Save Druid Heights

TWO UPCOMING DRUID HEIGHTS RELATED TALKS IN MILL VALLEY, CA: MONDAY 12/3 AND WEDNESDAY 12/5

TIME TO REMIND: TWO NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TALKS IN MILL VALLEY, CA NEXT WEEK RELATED TO DRUID HEIGHTS

—MONDAY THE 2ND: GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA SUPERINTENDENT LAURA JOSS AND OTHER NPS PERSONNEL TO GIVE AN UPDATE ON THE MUIR WOODS UNIT (DRUID HEIGHTS IS INSIDE THE MUIR WOODS UNIT BOUNDARY)

—WEDNESDAY THE 5TH: GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA HISTORIAN KRISTIN BARON AND OTHER NPS PERSONNEL TO DISCUSS DRUID HEIGHTS HISTORY AND CHALLENGES

I plan to attend both and I know at least one other group member who is planning to come on Monday night: Gerd Stern

THE DETAILS:
—Monday 12/3 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Old Mill Elementary School, 352 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA there will be a meeting to discuss many aspects of the Muir Woods unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Druid Heights is part of that administrative unit. The main speaker will be Laura Joss, Superintendent of the entire GGNRA. One of the main topics will be the parking and traffic situation. I know that some local residents fear that preservation of Druid Heights could cause an increase in traffic. Given the newly instituted restrictions on visitation to the area by restricting parking that would seem to have been dealt with. This meeting should add further clarity.

—Wednesday 12/5 from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM in the Mill Valley Public Library – Creekside Room, 375 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, California. To assure your getting a seat you need to register for this event. In my experience with past events if it fills up there may be seat available because of no-shows. There were still seats available as of Saturday 12/1 at 11am. Here is the link to use to register:

https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg…

From the description :
Kristin Baron tells the history of Druid Heights, a secluded artist community in the Marin Headlands near Muir Woods. From the 1950s through to the late 1970s, this hidden enclave fostered creative and innovative architecture, art, poetry, philosophy and music. She will share some of GGNRA’s efforts toward protecting this fragile site as well as highlighting the challenges of interpreting a non-traditional resource.

http://www.millvalleylibrary.org/events/cals.htm

meditation hut tom fox

Gerd Stern’s 90th at the Beat Museum in SF will include discussion of his Druid Heights experiences

UPDATE: THE GERD STERN 90TH EVENT AT THE BEAT MUSEUM IN SAN FRANCISCO THIS SUNDAY THE 2ND AT 7 PM WILL INCLUDE GERD AND I DISCUSSING HIS DRUID HEIGHTS DAYS.
When I was at the Beat Museum a couple of weeks ago museum director and our group member Jerry Cimino asked me if I would be interested in joining the discussion with Gerd on 12/2 at 7pm.
In an email yesterday Gerd wrote “If you will be at The Beat Museum on Sunday the 2nd I could mention that you were with us (on the May 24th visit to Druid heights) and we could talk about Druid Heights?”.

I will most definitely be there. And if you want to see one of the last of the Beat Generation who was at many of the major events, who built an important work of art in Roger Somers’ shop and with Roger’s help at Druid Heights and was a good friend of Roger’s this is a rare opportunity. I will guess that there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Besides those of you who like me weren’t there “back in the day”, I will say, without naming them, I have good reason to believe that there are people who either are members of or follow this group who live in the SF Bay area and were at Druid Heights in the early ’60s when Gerd was. It would be great to see and meet you at this event!

http://www.kerouac.com/beat_event/gerd-stern-90/

Below, Gerd Stern on the left and Jerry Cimino on the right, The Beat Museum, December 27, 2014, Taken from this Youtube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8Nrnp_4GkIGerd Stern TBM Joan Anderson 2017

COMING ON THE WEEK OF 11/12/2018: AN ANNIVERSARY, AN EVENT AND SOME NEWS

Next Friday, November 16th, will be the 45 anniversary of the passing of Alan Watts in his home in the Mandala House at Druid Heights on 11/16/1973. By pure coincidence it was on 11/16/2016 that I took a walk through the unoccupied portions of Druid Heights after reading some articles about it online, most notably the New York Times article of 1/25/2012.
 
