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Faerie Realm: An Intentional Community in Mendocino 

Wednesday, Dec 9 2015
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Halloween fell on a Saturday, and it was also the night the clocks changed. Trite though it sounds, time seemed to lose all meaning.

As it happened, the morning of Sunday, Nov. 1 was drizzly in Mendocino. After the bacchanalia of the night before, the change was startling: We seemed to gain an hour and lose a season. But a drippy, fresh-smelling redwood forest is a lovely environment to wake up in.

It's arguably surprising that LGBT people haven't created more visible, viable institutions wholly unlike the nuclear family. In particular, the end of life is a lonely time for all kinds of people, and for individuals with no children, many of whom have been cut off from their biological families, it seems logical that they would have created alternative structures for growing old together. By gutting a generation in its prime, the AIDS crisis robbed queer communities of their vitality, but communities such as Groundswell often imploded on their own.

"There have been things like this for decades," Drew Bourn says. "There have been many intentional communities in Mendocino County and Sonoma County. Some were queer, some were lesbian, and not a lot of them are around anymore. There are challenges around being able to work together."

A hunger for an alternative — something not unlike The Golden Girls, only bigger, with more goat-milking, and sarongs instead of shoulder pads — may resonate with only a small segment of the LGBT community, but it is real. Life on a farm will never be easy or monetarily enriching, but life in San Francisco is becoming financially impossible, and if Groundswell is indeed better suited to California's new climate, the alternative may be the inevitable. As Jason Patten puts it, "Never being able to blend in meant I didn't subscribe to the mainstream, anyway."


About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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