The Hippies vs. Code Enforcement

When a tiny hippie co-op refused to clean up its yard, the city of Arlington came down hard -- and brought the SWAT team with it.

After her divorce, she began to see the property's potential. She already knew Quinn's family through an event his parents had hosted called "Rethinking Education," a national conference for the unschooling movement, which is different from homeschooling because kids are trusted to embrace their inner genius and do what they feel like, so long as it doesn't harm other people.

Quinn continues to embrace that philosophy and do what he feels like. Now that means traveling the world, dressing in silk kimonos and keeping his beard tied in a thin wire below his chin. He makes a living speaking at events and holding private consultations with people.

"I do it on basically everything that's important about being alive," he says. "I've been speaking at conferences around the world since I was, like, 20."

Mark Graham
Don't get excited, Arlington: It's just tobacco.
Mark Graham
Don't get excited, Arlington: It's just tobacco.

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Though she had known him for a long time, it wasn't until after the divorce, Shellie says, that she and Quinn fell in love. "I have never felt a love so profound as with Quinn," Shellie wrote in a publication called Rethinking Everything Magazine. She felt that she and Quinn could do something big together, something special involving all the land. At the same time, she was sensitive to the fact that they made an awkward couple for the neighbors to see, and to her children, who aren't much younger than Quinn.

"When Quinn first came, it was kind of rough for them because their dad was just leaving, and my son was getting to the age where he was getting to be the man of the house," she says. Adding to the awkwardness: A few years after moving in, Quinn traveled to Sedona and ended up at a party. That's where he met Inok, now the house's third permanent residence and the mother of Quinn's two daughters. "Quinn and I fell in love like the instant we saw each other," Inok says. "It was really, really powerful. And a few months later, I discovered that we had created a little being."

Inok ran a gallery in Sedona at the time, a community space for local artists who couldn't get into more posh places. When she discovered she was pregnant, Quinn told her not to worry. "He told me that if it was my desire to fully embrace motherhood, that he would be willing to support that. I was like OK, great, I accept."

Shellie was understandably jealous. But she put that aside and invited Inok to live there too. She laughs now, imagining her neighbors when they saw a pregnant Inok move in. "For the first time in my life, I didn't give a fuck," Shellie says.

Inok and Quinn now have a second baby, a 3-month-old named Quinnoki. When Inok's not taking care of the kids, she spends her time helping the house market events. She sleeps in a room upstairs with the babies. Shellie sleeps on the other side of the house. Quinn sleeps wherever he lands.

"We decided that it would just be better if I lived my life and he lived his life, and, you know whenever we wanted to be together, we'd be together," Inok says. "That's kind of always what I've desired in a relationship, because I've never really been particularly interested in like rules and regulations, and stuff like that."


Shellie still liked her neighbors, even though they weren't doing anything radical with their land. Articulate and soft-spoken, she also knew it wouldn't be smart to isolate them. After her home began changing, she went door-to-door, she says, asking them to confront her directly if she did anything that bothered them.

"We never argued and we didn't ever fight with each other," Shellie says of her neighbors, "and we didn't ever like go behind each other's back or have any problems."

In 2011, she says, she even invited over some code officers, including Curtis Jones. She showed them her garden and her compost pile so they understood why her yard looked the way it did. She says Jones and his fellow officer Neal Lucas seemed impressed. (Jones and all other city employees referred questions to city of Arlington's office of communication, which disputes this account. "Neal and Curtis met with Smith in 2011 after receiving several complaints about the property from neighbors, communications editor Sana Syed said in a written response to questions. "At that time, the amount of code violations was not as severe as it was at the time of the abatement.")

When Jones sent Shellie a notice two years later, demanding she cut her grass, she was surprised. None of her neighbors had complained directly to her, she says. The only demand from the city of Arlington that Shellie agreed to abide by was a violation stating that her trees were hanging too far into the road. "We're honorable people and we have no desire whatsoever to infringe on anyone's freewill right to travel," Quinn says.

