Home             Events/Exhibits             History             Colonist Database              Collections             Education              About Us

“The Llano plan is simple and if applied all over the land would mean bringing idle men, idle lands, idle tools, machinery, together in co-operative production and distribution for use and not for profit.” The Gateway to Freedom, New Llano, LA

The Llano del Rio Co-operative Colony worked like this -- everyone purchased their membership and then became an equal owner in the colony. They owned all the industries which they ran themselves, all the homes where they provided water and electricity for themselves, even all the entertainments which they produced themselves. Everyone worked together to produce whatever they needed.

Llano del Rio Co-operative Colony Stock Certificate

They came from all walks of life and from all over the world seeking Utopia – a paradise where “you produce for use, not profit”, where all members did equal work for equal benefits.

Though the colony itself lasted only a little over two decades, many of the ideals they promoted are taken for granted by Americans today, including minimum wages, equal rights for women and child labor laws, health care and old age pensions.Job Harriman

“Why are there no idle people at Llano Colony when there are millions of unemployed in the world today? Why are those at Llano living in the midst of plenty when there are thousands in other localities who are unable to obtain the necessaries of life?” The American Co-Operator; New Llano, La.; February, 1922

In 1914, Job Harriman established the Llano del Rio Co-operative Colony in California.

He hoped the success of his colony would demonstrate a better way of living to the world. To spread the word, the colony published two newspapers. One of them, the Llano Colonist, devoted to promoting the "Llano Way", had subscribers around the world, many of whom eventually became members, some of them coming to America simply to join the colony.

“The co-operators themselves tended to be colorful and highly opinionated. There was never a shortage of self-appointed philosophers who loved to pull up a chair in front of the hotel fireplace and spout elaborate theories at anyone within earshot.” Bread and Hyacinths, the Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles by Paul Greenstein, Nigey Lennon and Lionel Rolfe

Socialist Party Membership Booklet

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Socialist concept had much popular support throughout the United States. Utopian colonies were scattered throughout the country during the industrial age as the working class struggled to gain rights.

The New Llano Colony has often been dubbed a "Socialist commune", but this isn't entirely true. Although the founder of the colony, Job Harriman was a Socialist, as were many of the long-time colonists, it was not a requirement for membership -- members simply had to agree to live co-operatively and abide by the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The first colony in California had angered the locals, but Western Louisiana proved to be an ideal choice for locating the experimental colony. During the early 1900's, lumber workers in Louisiana had faced their own struggles with the big lumber interests in the state, and so were not adamantly opposed to the politics of the co-operative society.

Colony Leaders

Meet a Colonist

This & That

Copyright 2015, Museum of the New Llano Colony