The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America
Author: Dona Brown
Publisher: Univ of Wisconsin Press
For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse. ? Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal. Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America
Author: Kate Daloz
Between 1970 and 1974 ten million Americans abandoned the city, and the commercialism, and all the inauthentic bourgeois comforts of the Eisenhower-era America of their parents. Instead, they went back to the land. It was the only time in modern history that urbanization has gone into reverse. Kate Daloz follows the dreams and ideals of a small group of back-to-the-landers to tell the story of a nationwide movement and moment. And she shows how the faltering, hopeful, but impractical impulses of that first generation sowed the seeds for the organic farming movement and the transformation of American agriculture and food tastes. In the Myrtle Hill commune and neighboring Entropy Acres, high-minded ideas of communal living and shared decision-making crash headlong into the realities of brutal Northern weather and the colossal inconvenience of having no plumbing or electricity. Nature, it turns out, is not always a generous or provident host—frosts are hard, snowfalls smother roads, and small wood fires do not heat imperfectly insulated geodesic domes. Group living turns out to be harder than expected too. Being free to do what you want and set your own rules leads to some unexpected limitations: once the group starts growing a little marijuana they can no longer call on the protection of the law, especially against a rogue member of a nearby community. For some of the group, the lifestyle is truly a saving grace; they credit it with their survival. For others, it is a prison sentence. We Are As Gods (the first line of the Whole Earth Catalog, the movement's bible) is a poignant rediscovery of a seminal moment in American culture, whose influence far outlasted the communities that took to the hills and woods in the late '60s and '70s and remains present in every farmer's market, every store selling Stonyfield products, or Keen shoes, or Patagonia sportswear.
The Back-To-The-Land Movement and the Search for a Sustainable Future
Author: Jeffrey Jacob
Publisher: Penn State Press
Category: Social Science
&"[P]ractically everyone I know is nursing fantasies about escaping the life they're trapped in and creating one that makes more sense,&" writes the editor of Utne Reader in a recent issue. &"The people I most admire, though, are those who actually do it&—who break free and pursue a higher calling no matter how great the risk.&" New Pioneers is about one such group of people&—the hundreds of thousands of urban North Americans who over the past three decades have given up their city or suburban homes for a few acres of land in the countryside. Jeffrey Jacob's new pioneers are ordinary people who have tried to break away from the mainstream consumer culture and return to small-town and rural America. He traces the development of the movement and identifies seven different kinds of back-to-the-lander: the weekender, country romantic, purist, country entrepreneur, pensioner, micro-farmer, and apprentice. From over 1,300 survey responses, interviews, and in-depth case studies, at both the regional and national levels, of representative back-to-the-landers, Jacob analyzes their values, use of appropriate technology, family division of labor on their acreages, and predisposition toward environmental activism. Jacob finds that back-to-the-landers for the most part are not completely independent of the mainstream economy, and consequently, their lives do reflect the contradictions between the available conveniences of a high-technology culture and the movement's goals of self-reliant labor. He analyzes their ambivalent attitudes toward technology&—hoes and shovels versus mini-hydroelectric systems, wood stoves versus microwave ovens, and so on. After examining the experiences of the back-to-the-country people who live on the margins of a postindustrial society, Jacob creates a clearer appreciation of the preconditions necessary to translate the idea of sustainable living into concrete action on a society-wide scale. While New Pioneers describes an important social movement, it also shows how far a group of highly motivated individuals and families can go, by themselves, in breaking away from the prevailing consumer culture. The dilemmas, frustrations, adaptations, and triumphs of these neo-homesteaders offer valuable insights to anyone contemplating a move &"back to the land.&"
how young Americans went to nature in the 1970s, and why they came back
Author: Eleanor Agnew
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee Publisher
Recounts the back-to-the-land experiences of the idealists of the 1970s whose attempts to find a simpler life often led to disillusion and an eventual return to a middle-class lifestyle.
One Back-to-the-Land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit
Author: Ben Hewitt,Penny Hewitt
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Drawing on the authors' own experiences in Vermont, shares practical advice on building a sustainable homestead from the ground up and launching a small-scale farming operation.
