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During the "hippie" period 1967–1968 in San Francisco, an individual named Al Rinker started an organization located at 1830 Fell St in the city's Haight Ashbury district called the Switchboard. Its purpose was to act as a social switchboard for people living there.


In early 1967 the Diggers were promoting a new type of philosophy and life concept in the Haight Ashbury. With media coverage of the district increasing, a local resident Al Rinker visualized the need for a service providing news and information about the Hippie movement. He rented an apartment at 1830 Fell Street in early 1967, adjacent to the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park, to act as both his home and headquarters of his conceptual "Switchboard". Al found willing assistants in George Darling and Danny to assist with his concept of a human switchboard.

While he and the volunteers were doing this, the "Human Be In" took place and the Fillmore Auditorium was gaining national prominence. News coverage of the Haight Ashbury skyrocketed bringing in more people with more work required to keep the Switchboard going.

The rapid influx of people flooding the area created an immediate need for some services that Al had not originally considered. One of these was in finding safe lodging (Crash Pads) for the wandering jobless hippies that arrived without any means of support. This program proved so popular that Al's office (living room) was changed to the "We will help you find a place to stay" room. Al moved his office to a tiny room next to the kitchen. The Switchboard attracted additional volunteers Ron Small and Ken Englander to assist with the many tasks the Switchboard wanted to accomplish.

Social networking took a back seat to the more critical services required by the population explosion. In summary, the Switchboard was created, then made useful by events not originally considered and grew[1] to fill those needs as well as those in its original plan.

Social Events 1967–1968

Later period

After the departure of Al Rinker, Ken Englander and others took up the Switchboard concept. They moved to a storefront office at 1797 Haight St. It went through a number of moves and forum changes through the 1990s.

Before he left, Al Rinker transferred the Haight Ashbury Switchboard's 501 (c)(3) (non profit tax status) to Pam Hardt and Jed Riffe. They changed the name to Resource One and moved it into Project One.

Where are they now


Footnotes and other references

  1. ^ Evening Independent article about the Switchboard and Community activities, Jul 26, 1968
  2. ^ "The Haight Ashbury - A History Archived 2009-02-06 at the Wayback Machine" by Charles Perry Random House 1984, page 143
  3. ^ "We are the people our parents warned us against" by Nicholas von Hoffman, LCCN:68013465
  4. ^ Herb Caen column San Francisco Chronicle 1967 "Mayor visits Switchboard Get together
  5. ^ Death of Hippie Parade
  6. ^ Note from his son Adam
  7. ^ Ron Thelin and the Red House

Other references