Traditional Guidelines of Black Bear Ranch
Black Bear Ranch (BBR), expects that all long term visitors (more
than 1 week), residents, beneficiaries and trustees read these
Traditional Guidelines and keep them in mind while at BBR.
This is a living document that can be reexamined at least 2 times a
year, especially at Summer Solstice and the Thanksgiving gathering
We hope and ask that you adhere to these simple and fair traditions
that have kept BBR in its existence for over 40 years. We trust that
you will use Reason, Respect, and Responsibility while at the Ranch.
Please read our Mission Statement, Black Bear Family Trust and visitors
Purpose of the BBR traditional guidelines
Above all we of the BBR Family wish to insure the continued existence
of Black Bear Ranch and its tradition of communal living in a way
that cares for and nourishes each other and the environment..
Peace and Safety First > The Do’s and Don’ts of BBR
Do – Be welcoming, peaceful, kind and friendly to everyone, animals
Don’t – Be cruel, abusive or violent to anyone, animals or land
Don’t – Endanger or harm any fruit trees, structures or land.
Don’t – leave trash, we have a strict policy on “bring it in
bring it out”, This includes vehicles!
Don’t – touch the systems, electrical, water etc. without a
Do – Learn about fire safety (see fire safety guide)
Don’t – Make fires without resident permission.
Do – Get permission from the community, beneficiaries and a trustee,
before adding or destroying structures.
Don’t – add or destroy any structures without going through a
process which includes residents, beneficiaries and trustees
Don’t – take away or bring animals onto the land without going
through an acceptance process from the residents, beneficiaries and
Don’t – grow or distribute any form of illegal drugs; marijuana,
opiates, meth etc.
Don’t– have disruptive addictive habits; alcoholism, drug
Don’t – Bring your gun.
Do – Live communally.
Do- Must maintain restaurant like hygiene in all food, shower and
Don’t- Hunt on property.
Don’t – be prejudice of race, color, creed, age , or sexual
It is our belief that if you want to live peacefully at BBR and
protect its existence that you follow the “Traditional Guidelines of
BBR including the do’s and don’t traditions, and that if you
can’t, it will then have been your decision to not want to live at
BBR- and you should leave on your own initiative prior to being
asked. In other words if you don’t think that you can live with
these traditions and guidelines we wish you happy trails and good
luck on your journey.
The Ranch is maintained by intricate interwoven systems, be informed
about them by learning from someone who knows about them, the
BBR’s “system folder” (or written on main house wall), and
develop a familiarity with other info available regarding the
different systems, Water, Power, Garden, Fire, Structural Use and
Maintenance, Roads, Trails, and so on.
The Black Bear Ranch Family
BBR has a long tradition of returning family members, beneficiaries,
trustees, whom often come back to the ranch, to partake in circles,
projects, maintenance, and ensuring that the “Traditional
Guidelines” are being met.
These guidelines also apply to the BBR family (beneficiaries and
trustees) as well.
Becoming a BBR resident
After a process of – 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, and 2 months of
living at the ranch, and a 3/4 consensus of residents and at least 5
consenting beneficiaries or trustees, who are non-residents, agree to
accept a new member resident,
Then that person can become a resident.
If a resident has clearly chosen to ignore the guidelines or has
irreconcilable differences with the majority of co-residents and the
decision has been made to ask someone to leave we ask that you
include as many beneficiaries and trustees as possible. (SHOULD
INCLUDE AT LEAST 5 NON RESIDENT BENEFICIARIES OR TRUSTEES)
Responsibilities of Residents
Along with all other aspects of BBR’s traditional guidelines- a
resident has other important responsibilities, such as being required
to be a part of group decision making via circles, concerning; ranch
money, food orders, maintenance of systems, structures, gardens,
animals, workloads, cooking and cleaning, childcare etc. (communal
It is the responsibility of residents to be involved in communal
living including the larger commune of past residents, neighbors,
friends of the family and visitors.
