Sunday, December 28, 2008

"To The Bank!"

Every once in a while, former Isla Vistans reconnect here, many with stories of their times during the campus demonstration, Isla Vista riots, and the community building years. Here's one recently come in from Davo:

"My friend Steve and I lived in IV during the time of the riots. Steve was on the 'front lines' the night the bank burnedin IV I. He remember the burning dumptsters being rammed through the doors of the bank, and the subsequent fire lighting up the night sky. It was a thing of beauty. Later on,he was one of those who strolled through it. He couldn't find anything more interesting than coffee creamer at this point, so he didn't take anything. Nothing ever came of it, so apparently he wasn't caught on film.

"Once the bank caught fire, and the police cars were pelted with rocks and left, then came the Greyhound busses full of police. There was a very large line of police in full riot gear with shields. It reminded Steve of that movie, '300 Spartans.' (the original). They began to advance, and everyone panicked and ran. Some people were falling and in danger of being trampled. But then they regrouped, and started 'firing' rocks and some bottles at the blue line. The police had advanced so powerfully, seemingly arrogant and ruthless, certainly overpowering and seeming invincible. But as the 'missiles' found their mark, one cop after another would fall. Soon the line broke, and they ran for cover and left. For that one night, of course, there was no 'law and order' in Isla Vista. No civil authorities, police or fire, could enter, and of course they gave up. It could be said, for one night Isla Vista was not a part of the U.S. It seceded from the Union.

"One night in particular, Steve was with a group of about a dozen guys, roaming the streets looking for police cars to pelt with rocks. They wore kerchiefs over their faces, soaked with vinegar, supposedly this helped with the tear gas. Anyway, Steve made a tactical mistake and got separated from the group, and suddenly found himself isolated on the outskirts of town. A couple cop cars spotted him. He turned and ran across a large field for dear life. He could see his shadow stretched out far in front of him a long ways from the search lights shining on him. Shots were being fired at him. Of what he didn't know, and didn't stop to ask! All he could do was keep running. Finally he came to a fence and hopped it. He came to the back door of a house and knocked on it, and told the people there he was running from the cops so they let him in. What a time it was, what a culture, that this was considered appropriate behavior. After a few minutes, he left and crawled to the next house, and then to the next house, house by house, heading towards the beach.

"Then he worked his way down the beach heading towards the dorms, as he was a freshman. A helicopter was searching the beach and shining its spotlight. When the light came near him, he crouched down in the crevice between the cliff and the sand. Somehow, someway, he made it safe back to the dorm.

"On another occasion, he was staying with a friend in IV, in an apartment which formed an 'L', with the front door opening to the inside, not to the street. A fellow protester, as was called a 'brother' back then, not connoting race, asked if he could hide in Steve's pad, which he agreed to. Then the protester had a Molotov cocktail with a half gallon wine bottle. The police would drive through the streets in dump trucks, firing tear gas and perhaps rubber bullets or... The protester lit his Molotov and heaved it at a dump truck going by, and he and Steve quickly ran into the apartment amid shots being fired. Steve hid under a bed. He could see the police walking through the bushes, shining their flashlights into the apartment. He knew if they saw him the police would break down the door and get him. But he hid successfully.

"In the mornings, the air was filled with remnants of smoke and tear gas, and dumpsters were smoldering. Groups dared not gather, and some people went to class. But in the evenings, the battle was on...

"I believe it was in mid-April 1970, there was a concert in the large park on the East outskirts of town (not the park by the bank)(or was it an athletic field, I don't remember). There were 5,000 people there; everybody had a great time. But all good things must end, as did the concert. 5,000 people were just mulling around quietly, not really knowing what to do, not really wanting to leave. Overhead, Sheriff Joel Honey in his helicopter was threatening the people to disperse. This infuriated Steve. He did not want to see this go down as a victory for Joel Honey. So at the top of his(very, very loud) lungs, he yelled, 'TO THE BANK!' Silence. Then, somewhere in the crowd, someone repeated, 'TO THE BANK!' Then another. And another. Pretty soon the whole crowd was chanting, 'TO THE BANK!' and off they went! A surge of 5,000 people off to the bank! Thus began what came to be known as 'IV II' and ultimately the tragic fatality."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mexico City Massacre 1968

In the summer of 1968, Mexico was experiencing the birth of a new student movement.

( Photo courtesy of NPR )

But that movement was short-lived. On Oct. 2, 1968, 10 days before the opening of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, police officers and military troops shot into a crowd of unarmed students. Thousands of demonstrators fled in panic as tanks bulldozed over Tlatelolco Plaza.

Government sources originally reported that four people had been killed and 20 wounded, while eyewitnesses described the bodies of hundreds of young people being trucked away. Thousands of students were beaten and jailed, and many disappeared. Forty years later, the final death toll remains a mystery, but documents recently released by the U.S. and Mexican governments give a better picture of what may have triggered the massacre. Those documents suggest that snipers posted by the military fired on fellow troops, provoking them to open fire on the students...

National Public Radio has a very good audio retrospective, along with images, which also sheds new light on the massacre in Tlatelolco Plaza. Go to:
NPR: Mexico Massacre 1968

Thursday, November 20, 2008

North Hall Takeover, 1968

A great resource on the Black Students Union (BSU) Fall 1968 takeover of UCSB's North Hall (renamed "Malcolm X Hall") can be found at:

1968: A Global Year of Student Driven Change

Saturday, November 15, 2008


[ From it's press release of 11/13/2008 ]

Today a coalition of Santa Barbara County organizations is announcing the formation of Sustainable University Now (SUN). SUN is the product of a series of meetings convened by the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN) to discuss community challenges raised by UCSB’s Draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). SUN members are committed to encouraging wide community participation in reviewing and responding to the LRDP draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is expected to be re-circulated soon.

