Much has been documented about the Haight Ashbury, Berkeley, Laurel Canyon and other countercultural hot spots in California during 1960s. However, to Santa Cruzians who lived in the beach town during that era, a special magic incubated within this geographically isolated sister of the SF Bay Area. It was the home to the first Acid Test, and some of the first shows by the Grateful Dead (then The Warlocks); but what else occurred that transformed this previously sleepy vacation town into what has been called “The Leftmost City”? Since the late 1950s, Santa Cruz has become a center for new age spirituality, a hub for psychedelic research (MAPS), the organic farming movement and also a leader in socially progressive movements.
Beginning in 2002, a group of Santa Cruzians have been assembling a clearer picture of what took place during the hip golden years of Santa Cruz circa 1964-1970. Initiated by University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) mathematics professor Ralph Abraham and friends, the history project has gathered stories from several dozen people who lived in Santa Cruz during this time period. Over the last decade, several contributors to the project have also published books on the subject.
In June 2016, Ralph Abraham published the first volume of what may be a multivolume series of edited and curated stories. “Hip Santa Cruz: First-Person Accounts of the Hip Culture of Santa Cruz, California in the 1960s” was published by Epigraph Publishing on June 17, 2016 and is available at Amazon.com.
A new website has been created in order to make the history project’s resources more accessible and interactive to the public. The new site includes story circle recordings, photo galleries and videos, stories by date reported and author, and related resources.