For the other citations, Shellie responded with her own notices back to the city, citing constitutional law that Quinn had researched and now references as he recounts the months leading up to the raid. "We have the right to be secure in our persons and our effects," Quinn says. "We have the right to the pursuit of our happiness. We have the right to our spiritual paths. Those are laws. Those are unarguable, undebatable laws. Case law has proven that for hundreds of years."

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25 comments
ladypegasus
ladypegasus

This is the same city that forced me out and sent my neighbor to an old folks home (she had lived in her home for 30 years) because they wanted a new road. 

Funny thing, the Nature Center in Fort Worth now uses composting toilets just like the ones at the Garden of Eden. Unlike Arlington, Fort Worth is proud of this natural upgrade.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Two wrongs don't make a right.

jedivaza
jedivaza

I have never understood how most "civilized" people can be so judgmental, materialistic, nosy, arrogant, and afraid of things and people who are different,  I bet most of the psychopaths today grew up in proper neighborhoods with flushing toilets and eating processed foods from the grocery store - following "the rules" - until they explode,.  Try living your own life and let others live theirs.  I bet there is more joy amongst those "hippies" than all of the surrounding neighbors and less sexual abuse, alcohol, drugs, greed, gluttony, theft, etc.

babsandbernard
babsandbernard

No weed. Apparently no dog to gun down. Bad day for Arlington's finest.

loridschlitz
loridschlitz

In a way I kind of envy them. I've lived in a large metropolitan city my whole life. It would be nice to live as they do and I often think about doing just that. I think I would be a little more organized .. but, growing your own food, etc. sounds wonderful. 

oledriller
oledriller

Great article Amy! Yes, I am a ultra right winger! Burnt out old hippie? No.  But guess what? I support everything these folks are doing. Get the government out of our lives. Let them live the way they want to. Are the children doing fine? Are they being abused in any way?  No spousal er partner abuse? Is everyone happy? If not then leave these people the hell alone! Unfortunately, that won't happen in todays new Left wing Libtard Society. Its all about forced dependence on the Nanny State. Just wait over the next ten years. You ain't seen nothing yet! 

EdCota
EdCota

God, I feel sorry for Shellie's adult children. You try to go home to visit your mom and she's living with some polygamous blowhard who's your age, looks a whole lot like Capt. Jack Sparrow, and wears his pants low enough to where you can see his pubes.  The jerkoff has moved his common-law other wife into your bedroom and is letting some of his weirdo friends live in vans and half submerged suburbans in the yard.  When you need to go to the bathroom you have to crap in a glorified bucket and wipe your butt with sawdust.  Then at the dinner table,  you have to listen to him ramble on about half baked ideas concerning his constitutional right to poop in said bucket.  At least the food is uber dank, though.

I bet the kids were the ones that called in the SWAT team.  I know I would.  Do you think Quinn would still be with Shellie if she didn't own that property?

Josepha
Josepha

SWAT figured there had to be at least one illegal seed to justify their puny existence and waving of their tiny reproductive organs.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Cougar got her some hot, young Svengali and the other hags in the hood are jealous?

ChangingF8
ChangingF8

I live in the country, my neighbors moved in and immediately put a goat pen in their front yard. Did I complain about it? No, because I live in the country where we can do what we want with our land for the most part. Cities have to protect property values. If all the neighbors around this House moved out and no one else would buy the houses because of the jungle house then what is that doing to their values? Tax Base? This really needs to be moved out to the country somewhere. You live in a City, you go by that cities rules.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

I still bet that if you dig deep enough into this, there is a developer or someone in power who wants their property.

Now, I also say that they handled their issues with the city poorly. I have permaculture aspects added to my property, but I called the city code compliance and cleared what I was planning first. As to the composting toilets, I've seen that as a solution for people in REALLY rural areas. But, not when you have a sewer line.