One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone
Author: Melissa Coleman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Category: Biography & Autobiography
“Lyrical and down-to-earth, wry and heartbreaking, This Life Is in Your Hands is a fascinating and powerful memoir. Melissa Coleman doesn’t just tell the story of her family’s brave experiment and private tragedy; she brings to life an important and underappreciated chapter of our recent history.” —Tom Perrotta In a work of power and beauty reminiscent of Tobias Wolff, Jeannette Walls, and Dave Eggers, Melissa Coleman delivers a luminous, evocative childhood memoir exploring the hope and struggle behind her family's search for a sustainable lifestyle. With echoes of The Liars’ Club and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Coleman’s searing chronicle tells the true story of her upbringing on communes and sustainable farms along the rugged Maine coastline in the 1970’s, embedded within a moving, personal quest for truth that her experiences produced.
Author: Jan Marsh
Publisher: Faber & Faber
In this most interesting book Jan Marsh examines the paradox underlying the transformation of England from an economy based on agriculture to one based on industry. By 1880 that had happened irreversibly and yet while the rural population was rapidly declining, the back-to-the land movement began to pervade all areas of life and thought. Jan Marsh chronicles the many manifestations of the pastoral impulse. From simple nostalgia to sophisticated political thought she looks at agrarian communes, the folk-song movement, peasant arts, garden cities, the reclamation of common lands, schools, dress and diet, and at the life and thought of such key figures as John Ruskin, William Morris and Edward Carpenter. The book is divided into four parts: The Cult of the Countryside, Tilling the Earth, Rustic Arts and Crafts, Pioneers of the New Life. 'I read it with delight. It is beautifully done - the research, the argument and above all the clarity of the writing.' Adam Nicholson 'An eminently readable survey of the pastoral aspect of the aesthetic movement dominated by Ruskin, Morris and Carpenter around the turn of the century'. Deborah Singmaster, "Times Literary Supplement" "" 'A synoptic study which includes dress reform, the folk-song and folk-dance movement, the impulse to safeguard commons, footpaths and ancient monuments, the revolution ins gardening, progressive schools like Abottsholme and Bedales... when we dine out in Fulham and sit round a scrubbed deal table with a string of onions hanging over earthenware crocks, we are paying tribute to the potency of the ideologies this book entertainingly chronicles.' Colin Ward, "New Society"
Why We Need Small Mixed Farms and Millions More Farmers
Author: Colin Tudge
Publisher: Uit Cambridge Limited
Colin Tudge coined the expression "Enlightened Agriculture" to describe agriculture that is "expressly designed to provide everyone, everywhere, with food of the highest standard, nutritionally and gastronomically, without wrecking the rest of the world". In Six Steps Back to the Land, he explains how we can achieve that, and have truly sustainable, resilient and productive farms, looking at: why we need to rethink our approach to farming; how we can move to low-input mixed farms; how tightly-integrated farms employ many skilled peop≤ dealing with the practicalities of this form of farming in today's world; and how we can get involved. Six Steps will inspire anyone to take an interest in our food chain and make a difference.
My Lesbian Back-To-the-Land Life
Author: Dianna Hunter
Category: Biography & Autobiography
A wry memoir of growing up, coming out, and going back to the land as a lesbian feminist in the rural Midwest of the 1960s and 70s Dianna Hunter was a softball-loving, working-class tomboy in North Dakota, surviving the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Mutually Assured Destruction in the shadow of a strategic air command base. Communists and antiwar hippies were the enemy, but lesbians were a threat, too: they were unhealthy, criminal, and downright insane. It took Dianna a while to figure out that she was one, a little longer to discover how she fit in with her new communities in the city and the countryside. This is her story--a frank account by turns comic and painful of a well-behaved Midwestern girl finding her way through polite denial and repression and running head-on into the eye-opening events of the 1960s and '70s before landing on a dairy farm. A bumpy route takes Dianna to the Twin Cities, then to rural Minnesota and Wisconsin as--by way of the antiwar movement, women's liberation, and a dose of lesbian feminism--she and her friends try to establish a rural utopia free of sexual oppression, violence, materialism, environmental degradation--and men. They dream big, love as they see fit, and make do until they don't. Dianna buys a dairy farm and, with it, a new set of problems thanks to the Reagan-era farm crisis. A firsthand account of the lesbian feminist movement at its inception, Wild Mares is a deeply personal, wryly wise, and always engaging view of identity politics lived and learned in real life and, literally, on the ground, flourishing in the fertile soil of a struggling dairy farm in the American heartland.
