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In brilliant tie-dyes Joan Rivard can often be found on famous Haight Street in San Francisco, often joining street musicians with her tambourine. She waves it at the tour buses and shouts, “WE’RE STILL HERE!” She believes that the mass movement we call “the Sixties” is still very much alive, and that its Way of Peace is the closest thing to what Jesus taught.

She finds the sublime in ordinary people, particularly the young “Travelers” who make pilgrimages to that historic place. She stayed among the “house-free,” gathering their stories and insights. This book provides a window into their amazing lives and the high concepts of peace and love which they embrace, which may be a greater resource than has so far been recognized.

Some churches and big corporations might consider her a heretic, because she believes that people are basically good and should be free.  Challenging right-wing religious and economic doctrines on Biblical grounds, she shows that Jesus didn’t teach that people are cursed or born in sin.  She urges Americans to unite to save their liberties from Orwell’s nightmare.  The poetry she includes about governments and religions is a roller coaster ride.

 She has been to ten Rainbow Gatherings, another public expression of what has been called “counterculture.”  These are week-long yearly peace events in the wilderness from July first to July seventh, with about twenty thousand people.   There are no leaders, it costs no money, and thousands of people sit down together to eat for free.

The spiritual power felt there and in many other places has led the author to believe that the country’s solutions can be found in the Golden Rule and the Bill of Rights.  She believes the people should unite as Democrats to reform the laws, and that those who want to help would make a big impact by each registering a hundred voters, unleashing the power of the people.

She was an activist in the early days of the effort to legalize marijuana, working with Jack Herer and Chris Conrad.  She helped start the big hemp rallies at the Los Angeles Federal Building, has attended dozens of anti-war and pro-environmental demonstrations, and has helped put on free rock concerts and other events.  She worked at the famous Los Angeles Free Press with founder and 60’s icon Art Kunkin.  She has sent political poetry to legislators in what she calls “political art.”  In February 2003 her writing and activism   swung a vote that passed a Los Angeles City Council resolution to oppose the Iraq war.

Joan at Mutiny Radio, and with 60’s icons Stanley Mouse who designed the Grateful Dead logo,                               and Diamond Dave Whitaker, who gave Bob Dylan his first joint.

Many unique shop owners and political activists on Haight Street are her friends, some of whom are in her book.  She has a website called, and her own radio show called Peace Drums Radio, at an online station out of San Francisco called Mutiny Radio.  It airs on Wednesdays from four to six at

During the Sixties and Seventies, she lived in cabins in Alaska and also travelled throughout Europe and the U.S.   At that time, young people everywhere were adopting fresh ideas, growing their hair long, trying to get by in an environment that was increasingly artificial and unnatural.  Their efforts to fix the world seemed to her to express the  same things taught by the Prince of Peace, whose hairstyle they copied.  Her book, Peace Drums – True Stories of Alaska from the Black and Silver Cabin, takes you inside their snug cabins and hovels where some of them lived for  free in the woods near the University of Alaska.

For four years Joan researched the New Testament, separating what it says Jesus taught from what others added.  In studying the Bible she found, like so many others have, that the Apostle Paul taught the opposite of what the Bible says Jesus said.  Her book, The Liberal’s Bible Guide: God’s Message to Treehuggers, (480 pgs.) is an easy tool for anyone who wants to win arguments with those telling them they’re cursed sinners.

Coming out soon on Amazon, it’s designed to be used as a handy guide to challenge cruel religious dogmas and unfair economic policies.  She thinks that Pacifists and Liberals could be more politically powerful, armed with knowing which things Jesus didn’t teach.

The author has been known to antique dealers at Southern California swap meets as a vendor to them called The Cookie Lady.  For over twenty years she publicly shared her poetry and ideas with those in that community, which is also highly invested in the ideals of liberty.

Recently, she has been privileged to be a part of the historic drum circle in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, located in the same meadow that hosted the Summer of Love.  This “Peace Drums” blog is about experiences there and on Haight Street, and in Alaska and the swap meets. 

Joan Rivard was born on January 7, 1949, in French-speaking Quebec, Canada, but has spent most of her life in California.  In 1969 she graduated from Orange Coast Jr. College, then studied journalism and anthropology and psychology at the University of Alaska near Fairbanks, Alaska.  In 1994-96 she completed all the courses for degrees in anthropology and criminal justice at Cal State, Los Angeles.  Her work includes other books which will also soon be available, including “Peace Drums II: The Drum Circle,” and “Peace Drums III: Stories of Alaska from the Black and Silver Cabin,” and “The Liberal’s Bible Guide ~ God’s Message to Treehuggers.”  Joan Rivard can be contacted by email at:   [email protected]


Haight-Ashbury and
the 60’s vision of peace
alive today.
Available on Amazon.
By Joan Rivard

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”

George Washington