|LIVING ON THE
Living on the Earth
is available at this website--signed by the author! I have both the new
4th edition books, which cost $18.95 US, and the 30th Anniversary edition
published in 2000, now marked down to $15. Postage and handling is $4.30
for priority mail with delivery confirmation within the USA. Global priority
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Gibbs Smith, Publisher is proud to release the classic best-selling
guide to alternative country life, Living on the Earth.
Entirely handwritten in the author's script and illustrated with
her line drawings, it is a practical home reference volume. And
the information is relentless-organic gardening, outdoor cooking,
crafts, herbology, midwifery, backpacking, survival, first aid,
making and playing musical instruments, sewing, pattern drafting,
building a kiln, a kayak, an ice chest, making candles, soap,
ink, beaded curtains, ice cream, tamales, and, at the end, how
to cremate. A list of useful-and magical-books, and addresses
for hard to find tools and materials completes the appendices,
along with a star map and an old English poem to the moon.
Originally published in 1970, Living on the Earth is
about permaculture, sustainability, simplicity and environmentalism--words
that came into our vocabulary ten to twenty years later. Most
of the projects involve recycling--stoves and flotation devices
from 55 gallon drums, individual greenhouses from glass jugs,
patchwork skirts from neckties. It's about withdrawing from
consumerism and finding true happiness through creativity, respectful
interactions with nature, appreciation of other people, and
consciousness of the Divine.
It is a spiritual book that uplifts and instructs largely through
the illustrations of people living outdoors serenely and vigorously.
The message of the front cover illustration--ecstatic union
with the natural world--resonates with people because it is
our birthright. Living on the Earth was and is
a freedom call to people in all parts of society---yes, it IS
possible to find a simpler and more satisfying life outside
of the industrial-military complex. Yes, it is possible to live
in a world of innocent, smiling nudes, surrounded by things
you grew, found or made yourself.
Living on the Earth is also a historical document,
an insider's view of the communes of the late 60's, today widely
used in university history courses. Along with Ram Dass's Be
Here Now and The Whole Earth Catalog, it bespoke the joyous
upwelling of global stewardship, trusting comradery, and direct
communion with the Universal Spirit that marked the era's sudden
and enormous counterculture.
Living on the Earth is a milestone in twentieth
century art. (Publishers Weekly took note immediately with a
handwritten two-page review surrounded by Alicia's drawings.)
Within months after Living on the Earth was first
published, dozens of new books and commercial art (packaging,
advertising, giftware designs and greeting cards) based on its
design and illustrations began to appear. Its influence is still
clearly evident three decades later.
Living on the Earth was written, illustrated
and designed by a teenager. As such, it speaks to young people
as one of their own, daring them to create books, live adventurously,
learn the sources of things they take for granted, follow their
dreams. Alternative schools (where drawings of smiling nudes
are not forbidden) happily use the book as a craft project book
The Gibbs Smith Fourth Edition of Living on the Earth
is beautifully produced on recycled paper with soy-based inks,
true to the publisher's tradition for quality books and the
author's vision of sustainability. In spring 2005, Gibbs Smith,
Publisher will release Alicia's modern sequel Still Living
on the Earth: A Dictionary of Sustainable Means, a compendium
of twenty-first century developments in the permaculture life.
And, in spring 2004, look for Alicia's illustrated gift book
of aphorisms How To Make Peace (50 Recipes), also
from Gibbs Smith, Publisher.
Review and Interview
at Hippy.com ......
Click here to check it out:
of Living on the Earth
30th Anniversary Edition
Review, August 15, 2005 on Amazon.com
No left turn unstoned !
Amazing to think that she was a teenager when she began writing
this "Bible" of natural living. Not only does it still
hold up after 30+ years...but it makes even more sense now in
the 21st century.
I would give it to my children or grandparents with equal enthusiasm.
Alicia Bay gets the ultimate hippie chick award!