MattKi
MattKi

I'm pretty sure this is Kennedale, not Arlington.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

Please know I'm not being a troll when I say 'Go City of Arlington!' I feel sorry for the neighbors of these people.  Property owners pay a premium for some degree of  protection and insulation when they choose to live in certain areas.  I have thanked my city code enforcement many times for removing violations.   

If a person wants to try this kind of cultural experiment (?) sell the land and move out to some rural location where there are no zones or rules and get as freaky as you want.  Also - I just don't like hippies.

EdCota
EdCota

@bvckvs Good point about burying the car.  How are they sure the car was properly drained of fluids and anything else that could contaminate the ground?  When the next owner figures out that some hippies buried a truck to make a cave, he's going to look at the old owners for environmental remediation.  Fortunately for Quinn, his name name won't be on the chain of title, just Shellie's.  And her ex-husband's.

Rather than a story about police heavy-handedness, this reads to me like a story of a divorcee getting taken advantage of by some aspiring cult-leader who's been enabled and encouraged his whole life by his fruitcake parents and the Dallas Observer.

mcdallas
mcdallas

@MattKi "I'm pretty sure this is Kennedale, not Arlington" = I have no clue what I'm talking about but I feel like I need to make some sort of comment.

It's called Google.  You should try it sometime.

ladypegasus
ladypegasus

@scerinjen3 This was a rural area outside the city when the owner first moved there. In a way they are being punished because the city has grown over them. What you are saying is that,even if you start out in the country, you have to move away if the city expands to take in your land. That is the sad but true problem. Soon there will be no place left to go where the city cannot control everything you do. My family had to leave our farm for the same reason, and the beautiful dairy farm next door is now a parking lot. Neither were originally in the city, but once they were, the city made life hell for everyone until we left.

thomas.rocha.cp
thomas.rocha.cp

@scerinjen3 Why can't you sell your house and move to an HOA where everyone signs their contract knowing that they have certain upkeep requirements? Because it's a hassle, right, and you should be able to live in peace where you are. People that like their grass longer than yours are not lazy, or trying to attack you with their grass. They just want to live their lives in a way that makes them happy, and not be bothered.

oledriller
oledriller

@thomas.rocha.cp @scerinjen3 Amen brother! I live on the largest non-territorial jurisdiction in N. Texas. Down a one mile private road on 3800 acres with six family farms surrounded by property hungry cities. We have our own trash service, coop electricity, our own internet service and private water. We homeschool our kids, ride horses, hunt, fish and have parties every weekend. We  build what we want without have to deal with stupid inner city municipal codes and libtard homeowners associations. And most important we do not depend on anything from the government. Thank God that because of Gov Perry we now cannot be annexed without a unanimous vote from fellow homeowners.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@thomas.rocha.cp @scerinjen3 then move to rural area where your unkempt lawn and property will make you happy while not bothering others.  You cool with your neighbor just having a hippie living in a van in the front yard?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@thomas.rocha.cp @scerinjen3 there is a big difference, did the city issuing code violations not show you that?  You can grow your grass however you want as long as you follow code, I must do the same.  Dont like it, leave the fucking city.  pretty simple if you ask me

thomas.rocha.cp
thomas.rocha.cp

@ScottsMerkin @thomas.rocha.cp @scerinjen3 There is a difference between unkept and kept in a manner you don't agree with. There is also the fact, mentioned in the article, that this area, while in the middle of an urban area, is not exactly urban. I've been down this particular stretch of road before, and it's almost like being back home in East Texas. The houses are far enough apart that it's a stretch to say that something in your yard is bothering one of your neighbors in their yard.

As to the hippie in a van, well, I don't really care what someone's personal views are, or what they live in, or even how often they bathe. The only thing I care about is that they let me live my life in peace. I'd would certainly prefer to have some self-described "dirty hippie" living next to me than a "good ole boy" who called the city every time there was a stalk of bahiagrass in my yard.

 
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