“Joan Grossman’s film tells the complete story of a project whose importance we are just now coming to understand. If Drop City was somehow an earthwork sculpture, not a countercultural commune, it would have been discussed in every modern art history textbook published in the past forty years.”
– Adam Lerner, director and chief animator, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
DROP CITY is a story of whimsical innovation and the drive to create a new civilization on the scrapheap of a wasteful society. Often cited as the first rural commune of the 1960s, Drop City was an experimental community on the plains of Southern Colorado that blended practices of art, architecture, and resourceful living in ways that came to define a global counterculture.
The Droppers’ vision of life-as-art was evidenced in their iconographic dwellings, which were based on Buckminster Fuller’s vision for geodesic domes and the crystalline designs of Steve Baer, a pioneer in fractal geometric design and solar energy, who used Drop City as a lab for experimental building. The Droppers built the community for nearly nothing from salvaged materials, including culled lumber and chopped-out car tops. In 1966 Fuller honored Drop City with his Dymaxion Award for “poetically economic structural accomplishments.” But the flood of attention led to overcrowding. By late 1969 all of the long-time residents had departed and the community was abandoned to transients. By 1973, Drop City had become the world’s first geodesic ghost town.
The story is brought to life through interviews with former Droppers (artists, writers, inventors and activists), hand-drawn animation, and a trove of archival material.
Joan Grossman is a media artist whose work has screened in more than 20 countries. Her award-winning film The Port of Last Resort was broadcast by HBO.