When people think of the 60′s, they almost assuredly picture long-haired men and women, adorned in flowers, giving the peace symbol as they lay out on a field of grass. They think of a culture of protest, alternatively peaceful and aggressive, where the youth stood up collectively and said “no” to a culture predominated by political paranoia and overly assertive conservatism.
And, when people think of the 60′s and the counterculture that surrounded it, people think of San Francisco, California, where the nascent hippie population congregated in the Haight, while politically active hipsters and beatniks started stemming in from educational institutions like Berkeley and Stanford.
On January 14, 1967, it was in San Francisco that one of the largest demonstrations of collective public art took place as the first ever Human Be-In, a watershed event hosted by late artist Michael Bowen that touted the values of cultural and political decentralization, communal living, higher consciousness and personal empowerment. Performance artists, speakers and musicians, and up to 30,000 people congregated in Golden Gate Park, making national headlines and bringing San Francisco’s counterculture into the general psyche of the United States.
It was the prelude to the Summer of Love. As a collective artistic event, it encouraged self-expression through music, chanting, dancing, and thoughtful living. It changed mainstream America and gave San Francisco the powerful reputation it has today of being a hub of progressive creativity and a birthplace of social change.
Similar events continue to this day around the San Francisco area, with the pervasive presence of the Burning Man tribes hosting near weekly events that encourage the same ideals as the Human Be-In, with even more of a focus on interactive art and intellectual, emotional and spiritual expansion.
Below is a video of some of the goings on of the Human Be-In. In just four minutes, one can feel the good vibes and free love that was celebrated at this historic peaceful gathering. Enjoy.