Struggle Mountain, Los Altos(ish)

We had spent about a week in Palo Alto and we  were having a bit of difficulty finding places where we felt it was OK to park the bus overnight. It wasn’t so much that we couldn’t find parking spots, as much as we were worried that people might call the police when they saw a big black bus parked on their street. It turns out that it’s illegal to sleep in a vehicle in most cities, and David from Magic had been very explicit that even though there was tons of room to park in their neighborhood, their neighbors would be quick to call the cops. So we had spent the night in a hospital parking lot where we had to wake up at 6am to move and then slept in a city park parking lot for a few hours. It was fairly stressful and we were ready to get out of the city.

So it was a beautiful sight driving up page mill road out of palo alto into the mountains and seeing the scenery change and knowing the city was receding behind us. We were met at Struggle Mountain by Mark who directed us to a lower parking lot that we pretty much had to ourselves and after negotiating the drive and filtering some oil that had so nicely been donated to us at Greenwave, we found ourselves inside Mark’s home. The first thing that Rachel and I noticed immediately upon entering was this really striking fireplace:

Mark had an incredibly warm and cozy home with beautiful tile and rustic appliances. We sat down that afternoon in his kitchen right after arriving and talked for  several hours. We shared food (a real blessing of all the dumpstering we’ve done is that we always have really good food to share) and stories and it was incredibly welcoming.

Mark had been around Struggle Mountain since the early 70’s and had been living there since 1983(?) so he knew a lot about the place and its history. Something that Rachel and I have both realized is that we have few older adults in our life that we really connect with and share values with outside of our families. Its always really special and a lot of fun to meet people of other generations who we can share stories with and feel at home with the way that we were able to with Mark. He had come to the area in the early 70’s and lived and built structures at “The Land”, an 800 acre piece of land just up the road from Struggle Mountain. At the time, the owner of the property was a rich individual with leftish leanings who had bought the land with the idea of preserving it from development. He got in contact with Joan Baez and David Harris and allowed them to use it for their Institute for the Study of Non-Violence in exchange for some caretaker duties. This is how The Land started and Mark told us that eventually there were about 50 people living there in the Winter and maybe 250 in the summer.  They built quite a few small structures (20-30?) with the one guideline that they be sort of hidden from the road, and set up a consensus based community.

It sounded like a really beautiful thing and Mark described to us what it was like to live there and how he drove up with his bus full of draft resisters and spent time up there. However, the story of The Land concludes sort of sadly as they seemed to gain too much publicity and too much attention, especially from the authorities. The owner of the property also ended up having some money issues and needed to sell it to the Open Space department, on the condition that all of the hippies were kicked out. In October of 1977, the sheriffs department evicted all of the people living there and in December, they bulldozed all of the buildings. The people living on the land were prevented from collecting anything from funds which were set up for people evicted from land that was acquired by public agencies. Here’s a picture of the group right before being evicted:

A number of the people who had lived at The Land formed a “corporation” named Struggle Mountain, and as a group, they bought a 10 acre property down the road and several of them have lived there ever since.

We stuck around Struggle Mountain for a few days. Mark took us on a beautiful walk around the area where we were able to see where The Land used to be and we could actually see across the mountains to the ocean. We ate dinner with the whole community and met most of the rest of the members. There are 10 adults and three generations living there aging from a few months old to people in maybe their late 60s. People work as online book seller, bee keeper, stained glass artist, restaurant workers, activist photojournalist, etc. Dinner was really fun and we were able to share delicious food, fun stories, and community knowledge. Everyone was really nice and funny and we sat around and talked into the night.

We left a few days later after showing everyone the bus. It was sad to go knowing we’d be returning to various cities and that we’d be leaving all these beautiful people we’d met. I suppose I can hope that we will have an opportunity to visit again and share more pesto.


For more info about The Land and Struggle Mountain and the history and culture, here is a nice website with a lot of info. A lot of people at Struggle Mountain maintain/contribute to it:

Also, here’s a link to Mark’s website where he sells books. Here’s a description: “I have a general used stock with special interests in left-wing politics (particularly anarchism), earth-based goddess religion, and satyagraha (nonviolence).”

3 Responses to “Struggle Mountain, Los Altos(ish)”

  1. Mark Schneider Says:

    This is Mark from Struggle Mountain and I loved having Rachel and Max stay with us (as did everyone). Dumpster diving, veggie bus, friendly, curious, enthusiastic, optimistic, political and social activists… why they are everything young hippies should be!

    My advice to them is to enjoy their tour of communities but after seeing what’s out there come on back and move in here. (Yes, I know it’s a little morbid as you’ll probably have to wait for one of us to die to get a house! But we old fogies aren’t going to last forever.) I can’t think of better people to pass our legacy on to. At the very least, stay in touch.


  2. Ollie » Blog Archive » Struggle Mountain, Los Altos Hills Says:

    […] quite comfortably at a beautiful community in the Los Altos Hills (10 miles from Palo Alto) called Struggle Mountain.  We visited this community back in December ’10 — it was one of the first communities […]

  3. Ollie » Blog Archive » Solar eclipse! Says:

    […] Struggle Mountain‘s three young kids went up the mountain with their families to observe the eclipse, so the rest of us were left to our own devices here on the property.  Three eclipse-watching tools were procured: a very thick, dark piece of glass; a plastic cup-style pin-hole projector; and a cardboard box-style pin-hole projector.  The results were impressive! […]

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