Greeting visitors and BBR family members
BBR prides itself on welcoming folks that comes down the road or walk
up the trail.
There are people who have been asked to leave who must go through a
process to be welcomed again. It is also the responsibility of
residents to help folks move along who may be looking for something
We ask that visitors introduce themselves, and identify intentions
for being at BBR and become familiar with the Visitors Guide Book and
any other info that will help their visit be a pleasant one.
Group decision making through Circles is beneficial for everyone and
a big part of the BBR tradition, we have experienced and found that
scheduled weekly Circles allow the Ranch to flow smoothly with
transparent clarity and gives us a chance to learn how to really live
Circles give us a chance to discuss Ranch concerns, resident
acceptance, visitor concerns, money issues, resolving conflicts,
personal concerns, ideas, disputes, and just to check in and see how
we feel, etc.
Circles also give us a way to measure and be measured of what we do
for the ranch, through fair and equal balance of the workload that
has to happen in order for the Ranch to survive.
All residents must have a Circle at least once a week (date not set
in stone, but a promise to have them).
The Circles must not be exclusive to anyone, BBR family members,
beneficiaries, or visitors, it is our intention to have a transparent
BBR, we encourage positive input from all.
It is not however mandatory for short term visitors to be part of
It is required that someone in the circle take the “minutes” or
“notes”of the Circle and that these minutes can be shared with the
At BBR we wish to let everyone be heard with respect and openness, as
we would wish to be heard.
What to bring to the weekly Circle as a resident
weekly notes of what you did for the ranch; any work that includes
the upkeep and maintenance of the ranch and communal needs, garden
work, childcare, animal care, all aspects of cooking and cleaning
etc., bring a measure of approximate amount of hours you have worked
that week (see required daily hourly work load).
This will give the group of residents an idea of “group balance”,
The Circles also help in creating a weekly plan of what that workload
consists of and how to delegate who does what etc..
Circles are beneficial in a lot of ways and if nothing else allows us
to enjoy and spend time together as a group.
Be encouraged to go to the Cirlces with a positive attitude.
Screaming, yelling, at each other in Circles is discouraged,
1st Sunday of every month or decided date ( but a promise to hold
one never the less)
This monthly Circle is specifically for all BBR family members,
beneficiaries and trustees.
To participate as a group and oversee that the ranch exists within
the larger boundaries of the BBR traditional guidelines, as well as
to get together and play with one another, music, crafts sweats,
swimming, group projects and information exchange.
Its is required that all residents produce a certain amount of work
that goes into maintaining the existence of the ranch and for
communal benefit, the min. 3 hours daily, 6 days a week at times this
may increase due to small amounts of residents living at the ranch.
This promise to work will insure your and the ranches upkeep and
survival, things have to get done at the ranch; wood gathering,
gardens, and animals need tending, cooking, cleaning, child care,
structural and system maintenance all need constant attention.
It is however important that all residents agree (at weekly Circle
discussions) of who does what and when. It is very important to be
aware of falling into “Roles”; the dishwasher, the cook, the
gardener, the goat person etc.. all work should be shared, however it
is true that some one may have better skills to do something like
mechanic or chainsawyer, talk about these in the meetings and come to
a fair and balanced agreement of workload regarding these. It is
understandable that with any group of folks the dynamics will be
unique, and what may work for one group may not work for another, be
aware and prepare for the ever-changing dynamics of the ranch.
Required Money for the Ranch
Yes, it takes money for the ranches survival and it is required by
residents and visitors (see visitors guidelines) to be responsible in
providing a certain amount of money per day.
As a resident you are required to give at the least $3.00 a day at a
minimum, depending on the amount of folks living at the ranch and
needs it may be more or less.
All moneys given to BBR go into the “Ranch fund” and what to be
done with it is decided by the group at the weekly Circle.
