How I came to the Land
Fran Ryan

In the summer of 1971 I was wandering around California and Oregon checking out possible places to move to the country. I was physically and emotionally exhausted from work in the anti-war and labor union movements.
I had been privileged to share many deep moments: the United Farm Workers grape boycott, the Memphis garbage workers march right after Martin Luther King was killed, the 1968 Chicago Convention, 6 weeks in Cuba.
It was time to recharge the batteries. I was a city girl who was inspired by Jeanne Rose's "The Herbal Book" and headed outside my urban life even though my friends were not ready to go with me. I could hardly have
been more naive - I had rarely ever slept outside a house. Even my two years in the Peace Corps had been in the capital city of Honduras.
Someone at a roadside yard sale on Highway 9 steered me to Earth Ranch on La Honda Rd. They were closing down, so Fluellen drove with me to the "White House next to the barn" to see about the rumors that people
could move onto the land behind them. Nobody was home so we went down to Struggle and opened the door to Winter, Iris and Kathleen mending clothes in the sewing room. They were so relaxed and friendly with some
hints about how to just go ahead and do it. We had heard that some in the "White House" were opposed to settlers so their calmness was empowering.
I grabbed some stuff stored with friends in my former home base Berkeley, bought some great boots and headed back to the Land. There were a few people around when I got there and maybe they stayed overnight, too,
but I only remember Kim (then Daryl) and I putting our sleeping bags out near the future cook shack site. That night a pack of coyotes howled their way down the fault ravine next to us and it was really scary; they were
close. It was early Fall, 1971.
I bought a small tipi and put it up around the bend from the future cook shack. It was too much out in the open so while I was away for a couple weeks to Mexico, some folks relocated my tipi under trees near the creek.
I brought it back up the hill and found a better hidden spot right above the fault ravine that had some deep gray clay soil we later used for pottery. I loved the Bay Laurels I lived under and the ancient oak tree out on my
neighbor meadow.
Other early settlers I remember are Juanita, Steve from Lone Pine who did much of the building of the cook shack, Philip, Jim, Purusha, Mary Jo. Once we had the cook shack and a picnic table, Jody and Billy Spire came to
play music. We chased away a lot of cold evenings clapping and singing at the top of our lungs. And then things exploded with more people running around putting together every type of homesite possible to live through
the winter. Lucky for us, it was one of the mildest winters for a while.


Ohh, this is fun! Memories of building sweat lodges and jumping in the spring box afterward. The Backlands and all the tribe were my teachers in learning to honor and love the earth. Being, not so much doing. I arrived there coming down from my city life with not-very-kind, intense anti-war movement stuff. I remember Philip Ross and I being yelled at by Purusha when we wanted to cook up chicken in the Cook House. As I looked at him yelling, I thought, "Omigod, that's what I looked like when yelling about my anti-war "message".
Oh the wondrous mostly friendly chaos of it all.

CINEMATOGRAPHER FRAN, NOV '73
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Fran, nice tucked elbows, where's this film I wonder? Neil

FRAN AND JODY, JULY '74
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photos by Neil




The following photographs are by Fran:

FRAN'S FRONT PORCH (AFTER KATHY) IN FEBRUARY OF 1974
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Photo by Fran


THE SNOW OF JAN 74
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TWO VIEWS OF THE PATH A MONTH APART
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FRAN IN THE SUNNY MEADOW WITH A FRIEND
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