SUN members emphasize that they do not seek to oppose the University’s future development, but rather to improve it. Olivia Uribe, Associate Director of SB CAN, sums it up this way: “As a recent UCSB grad, I know firsthand what a great asset UCSB is to Santa Barbara County. Our coalition has been clear that we want to have a collaborative, positive relationship with UCSB.” SUN’s statement of principles echoes this approach, stressing the importance of careful planning: “Decisions made by and about the University will have far reaching and long lasting consequences for residents of the campus, Isla Vista, the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta and throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Richard Flacks, UCSB Research Professor of Sociology, is serving as interim chair of the SUN Coalition. In announcing the formation of the group he summarized the objectives of the organization as follows: “We want to make sure that this project is based on principles of sustainability, provides broad social benefits and that the project’s impacts on the area’s housing supply, water resources, traffic and commuting help improve rather than threaten our quality of life.”

SUN is requesting that local governmental bodies review and comment on the recirculated draft EIR.

The current list of Coalition members includes these organizations:

Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST)
Community Environmental Council
League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Audubon Society
Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN)
Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter - Santa Barbara Group
Pueblo Education Fund
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper

The Coalition’s Statement of Principles follows:


UCSB is an integral part of the greater Santa Barbara County community.

The University’s current Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) efforts will set the stage for its expansion over the next twenty years. Decisions made by and about the University will have far reaching and long lasting consequences for residents of the campus, Isla Vista, the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta and throughout Santa Barbara County.

The LRDP should fully acknowledge the relationship and impact of the University’s development plans on other constituencies and jurisdictions. UCSB must ensure that the cumulative impacts on the resources it shares with its neighbors – roads and intersections, water supply, watersheds and sensitive habitats, etc. – are understood and specifically addressed.

We believe that the following principles should guide this process:

* The LRDP must be based on principles of sustainability and UCSB should demonstrate leadership in such areas as transportation, protection of natural resources, water, affordable housing, traffic, parking, energy conservation, climate change concerns, recycling, etc. UCSB development should seek to promote and include modern sustainability planning principles.

* Any UCSB growth plans should be warranted by broad social benefits as well as institutional needs. UCSB’s development must be at a level that maintains and enhances the quality of life of its surrounding communities.

* Concerns and impacts raised in the draft Environmental Impact Report should be addressed fully, openly, and inclusively, providing specific mitigations, timetables and detailed planning as part of the final plan.

* The final LRDP will benefit from and should be the result of substantial community involvement and local public hearings and meetings on the proposed EIR. UCSB should seek participation from all South Coast jurisdictions and constituencies, including, but not limited to, the City of Goleta, the City and County of Santa Barbara, agencies such as the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, the Goleta Water District, the Goleta West Sanitary District, the Goleta Sanitary District, neighborhood associations and individuals.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ocean Road

How can building on Ocean Road NOT be considered as part of UCSB's Long Range Developement Plan?

[ From: "UCSB’s Ocean Road Project Raises Concerns - University Administration Facing Possible Housing Pressure," By Ben Preston, SB INDEPENDENT, November 13, 2008 ]

In an attempt to get going on a portion of its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for 2025, UCSB has been pushing to get a campus housing project proposed for Ocean Road considered separately from the rest of the plan. The university’s argument that this part of the already controversial plan could be initiated as an amendment to the university’s 1990 LRDP was met with skepticism from members of the public at a November 6 hearing.

Objections to what some are calling a piecemeal approach were met by comments from Tye Simpson, UCSB’s director of campus planning and design, [who] claimed at the meeting that the university is doing what any community would do when making an amendment to its General Plan. The project’s detractors argue that since the LRDP for 2025 is currently under review — of which the Ocean Road development is part — has not been passed, dealing with it separately goes against the existing LRDP and the California Environmental Quality Act process.

Adjacent to Isla Vista along the western boundary of UCSB’s main campus, the Ocean Road project would include 532 units containing faculty, staff, and graduate student housing, commercial space, and more than 1,000 parking spaces. The row of eucalyptus trees that now stands along Ocean Road next to Isla Vista’s easternmost houses would be removed, and UCSB’s student health center would be relocated. UCSB’s position has been that the housing and parking are much needed, but community activists say that it is over and above what that area can accommodate. “The project includes so much more parking than is required by the housing they’re building,” said Olivia Uribe, the associate director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN).

“Even though the Ocean Road project is an integral part of the 2008 LRDP for 2025, [UCSB] is representing it as an amendment to the 1990 LRDP,” said Dick Flacks, a professor emeritus of sociology at UCSB and a member of SBCAN’s Board of Directors. Along with individuals and groups he said are “concerned with the future of UCSB as a part of the community,” Flacks recently formed the Sustainable University Now (SUN) Coalition to address the many problems they’ve perceived in the LRDP for 2025. “[The Ocean Road project] changes a lot of things. Height limits, for instance — there are buildings that will be taller than anything allowed in the 1990 LRPD,” he said. The apartments and town homes in the development would be anywhere from two to six stories tall.

Flacks... also said that extracting elements of the plan would go against the very nature of long-range planning...

Linda Krop, the Environmental Defense Center’s chief counsel, said that although the LRDP amendment process has been going on for nearly two years, the Ocean Road project is only a part of it, and is still subject to its own environmental review and scrutiny by the California Coastal Commission before anything can be done...