Reviewer: Gordon Kennedy (Ojai, California)
Author, Children of the Sun
A must-read on the history of us back-to-nature people, available
Review, December 4, 2004 on Amazon.com
Fun Guide to Living on the Earth
After waking very early this very morning, I started to read
Living on the Earth and was halfway through by breakfast. While
I had considered a hand-lettered book to be more difficult to
read, I could not have been more wrong.
The hand lettering brought a sense of comfort and the contents
reminded me of my childhood in Africa. If you lived in a rural
area during the 60s and 70s, many of the items in this book
will be very familiar. If you love handwritten letters from
friends, then this book will quickly find a place in your heart.
So, there I was stirring a 5-grain oatmeal mixture for breakfast
and I looked down and caught a glimpse of my painted toes reflecting
in the glass oven door. Suddenly I was transported to the years
of my childhood where we build our own tree houses, watched
carrots grow, milked cows, raised chickens, learned how to sew,
experienced tick bite fever and snacked on friendship cake while
walking barefoot on the warm earth.
Living on the Earth is an enchanting read filled with lyricism
and whimsy. It is written in a spontaneous style and the topics
range from soap making to building rocking cradles out of barrels.
Alicia Bay Laurel has illustrated the entire book and it is
a completely personal experience.
Some of the highlights include backpacking tips, making hammocks
with macramé, making your own soaps, sewing peasant blouses,
making your own moccasins, and building a kiln for making pottery.
There is also information on how to make candles, bamboo flutes,
bean bags, clothing, rose petal jam, organic diet soda, vanilla
extract, dried fruits, nut butters, ice cream, sunflower milk,
miso, roasted soy beans, smoked fish, bread, beef jerky, sour
dough starter, steamed acorns, plum pudding and herbal tinctures.
As I sit here with my lovely cozy heated blanket and fluffy
slippers I can dream about living out in the wild as my washing
machine swishes about with the Seventh Generation laundry soap
I recently found at a health food store. This book has many
ideas you can incorporate into your normal home life. You don't
have to live in a commune to enjoy the information about essential
oils, nature-inspired products or environmental issues. The
author recommends things like hemp paper and explores the many
uses of apple cider vinegar and pumpkin seeds.
To say the least, I was intrigued. This is definitely a must-read
book for everyone interested in natural remedies. There are
recipes for making herbal tinctures and you may find yourself
looking for "myrrh." If you love to cook you may be
intrigued by the recipe for Plum Pudding.
Alicia Bay Laurel is writing a modern sequel for the global
family. "Still Living on the Earth" will be published
in 2005. This book was updated in 1999 and is filled with useful
addresses and websites. I loved the list of "more books
that are still valuable 30 years later!" A helpful index
completes this fun guide to living on the earth.
I loved reading this book! While reading you may find yourself
becoming nostalgic, enthusiastic about hiking or even making
lists to buy a variety of herbs.
Reviewer: Rebecca Johnson "TheRebeccaReview.com"
Review, Amazon.com, February 17, 2001
What an amazing book. I found it at a used book store a few
years ago. The line drawings are beautiful,and the recipes and
crafts on each page are easy to make. This book makes me want
to go live in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere every time
i read it! It's a definite YES for anyone who is into making
their own "stuff".
Reviewer: Catgrrl809 (akron, oh United States)
Review, Amazon.com, September 2, 2000
my manual for living
i found this book as a young teenager up on a shelf. it was
my mother's, left over from HER hippie days. i took up the reading
as well as practicing of the book and have become a better person
for it. this book should be read by all. it is so simple and
yet beautiful and eloquent. i highly recommend it.
Review, May 20, 2000
rates the book at 5 stars of a possible 5)
When we depend less on industrially
produced consumer goods, we can live in quiet
places. Our bodies become vigorous; we discover
the serenity of living with the rhythms of the
earth. We cease oppressing one another.