Any money given beyond the required amount at any given time goes
into the “ranch fund” regardless of how much it is still up to the
group of residents to decide on what to do with it
No one person has more authority over the ranch funds because of
amount given. This will keep fair and balanced decision making of
what to do with the money.
Clear and transparent record keeping of whom and how much money is
given to the ranch and what is done with it is required to be written
down in a money management booklet and should be available at weekly
and monthly Circles.
Responsibilities that require money are; land taxes, food orders,
maintenance of ranch owned cars, ranch owned tools, supplies for
kitchen and structures, internet etc. Be familiar with, when payments
are due for land taxes, internet bills or any other bills that need
to be paid at a given time throughout the year.
There is also a “Project fund” mainly for the purpose of large
structure projects, this money is held in a account by one of the
trustees and how it gets decided on of what we do with the money is
from the monthly meetings and with the Trustees.
Government Assistance – Food Stamps, Medi Cal, Welfare, SSI, etc.
Anyone living at Black Bear Ranch and wishing receive to government
assistance by using BBR as their place of residency, should disclose
their intention to receive support, prior to applying for assistance,
from the current residents and to Trustees and beneficiairies at
Living arrangements for Residents
and visitors (read visitor guest guide)
Traditionally after one becomes a resident the next open living space
available can be theirs to live in if agreed upon by the group of
residents. Proper maintenance and fire safety is in part the
responsibility of the resident livin there, please go through a group
meeting process before adding or changing the structure in any way.
Privacy of personal living space as a resident is important, so,
please ask before entering their space unless there is an emergency
such as no one can find the person or if there is fire and they need
to be alerted. Note that during the large family gatherings there
are usually folks who may have lived in the cabin your staying in or
maybe even built it who will want to peek in and see how their old
digs are doing.
As a resident it is common to go out and travel from the ranch. You
must inform the group of your travel plans. It is required unless
decided upon in a group meeting that after 2 weeks the space holder
is gone, the living space maybe lived in by another, and after 1
months of not living in the structure (unless arranged prior) the
resident loses his/hers right to the place as their personal living
area and it goes to the next resident who wants it or it is available
for visitors. After 3 months anything that is left at the ranch and
not arranged for, is then considered the ranches property and through
group Circles it is decided what to do with the communal property.
Traditionally BBR has big gatherings on Summer Solstice,
Thanksgiving and a women’s gathering sometime in July or August.
The Women’s Gathering is only for women and their children male or
female, it is asked of the men at the ranch, to please find a place
off the ranch at that time .
Summer Solstice and Thanksgiving Family Gatherings
These gatherings are usually between 100 and 150 folks, some times less sometimes more, it is
asked that all residents try and be at the ranch at that time, it’s
a fun celebration with lots of food, music, sweats, and play
These gatherings have been a wonderful tradition at BBR, giving the
larger BBR family a time to see one another, make new friends, do
work projects, and have fun.
The BBR traditional guidelines apply to all celebrants at these times.
These Gathering are also the time and place for residents and
others to receive more extensive review and approval on topics such
as- hooved animal management plans, building or removal of
structures, large work projects, and other more significant issues.
It is required by everyone, visitors and residents to maintain a
CLEAN BBR for the safety of our health and the health of others. The
guidelines require that you do your part in maintaining cleanliness
in and around any and all structures.
It is required to maintain a restaurant like cleanliness in the main
house kitchen and food areas.
This constitutes properly cleaning dishes with soap and hot water,
(maintaining the stove and plumbing, insuring the availability of hot
Properly compost food, keep food larders clean.
The hygiene and cleanliness of the shower and outhouse areas is
also required on a daily basis.
All human waste must only go in the outhouses (shitters).