The next hearing for the Ocean Road project will be December 20, when many students will be gone for the winter holiday...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"A Citizen's History"

[ From: "Local Activist Writes I.V. History Book," By Angel Rodriguez, Daily Nexus, October 30, 2008 ]

... “Isla Vista: A Citizen’s History,” is the updated and expanded version of the author’s [Carmen Lodise] original work, which is available online. The 200-page book includes over 150 pictures and first hand accounts of significant occurrences in the vibrant half-square mile college town that is Isla Vista...

“No one had written the history of Isla Vista,” Lodise said. “The vision of Isla Vista, what it could be … has dimmed, and I am trying to reignite it.”

According to the author, the book has been in the making for over 30 years and reveals how local politicians, greedy developers and university officials conspired to build a company town that 40 years later remains a community composed of 96 percent renters. Lodise gives accounts of key events in Isla Vista’s history, such as the burning of the Bank of America building during a riot in 1970.

Lodise first moved to Isla Vista from Michigan to work as a research assistant. Lodise said he fell in love with the college town, and soon became involved in campaigns to improve I.V.

He was involved in the community as an activist for 30 years and was the Editor in Chief of Isla Vista’s longest running community newspaper, the Isla Vista Free Press. In the 1970’s Lodise was elected to the Isla Vista Community Council and Park Board and participated in three attempts to incorporate Isla Vista. He also served on the steering committee for the construction of the monument that stands in Isla Vista Perfect Park.

In a statement, UCSB alumnus and former member of the Isla Vista Park Board David Fortson said Lodise was an influential member of the community.

“For a town with so many people simply passing through, Carmen has inspired me and many other activists with care and love for our community,” Fortson said...

The original form of the book is available online at, which has received over 1.6 million hits without any advertisement since it was established in 2002. The print edition of the book costs $17.50.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bill Allen Demonstrations

The Bill Allen demonstrations, on the UCSB campus, were the biggest demonstrations to ever take place at UC Santa Barbara.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Isla Vista: A Citizen's History"

Carmen Lodise's history of Isla Vista is now available in print. I recommend it highly to anyone who, at one time or another, considered themselves an Isla Vistan.

For the thousands of students and non-students that have called Isla Vista home at some point since the 1970s, this book is for us. Carmen fills in the political and cultural history many of us have known on some level, but never fully understood. His clarity of vision of what he fondly refers to as "The Isla Vista Adventure" reveals clearly the heroes and villains behind Isla Vista's successes and defeats and helps point us to what I.V. could be if more self-government were made possible for its residents.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Year of Rebellion Forum promo

The forum that took place around Joe Melchione's "Year of Rebellion" photography exhibit will be broadcast on Santa Barbara Channels:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fight the IVMP

There's a FaceBook group, organized through the Biko House, that's nearly 1500 strong.

The FaceBook Group is in opposition to much of Isla Vista Master Plan. Check them out and be sure to scroll down to the bottom for discussions and postings. If you are of like mind, please join:

FB: Fight The IV Master Plan

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Joe Melchione Tour

Joe Melchione's personal tour of "Year of Rebellion" ...

Thanks to Josh Figatner, Production Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Channels, SB's own local and educational access TV network, for the heads-up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Joe Melchione's exhibition of photographs from the Isla Vista Riots period has garnered a lot of local attention. In his on-line photo gallery of YEAR OF REBELLION, Joe's got the best photographs of the era, along with text covering a concise history of the time. Highly recommended. Advance each photo by clicking "Next" to get another image and more text.

Joe Melchione self portrait coutesy of Joe Melchione Photography

In conjunction with the opening, there was a forum held where many recollections were shared...

[ Excerpt from: "Rebellious Isla Vista," BY ERIC LINDBERG, DAILY SOUND, August 19, 2008 - full text at: DS: Rebellious Isla Vista ]

... in 1970, a series of intensifying events triggered violent exchanges between students, activists and police that quickly turned Isla Vista into a battleground.
Perhaps the most recognizable incident from those fateful six months is the burning of the Bank of America building in February 1970, torched by protestors upset over police brutality.

But Joe Melchione, then the newly appointed photo editor for UCSB’s El Gaucho newspaper, sees it differently.

“My sense is that what happened in 1970 has kind of devolved into the bank burning,” he said. “…But it wasn’t something that just happened one night when the bank building burned down. It was a repeated message and I think the community finally got together.”

And while the impetus for social unrest can be traced back to several specific incidents, such as the firing of leftist anthropology professor Bill Allen or the beating of student Rich Underwood, the larger context reveals a society already on edge.

Mick Kronman — now Santa Barbara’s harbor operations manager, then a rebellious Gaucho — looked back on the events of 1970 during a panel discussion Sunday evening with an attempt to root out what he described as “hindsight bias” and to understand the entire dialectic.

It had to do with the civil rights battle and the Vietnam War, he said. Radical black students on campus were enlightening others to their struggle. Fear of being drafted hung thick in the air.

Police, ill-equipped or untrained completely in personal interaction skill sets, faced increasingly irate students upset over Allen’s firing, the war and a lack of empowerment. Many officers were veterans with a strong distaste for draft-dodgers and war protestors who called them names and spit on them, said Robert Potter, professor emeritus of literature and theater.

“If you call someone a pig, they may begin to act like one,” Potter said.

Protestors and petition signers on campus demanding a fair hearing for Allen in January began to receive visits from sheriff’s deputies for the first time ever, said Becca Wilson, then the editor-in-chief for El Gaucho. Attacks by police and provocation by activists during those protests further polarized the two sides.