Oppression hasn't quite disappeared in the 30
years since Alicia Bay Laurel wrote these words,
but, thanks to the enduring legacy of the back-to-the-land
movement and the possibilities of telecommuting
alike, more and more people are living in the
"quiet places" Laurel celebrates. Living
on the Earth was a well-worn (and bestselling)
bible for the urban hipsters who fled the city
and took up such pursuits as organic farming and
leather tanning in the early 1970s; its author, a
musician and artist who now makes her home in
Hawaii, made their acclimation to country life
just a little bit easier with her user-friendly
instructions on such matters as how to keep
gophers from invading the veggie patch and how to
get rid of those nasty lice that once served as
the mascots of bohemian existence.
Lice or no, the countryside still has its
undeniable charms. The reissue of Laurel's
handwritten, simply illustrated manual will
appeal to anyone contemplating a new life beyond
the city--or merely seeking pointers on how to
simplify daily life. Things have changed, of
course, since Laurel first self-published her
zeitgeist-drenched book in 1970. Where the
original edition had seed-to-bud instructions for
growing marijuana, the reissue now comes with a
modest disclaimer in which Laurel admits to
having lost her taste for the stuff decades ago--but
it also comes with a ringing endorsement for the
use of hemp fiber and paper as a planet-friendly
measure of economy. Laurel also juxtaposes her
folk remedies for common ailments with a friendly
reminder to head to the doctor if the pain is
really bad, the kind of advice once shunned by
the proudly self-sufficient barefoot medics,
manuals in hand. Still, though updated here and
there, Living on the Earth retains its
recipes for everything from making Moroccan djellabas
to molding scented candles to delivering a baby
in the privacy of one's tipi, all good things to
More than a blast from the past--although it
certainly is that--Laurel's book is still highly
useful. And it's just plain fun. --Gregory
Los Angeles Folkworks
An Icon of the '70s revisited
by Brooke Alberts
Last year when I was about to depart for the Big Island of
Hawaii, my buddy Kim asked me if I wanted to look up her friend
Alicia Bay Laurel while I was there. "the Alicia Bay Laurel
who wrote, Living On The Earth?" I asked, and yanked
the book immediately out of the bookshelf to show her. Needless
to say, I made the connection and spent a very pleasant afternoon
L.A. native and (according to the New York Times) "Martha
Stewart of the hippie era" Alicia Bay Laurel is coming
out with a 30th anniversary edition of her best-known book,
Living On The Earth. I picked up a copy of Living
On The Earth in the late '70s and it immediately became
one of my "desert island " books. With chapters addressing
such issues as how to grow potatoes in barrels while living
in a van, Tibetan eye-strengthening exercises, keeping food
cool without refrigeration, and alternative guitar tunings,
it was a compendium of folk-life skills simply presented.
Alicia grew up in Hancock Park. Her mother, a ceramicist, exposed
her to artistic and cultural events, and as a teenager she did
page layouts at the L.A. Free Press. She also attended the Otis
Art Institute on a PTA scholarship. She subsequently attended
San Francisco's Pacific Fashion Institute.
Alicia started writing Living On The Earth in 1969 when
she was 19 while living on the Wheeler Ranch commune in Sonoma
County. It was her third hand-lettered and illustrated book,
but the first to be published. She had originally conceived
of it as a pamphlet to help ease the transition of urban and
suburban youth to their new lifestyle, but it grew into a manual.
When it was published in 1971 and included in Stewart Brand's
Whole Earth Catalog it became a best-seller .
The handwritten text and exuberant line-drawn illustrations
were comforting and personal, and reflected the back-to-the-land
aesthetic espoused by the youthful idealists of the era. This
aesthetic was picked up and utilized by the creators of The
Massage Book (1972), Woodstock Craftsman's Manual
(1972), The Vegetarian Epicure (1972), and later The
Moosewood Cookbook (1977) and the works of Sark (1991 and
Alicia collaborated with her husband Ramon Sender on Being
Of The Sun, a companion volume to Living on The Earth,
published in 1973. This second volume is even more exuberant
than the first, addressing aspects of meditation, celebration
of the year, making music, and being passionate about life.
