Inspired by the
Beat Generation of authors of the 1950s, who had flourished in the
North Beach area of San Francisco, those who gathered in Haight-Ashbury during 1967 allegedly rejected the conformist and materialist values of modern life; there was an emphasis on sharing and community.
Diggers established a Free Store, and a
Free Clinic where medical treatment was provided.
The prelude to the Summer of Love was a celebration known as the
Human Be-In at
Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967,
 which was produced and organized by artist
James Rado and
Gerome Ragni were in attendance, allegedly helping to inspire their musical drama
Hair. Rado recalled, "There was so much excitement in the streets and the parks and the hippie areas, and we thought `If we could transmit this excitement to the stage it would be wonderful....' We hung out with them and went to their Be-Ins [and] let our hair grow. It was very important historically, and if we hadn't written it, there'd not be any examples. You could read about it and see film clips, but you'd never experience it. We thought, 'This is happening in the streets,' and we wanted to bring it to the stage.'"
Also at this event,
Timothy Leary voiced his phrase, "
turn on, tune in, drop out".
 This phrase became the chisel for shaping the entire hippie counterculture, as it voiced the key ideas of 1960's rebellion. These ideas included communal living, political decentralization, and dropping out. The term "dropping out" became popular among many high school and college students, who would often abandon their education for a summer of sex, drugs and rock n' roll.
The event was announced by the Haight-Ashbury's hippie newspaper, the
San Francisco Oracle:
A new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.
The gathering of approximately 30,000 at the Human Be-In helped publicize hippie fashions.
The term "Summer of Love" originated with the formation of the Council for the Summer of Love during the spring of 1967 as a response to the convergence of young people on the Haight-Ashbury district. The Council was composed of The Family Dog, The Straight Theatre, The Diggers, The San Francisco Oracle, and approximately twenty-five other people, who sought to alleviate some of the problems anticipated from the influx of people expected during the summer. The Council also assisted the Free Clinic and organized housing, food, sanitation, music and arts, along with maintaining coordination with local churches and other social groups.