By February, the conflict escalated dramatically. Activist attorney William Kunstler, fresh off his defense of the “Chicago Seven” against charges of conspiring to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic convention, came to speak on campus.

But rather than Kunstler’s fiery speech, UCSB professor emeritus of sociology Dick Flacks described how [Rich] Underwood, who came to the speech toting a bottle of wine, sparked the infamous riot.

Police monitoring the speech spotted Underwood’s wine bottle and mistook it for a Molotov cocktail, subsequently beating the young student into submission in front of thousands.

The resulting protest grew into torching of police cars, dumpsters, and finally the bank.

“It was a baptism of fire,” said Melchione, who had just picked up a camera a few months prior.

Many of his images, currently on display at the Brooks Institute’s Cota Street Gallery through Sept. 12, had to be shot on the fly — the longhaired photographer using single streetlights as sources of light as he fought through nightstick-wielding police officers.

“I got threatened lots of times,” Melchione said. “I had a press pass. It didn’t help much for flying tear gas.”

In the weeks that followed the torching of the bank building, panelists said police broke into apartments, beat people indiscriminately and enforced a strict evening curfew.

“What shocked me the most is that police were willing to brutalize people to protect property,” Wilson said. “That property was more important than life.”

In an attempt to evenly portray both sides of the equation — and not an attempt to offer any excuse for their actions — Kronman noted that authorities faced militant students and outside agitators bent on driving them from Isla Vista.

“These people were scared,” he said. “They’d never seen anything like this before. They felt like they were under siege and, frankly, they were under siege.”

Jean Voss, a former sheriff’s dispatcher, confirmed the fear she heard in the voices of deputies as they patrolled the streets of the small community.

“It was a situation so intense, you couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Fear. Fear of drug addicts, the out-of-control students, the atmosphere.”

Kronman later agreed that police engaged in widespread injustices during what he deemed an all-out street fight.

“It wasn’t pretty,” he said. “It was indiscriminate. … The closest cousin to fear is anger.”

Several panelists speaking at the Cota Street Gallery described the feeling in the months following the burning of the bank building as a sense of being occupied by an out-of-control police force.

One audience member, 11 years old at the time of the riots, recalled running home with food from a burger joint in an attempt to make the curfew. While other kids around the country might have been out collecting butterflies, he said his friends would go out to see how many empty tear gas containers they could find.

During that time, Potter pulled together a posse of colleagues and friends to form a system of cataloging complaints about police brutality, using his own background in intelligence gathering as a soldier in Vietnam.

“I saw some of my old fogey colleagues were taking no notice of a world that was changing,” he said. “…We were able to get the information while it was still hot.”

Altogether, he catalogued 1,000 reports of police misconduct, eventually publishing them in a book titled “The Campus by the Sea where the Bank Burned Down.”

In June, the conflict came to a head again, when protestors learned that authorities planned to indict 17 people for torching the bank.

Wilson described how those arrested for the arson just happened to be the leading activists and organizers on campus.

“Somehow, all the leaders of these radical movements on campus, according to these indictments, banded together to burn the bank building,” she said.

On June 11, a group of approximately 1,500 students and activists gathered at Perfect Park to peacefully protest police brutality. As the 7:30 p.m. curfew approached, officers told the crowd they must disperse or face arrest.

After peacefully arresting more than 300 people, and as night began to fall, police announced they would begin making arrests by force if the crowd didn’t disperse.
Authorities sent tear gas streaming into the park and officers began swinging nightsticks indiscriminately, ultimately taking 667 protestors into custody.

“It was entirely peaceful and the police went completely out of control,” Melchione said.

All charges against those arrested were dismissed — and the indictments for the bank burning ultimately ended in a hung jury — but the impact of the Isla Vista riots left an indelible mark.

The unrest led to the formation of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, Potter said, bringing officers out of their squad cars and lessening the gap between students and law enforcement.

A year later, the Isla Vista Youth Projects came into existence, offering a series of diverse educational, recreational and social programs for children and families in the community. Food co-ops and credit unions popped up.

“I believe very strongly that a group of people who are committed to a cause can bring about change,” Melchione said. “Those events that spiraled out of control in 1970 brought about great changes in Santa Barbara.”


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Year of Rebellion"

Joe Melchione's "Year of Rebellion" photography exhibit, now to September 12th (reception on August 7th, 5-8pm):

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Santa Barbara 19

Appreciations to Jeff Probst, who supplied this classic photo of The Santa Barbara 19 (minus a few), of which he was one. Jeff clarified: "The 19 were arrested after the first large demonstration at UCSB, in January 1970, calling for an open hearing for Bill Allen."

Top row, left to right:
Greg Knell, Mick Kronman, Kim Christiansen, Richard Trussell, Ricky Fisk, Michel Barton, Walt Chesnavich, Patrice Drolet, Bruce Cook, Jim Gregory

Bottom row, left to right:
Jeff Probst, Linda Rudolph, Emily deFalla, Mary Poulsen, Sandy Wardwell

Jeff Probst's "Isla Vista Bank Burning Story"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tom Hayden via Dick Flacks

Tom Hayden has just written "Writings for a Democratic Society," published by City Lights.

