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    Commune backs peace with E. Bay billboards

    Oakland Tribune
    By Josh Richman

    Wednesday, December 04, 2002 - Eight new Bay Area "Peace is Patriotic" billboards are part of a national campaign staged by one of the country's famed communes, itself born in the Bay Area.

    Red, white and blue signs depicting a dove in front of an American flag are going up in cities from coast to coast organized by The Farm, in Summertown, Tenn., and funded by private donations

    Here, the signs are at Ashby and Sacramento in Berkeley, at Telegraph and Claremont in Oakland and at six San Francisco sites.

    Richard and Linda Speel of Petaluma are the Bay Area coordinators, they lived at The Farm from its start in 1971 until 1982. The self-sufficient cooperative community -- still active with about 200 members - has alumni all over the country.

    "Among us all, we decided after 9/11 that we wanted to make a statement about peace, that we should use diplomacy rather than going to war -this is just one of the projects that has arisen from that," Richard Speel said.

    Another project has seen schoolchildren make quilt squares depicting peace. Assembled quilts are sent to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories "just to show there's some peaceful feeling from people on this side of the world," he said.

    The Farm's roots are in the Bay Area. Inspired and led by former San Francisco State University Professor Stephen Gaskin, about 300 hippies boarded dozens of buses in 1970 for a coast-to-coast caravan spreading messages of nonviolence and spiritual growth. They later settled in Tennessee, creating The Farm.

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