Boulevard I want to hear it again. I’ll even kick you a few duckets..
Bugz and his hypnotic runs… it was like getting loaded..wild Arol would call it.
Yes, that would be appreciated by me, too.
I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments. I was checking Zendik out online on a friend’s suggestion and ran across this thread. I’m pretty much disgusted with big brother. Friends and I are looking to join or start a commune type community…not a cult…and something completely equal. I’m here to learn by observation. Any of you interested in such a thing?
You probably dont remember me but I stayed with y’all, hoping to join, for a few months in Bolevard in 1989 or 90. I found that restricting what books I could read, who I could talk to, and then one member telling me at group meeting that he could “read my mind” and getting pretty beligerant was not what you were saying that you stood for.I had to leave in an awful ice storm. Glad the truck got out.
Good for you that you moved on.
I remember 89 and 90 as actual pinnacle years in the evolution of Zendik.
I respect that it wasn’t right for you, nor would you have been right for Zendik.
Zendik was, and was meant to be, a defined way of life. You are not “told to” do much, but by asking to be there you are asking to be part of that definition. We were all volunteers.
I hope you found what best suits you elsewhere,
I first heard about them in 1992 or 1993 at the HORDE festival at Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Alabama.
The thing that stuck with me about the conversation was that I asked the seller if there would be a problem with me attending Sunday mass if I moved to the Farm.
I don’t remember the exact response but I do remember that there was a lot of hemming and hawing.
Regardless I bought a zine and entered correspondence with them from time to time. I don’t remember the name of the woman I corresponded with but I do remember seeing her photo in some interview and noting that she was young and pretty.
Ever since I have kept up with what was going on with them. Years after I met a lesbian who just left the farm who had pointed remarks about Zendik’s view on people who are gay, maybe get some additional info from obscure portions of the Internet, etc.,etc.
For those who were hurt, I’m sorry. I hope you are able to derive some sort of healing and growth from all this.
Btw, for those who might be curious, I’ve been tracking a group called “Damanhur” out of Italy. Interesting stuff.
Thank you ObbieZ for you awesomeness
Hi Lawrence/El, Bacchus,Siah,Ix, Kord,Jyre and all others.
Iwas Bacchus and Els roomate in the buckyball house in Bastrop. I taught Martial arts to Vong and Verde and Fawn. Arol liked me because i wrote songs for the kiddos. She asked me to play in the band…but as a drummer. Anyway, i wanted to say i hated and love the Farm at the same time. I love the idea of it, if not the hypocrisy and execution. But i wanted to say special thanks to El. One day he shared a dream with everyone that i was reading the bible while jerking off. Lol. Anyway, Fawn and Chen and Kare and Arol told me i had to leave, and the girl i was dating there had to leave. I said OK. I had decided the leadership were effed up hypocrites, i had been staying for love. This girl and i…anyway, once they saw i was willing to go they begged me to stay but wanted her to go. Lol, it was a hot mess. Anyway, we left, and that “girl” and i moved to San Fran and had a baby boy. Hes now 17, tall, literally a genius, an athlete and his class president. If you hadnt spoken up i wouldnt have my Son today. So much of who i am is based on what i learned there. We all were there looking for love and tribe and acceptance. I found mine, just not in the way Arol would have liked or expected. Funny how the death kulture is still here but the farm is gone. You know i am a worship leader at a small church now. Most of you would think its a scarey guns god and republican kind of place. I think i am their pet liberal…lol. But it gives me hope that love and acceptance can be found anywhere, even in a church…even in a cult. I pray that you are all well, and miss u, even silly Fawn, who never really had a chance to think for herself. Annnyway, i love you all. Thanks again for the dream Lawrence/El. Ps Kord you were the funniest guy ever, Ix you were the nicest, El was to smart for his own good and Baccus…you kinda were mean and precious…but i miss you too!!!
Zaikiro! I still use some of that Aikido you showed me. That shot works and saved me in a couple situations.
Soooo glad to hear it all worked out for you and your family. I bet your kids is a genius you were such a nut and I really missed you when you left. Zaikiro loves on- so glad to hear it!
We are all the sum of our experiences.
While my time in Topanga was limited,it had a profound impact on who I am today.
I knew you before you dropped the “r”, when we had our picture taken by that LA Times reporter who put it on the front of the metro section.
That was the summer of 82 if memory serves.