Dick Flacks reviewed the book and it is posted at TruthDig, with hyperlinks, at:

Richard Flacks on Tom Hayden

Dick's review is posted below, minus the hyperlinks:

If you were on the campus at Ann Arbor at the dawn of the 1960s, you’d have been aware of Tom Hayden’s writings in The Michigan Daily (the substantial and influential University of Michigan student newspaper). He first came to notice for his travels to the South to cover scenes of civil rights struggle and the movement then bursting into history. Then during the summer of 1960, Hayden was reporting from California, on the new breed of student rebel at Berkeley, on farmworker conditions in Delano, and a conversation with Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb, at the Livermore Nuclear Lab. And then there was Hayden at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, watching JFK’s nomination and interviewing Martin Luther King Jr. as he led pickets in the streets outside the convention arena. In the fall of 1960, Hayden became editor in chief of the Daily, writing full-page articles declaring the birth of an American student movement. He was 20 that year.

Mickey and I, just married, were in Ann Arbor, where I was working toward a Ph.D. in social psychology. We’d gone there from New York City, both of us red diaper babies, disillusioned with communism’s betrayals, harboring no expectations that we’d ever find a way to restore political hope, enjoying instead our breakaway from the provincialism of the City, and discovering at that moment cultural possibilities unknown to New Yorkers. Ann Arbor was humming with film and electronic music festivals, “happenings,” coffeehouses and bookstores where young writers and artists could find voice and space that would not have been possible in the big city. Tom Hayden’s articles in the Daily became part of that ferment. We read them avidly, seeing them not as mere reportage, but as an effort to construct an exciting political myth—that Cold War apathy and conformism might be replaced by a new, youthful protest and dissent, spawned by the civil-rights movement, seeking possibilities for personal commitment and social renewal. We weren’t yet ready to believe his story line, but we certainly wanted to hear it.

In March 1962, Hayden delivered a well-advertised speech at the university on “student social action.” That speech changed my life: Here was a 21-year-old kid from America’s heartland, putting into words what Mickey and I had been groping and hoping for—that in the United States a new left was needed and possible, that it had to break with many of the fundamental suppositions of all the factions of the traditional left and with Cold War America, that it could come in part from students. He quite insightfully saw how personal struggles for individual self-determination and moral coherence could fuel a collective commitment of youth to social change. I remember coming home right after the speech and telling Mickey: “I think I’ve just seen the American Lenin!” This wasn’t a reference to the substance of Hayden’s talk, which was quite self-consciously antithetical to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, but to his evident gift for making the hope for a movement seem a practical possibility.

Hayden’s speech that day was a trial run for what became, by the summer of 1962, a fuller draft of a manifesto for the emerging Students for a Democratic Society. Sixty folks, including Mickey and me, gathered in Port Huron, Mich., in June to debate and rework the draft and lay the groundwork for what was meant to be, and eventually became, the organizational expression of the 1960s’ new left, and the spearhead of a multi-issue student movement. Tom Hayden wasn’t the originator of this breakthrough (if any single person deserves credit, it’s Al Haber—a fellow Ann Arborite, who actually created SDS out of the remnants of the old Student League for Industrial Democracy and recruited Tom and other student leaders to the project). But Tom’s writing and speaking enabled a genuinely new political voice and outlook to come into being. He was, appropriately enough, elected first president of the new formation at that meeting.

Forty-five years later, City Lights, the independent press founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, has published a collection of Hayden’s writings over the last nearly five decades, called “Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader.” Its 600 pages [in some editions] make it a monumental book in more ways than one. It’s fat and densely packed, with some 60 pieces of reportage, advocacy, reminiscence and reflection drawn from some of the more than 15 books Hayden has written or edited, and the hundreds of articles and speeches he’s produced over these years. (Full disclosure: Not only have I been a friend of his for the last 47 years, but I discovered, after getting the galleys, that one of the chapters is a speech Tom gave in my honor two years ago. But what I write here is not a “review”; rather, it uses the occasion of this book to reflect a bit about Tom’s work in helping advance radical democracy in our time.)

It isn’t the size of the book that makes it monumental; it’s the life that has gone into the writing and that is reflected by it. The book’s chapters trace that life: from student journalist to SDS leader to community organizer in the Newark ghetto; then on to North Vietnam in the midst of war, to Chicago streets leading anti-war protest, to Chicago courtroom as a defendant in the conspiracy trial. Then his partnering with Jane Fonda in working to end the war and in life. In the mid-1970s, seizing new mainstream political openings, running for the U.S. Senate in California, building a statewide electoral organization, winning a seat in the California Legislature. In the state Legislature, where he serves for 20 years, he pioneers alternative energy development and, along the way, crafts a spiritual perspective on environmentalism, discovers his Irish heart, and tries to rouse the University of California to serve egalitarian purposes. And, after he ends his adventures as politician, we find him in the streets of Seattle and Miami, in Mumbai and Chiapas, in Bolivia and Cuba exploring and reporting newly emerging movements for global justice. Not many Americans have done so much making of history while, at every juncture, taking the time to be a “participant observer” of the scenes and events one is helping to shape. The writings so produced are of course uneven in style and perspicacity. Some are remarkably moving and insightful: a heartfelt reflection on the meanings of the Irish famine for the American Irish soul; some brilliant appreciations of the meaning of the World Social Forum and other grass-roots resistances to corporate globalization; a weird “journal” of epiphany in the Amazon, and a number of valuable documents and reflections on the meanings of the 1960s, both personal and political. These suggest that Tom Hayden could have been one of the great journalists of our time, given his ability to combine a penetrating style, keen eye and an unusually sharp theoretically informed mind.

Tom, however, chose a different path—to change the world rather than merely interpret it. From those early Ann Arbor days, he insisted on living inside the fierce contradictions and dilemmas inherent in political engagement. Engagement demands advocacy, and therefore at least some sacrifice of the intellectual’s claim to being a disinterested truth-seeker. Accordingly, these “Writings” don’t tell stories or express ideas for their own sake; each of them is making a point in an ongoing debate with the powers that be and reflects a persistent effort to challenge the complacent and the passive.

