Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Canyon is a tiny unincorporated community located in Contra Costa County, California, in the East Bay Hills between Oakland and Moraga in the San Francisco Bay Area. The homes of the community are nestled amongst the steep, narrow private roads and footpaths that extend from the redwood groves and ferns along the creek, through the mixed live oak, bay, and madrone forests on the steep hillsides, up to the chaparral and knobcone pines that grow along the ridge.
Canyon has a colorful history. Logging camps and notorious saloons helped establish a local reputation for rowdiness in the nineteenth century, and in the late 1960s Canyon became a center of political and social protest and creative alternative lifestyles. Today’s residents still work together to maintain their own roads and water systems, and Canyon Community Association volunteers provide mediation services, emergency planning, and interface with county and state agencies.
The only public services in the community are the local post office (ZIP Code 94516) where all mail is picked up and the Canyon School, a 65-student K-8 public school, located on Pinehurst Road on the banks of the Upper San Leandro Creek. A notion of the community's unconventionality may be gleaned from the fact that the school lunch menu features organic milk and produce, Nieman Ranch Beef, and hormone and antibiotic free chicken.
As John van der Vee wrote in his book about the town, Canyon (1972): A small assemblage of mostly unconventional dwellings, mostly built by the nonconformists who live in them, it is a consciously ecological community that recycles everything it can. In Canyon, the mutual respect and the cohesion of neighbors revive the vital satisfactions once intrinsic in human communities, and its 'civil agencies' are functions of the inhabitants.
John van der Zee, Canyon: The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America (ISBN 0345228057)
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