Bohemian Grove is a giant campground in Monte Rio, California that belongs to a private men’s club based out of San Francisco, that dates back to the 1870’s. They are known as the Bohemian Club. Every year they get together with some of the most powerful men in the world, their membership includes government officials, (even U.S presidents) business leaders, artists, musicians, media executives, and many more. Members are allowed to invite guests to the main event but guests are subject to a screening process. When the club is not hosting events, members can organize personal events and bring family and friends. They still dictate that all female guests and minors be off the property by 9 or 10pm. No woman has ever been given full membership, but they have given four women honorary status.
While the club motto is, “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here” which means that business deals are not to be discussed inside, this motto is often over looked. It is believed that a Manhattan Project held a meeting that further led to the atomic bomb on site. There are all sorts of theories about Bohemian Grove. Some say it is a right wing boy scouts club for adults filled with drinking and partying, others say that there are not any political trends. No matter what though, Bohemian Club has gotten themselves into a couple of hot water situations.
In 1978, the club faced discrimination charges from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after they refused to hire women. In 1981, a male judge supported the club, saying that presence of females would change the behaviors of males. Finally in 1987, after years of rebuttal, the California Supreme Court forced the club to hire female employees, and the ruling became legal precedent.
A recent controversy surrounding the camp is that they have begun to harvest the redwoods and Douglas firs. They obviously aren’t in need of the money—membership costs $25,000 to join and then $5,000 for the years to come. While a 150 foot redwood would bring in only $850 dollars or $450 for a similar sized Douglas fir, according to Alex Shoumatoff in his article for Vanity Fair. Shoumatoff gained insight into the Bohemian Club via an old college friend who had recently revoked his membership.
I think the idea of having a place for people to gather, to take a break from reality and listen to birds, and music, and poetry readings is great, but I think that this group has taken it to far. Members are elitists and the club condones and promotes this behavior. They openly discussed that they didn’t hire women. Then chopped down acres and acres of trees. This isn’t promising change and social awareness, instead it is a club for the ‘good ol’ boys.’ I have very little respect for organizations that run by the rules of ‘good ol’boys’. Times change and people must as well.
Check out these links to find out more about Bohemian Grove–it’s where I did: