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Cary Brunswick

July 8, 2014

Gaskin and The Farm filled a void

``What is going to carry us through is faith and love and good principles. Faith that there are such things as love and good principles, and the nerve to try to use them and carry them out.’’

— From ``This Season’s People’’ by Stephen Gaskin

Stephen Gaskin, who died July 1 more than 40 years after founding one of the largest and longest-surviving communes in American history, knew that it was healthy for people to have a meaning in life.

While searching for a personal identity is important for a young person, Stephen believed that ultimately the search should lead to a life dedicated to the ``greater good’’ rather than only the personal.

Though he saw himself more as a teacher than a leader, he had the charisma and the vision in 1971 to lead hundreds of people to a 1,000-acre tract in Tennessee that became known only as The Farm.

I have never been to The Farm, though while living in Pensacola, Fla., I knew people who went there. The Sixties were over, but the events and changes of that decade had left many young people without the traditional beliefs and ideas that had held their lives together. For some, The Farm and Stephen helped fill that void.

For an Oneonta woman, however, it was Stephen’s message of making the world a better place by first creating a better place at The Farm that attracted her.

Betsy Holland said she was married and living in St. Louis in 1974 when she traveled to Kansas City to hear Stephen speak on one of his many such tours.

``He said that we could save the world, that we could help each other and be kind to all,’’ she said a few days after Stephen’s death. ``That’s what I believed and that’s what I still believe.’’

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Cary Brunswick

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