Zendik was as far as I could get from my previous life in the Navy,and really gave me a powerful insight of how the world worked.
This was in the era of everyone having there own space, and one of the cats got bitten by a rattlesnake. When the girls brought it back with goldenseal poultices is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen.
Preventing the neighbor from shooting the snake and helping animal control relocate a Pacific Blue Rattler was also very cool.
This was counterpointed by digging a hole in the ground to shit in, though I did find an old out house on the top hill. Weren’t you on that expedition to fetch it when Arol almost flipped the truck over?
The idea that being so environmentally irresponsible;while advocating being an “Eco-Warrior”,was more then I could reconcile.
That this behavior was motivated by economics. Arol didn’t want to spend the money to repair the septic tank.
This to me was one too many exceptions made for the comfort of the few, at the expense of all the rest.
On many levels my time at Zendik has really had a profound effect on who I am and what I believe.
It reinforced the corruption of ideals by self serving people; an integral part of the human condition and the source of all misery in this world.
You need to look no further then the presidential campaign to see this writ large
We both saw the pattern of subservience expected from Arol and ran away.
Trying to preach environmental responsibility; while sitting in a cloud of flies from the open shit pit is just bizarre.
The important thing is we escaped.
Like my Mom always told me;”Living well is the best revenge.”
In this part of our lives it really rings true.
James, I was just re-reading these comments when I came across yours.
I thought I had said “hello” years ago. I do remember you. We didn’t always get along, but I remember you as a decent guy overall.
I hope life is treatibg you well.
I was on Zendik farm in early 1993. My memories of the farm are mostly good. However, I got kicked off by Arol about 6 weeks after arriving. My offense was wanting to travel to South America with a girl I had met on the farm.
After I left, I realized that a lot of the normal functioning of the farm was not normal at all. But, I had the advantage of only being 19 and thinking the whole world as my adventure. So we hitchhiked to Florida, then took a bus back to my home in Atlanta.
Maybe being kicked off was a blessing in disguise. Regardless, I loved the farm itself, and that experience has been a building block of who I am today.
It definitely was a blessing! I was kicked off (at 16) for wanting to travel later in life. I was also sent packing with a gay man who they had dismissed because there wouldn’t be anyone for him to have sex with on the farm. So many cults rely on sex as control. And I imagine plans for travel are a red flag as well.
Largely nonsense,and similar accusations have been dealt with earlier in the thread, so no need to say much here. Also the bigoted c-word has been clarified and defined earlier.
I loved the time I spent on the farm. Because I was still a kid the leadership was very kind. I was a horrible milkaholic but they indulged me. Lol. I learned so much and see myself ending up on my own commune in the near future. If I learned one thing it is that people can achieve infinitely more together than apart.
My name is Lili. Some of you knew me as Xyla while I lived at Zendik in Boulevard in 1999/ 2000. My 2 year old daughter and I lived there for about a year. I was only 19 at the time and had never really lived outside of the city. My experience for the most part was very positive. I have very fond memories of my time there.
I remember camping out in the open and sleeping under the stars at night next to he horses. I remember helping to cut, thrash, sift and finally eat the best bread I’ve ever tasted in my life. I learned how to make soymilk (it became one of my tasks), and helping to install a skylight and do a bit of plumbing. All firsts for me!
As many have already expressed, so much of who I am today is still informed by the things I learned while I was there. I’ve often wondered where everyone ended up and I am so happy to see some familiar names on this thread.
I will comeback and share again. I mostly just wanted to say hello and extend a hand out to everyone I knew while I was there.
Zendik left Boulevard in the spring of 1991. Are you sure you don’t mean 1989/1990?
That’s exactly what I meant! Thanks for catching that.
Looking forward to all you share in the future…
I am still waiting for feedback on how this subjectively positive but also objectively accurate blog and thread holds up next to the other Zendik “info” on a google search….
Coz once said he would help with this, but no response.
I would appreciate a response from any others who’ve read this blog and thread…
some street sellers hanging around K St in DC engaged me in some interesting conversation in.. 2007? Anyhow i was a fed in a suit who was fairly impressed by the patter. Whatever, at that point i’m the living embodiment of the death kultur (as i understood the concept)
Zednik was curious enough to me that i took care to get a couple more mags when i saw them around, and read up online. It’s probably been 5 years since i last googled.
