Dunbar Aitkens

The flyer on the right is for “The Environmental School Free University” — Dunbar’s project when he and David randomly met each other in 1969. David’s recollection of Dunbar set me off on this research trail and it turns out that Dunbar intersects this history at several points. The best description of Dunbar comes from Irving Rosenthal’s memoir for the tenth anniversary issue of Kaliflower. Irving wrote:

“I saw Dunbar Aitkens on Haight Street handing out mimeographed sheets long before I met him, and I met him long before he moved into the commune. Dunbar was a huge, tall, blackhaired street philosopher, as gentle as a bunny. He was very interested in young men, and had the knack for meeting them easily on the street. He always had some interesting project going to talk to them about. He brought many of them to the commune, both before, during, and after the month he lived with us (March-April 1969), to the point where the word “indunbaration” was coined to describe the phenomenon. At the time he came to live with us he was trying to form a sort of rural commune called the Environmental School, along with Stevie and Teddy, whom he brought into the commune with him. Other Dunbar-recruited members were Art, Carl, Arthur, Sam, and David. Dunbar hotly denied any religious outlook, but I always saw him as a roving guru, making spiritual contact on the street.”

As Irving mentioned, Dunbar was responsible for David Parkhurst moving into the commune. At their chance meeting on Haight Street, Dunbar told David he was living in a commune, and he should come by to visit. That was the Sutter Street Commune, which had set up and was operating the Free Print Shop after the Diggers convinced Irving to bring his press from New York. The flyer announcing Dunbar’s Free University project was printed by the Free Print Shop.