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Stephen Gaskin
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Advocate
    (February 16, 1935-July 1, 2014)
    Born in Denver, Colorado
    Former teacher of English and creative writing at San Francisco State College
    Counterculture icon
    Founded the commune 'the Farm' in Summertown, Tennessee (1971)
    Wrote the books 'The Caravan' (1972), 'This Season's People: A Book of Spiritual Teaching' (1978), 'Amazing Dope Tales' (1990), 'Cannabis Spirituality' (1996) and 'An Outlaw in My Heart: A Political Activist's User's Manual' (2000)
    He described himself as a 'professional hippie.'
    He was married four times, divorced three times.
    He called his philosophy, which melded Christianity with elements of Eastern religion, 'the psychedelic testimony of the saints.'
    He spent a year in prison for marijuana possession (1974).
    The Farm's ascetic lifestyle -- including veganism and bans on tobacco, alcohol, LSD and the pursuit of personal wealth -- led to his followers being nicknamed 'Technicolor Amish.'
    After a financial crisis in the early 80s, the Farm reorganized into a dues-paying society that Gaskin called 'a gated community of not-rich people.'
    He ran for the presidential nomination of the Green Party but lost to Ralph Nader (2000).
    He was a Marine and Korean War vet.
    He said his main skill was the ability to talk intelligently while stoned longer than most people.
    He had counseled the Farm members against planting marijuana, but when police found marijuana plants and asked who they belonged to, he replied that since they were a collective, he was a part owner of the plants.
    After his release from prison, he successfully campaigned to restore the voting rights for himself and a quarter of a million non-violent ex-cons.
    The Farm's charitable endeavors included building 1200 homes for earthquake survivors in Guatemala, establishing a school lunch program in Belize, founding an ambulance service for poor communities in the Bronx, and post-Hurricane Katrina relief.

Credit: C. Fishel


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