This thread appeared on the first page for me and it’s the only one i’ve read this time. It’s been a positive experience for me as a voyeur. Y’all sound like you’re mostly doing very well and in fact a lot of learning is being recorded.
Having read the other stuff an now this, I think this thread is doing what Obbie hoped. His moderation choices seem pretty effective.
i hope that Zen Wolfgang (post from 2017) is able to connect with his dad, if they both want.
I spent time at the NC farm in 2001, and so much of the terminology and toxic rules were still in place. Your name sounds incredibly familiar to me. Do you know if anything was named after you??
Anything named after *me*?
Doubt it. Or at least I doubt if they put my name on anything *good*. They have a tendency to denigrate and disparage anyone who left – even anyone who left after 13 years of dedicated and loyal contributions.
Is there a Thaddeus and Eli there as well? I’m looking for a missing person I could use a hand here. Thank You
I was there and you were never denigrated and disparaged so much as sadly forgotten (as was I at another time)….
Wulf did occasionally talk about you, but it was with compassion and a sad regret about losing you he felt responsible for (as he did with others who left)…
Arol made rare sarcastic and belittling comments about you, but they were no worse or different than the way she spoke when you were there, just less frequent…
I deeply regret my own behavior towards you in 92 (especially because it was towards you) though that was a way to reinforce my own commitment in spite of failure as it was (regretfully) towards you…
I guess I was thinking of Arol when I wrote those words… and a few other people who were genuine assholes. It’s kind of restores my faith that not everybody felt that way.
As for our unfortunate meeting in ’92, I don’t take any of that personally. I could tell at the time that the words coming out of your mouth were Arol talking. I remembered how she operates, and I knew the words were put in your mouth during a pre-road-trip meeting when she ranted about “what to say if you run into Obbie.”
Hey Obbie, Let me a share a little insight into Arol gleaned from being by around during the ending of her life. I had a super “aha” moment after she had died. Fawn and a few of us were sitting around the living room and talking about Arol’s family members we needed to let know of her passing. Something came up within that that made Fawn say offhandedly that often the Merson’s, Arol’s family, would just cut each other off. Like if something went south in the relationship they would just cut the other off for life. That’s it.
What an “aha” moment for me. This quality of cutting every string with people who left the farm for so many years was not an embedded result of the Zendik philosophy but a legacy of Arol’s destructive family patterns that she obviously never recognized or dealt with. This made a lot of sense and put that whole aspect into perspective.
This was obviously one of the WORST aspects at Zendik.
BUT, from the human side I can also see the pain in Arol and how for her that was a coping mechanism for dealing with loss. I saw people leave that I KNOW she loved. And I came to see that this cut throat mentality was her not so great way of dealing with it.
Just some insight if it helps! 🙂
I am afraid the “aha” about Arol happened years before you joined Zendik, though perhaps it was a different “aha.” Obbie and I clarified our “aha” early in this thread.
Though your “aha” is perfectly valid as well…
Does anyone know what Fawn is up to since Zendik Farm ended? I doubt she is founding another commune. I once described her as “a princess in a collapsing kingdom.”
I’ve been meaning to link back to this thread and read it. Finally did. I’m kind late to the party as it seems most posts are from 2013. Once a year or so I Google Zendik and people from Zendik and reminisce. I am very happy to find this blog as most everything I’ve read in the past was either negative or Zendik propaganda. So thank you Obbie.
I see Gnome asking how this blog adds up to other Zendik info on the internet. I only lived there a very short time, 7 months, in 2005, so I’m probably not the best person to answer the question, but I have read a lot over the years. My guess is that what other people have posted on other sites is accurate, though possibly embellished slightly. The problem with those sites and comments though is I feel they are coming from a very biased, one sided point of view. People who are angry, feel cheated, abused and mislead. Who are focusing on one aspect of a large story. Who are still caught up in their own one sided perspective of events and haven’t been able to step outside their own hurt and get objective. I’m not really sure what you’re looking for here Gnome, so I’ll leave it at that.
I wouldn’t give up my experience at Zendik for anything in the world. I spent years processing my time there, and probably still continue to process. The ideals that turned me on the most about Zendik was open, honest, communication. Taking an honest look at yourself and getting real. Recognizing if you keep f’ing up there is probably something going on with you that you need to be looking at. Being honest with how you feel and what you want regardless of the persecution that may ensue. Granted, these lessons and ideals were not always approached gently or with kindness, but the important thing is they were approached. Life was processed. Communication on most all fronts encouraged. Maybe everybody didn’t participate in these discussions, maybe they felt they were above persecution and had nothing to learn from interpersonal meetings, but I always saw that as their loss.