 
I am very glad I went there when it was still possible to enter Elsa Gidlow’s house, The Twin Peaks House and Alan Watts library, and that I took the many photos that I have shared here. On that day I had no inkling of becoming involved with an effort to preserve what I was seeing. That didn’t happen until the following summer after my having viewed the exhibit “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” at the Berkeley Art Museum and met guest curator, exhibit catalog author and our co-founder UC Berkeley Architectural Historian Greg Castillo.
 
Here is a link to the catalog of that exhibit. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes they had made the exhibit and even those who did. It is simultaneously a great coffee table book full of easy to skim images and a scholarly overview of the subject that includes reproductions of hard to find original source material.
 
Back to Alan Watts, if any of you feel motivated perhaps you could post something on him this week. I am going to be out of the Save Druid Heights “office” attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference called “Past Forward 2018”, very conveniently being held in San Francisco. I hope to learn more about the nuts and bolts of historic preservation at the workshops I attend as well as meet and talk to people in the field of Historic Preservation. As I understand it my conference name badge will have Save Druid Heights on it as well as Michael Toivonen.
 
I will also be attending the day and a half symposium sponsored by the US chapter of the International Committee On Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) being held in tandem with the conference. The theme is bridging the divide between those whose focus is preserving cultural heritage and those whose focus is preserving natural heritage. That definitely speaks to the challenges presented by Druid Heights.
 
Last but not least, I will have some very interesting news next week…….stay tuned!

DRUID HEIGHT’S ELSA GIDLOW: IMMIGRANT


Here are some words worth considering when we think about Elsa Gidlow, who until age 6 was a resident of the UK, and from 6 until 21 was a resident of the province of Quebec, Canada. She immigrated to New York City in the US in 1920 and then in 1926 came west to California where she was to live the rest of her life, the last 32 years of it at the home she came to call Druid Heights.

“Anyone who knows the history of California knows that it has been the great flow of immigration that continually refreshes and revitalizes our culture, creativity and productivity.”-Dr. Thomas Peters, President & CEO, The Marin Community Foundation

About Save Druid Heights

Save Druid Heights was formed in the summer of 2017 by Travis Amos, Greg Castillo and Michael Toivonen after a walk through the unoccupied portions of Druid Heights. It seeks to preserve the most significant buildings and the history of this historic site. To get in touch with us please send an email using the contact button on this page or send it to savedruidheights@gmail.com. Our email inbox is closely monitored by communications person Michael Toivonen and your email should be answered shortly, usually within a couple of hours. If you need to speak to us about something urgent send us an email in which you tell us a little about it, include your phone number. and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

 

 

A BOOK YOU SHOULD OWN: THE ART AND LIFE OF JEAN VARDA

A LITTLE ADVICE FROM THE EDITOR: BUY A COPY OF THIS BOOK FOR YOURSELF AND ANOTHER FOR A FRIEND
Since we are doing Varda I want to put in a plug for a great book: The Art and Life of Jean Varda by Elzabeth Leavey Stroman. Besides being about Varda there is info about his friendship with Druid Heights’ Roger Somers and Alan Watts. It is lavishly illustrated, in part because of the cooperation of Varda’s family.

This book was a true labor of love by its author. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at a book event in Sausalito, CA where I was asked by her to speak about Druid Heights connection to Varda for a few minutes.

Not only did she do a huge amount of research and writing, she hired, on her own dime, professional book designers to help her assemble the text and graphics into a beautiful book. It is both a good read and a good “take a casual look” coffee table book with an eye catching cover

Using the link below to go to the book’s webpage where you can purchase it directly for $43.45. You can also get it as a special order through your local bookstore or order it through Amazon. I’d do it directly from Stroman because that way she gets the most money, and even at $40+ shipping she said she was making nothing, just recouping some of her costs.

Here is the link to her page:
http://www.vardabook.comVarda+Cover