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“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” –Eleanor Roosevelt.

Rochdale College today is remembered mostly as an 18 floor hippie bastion of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

That it was.

It was also something more. Something much more.

When Rochdale opened its doors in 1968 the door was opened on the boldest experiment undertaken before or since in self education.

Part of that experiment was the use inside its walls of LSD, marijuana, mescaline and peyote. I like to say,”The higher up we went the higher we got.”

That was not the important thing though it is the one the media are swiftest to latch on to.

At Rochdale there were no teachers. Each Rochdalian was called to be their own teacher.

What there were was what was called “Resource People.”

These were people who, having achieved success in their field, were invited to live at Rochdale all costs covered on condition they make themselves available to speak with anyone who wished to speak with them.

One of those resource people was Judith Merril, editor of THE YEAR’S BEST SF anthologies. Judy was also the mother pf modern SF which she called not Science Fiction but rather Speculative Fiction. For Judy the great question was always, “WHAT IF?”

Today in Toronto we remember Judy as well as her massive influence with THE MERRIL COLLECTION OF SF (located on College Street just East of Spadina): https://btlbooks.com/book/better-to-have-loved , https://www.nytimes.com/1997/09/17/arts/judith-merril-74-science-fiction-editor-and-writer.html  ,   https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/merril/history.jsp   . J. G. Ballard called Judy. “The strongest woman in a genre created by weak and ineffectual men.” That she was. That they were and, for the most part, are.

It was Judy who brought me to Rochdale. When a fellow at one of my ongoing film programs in 1968 told me she was there I went to meet her. It was the dawn of a friendship that was to endure.

That same year I had begun studying THE WILHELM/BAYNES edition of THE I CHING which teaches that learning and doing must be one otherwise both are sterile:  http://www.akirarabelais.com/i/i.html    .

When Judy found I had prints of important movies such as THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS she said, “You belong here.”

Rochdale was shut down in 1975.

The media focus on sex and drugs ensured its death.

I have kept the Rochdale idea alive through my work.

I encourage young men and women to become their own teachers.

The latest to “graduate” from Rochdale College at my CineForum in Toronto is Sanele Sydow, WizTheMC.

Right now legions of young people can’t go to school.

Perhaps that is a good thing. Read John Taylor Gatto’s UNDERGROUND HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION: https://lvassembly.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/underground-history-of-america-education.pdf .

Not everyone at Rochdale grabbed the Rochdale idea. Frankly, many, if not most, dismissed it. Others said the idea that Rochdale was a place where one could learn was bogus:  http://regharttrochdale.blogspot.com/2011/05/reg-hartt-cinema.html , http://idiotsguidetorochdalecollege.blogspot.com/  , https://www.blogger.com/profile/00548920100915059802 . I post these things here because if you look for them you can find them. So why not find them here.

Acclaimed Comic Artist Chester Brown created this cover for a special limited edition of my book, THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE.

Sanele Sydow, WizTheMC, is the latest in a long line of people who have come to The CineForum, found a life here and are now living it.

 

 

 

 

 

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