They include instructions for making a bamboo root oboe and
a set of bagpipes (from a plastic bag, masking tape, cardboard,
bamboo and oat-straw whistles). They also composed 21 songs
and chants for celebrating rain, night, time, welcome and other
occasions. A few of these songs are on her CD, Music From
Living On The Earth . Alicia had been playing fingerpicking
folk guitar as a teenager, and learned of the joys of open tunings
from her cousin's husband, the well-known guitarist John Fahey.
For the last 28 years or so, Alicia has been living in Hawaii
(the first 25 in Maui, the last 3 on the Big Island). Her CD,
Living in Hawaii Style, is more informed by the Hawaiian
slack-key style of guitar playing. The next 2 projects on deck
are How To Make Peace (50 Recipes) coming up in 2004
(a collection of original aphorisms which Alicia describes as
"a 50-page greeting card") and Still Living on
the Earth: A Dictionary of Sustainable Means due out in
November 26, 2003
Still living, still on Earth
by Alan McNarie
When Alicia Bay Laurel began writing "Living on the Earth"
in 1969, she was a teenager on a California commune. Now in
her 50s and living in Puna, she has since made a name for herself
in other wide - ranging fields, from wedding planner to Hawaiian/folk
But "Living on the Earth," a manual on simple living
that contains everything from recipes for pickles to tips on
home childbirth, has gone on to live a life of its own. Revived
by Random House a few years ago with a 30th Anniversary Edition,
it was re - issued last month in a new fourth edition under
a new publisher, Gibbs Smith.
Laurel will be making three appearances on the Big Island next
month to promote the new edition. On Thursday, Dec. 11, at Borders
Books and Music in Hilo, she'll be singing music from her CD,
"Songs from Living on the Earth," and telling stories
about the book's four incarnations and how they came about.
She'll repeat the performance at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at Taro Patch
Gifts in Honokaa. On at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 14, a $5 donation will
admit guests to a longer music and story - telling session at
Volcano Garden Arts on Old Volcano Highway in Volcano.
"Living on the Earth" was a revolutionary book, in
more ways than one. Not only did it become a bible for the commune
movement, it also sparked a small publishing revolution.
"Basically, there wasn't any book before it that looked
like it," observes Laurel. "After that, there were
dozens and dozens." The book's style, with its hand - written
text wrapped around simple line drawings, had an especially
strong influence in the cookbook field, including the "Moosewood
Cookbook" series and "The Vegetarian Epicure."
Ironically, a cookbook helped keep "Living on the Earth"
alive. While on a promotional tour on the mainland, Laurel met
the editors of a cookbook that was being put out by the Esalen
Institute. They recruited her to illustrate the new book, and
introduced her to the Gibbs Smith of Gibbs Smith Publishing,
who turned out to be a fan of her first book.
"I told him, 'Funny you should mention that. I just got
the rights back from Random House,'" said Laurel.
Smith bought the rights to produce a new edition, and set Laurel
to work on a sequel called "Still Living on the Earth:
a Dictionary of Sustainable Means," with updated information
on such topics as permaculture and sustainable lifestyles.
With Smith, she recently attended the annual Bioneers Conference
in Marin County, California to gather information for the book,
which is due out next year.
"That is the largest world conference on sustainability.
By going there, I really got an idea of the breadth and depth
of what's going on in this movement," she says.
The term "sustainability" covers a huge range of
topics, from recycling to producing biodiesel fuels to "permaculture"
- low energy agriculture systems that don't require constant
cultivation and massive amounts of fertilizer. All are aimed
at producing a society that can sustain itself without using
up huge amounts of fossil fuel and other non - renewable resources.
The movement is an outgrowth of the "back to the land"
communes that inspired, and were inspired by, Laurel's original
The new edition of "Living on the Earth" includes
a forward by Prof. Tim Miller of the University of Kansas. Miller,
a leading expert on the history of communal movements from early
American religious communes to the present, helps to put the
book in the context of its times.
The hard - to - classify volume - it's been catalogued under
headings ranging from "spirituality" to "home
reference" - has also become a historical document.