But some of these pieces are deeper and more durable than topical advocacy. Tom has had, from his earliest work, something to teach both activists and intellectuals about the tensions and connections between them. He’s been guided by a fairly coherent philosophical pragmatism, learned from his Michigan professors like Arnold Kaufman and Kenneth Boulding, from immersion in the writings of C. Wright Mills, as well as now neglected heroes of the late ’50s and early ’60s Albert Camus and Paul Goodman. Our passion and our action, this pragmatism says, should be guided by our experience, rather than ideological doctrine, theory or concealed thirst for power. Here, Tom suggests, are some ways to make our experience useful for making change:

* Take institutional claims seriously and see if they are practiced by those in power.
* Challenge elites to live up to their claims, to justify their actions.
* Oppose structures of authority that block ordinary people from, in the language of Port Huron, “participating in the decisions that affect their lives.”
* Try to figure out, by observation of relevant cases, by experimentation, by dialogue, how social empowerment and participatory democracy can be made real.

It is through such ongoing efforts to organize from below, to win voice for the voiceless, to de-legitimize elites, that fundamental change happens. And, he teaches, whether or not transformation is possible, that struggling for democratic voice and empowerment is the essence of practical strategies by which ordinary people can advance their interests.

In 1976, at age 36, Tom made a turn to electoral politics after 15 years as a movement leader. He decided to run in the California Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate, opposing the incumbent John Tunney. Not only was this a break with his longstanding political identity, but it was an affront to the interests and sensibilities of party professionals. Running for the Senate was presumptuous for a political upstart, it threatened a perfectly respectable liberal incumbent, and it was bizarre to imagine that a former revolutionary ex-Chicago conspiracy defendant, spouse of Jane Fonda, might have a chance in the political mainstream. The move was also questioned by many on the left—as an opportunistic betrayal of principle which would legitimize one of the two corporate-dominated political parties and undermine the effort to build a mass movement.

Tom’s pragmatism, however, allowed him to see that the mid-1970s might be a moment when the electoral process could be open for a genuinely democratic possibility. The generation of the 1960s was now grown up and ready to be an electoral force ("The radicalism of the sixties is the common sense of the seventies,” he declared). The economy was in stagflation (and the Keynesian strategies to revive it seemed no longer viable). Rising global competition in manufacturing was leading to declining real wages for American workers for the first time since World War II. A new awareness of environmental peril was rising; newly asserted demands for economic justice were being expressed by women and minorities. In Europe and the United States speculation was growing that corporate capitalism was in crisis, no longer able to manage its manifold contradictions. New paradigms were in the air: “Eurosocialism” and “Eurocommunism,” Ralph Nader’s crusade against corporate domination, and a variety of ideas about how to empower communities, workers and consumers. Tom’s campaign decided to issue a new Port Huron Statement-style manifesto, and gathered a number of academics and activists, myself among them, to write a campaign platform which we called “Make the Future Ours.” Some passages from this lengthy effort are reprinted in the “Writings.” The key idea was captured by the phrase “economic democracy,” coined by Derek Shearer, a term that paralleled and focused the “participatory democracy” of SDS at Port Huron.

In reality, however, the Hayden for Senate campaign did not operate as a vehicle for new vision. Instead the logic of big-time campaigning—and the availability of Jane Fonda as effective fundraiser—led to a series of negative TV ads aimed at Tunney’s vulnerabilities, featuring Henry Fonda and other Hollywood figures. These ads boosted Hayden’s poll numbers into the 40 percent approval range. In addition, there was a sizable grass-roots organization, and Tom undertook a 1,000-mile walk down the California coast. To win the race was always a long shot, but garnering 1.3 million votes led the media to take Hayden seriously as leader of something new on the political scene.

An internal premise of key organizers was that the campaign, when it was over, would be the foundation for a permanent progressive electoral organization in California, and within a few weeks after the June primary race, the “Campaign for Economic Democracy” came into being. The CED became a significant electoral force in several cities and counties over about five years. It came to an end as Tom focused on his own political career, getting elected from Santa Monica to the California state Assembly, while many other CED activists found niches in government, party politics and mass media.

This chapter in Tom’s life story is not well represented in the book, nor does he devote much space to the 20 years he spent in the California Legislature. This absence reflects the fact that he hasn’t written much about these matters. The CED’s work and his efforts in the Legislature certainly bore fruit of which he’s proud (and these are mentioned in the text of the book). But to write in detail about these efforts, and the times themselves, might also be painful. The hope that many new leftists had, in the 1970s, of creating a new movement for economic democracy was considerably dashed by the rise of Reagan and the triumph of conservatism on the national stage. The fact that such a hope existed has been largely obliterated in prevailing memory, and there has not been much documentation of the fact that as national politics moved right in the last 30 years, many localities across the country were moving left. Politics rooted in environmentalism, feminism and the growing numbers of Latino and Asian-American voters have changed local structures of power and implemented some pieces of the “economic democracy” agenda. (The Web site provides a comprehensive inventory of local efforts at establishing economic democracy.) Below the radar, new forms of citizen action have taken local power away from old local elites. In Santa Barbara, where we’ve lived for 40 years, local government, once securely controlled by bankers and real estate agents, now is led by environmentalists, feminists and liberal Democrats. It’s a shift that’s happened in many other California communities, too. These developments need to be documented, in part because they constitute some of the experience that a new national reform agenda can draw on.