Author: Chris Colfer
Publisher: Little Brown Bks Young Readers
Category: Juvenile Fiction
Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change. When the twins' grandmother gives them a treasured fairy-tale book, they have no idea they're about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real. But as Alex and Conner soon discover, the stories they know so well haven't ended in this magical land - Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother! The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the legendary Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way? The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell brings readers on a thrilling quest filled with magic spells, laugh-out-loud humour and page-turning adventure.
Arthurdale, FDR's New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning
Author: C. J Maloney
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Category: Business & Economics
How New Deal economic policies played out in the small town of Arthurdale, West Virginia Today, the U.S. government is again moving to embrace New Deal-like economic policies. While much has been written about the New Deal from a macro perspective, little has been written about how New Deal programs played out on the ground. In Back to the Land, author CJ Maloney tells the true story of Arthurdale, West Virginia, a town created as a "pet project" of the Roosevelts. Designed to be (in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt) "a human experiment station", she was to create a "New American" citizen who would embrace a collectivist form of life. This book tells the story of what happened to the people resettled in Arthurdale and how the policies implemented there shaped America as we know it. Arthurdale was the foundation upon which modern America was built. Details economic history at the micro level, revealing the true effects of New Deal economic policies on everyday life Addresses the pros and cons of federal government economic policies Describes how good intentions and grand ideas can result in disastrous consequences, not only in purely materialistic terms but, most important, in respect for the rule of law Back to the Land is a valuable addition to economic and historical literature.
Author: Patrick D. Smith
Publisher: Pineapple Press Inc
Category: Juvenile Fiction
Traces the story of the MacIvey family of Florida from 1858 to 1968.
Author: Do Shaw
Publisher: Oberon Books Limited
It's the 1940s and across the country women are leaving their homes, shops, offices, and factories to take up a new role in the Women's Land Army. As they learn new skills in a strange environment, women from all walks of life are thrown together and forced to forge a sense of community while contributing to the war effort. Back to the Land takes a warm-hearted look at the lives and loves of a group of Land Girls making the best of life in a hostel in the North East of England. With a cast of over twenty characters, and based on the recollections of former Land Girls, this lively and touching play is punctuated with the songs of WWII.
A Back-to-the-Land Movement Story
Author: Oakes Plimpton
Category: Biography & Autobiography
1972 Farm Journal is a transcription of a journal the writer kept that summer living on a communal organic farm in central New York State. Every day's entry is about the ins and outs of the farming venture -- machinery operation and break down, success and failure in planting vegetables and marketing them, relations between the people, particularly relations between the sexes, relations with the local people who came with beer to offer advice, and to see what's up! Added is the other partners memories and present situations. We had a 36th year reunion in 2008, for one of the communal partners still owns the farm. Photographs then and now.
How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat
Author: Jonathan Kauffman
An enlightening narrative history—an entertaining fusion of Tom Wolfe and Michael Pollan—that traces the colorful origins of once unconventional foods and the diverse fringe movements, charismatic gurus, and counterculture elements that brought them to the mainstream and created a distinctly American cuisine. Food writer Jonathan Kauffman journeys back more than half a century—to the 1960s and 1970s—to tell the story of how a coterie of unusual men and women embraced an alternative lifestyle that would ultimately change how modern Americans eat. Impeccably researched, Hippie Food chronicles how the longhairs, revolutionaries, and back-to-the-landers rejected the square establishment of President Richard Nixon’s America and turned to a more idealistic and wholesome communal way of life and food. From the mystical rock-and-roll cult known as the Source Family and its legendary vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood to the Diggers’ brown bread in the Summer of Love to the rise of the co-op and the origins of the organic food craze, Kauffman reveals how today’s quotidian whole-foods staples—including sprouts, tofu, yogurt, brown rice, and whole-grain bread—were introduced and eventually became part of our diets. From coast to coast, through Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Vermont, Kauffman tracks hippie food’s journey from niche oddity to a cuisine that hit every corner of this country. A slick mix of gonzo playfulness, evocative detail, skillful pacing, and elegant writing, Hippie Food is a lively, engaging, and informative read that deepens our understanding of our culture and our lives today.