We are all human. Flawed humans. I think Zendik as a community and Arol (and Fawn) and founders of the community (I never met Wulf) tried. Sure, they’re super flawed, who isn’t? I love that Zendik experimented with different modalities and constructs. Approached topics and ideas that would typically be taboo.
The most difficult thing for me within Zendik was the blind commitment. When I brought up the hierarchy, people truly didn’t believe it existed. I think a good lesson to take from this and hopefully bring to future endeavors, is this aspect. People had been there so long, they were in so deep, they were blinded by the light. If you brought up ideas that questioned the fundamentals of Zendik, you were shut down. And Zendiks can be pretty harsh. I like to think of myself as being outspoken (mostly) but eventually I feel a person would find themselves either having to stop questioning, or leave. I tried the stop questioning, but that mentality doesn’t suit me, so I left. I think it is very important for all people, businesses, communities, everything to be open to outside input. To be able to take a step back and look objectively. At ourselves and our way of life. It was like Zendik was so afraid of being what they hated they couldn’t allow themselves to realize that in many ways they were what they hated. I don’t think this was some conspiracy or evil within Arol. I think people just become complacent. It’s easier to accept things as they are than challenge them head on. To brush things off with, “oh that’s your death kulture upbringing you are projecting onto us” than to actually take a step back and appreciate unbiased feedback.
On that note, I want to add, in my opinion Arol is the only one that made anything happen. She was by far the leader, the controller. On one hand, it seemed to me she was incredibly frustrated by this. She wanted other people to step up, to take control, and make decisions. She wanted people to stand up for themselves and challenge her. To take responsibility and make things happen without her approval. In a way I felt like she would taunt people in this aspect. She seemed disgusted that people would not make a move without her, would not question ‘her great wisdom.’ But no one ever dared. I think this frustrated her greatly and she looked down on people for it. At the same time I believe she got off on it. I think she loved and craved being the controller and didn’t want anyone else to step on her toes. She herself would say if something comes to us it is because we have manifested it. If some type of energy or interaction is coming to us, it’s because we are asking for it. So even though on one end, she didn’t want the responsibility, power and control that everyone put upon her, she also reveled in. But no one pointed this out to her. Who was checking Arol? She checked everyone else all the time. Maybe Wulf did before he died, that’s before my time. But I feel the Zendiks, myself included, did Arol a disservice by not standing up to her and calling her out on her shit. The reason it is important to not have a leader or spiritual guru is because then they become the all high and mighty that no one questions. But that is unfair to them. We are all flawed, we all need help, we all need someone who is willing to put themselves out there and call us on our shit.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to write so much. Mostly I just wanted to say that I miss the people I met at Zendik. I think of all of you fondly and often. I see you in my dreams frequently, but our paths have not actually crossed in a long time. I don’t imagine I made much impact on you in my short stay, but you all made a huge impact on me. I will be forever grateful for my time at Zendik and the people who’s paths I’ve crossed. I wish we hadn’t lost contact.
I can honestly say that this is one of the most fascinating threads that I have ever read. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Zendik community. Other than a few things that I’ve read over the years, I know virtually nothing about your organization. Thus, I’m really not qualified to comment on most of what’s been said here. However, as someone who has dreamed my entire life of starting/participating-in a(n) w/holistic natural community – someone who has struggled my entire life with the stigma of the “cult leader” label at the sheer mention on an intentional community – I am riveted by this amazing tale of a people’s attempt to build a loving tribe.
For all of their human flaws, Wulf and Arol sound like they were amazing people with a lot of courage who probably made a lot of mistakes along the way, but who ultimately believed in the very difficult and ambitious project that they embarked upon.
It’s a Tale As Old As Time… Plucky, alienated, iconoclastic genius meets beautiful, intelligent woman, and they decide to settle down together and build a human family in the way that God (or the Universe or the Tao, or •, or whatever) intended it. They weren’t sure what that meant, but they knew it had something to do with love, and they were determined to find out. So by the story of Adam and Eve myth upon which they were raised, they embarked upon a(d)mission to return to ‘The Garden’. They write their philosophy down and start telling it to people half their age. They gather some momentum and a little money under able to get a space, or at least a down payment on one. They start an apocalyptic pseudo Christian Gnostic sect – perhaps with some Zen Buddhism or flying saucers mixed in – come up with better ways to recruit and raise money. Boom! They make it onto a watch-list. At this point, as long as they don’t purchase any hunting equipment, and stick to a mostly plant-based/agricultural diet, they’re cool. Otherwise, it’s the SWAT.