Tom is now 68, and some of us of the SDS generation are in our 70s. It would be a good thing if, individually and collectively, members of that generation were to spend some part of their remaining years in efforts to closely interrogate our political experience. I don’t mean producing further rehashings of “The 1960s.” It’s the 40 years since then that have been inadequately examined. Tom Hayden and his compatriots helped shape the history of these decades, and not always in ways we intended. Still, it’s the right that claims and is generally perceived to have dominated during most of this time. Yet all ideological perspectives from left to right have failed to comprehend the world as we now experience it. An effort to comprehend the state of that world would benefit from a systematic examination of the gap between the expectations and hopes of activists on all sides and the reality that ensued.

But ’60s oldsters now are stirring themselves to new action rather than reflection. Tom Hayden himself has been tirelessly speaking, writing and organizing in hope of mobilizing grass-roots opposition to the war in Iraq. Some of the pieces in “Writings” express his excitement on encountering the street-level global justice movement. He and other ’60s veterans are even more excited by the Barack Obama youth surge. It inspires hope for social regeneration in some of the ways the youth revolt of the 1960s offered.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t, as far as I know, an SDS member back in the day, but we do know that she was moved by the student movement and the new left. Yet it is Obama, (even though, as he has reminded us, he was only 7 years old in 1968), whose campaign provides validation for some of the hopes of the new left. He, like Tom Hayden, roots his leadership experience in his work as a community organizer. His campaign, as explained by Michelle Obama, bears a striking resemblance to the way Hayden’s 1976 Senate campaign was conceived. She declared: “Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.” Obama’s frequent assertion that it’s not the president who makes change, it’s the movement from the bottom up that makes change, very much expresses the spirit of the “organizing tradition” that includes SNCC, SDS, King, Saul Alinsky and the “local heroes” who led the movements of the 1960s. Maybe participation in and critical observation of the Obama experiment will provide the best opportunity we’ve had to learn about the chances for that democratic society Tom and his co-conspirators started to write and organize for in the very year that Obama was born.


Richard Flacks is professor of sociology emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has taught since 1969. He is the author of “Making History: The American Left and the American Mind,” published by Columbia University Press.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Joseph Lodge (1932-2008)

Recently, the Santa Barbara community lost its judicial giant, Joseph Lodge. Many very good words have been subsequently printed about Judge Lodge, but none as good as that from his wife, Sheila.

In response to what Sheila Lodge wrote, Carmen Lodise sent me the following:


Allow me to express my gratitude to Mayor Sheila Lodge for her moving eulogy to her husband, Superior Court Judge Joe Lodge.

In it she mentions the time he ordered the release of some 350 people who had been arrested in a peaceful sit-in in Isla Vista’s Perfect Park on June 10, 1970. Those of us active in Isla Vista politics and community affairs during the Vietnam War era will forever honor Joe for his brave and principled rulings in that case.
As Sheila notes, he could well have lost the job that he loved when he said, in effect, that the offense of torching the Bank of America three months earlier could not be used to restrict the entire community’s right to free speech and assembly. The demonstrators who made that point in Perfect Park were amazed to come before a judge willing to stand firm in the face of overwhelming pressure from the sheriff, the DA and a large swath of public opinion.

By the time he was an institution on the bench, Joe was even more forthright in publicly discussing that case when he appeared as the featured speaker at a reception launching the website on Feb. 25, 2000, the 30th anniversary of the night the bank burned. That he actually showed up to address about fifty people gathered at the Isla Vista Medical Clinic was a surprise; what he had to say was downright astonishing.

“I looked out at those young people who had been arrested in Perfect Park, and in letting them go I felt I was taking sides in a revolution,” he said to gasps from the audience.

In 2002, hundreds of people attended the anti-retirement party Mayor Lodge threw for Joe at the Montecito Country Club. I thought it remarkable that four of the six speakers mentioned that his releasing the demonstrators back in 1970 was the ruling that most impressed them about the judge in his nearly 50 years on the bench.

I think of Joe’s words and example each time I visit the monument to the international anti-war movement in Perfect Park.

Carmen Lodise
Barra de Navidad, Mexico

PS Thanks to Kevin for some help polishing this note.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

IV Bank Burning Story

Back in the day, Jeff Probst was a UCSB student and EL GAUCHO (re-named "Daily Nexus") reporter. A number of years back, he wrote a story about his life during those times and prefaces his work by writing:

"This is a personal story about the late sixties and the events leading up
to the bank burning, and its aftermath. The names of people, unless well
known, and those of publications, have been changed..."

To read, please go to:


Friday, April 18, 2008

1969 Oil Spill to 1970 Earth Day

The 1969 Oil Spill resulted in environmental degradation, but also to a local and national sense of increased environmentalism, leading to the first Earth Day, 1970. Read about it at:

Daily Nexus: Locals Remember 1st Earth Day

U2 photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hemphill

Friday, April 04, 2008

Harvey Levin 1970

"Back in the early 1970s... the gossip kingpin was a politically-active student at the University Of California Santa Barbara. This recently resurfaced newsclip (exact origin date: unknown) shows the future TMZ boss speaking to a local television crew on the campus of UCSB in the wake of the Isla Vista riots. As evidenced in the clip, Levin demonstrated not only an early penchant for dealing with the media, but also, dare we say, a slight case of Napoleon complex..."

