It’s a place that’s been written about, put in history books. Beautiful Golden Gate Park in San Francisco was an epicenter for what has been called “the Love Generation.” In the late Sixties and early Seventies, young people assembled there in the tens of thousands. They wore bright colors with feathers and beads, and long hair. They called everyone “brother” and “sister.” They gave things away, helped strangers.
That vision of brotherly love is still something that populates people’s dreams. Its special energy is still strong. There’s something deathless about it. It doesn’t go out of style, doesn’t fade like the rainbow tie-dyed T-shirts of museum quality that some old hippies carefully preserve, which they wore in those days. Sometimes they take them out and wear them on special occasions or to go to places with spiritual meaning. Golden Gate Park is one of those places, especially Sharon Meadow, where historic events took place during the Summer of Love in 1967, and young and old still gather.
This is one of the most amazing parks in the world. Created at the turn of the century as a place where urban people could re-connect with nature, it’s not surprising that it ended up being a central vortex of a mass environmental movement. Very tall trees, taller than many city dwellers have ever seen, wave in clean breezes from the ocean not far away. Bare dirt paths and roads weave through hills and glades covered with natural growth and wildflowers, not mowed. This towering forest stands all the way across half of the northern end of San Francisco. The greenery is so thick that once within the park you can’t see the rows of houses and buildings just a few yards away.
Drums can be heard from outside the park, maybe even as far as the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury. They echo through the tall trees and against the buildings. They reverberate through people’s minds as fresh and new as they were almost half a century ago. Many come here as a kind of pilgrimage. It represents for them something deep and meaningful.
What is the force that’s in this place and in this movement that has no name? What is it about “the Sixties,” as it’s often called, that still fires up people’s imaginations and makes them think they can save the world? What is it about those drums that sets their hearts pounding, their minds dreaming? Hippie Hill, where the drummers meet in Sharon Meadow, might be a good place to try to find out.