In the old days, things were different. Driven by their unique cultural, social, and religious ‘DNA’, early-settler Americans who attempted to found intentional communities, were usually taken-out by their uniquely Westward-expanding hubris. The drowning of the community in Utopia Ohio comes to mind. People so convinced the God would save them, that they allowed themselves to be washed down-river by torrential rains, rather than heed “God’s” advice (from well-meaning neighbors) to find higher ground. The irony is palpable.
But that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the basic idea. A tribe of people, living in harmony with the land. This has been humanity’s dream for all of recorded history. But only the indigenous people’s and the Eastern societies ever made good on it. Those have now all been driven to near-extinction by Global Corporate Capitalism. Thankfully, they left us many road maps.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I feel like I’ve known all of you before. Maybe in some other “incarnation” (so to speak). Maybe I smoke herb with some dude that looked talked and acted like all of you, and we had a conversation so deep that it changed my outlook indelibly. Maybe, like most Americans, we all walk around with the same Jesus/Jimi/Janis complex, wanting love so desperately that we’re willing to start a cult/culture/band/brand free-associative neuro-linguistic golem with a tax-ID# and a bank-account to try and change/help/save/sanctify (or at least try to understand) this crazy ass late-capitalist “death kulture” we’re all stuck here living in. Oh, and to make-a-buck/eat/cover-mortgage/etc.
I get exhausted just thinking about it. How some old failed-artist cum writer dude managed to succeed for as long as he did where so many others have failed speaks volumes as a testament to the man’s vision, character, and ability to treat other’s with love. I’m sure he could be a tough, tyrannical son-of-a-bitch, but if he was who I think he was, I have known this man my whole life. He’s that real motherfucker. The one who gives it to you straight, with no added bullshit. Guys like him are all around you. Waiting to share their wisdom with anyone who has the courage, character or curiosity to express a genuine interest. These are the fathers of our tribe. It is incumbent that we seek them out, so that we may learn to become them. Otherwise, our species goes extinct in a few decades. That’s it. No more bickering over what constitutes a “cult”. Hopefully, we still have the “other side”… With all due respect to “The Lizard King”, seems unlikely.
Seers see, doers do, makers make, and in the fullness of time, we all find our “specialty”. But specialization is anathema the evolution of human consciousness. We cannot achieve “self-actualization” if we are stuck punching (or designing) widgets all-day. And with AI and robotics poised to put literally everyone out of work, that’s not even an option anymore. These means we will be forced to figure out how to… Well, basically rethink everything that anyone ever spent any time doing. What good will painting be when everyone is a painter and no one can match an AI’s watercolor algorithm? An algorithm mind you, which has been trained by analysing every single painting ever photographed in the entirety of human history. We can hardly wrap our heads around the implications.
I found out about Zendik through one of the zines. It was pretty, and well produced, had cool artwork, and some decent writing. But it was immediately apparent to me that the output had failed to live-up to the ambitions of the founders. The contradictions and cognitive biases glared at me from the page like a cold sore. As an outsider looking-in (and an insider looking-out) I marveled at the way a group of people could become such big believers in their own brand of bullshit. And not one mention of the Quakers or the Shakers or the Amish or the Utopians, or the Branch Davidians or… Anything really. Just some snippets of ‘you should think for yourself more by following the teachings of a guy who really knows how, and by-the-way, we need money and followers, so feel-free to contact us because we promise we’re not a cult, we’re just a culture’, etc… It was like a time capsule containing the prurient adolescent fantasies of a pair of all-American, 1960’s, flower-power, fuck-the-man y/hippies. Except with some cool-looking/attractive young people and some raver graphics added. If I had seen that damned zine when I was 16, instead of 30, I would have become a full-fledged Zendite, I’m certain if it.
But sadly it was not to be.
Maybe in another Universe I did. But you’ll have to ask Neil Degrasse Sagan about that shit.