Watch the video:

Harvey Levin in front of the Ucen, 1970

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Disturbing The Universe"

Thanks to Greg Knell and Sarah Kunstler for the heads up on the new film about William Kunstler. Here's the message from Sarah:

"... my sister and I are making a documentary about our father, and would certainly appreciate if you could post something to your list about our film. The website for the project, where you can watch a short trailer, is

"We are definitely interested in any archival photographs or any other materials related to Bill's speech and the bank burning that we might be able to incorporate in the film. We may also be doing some additional interviews, although have limited funds to travel at this point..."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trial of The Chicago 10

Appreciations to Bob Fass for giving me the heads-up on the new film about the trial of the Chicago 10. Much of the sound in the film came from Bob Fass's "Radio Unnameable." Here's a clip combining real audio from Bob combined with animation (the film also contains good archival footage):

Listen to:
NPR Audio interview with the producer

Sunday, February 03, 2008

John R. Seeley (1913-2007)

John R. Seeley has passed away. Please read about him at:

The Santa Barbara Independent: John R. Seeley 1913-2007

Malcolm's Recommendations

I've added a link to, with some recommendations. These will always be located in the sidebar to the blog and will change over time. Please let me know if you have some recommendations, too. I know there's a ton of stuff I'm missing. Please go to:


Friday, January 18, 2008

BILL ALLEN After The Riots

In December 2007, I received the following email from Will (Bill) Allen:

(Image courtesy of

I am sending this note to apprise you of my current whereabouts and
interests and give you a thumbnail sketch of my life since IV. As you may
know, after I got out of jail in 1971 I went underground, changed my name,
and stayed active against the war. I became part of the back to the land
movement. My reading of Marx (especially the last chapters of Capital) and
other Marxist-Leninists convinced me that rural activism was every bit as
important as industrial sweat shop organizing. I lived in Oregon for a year
and a half until 1973, interning on farms and working as a farm laborer on
bulb and tree farms.

In 1973 I returned to Santa Barbara for about nine months, but the police
harassed me constantly so I moved to Santa Maria and rented a farm there. In
1974 I moved to Creston, in San Luis Obispo County and rented a 15 acre farm
there. In 1975 I moved to Forbestown in the Sierra foothills and bought a
small piece of hilly, rocky farmland. We lived in tee pees, built a house,
terraced the land, an d built the soil.

In 1980 we moved to Crows Landing because the schools were bad in the
foothills and my two eldest sons had muscular dystrophy, which made it
difficult to care for them in such basic surroundings with no running water
and bad hospital services. I went to work as a farm laborer on my
father-in-law's 2300 acre bean, alfalfa, cotton, tomato, cattle, and walnut
farm. I rented 25 acres of land from him and became one of the first organic
farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. My youngest son died in April of 1981.

We farmed in Crows landing and also worked for my in-laws on their farm for
the next nine years. During that time I stayed politically active and helped
jump start the organic movement in California. I helped write the first rule
book for certification of organic growers when I served on the board of
California Certified Organic Farmers. I helped start the Ecological Farming
Conference, and served on their board from 1982 until 1995.

In 1989 we moved back to Goleta and worked for a year and a half for
Fairview Farms. I was farm Manager and educational director. In 1990 we had
the 20th anniversary celebration of the burning of the Bank of Amerika.

In late 1990 we moved back to the San Joaquin Valley and I rented a farm in
Patterson. That year I was offered a job as rural toxics director for the
California Institute for Rural Studies. In that capacity I worked with
cotton farmers and farmworkers, since cotton was the most toxic crop in
California with more that one million acres. In 1991 I founded the
Sustainable Cotton Project which was designed to get growers to grow cotton
organically and to get garment industry companies to use organic cotton. Our
efforts helped launch the organic cotton industry. We were able to get
15,000 acres converted to organic by 1995, before NAFTA and GATT were
passed. We also got dozens of garment companies to buy organic cotton,
including Patagonia, Esprit, Nike, Norm Thompson, Levis, etc.

After GATT and NAFTA the demand for domestic organic cotton tanked (because
Patagonia, Nike and all the rest of the fucking garmentos could get it for a
few cents cheaper from Turkey, Pakistan, India, or Peru. Our growers
switched to other crops. By 2003 I was sick of the full time farmer
consulting role and anxious to get back to farming full time, instead of
part time.

In 2000 we (with two partners) bought a piece of land on the Connecticut
River in Vermont. We currently farm 55 acres of rich bottom land, have a
farmstand, a coffee shop, 13 greenhouses, and a small bakery. We also have
an educational program to help young people learn how to farm, and to get
safe organic food into local schools and into the inner cities (we have an
inner city program with mostly black and Puerto Rican kids in Worcester,

I just finished a book, The War On Bugs, that is being published by Chelsea
Green and is due out at the end of January, 2008. It is a historical survey
of chemical promotions since the 1840s and is richly illustrated with
advertisements and promotions.

I currently serve on the policy advisory board of the Organic Consumers
Association, and I am a national co-Chair of Farms not Arms. I am also on
the board of Rural Vermont. I am very active against the war and have been
arrested four times in 2007. I am very active with Farm Aid and with the
Armenian Tree Project. My wife and I have done consulting work in India,
Mexico and Armenia.

Bill Allen wasn't a very popular name in the San Joaquin Valley, so I
changed my name to Will Allen. I have used that name since we started to
grow organically in Crows Landing. My dad wouldn't be happy with the change
but it kept me safe and gave me the ability to slide under the radar of
local officials.

I will be promoting my book in California in January, March, and April.
Perhaps we could meet. Thanks for writing about that very exciting time in
all of our lives. Perhaps you could send me a copy. Venceremos, Bon Apetit!

Will (Bill) Allen