In 1984, Nicola was on security duty the day the FBI raided the Rajneeshpuram commune in Oregon where they uncovered the source of the largest domestic bioterrorist attack in modern US history. The story of this utopian community that went horribly wrong hit a contemporary cultural nerve when Netflix released the Way brothers hit series, Wild Wild Country. This memoir, A Slice of Orange, answers two questions raised by the documentary: why would someone join a cult and what happens when their world is destroyed? Living this experience led Nicola to become a psychotherapist and reach hard-won conclusions on the appeal of charismatic leaders and how we can each become blinded by our cultural beliefs; a timely topic during a national conversation about whether it is possible to change cult-like beliefs and a desire to understand how they came about.
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"The Visit" is an excerpt from A Slice of Orange. It one of the short stories featured in Shaking the Tree Vol. 3. This video of “The Visit” is a reading/performance by Tara Sampson which took place at the 2019 Memoir Showcase at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, CA. Watch it through to the end to see the interview of Nicola Ranson and Tara Sampson.
Shaking the Tree Vol. 3 is an anthology of the winning entries in the 2019 Memoir Showcase. This includes an excerpt from Nicola Ranson’s memoir, A Slice of Orange. Nicola's story, “The Visit,” is about her parents’ to visit to see her at the commune known as Rajneeshpuram in 1984. San Diego Memoir Writers Association (SDMWA) is a community of local writers committed to the craft and business of memoir writing. All proceeds go to SDMWA.