But whatever else "Living on the Earth" is, it remains
a font of practical advice for ordinary people - especially
this time of year, when the book's multitude of craft instructions
could produce some unique gifts.
One section, for instance, contains easy - to - follow directions
for making a wide variety of candles, from traditional bayberry
and beeswax to "ice candles" made by pooring hot wax
over ice cubes. ("Ice melts and leaves cubic holes in the
candle. The candle burns fast but makes interesting shapes,"
notes Laurel's directions.)
For the ambitious, there is advice on how to build a kayak,
make barrel furniture, and create hand looms and pottery kilns.
For the lazy, there are easy instructions for creating a "button
stone hammock." ("Fold 6 inches of the end of a blanket
over a strong stick. Place a small round stone under the two
layers and tie a knot around the knob made by the stone through
the two layers.")
There are also plenty of house and garden tips. The gardening
section, for instance, lists the amount of seed or plants needed
per 100 - foot row to plant any of 18 different garden crops,
and gives solid advice on such topics as irrigation composting
There are sections on canning and jelly - making, with recipes
for traditional treats such as apple butter and exotic flavor
sensations such as rose petal jam. There are directions for
making home - brewed beverages such as apple mead and elder
blow wine. There are directions for salting fish and for making
yogurt and sauerkraut.
There are also recipes for making soap, varnish, glue, shoe
polish ("equal parts oil, vinegar and molasses. Add enough
lamp black to form a paste"), paint remover ("1 part
turpentine to 2 parts ammonia)" and waterproofing for cloth
Volcano and Kaumana City residents may be particularly interested
in Laurel's directions on how to clean a wood stove and prevent
it from rusting.
And there is lots of information that is just plain interesting.
"I think that when the book was a best - seller in 1971,
a lot of people that read it were just armchair communards,
in the same sense that there are armchair football fans,"
observes Laurel. "They may never have wanted to make ink
from scratch, but it gave them a real spiritual lift just to
know that it was possible. They might even have gone into the
kitchen and made some marmalade."
Santa Cruz Sentinel
May 16, 2000
charm helped living on the earth
become a big seller
Sentinel staff writer
years ago, a 19-year-old urban refugee sat down
to write a simple how-to pamphlet for new members
of the rural California commune where she landed
after sticking out her thumb.
resulting book, "living on the earth"
quickly became a cult classic that catapulted its
author, alicia bay laurel, to the top of the New
York Times best seller list and sold more than
more than a manual for making eggplant tooth
powder, macramé bags and domes, the book became
a counterculture bible that inspired countless
authors simple line drawings and
distinctive handwriting, complete with
misspellings, gave the book a homegrown integrity
that struck an instant chord with a generation
ready to reject big American cars, Formica and
on the earth" was part Boy Scout manual,
part Betty Crocker cookbook for a generation
desperate for the beat of a drummer that did not
lead to Vietnam. The book talked about having
babies at home, dying and just about everything
book is for people who would rather chop wood
than work behind a desk so they can pay P.G.&
E.," wrote bay laurel, who adopted the name
to honor her favorite tree. "It has no
chapters; it just grew as I learned. ..."
the author, now 51, will read, sing and sign
copies of a newly-revised edition of the book at
Gateways Books in Santa Cruz.
1993 I noticed that the people in health food
stores looked the way I did at 20," bay
laurel said in an interview last week from a
friends house in San Luis Obispo. "But
they were 20 and I was 40."
decided that this new generation might need the
book too. It took a while to convince publishers.
stop in Santa Cruz is part of a unique eight-month
road tour shes making through the U.S. bay
laurel is doing her tour in typical alternative
fashion: she went through her address book and
asked all of her far-flung friends if she could
stay at their houses for three days. Then she
called the bookstores in their areas to set up
she wont be arriving in a VW van. Shes
borrowed her 80-something moms indigo-blue
Peugeot station wagon for what she calls a "connect-the-dots"
follow alicias adventures via the daily
entries she makes on her website, (www.aliciabaylaurel.com).