BBR is a family safe place
At the minimum residents should be aware and treat children with
respect, watching out for their well-being and safety. Parents should
assume full responsibility of their children’s well-being and safety
at the ranch. Sharing childcare at the ranch is not a requirement but
if the residents come to agreements then all the better. Parents
should follow the BBR guidelines and not assume others will childcare
All animals staying longer than a short visit must first be
accepted through a process by the residents, beneficiaries, and
trustees. Once the animals are accepted at the ranch than the animals
will then be the communal property and communal responsibility. It is
also required that all fruit trees, structures and land at the ranch
are safe from possible destruction and or damage from the animals
without exception. The process in which animals may be accepted onto
the ranch will be at the monthly meetings when attending residents,
beneficiaries, and trustees are together to make the decision, With
the exception of hooved animals. Hooved animals can cause more
significant damage and need to have a management plan approved by the
Black Bear Family at Thanksgiving or Summer Solstice. Those
residents wishing to have hooved animals at the Ranch will work with
the other residents, beneficiairies, and Trustees and discuss the
management plan and discuss its progress at monthly meetings and more
frequently as needed.
Dogs are generally not allowed in the mainhouse. All dogs must be
well behaved and if not they must leave and be contained until they go.
No guns are allowed on BBR’s property by visitors and if arrive
unannounced the visitor must declare their gun and give it up and
have it put in a safe place with a lock on and the ammo separate, and
given back only when they leave.
If there are to be any guns at BBR it will be the decision of the
residents, beneficiaries and trustees in allowing them.
At the maximum there can only be 2 licensed guns at the ranch
communally owned in a safe place locked with ammo separate.
At BBR we want to create an environment for everyone that is fair,
balanced and safe, having more than 2 guns is simply not needed, nor
creates a peaceful vibe.
As for hunting- Absolutely no hunting on the property, no poaching.
Only through a process in the meetings can one be allowed to hunt
with the community owned gun, must have valid tags in order to hunt.
At any given time the police, health department, feds, etc may visit
us. (read the fbi files!)
If this happens be courteous and ask them “what do you want?”, why are
you here?”, if they want to look around ask for a warrant if yes
than, get a pen and paper and camera if possible and record
everything that happens, watch and follow them around, try to be in
pairs if possible. Keep them escorted at all times. If the answer is
no, tell them that legally they need one that they cannot look around
Immediatelycall Godfrey and/or Blue Ridge Ranch (Geba and Petey
Brucker, Chris McCullough or Donna and David at Blue Ridge
Ranch ),and let them know what’s going on.
Returning folks who were asked to leave
If in the past a person was asked to leave the Ranch than only after
a year can that person make a request to return. Residents,
beneficiaries and trustees will make that decision at the monthly
meeting as to whether or not allow that person back to the ranch and
deciding the conditions of the return.
Sharing of food is one of the most essential aspects of communal
living at BBR.
Be aware of supply as you plan your meals, sometimes it might be
weeks until you get more of certain ingredients. Remember that the
nearest store is hours away and plan accordingly. It’s a bummer when
all the treats disappear real fast and your left with rice and beans
for weeks on end.
Food is shared at BBR, all aspects of it, from growing it, harvesting
it, cooking it, and cleaning up after eating it. The gardens have not
produced enough to sustain us, therefore we must equally share in the
responsibility of buying it, whether that be combined bulk food
orders or arranging shopping trips.
Please let it be known if you have allergies or specify a certain
diet, BBR ranch has had all types of food eaters, vegans, vegetarians
and meat eaters. We at BBR respect your choice of food.
BBR shares all the food equally. If you do get food that you don’t
want to share put it in your personal living space away from the
communal food. All the food in the cold larder and dry larder are
*If you have any questions regarding the BBR traditional guidelines
please feel free to ask them of a resident, beneficiary or trustee.
Brief note * The BBR Traditional Guidelines are to help us be
communal at the ranch, it also intended to inform potential new
residents to help determine if BBR is suitable for themselves. It
gives a measurable means of living together in a fair and balanced
way, it helps in resolving confusion of what’s accepted and what’s
not at the Ranch- as a resident, in accepting and living by these
simple guidelines at the ranch you have the right to protect the
ranch using this guideline as a accepted and backed guide from the
beneficiaries, trustees and other residents.