To the residents of Black Bear Ranch, current and former, and to all of the Black Bear Family,
Some of you may have heard of the coming of this letter and/or the group delivering it. Many of you have not and this may come as a surprise to you. We want to acknowledge from the beginning that the group of people we are addressing is a diverse one; from original bears, to current and all in between. As a group we are also diverse; in our age, gender, background, and in our relationships to all of you and the land we call Black Bear Ranch. Our commonality lies in our love for life and our deep desire to see it continue and thrive. We come to you from our hearts, our love for the land and for each other. This letter is written from the place within us all that begs us to live our lives in a way that supports the healing of all beings and the earth. We would like to share some of the understandings that we have come to thus far in our process. This letter is written with gratitude to the original Bears for your work and for your vision, and the continued efforts of the whole family to create a place like this in the world.
Black Bear Ranch was founded to forge an alternative to the destructive and hollow culture of the United States. We are revolutionaries, artists, healers and troublemakers. Spearheaded by the Diggers movement, the elders of our Black Bear Family created a refuge far from the city and the suburbs where folks could live and learn different life ways: “free land for free people.” The birth of Black Bear Ranch can not be separated from the politics of the day. Those that founded BBR passionately fought against the Vietnam War, racism oppressing black people, capitalism, patriarchy and ecological destruction. Bears today continue this work for a better world. Black Bear Ranch, this place we have known and loved, has changed and will continue to change. We as BBR family have the power to keep the momentum moving towards truth, vitality, justice, and love.
From the beginning, it was not lost on those Bears fighting against U.S. colonialism overseas, that the Ranch was located in a largely Indigenous community suffering from and fighting against the same outrages of empire as those abroad. Over the years BBR residents have come and gone, and some of us have made our homes in the river communities surrounding the Bear. We’ve created strong friendships, alliances and family ties with the Indigenous people whose’s land we inhabit. Those of us who have stayed continue to bear witness to the effects of colonialism on the people and land in this place. The contradiction festers, can it be “free land” if it is stolen land? (more…)