Girl, whats gotten into you?
the world and alicia and all of us have changed
in 30 years.
book was written by a teen-age girl," bay
laurel said. "I tried to stay as close to
the spirit of the original as I could and not
overlay too much of myself."
the many things shes done since her 2˝
years living at Wheeler Ranch, a northern
California commune have left their imprint.
wrote several other books, none of which have
repeated the success of "living on the earth."
Five are still in print in Japan, she says, where
American pop culture is revered. After 1978,
though, publishers rejected her proposals,
telling her "the hippie thing is dead."
distinctive style was widely imitated. That may
be the sincerest form of flattery, but it doesnt
pay the bills. When she turned down an ad agencys
request to draw a tequila ad, for example, she
said another artist changed her name to a similar-sounding
one and did the work.
1974, bay laurel has lived on Maui, Hawaii. There
shes been an artist and illustrator, singer
and guitarist and yoga teacher. In 1988 she
started a destination wedding business on Maui.
It was so successful it earned her spots on Good
Morning America and in "Bridal Style"
sold the business a year ago, at about the same
time Random House asked to reprint the book.
helped her revise it, and the new version
reflects updated ideas about health, ecology and
so forth she no longer uses pot, for
example, but supports its use for fiber
but there is no mention of computers.
wouldnt have been a computer person. She
wasnt even into electric lights," she
said of the person she was back then. "Its
still a 70s piece. Its not about
living in 2000 completely."
tour has another fascinating twist on the old
days of hippie road trips. Once shes
finished, she plans to take her "living n
the road" computer entries and turn them
into, what else, another guide for another
she hasnt lost her affection for the naive
teen-ager she was, the one she thinks of as a
daughter in some ways, the one who still
influences her life today.
still makes sprouts. She still sews, she still
cooks everything from scratch and she still eats
organic food "almost exclusively."
right now, shes on the road. Right now, her
stuff is in storage and shes got her
metaphorical thumb out there for new adventures.
would love to be doing that stuff," she said.
"But I dont think Im going to be
doing it real soon. Im wanting to launch my
free-lance art career. Wherever it takes me, Im
alicia bay laurel will read, sing and sign copies
of her newly revised book, "living on the
earth" WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday, May 18
WHERE: Gateways Books, 1018 N. Pacific Ave.,
Santa Cruz COST: Free INFO: 429-9600
|From Talking Leaves Magazine, Summer/Fall 2000
The first thing I noticed about this book was its
delightful homegrown lookthe handwritten
pages and playful line-drawings illustrating the
text on every page. Living on the Earth,
originally published in 1970, is a true heirloom.
It is reminiscent of the era of hippies and the
back to the land movement, but it is essentially
a collection of recipes for living on the earth
suitable for any day and age.
It includes how to do everything youšve wanted
to know how to do for years but didnšt know how,
or didnšt know whom to ask, or didnšt have time
to read an entire volume on the subject, or lost
your library card, or didnšt even know you
wanted to or could do until you read this book.
People can do that? Yep, get ready!
Granted, these arenšt science experiments, but
real live descriptions telling how to live a
happy, wholesome life where you are empowered
individually to take care of your needs and to be
self-reliant and resourceful, as many of our
ancestors before the technological revolution
were. You donšt have to be a full-on Luddite to
enjoy this book, though, and you certainly donšt
have to live in the country. There is something
for everybody. Ever wonder how to make yogurt? Or
miso? How to get rid of ants? Make your own
shoes? Build a yurt? Or how about make candles,
flutes, pemmican sausage, jerked meat, soap,
bread, and country pie?
Not only is this book astoundingly complete and
deliciously inspiring, but I could tell something
about the author as well. She is a collector. She
collects ideas about things that work for livingfor
being human, and relying on human powered
innovations; for, as titled, living on the earth.