Peace, love, and psychedelic lights my brothers and sisters. Remember: It’s (usually) uncool to be square. Nature does not work in squares too much. Sometimes, but not much. Nature (God/dess) is way cooler, because nature is based on circles and circles are invariably better than squares. But as the Masons say, when push-comes-to-shove, time to square-up. If you’re not “on the square, and on the level” (upright, forthright, honest, and true), then your word doesn’t mean shit. To everything there is a season, and so-too of “squareness”.
Also: Queen to Bishop-Seven, Check and Mate.
In the immortal words of Wavy Gravy:
“Far-out is fine, but who’s minding the shop?”
I have so much more to say, I feel like this is probably the only web forum in the world where I can say stuff like this and someone will understand wtf I’m even talking about. If anyone here wants to talk, shoot me a line.
Put the color of “B7” (above) in the subject-line, so I know you’re not a spambot (or at least not a complete idiot).
I remember way back in ’91 watching Wulf Zendik on Austin Public Television. I was a rebellious teen back then and Zendik had a farm and I was really considering moving out there and being part of the fold as living self sustaining and eco conscious really appealed to me, but as I read your account of what you went through, I am really glad I didn’t go through with it. I live in Canada now and I decided to research some things of my Texas past and I am shocked to know that Wulf died in ’99 the year I left to the West Coast Canada. I kind of expected the whole thing to fall apart, but at least it didn’t turn out like the Waco branch Dividian, but it’s still sad to know that so many people put in so much blood, sweat, and tears just to walk away with nothing and there was even children born there and they have it worse because they have no Social Security Number, nothing to actually label them as American Citizens and hence, no pension in the future. I am glad however that you were able to see the good that did come from living at the Zendik farm. I believe if Arol and others weren’t so greedy and of hidden intention, the Zendik organization could have flourished into something bigger and greater, and with ideas that are feasible! But sadly, corruption is like a cancer, and in the end, everyone walked away with Nothing except the experience and memory of a once growing organization. Anyway, I am happy that you are free and that you made it without their help. You didn’t need them to begin with, the strength and wisdom you have now, is what you’ve had all along.
Hi – I am late to this party, but it is SO nice to hear/see some familiar Zendik names! I lived at the farm in Boulevard for some months – don’t remember what year – must have been late 80’s. Wulf named me KZ. Nom, Ix, Kare, Lore, Chen, Ev, Obie, Bugz, Krom, Keen….are some names/faces I remember. Keen and I shared a little cabin. I would love to speak with any of y’all now! I didn’t say goodbye as I left in the middle of the night; snuck the keys back and took my white VW squareback and drove off. Thanks for having this blog. Would love to speak with any of you! Feel free to contact me – staceyem at icloud dot com
I spent almost a year in Topanga Canyon 1983-1984 the experience I had still exists with me today and is tattooed to my wrist “Zendik”. When I was in the USMC I met Ire in the Laguna beach area who had been involved with the then Zendik Society earlier in his life . After a few visits I really enjoyed Wulf and the other members (Arol, Chen, Kare, Lore, Fawn) and a few others that may not have been mentioned. The location was awesome and there was some hard work and great times shared. I left richer in spirit that I was when I arrived and to this day still have a stack of the news papers that to me are priceless. Thanks for providing a archive for those of us who shared in the Zendik Experience. Mine was great….
I had a chance to visit the Zendik Farm in 2002 when they were in Asheville NC. I had met one of their members hawking literature on the street some years earlier, writings of Wulf and the Zendik philosophy. The enthusiasm and writings stuck with me. So when I finally had the chance, I took my girlfriend and 2 year old on a read trip there. Our plan was to maybe stay a week and see what we thought.
To say the least, it was nowhere close to the concept they promoted. Arol was a firm dictator in charge. Unlike the “Followers” who lived in a somewhat communal fashion, she had her own “home on the hill” and received special benefits.
The people were unwelcoming, especially the women who viewed my girlfriend as a threat, as I later learned because they feared all the men wanted to have sex with her.
Even though the philosophy was to work at your passion, clearly people were selected out of buddy system that favored certain people over others. A obvious example was riding the horses. Only special people were allowed. I talked to members who had been living there for years, and still hadnt been allowed on horseback.
There were some children there at the time, and none were allowed to play with ours, due to possible “contamination”. So much for our kids experience. We offered to help in the kitchen also, but were again told about the fear of contamination. But having dogs around the food and kitchen wasnt a problem.
