Across the Great Divide

January 27th, 2011 in Archive by 18 Comments

In 1969, Roberta Price headed west with a camera to document the newly forming communes in New Mexico and Colorado. As Roberta describes, “The more the Vietnam War got worse and the protests got worse, the more we kept thinking about the West and the freedom of the West and the ability to experiment in the West.” Traveling on a fellowship from State University of New York, at the age of 22, she and her partner at the time, David Perkins, visited communes including Drop City, New Buffalo, and Reality Construction Company.  The two eventually ended up moving to Libre, a commune in the Huerfano Valley of Colorado, where they lived for seven years.

At the time there was concern about how these communities were being portrayed by the media. Although major news reporters were kept away from the communes, Roberta and David were let into a lot of places – many of which they found through the Whole Earth Catalog and word of mouth. Roberta decided not to publish her photographs at the time, because of her concern that too much exposure could have negative impacts on the commune movement. Instead she chose to leave her life back East, build a home at Libre, and continue taking photographs.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Roberta published her first work, Huerfano: A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture, about her communal experiences during the 70s. Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture is Roberta’s latest photography book. In discussing the collection, her hope is that “people will be looking at it across the divide of time, across the divide of culture, across the divide of all the knowledge of what’s happened since that time.”

Watch the Story:

Music From The Story
“Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell
“Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat
“Across the Great Divide” by The Band

All photographs copyright and by Roberta Price. Additional photographs by David Perkins.

This story was produced by our intern Patty Fung in collaboration with the Kitchen Sisters and Roberta Price. Patty has been a contributing blogger for the Hidden World of Girls series and has produced multimedia work for the Kitchen Sisters on various projects.

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Nicely done. I introduced Roberta at Book Passage. She’s an old and good pal.

Peter Coyote


I’ve just discovered your intriguing site, and look forward to exploring your show. Thanks for creating this beautiful project.

By happenstance I came across this page when I was searching for Canned Heat, my favorite band, whose music appears in this video. I’ve always been intrigued by the sixties era. Band founder Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, who sings “Going Up the Country”, is particularly fascinating to me. As a teenage fan I found him interesting because he did not fit the typical “rock star” mold. It’s my feeling that his music may now be increasing in popularity among women and girls, and that this may be due in part to his sensitivity and his empathy to the natural world around him. (You can visit his family authorized site at

Thanks again for the excellent site.

Very nice photostory and hearing her speak along with the images was wonderful.



Love the video Roberta. But everyone be sure to buy the book, too. The West is the Best!

Charlene Cerny


Tugs at my heart strings. Can’t wait to read the book Roberta.

Martha Bowman


I’m using Roberta’s memoirs in my PhD dissertation and am thrilled to see images to go along with them. Wonderful!

Rebekah Lovejoy


What is the subject of the dissertation?

Roberta Price


Both books are superb and I hope folks find their way to them.

Jim Hall


Hi, Thanks for the enjoyable clip “Across the Great Divide”. One picture meant much to me, titled ” 1969 hog farm, Penasco. Although, belive it, it looks like the front porch at Lower Farm in Placitas N.M. That is Jane holding Snake, I was very good friends with her and her husband Kieth, next to her looks like Helen, U.S. Grant’s wife. The winter of 1969 and for the next 12 years are lived, worked, prayed and played with the people of lower farm, tawapa, sun farm and stone mountain, many have passed on to higher ground, but still a few free spirits roaming around. Enjoyed the clip, and hope to read Roberta”s book Huerfano in the time left. I also am considering penning my thoughts down for others to enjoy a truly unique, if short, time in the generation of freedom.
my best tom williams

Tom Williams


Thanks very much Tom. You wouldn’t believe how difficult fact checking has been for this period… or maybe you would. At any rate, I don’t know what the chances of changing the text are, but I will change if I can. In the meantime, I will correct in my presentations and correct for the Beinecke records — they will have all my photos. Thanks again for commenting.

Roberta Price


Just found “Across the Great Divide” at my local Cambridge MA library. I spent about a month in and around Gardner in the summer of 1988 when I was 18. I was determined to live alone and write and was doing so in Durango but I hitched up to Telluride for the Bluegrass Festival and ran into friends met a month earlier camping out in the hills outside of Boulder who persuaded me to come join them in Gardner where one of them had grown up.

Sarah Fresco


what an interesting story! i am not seeing the audio or video clips for this story, are the links still active?



I’m 35, and all of my life have felt drawn to that sort of life . I married and am raising 2 kids and am doing the “soccer mom” life now..but in my heart of hearts, I so wish I could move to a commune somewhere. Perhaps when my kids are college age, if there are any communes left, it will finally be My turn.
In the meanwhile, I will just enjoy this book and I thank you for creating this and sharing it with us. It helps keep my dreams alive !

Rebekah Yoder


Appreciate that you came to Placitas, both then and recently to read from your book. Many here have memories of the period, both the good and not so good, much as you describe. You images are a pleasure to view, and your stories have substance. I especially enjoyed these in the context of the images and stories we are collecting of the period in Placitas. Peace and Love…

Tony Hull


[...] across the divide of all the knowledge of what’s happened since that time.” – Patty Fung for The Kitchen Sisters Thanks Nicholas for the [...]

Dear Roberta,

My dissertation is an ethnography of children raised in the counterculture who were born between ’64 and ’78, now approaching middle age. I am looking at the cultural inheritance and generational transformation. If you are interested in reading the blurb on it my website for the project is handmadegeneration dot net.


Rebekah Lovejoy

Rebekah Lovejoy


I’m very grateful to Roberta for “Huerfano,” where I lived at Triple A commune in ’72 and ’73. And now the book of photos. What a treat! It was a glorious time, and I only left the Huerfano Valley in order to check out a new commune, The Farm, in Tennessee. I’m still there, about to celebrate my 70th birthday. I never stopped being a hippie. It’s a great tribe to be a part of. Love, Marilyn

Marilyn Harris


We’d like to congratulate Roberta. Across the Divide won the 2010 gold award for the photography category of the Book of the Year Award. Great work, Roberta.

The Kitchen Sisters


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