Author: David Grossman
In this stunning, bestselling novel—and an NBCC Award finalist—David Grossman tells the powerful story of a mother’s love for her son. Just before his release from service in the Israeli army, Ora’s son Ofer is sent back to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, so that no bad news can reach her, Ora sets out on an epic hike in the Galilee. She is joined by an unlikely companion—Avram, a former friend and lover with a troubled past—and as they sleep out in the hills, Ora begins to conjure her son. Ofer’s story, as told by Ora, becomes a surprising balm both for her and for Avram—and a mother’s haunting meditation on war and family. ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The Pittsburgh Post Gazette A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
Author: Ben Metcalf
Publisher: Random House
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY VULTURE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Against the Country is a gift for fans of Southern Gothic and metafiction alike. Set in the Virginia pines, and overrun with failed parents, racist sex offenders, cast-off priests, and suicidal chickens, this novel challenges literary convention even as it attacks our national myth—that the rural naturally engenders good, while the urban breeds an inevitable sin. In a voice both perfectly American and utterly new, Ben Metcalf introduces the reader to Goochland County, Virginia—a land of stubborn soil, voracious insects, lackluster farms, and horrifying trees—and details one family’s pitiful struggle to survive there. Eventually it becomes clear that Goochland is not merely the author’s setting; it is a growing, throbbing menace that warps and scars every one of his characters’ lives. Equal parts fiery criticism and icy farce, Against the Country is the most hilarious sermon one is likely to hear on the subject of our native soil, and the starkest celebration of the language our land produced. The result is a literary tour de force that raises the question: Was there ever a narrator, in all our literature, so precise, so far-reaching, so eloquently misanthropic, as the one encountered here? Praise for Against the Country “Iconoclastic . . . Against the Country has obvious affinities to Southern Gothic, both in its voice and in the delight it takes in rural ignorance and grotesqueries. . . . [A] country cousin of David Foster Wallace.”—The New York Times Book Review “Exceptional in its verbal brilliance and conscientiousness, Against the Country involves us in a family’s anguished and hilarious struggle against the strange dooms that seem peculiar to white rural America. This is a savage and gladdening novel.”—Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog “Metcalf’s unnamed narrator dazzles with his Puritan deadpan and capacious intellect, not to mention his double-barreled blasts of dark humor and wicked satire. . . . There are so many brilliant turns of phrase in Against the Country that it’s hard to choose favorites, but Metcalf is at his sharpest and most seductive when his antihero does more than blast and blame, when he steps outside his sermons to say something real. . . . Every note in every solo is sounded with exquisite perfection.”—Slate “Faulknerian . . . eccentric, magnificent Southern Gothic metafiction.”—Vanity Fair “Ben Metcalf is a brilliant writer, and Against the Country is an ingenious and hilarious novel, a glittering, bitter celebration of how the lousiness of life can be redeemed in the hands (and mouth) of a top-shelf teller of life’s stories.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts “A daring conglomeration of every trick, swindle and gimmick possible using only ink and paper, a pulpwood imagination machine so finely and expertly wrought that it can take on Jefferson, Thoreau, the church, patriotism, race relations, sexual identity, J. D. Salinger, the myth of America and a thousand other targets . . . [Against the Country] is absolutely and completely worth all investment of time and effort, because it is an undeniably beautiful object, sharp as a new razor.”—NPR “One of the more necessary—and most eloquent—expressions of a distinctly American, provincial rage in some years.”—Flavorwire From the Hardcover edition.
Alexander the Great in Afghanistan
Author: Frank L. Holt
Publisher: Univ of California Press
The so-called first war of the twenty-first century actually began more than 2,300 years ago when Alexander the Great led his army into what is now a sprawling ruin in northern Afghanistan. Frank L. Holt vividly recounts Alexander's invasion of ancient Bactria, situating in a broader historical perspective America's war in Afghanistan.