After two days we had seen enough. It was clear from the backstabbing and dysfunction of the people, the Farm wasnt for us. There was a group gathering one evening where Hitler, I mean Arol was in charge. She allowed some time for members to voice issues, clearly hoping it would be focused on money and work. But I stood up and gave them my opinion about their little Nirvana.
Whatever the Zendk Farm was, or was dreamed to become, I saw a group of social rejects who likely had burned their bridges everywhere else before ending up there. Anyone who was emotionally healthy and had skills to offer, would never find a home there.
After we were 500 miles down the road, we realized an item had been stolen while we were there. Yet for 6 months in Mexico it had been untouched. We saw clearly who had the love and who didnt.
I feel compelled to redirect attention at this paragraph:
Please don’t let your experiences put you off from the ideals as promoted. This wasn’t the first institution to fail to live up to its own ideals, and it won’t be the last.
Late to this party. My experience in late 2001 was very similar to yours, except as a young single female with no car or money. I went with the intention of staying weeks, if not longer, if they’d let me. My first two days there made me realize without a doubt any ideals they preached were not practiced except among a very small, select hierarchical group. My experience was very, very bad. I don’t care how great what you write down is if the practice is practically the opposite of it. What good is that? Early morning of Day 3 I hitched a ride with another visitor getting-the-fuck-out before breakfast. (Side note: Two visitors, separately, had left the night before, due to lies exposed and arguments with senior Zendiks and Arol.) The plus side I kept contact with a newer Zendik, he took a “temporary” leave a year later after my visit on the farm to get the real world out of his system so he could fully commit to Zendik. He and I have been together ever since.
My friend joined the Zendiks briefly in the summer of 2010, and I made a mini-documentary about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmQBMI8i6jI
In 1984 my boyfriend lived in the next house up on Canon View Trail … I was aware of the Zendik Community next door but never saw anyone. When I returned to Virginia i came across a writing that stating Zendik Farm was in West Virginia … I explored it online and am now glad I didn’t take it any further. My best wishes to everyone …
I arrived New Year’s Eve 1990/91 and spent a few months in Boulevard packing/dumping/moving the many “found” materials that had accumulated before caravanning out to Texas – and what a trip it was, following Ror driving a truck hauling a camper overloaded with Zendik zines, which finally had to be abandoned for later retrieval somewhere along the way! I only lasted a month or so in Texas – the combination of extreme heat (in March!) and a girlfriend who was having a rough time of it there (and my own unease) led us to hit the road in April 1991. Fond memories of some of the crew there, but also glad i hit the road given what it became. While I had some hopes of joining the band, they were unfortunately going through their “let’s try to make a commercial-sounding metal album” phase, which wasn’t too appealing to me. I’m still fascinated with how these scenes develop and the human dynamics which ultimately bring them down. While some can thrive for a while under a “benevolent dictator” such people rarely remain benevolent. I prefer a more anarchist, de-centralized approach to community, which can be rough in other ways. Zendik was fairly unique amongst communities with their appeal to the darker edges of the youth subculture. And associating with the likes of Crash Worship, Psychic TV, Chrome / Helios Creed! I don’t know of any other similar community out there, though I imagine there are probably some more dark-edged communal scenes in Europe somewhere. Glad I got a little taste, and glad I got out quickly!
I visited the place in N.C. Bugz was still there . He was about the only intelligent ‘ can -do’ person there that had any mechanical skills .They had a cobbled together car called the ‘ Bu-Ford , as it was a mating of a Buick and a Ford . I was thinking about joining the group.They really needed a mechanic such as me .
When I was told I’d by Arol that I would have to give up all my money and possessions to join , well the easy sex didn’t seem so attractive .
I could feel the tension all around the place.
What ever happened to the Chevrolet bus I donated to them when they were in Boulevard California ?Where is Bugz now ?
Too bad it all didnt work out .
So where do I go now? How do I open my place, or go to an open place, where contribution and kindness are paramount?
This was a good recollection of your time spent with them. I appreciate you sharing it. Everything is an adventure. My next huge adventure will likely be death as I am near the age formerly considered “senior“. Every day until that time hardships and joy provide wonderful lessons and experiences. I’m still fairly sharp, good with my hands, still go on roofs, creative and imaginative engine still flow, just had a good meal, and a safe place to sleep last night. “Fer there” Is more to do.
As for a brief visit to Zendik in early 2000s (?). It was eye-opening.
Just wow , so sad it worked out like it did .