She is a human and a teacher. Wow, she must have
collected for years! No wonder this is a revised
editionI think it would be nearly
impossible for a collector of valuable
information to publish only one edition of such a
Living on the Earth is written clearly,
concisely, and in a positive manner. Read this
book and pass it on! Hopefully youšll learn
something new, and then teach a friend to do
Reviewed by Jenya Lemeshow
Alicia Bay Laurel has
lived through 30 years of
transformation to stay
By Nadine Kam
Alicia Bay Laurel has been
criss-crossing the country with an IBM-compatible
laptop and cell phone, which doesn't seem
compatible at all with the flower-child
lifestyle and attitude that brought her fame
and fortune 30 years ago as the author of
"Living on the Earth."
"Living" was a handwritten, hand-illustrated
tome that led a legion of people to ditch
unfulfilling careers in favor of simpler,
more meaningful work and earth-conscious
The book made the New York Times
bestseller list and was reviewed favorably by
Time, Look and numerous other magazines. More
than 350,000 copies were sold over 10 years,
which allowed Laurel, at age 21, to continue
a carefree existence until she turned 30.
That's when the hippie became a musician,
photographer and eventually, businesswoman.
Now 51, she's aware of the rap heaped upon
her generation, often regarded as hypocrites
who turned on, tuned in and sold out.
But that characterization is unfair, she
said. Once a hippie, always a hippie.
"It depends what's coming from inside
of you," she said. "What's true
about me is that I'm an artist and I make use
of the tools that are appropriate to my work.
The piece I'm doing now is an Internet piece,
and the Internet is equally useful to all
sections of society, including the counter-culture
and those who live in rural areas. The
Internet allows them to have cottage
industries and live in the middle of nowhere
and make a living."
The Internet piece she is talking about is
her Web site, www.aliciabaylaurel.com,
where she keeps a diary of her adventures in
text and photos.
Until recently, Laurel called Kihei, Maui,
home. That's where she was running her
business, "A Wedding Made in Paradise"
-- helping tourists plan their weddings --
for 11 years ending in July 1999 when Random
House purchased the rights to republish
"Living on the Earth" on its 30th
anniversary. She's now on a national tour to
promote the book.
Calling from Kauai in advance of her
weekend performances at Borders Ward Centre
and Waikele, she said, "My possessions
are in a storage container in Maui. I have an
automobile in L.A. It's a Dodge Caravan that
I'm using on my tour. And I have a whole
batch of suitcases that I call my file
In her travels, she says she's met
hundreds of people whose lives were shaped
thanks in part to her work. One of those
people was Erik Frye, who helped her revise
"Living on the Earth."
He told Laurel he was 8 when his
babysitter gave him a copy of the book. The
ideas in it led him to Berkeley and UC-Davis,
where he studied sustainable technology and
conservation. He became an organic farmer and
agricultural inspector who founded the Hawaii
Organic Farmers Association.
Laurel never set out to dictate lifestyle
to others. She had grown up in Los Angeles,
and was 19 when she moved onto Wheeler Ranch,
a 350-acre commune in Sonoma County, with a
hundred other "city kids."
"We didn't know how to live on the
land," she said. "As a service to
the community, I thought I'd put together a
handbook for the new people detailing how to
build a fire, how to build an outdoor
kitchen, how to make soap. And I had
information of my own to share. I had gone to
dress-design school and learned pattern
drafting so I could explain how to sew a
simple tunic. My mother was a ceramic artist
so I knew about clays and kilns.
"I tried to find out everything I
could and wrote out all the information by
hand. By the time I finished, it was too big
for me to publish myself."
Laurel got in contact with Random House,
which published 10,000 copies of "Living
on the Earth." The copies sold out in
"It was not like I wanted to prove
anything, like tell people how they should
live. As it turned out, many people were
inspired by my book to go live on the land.
"You never know what's going to come
from following your dream. You might end up
broke and miserable, or you might find
something far greater than you ever imagined.
"My parents certainly didn't want me
to go to a commune. My mother expected me to
be an English professor at UCLA. Instead I
became a best-selling author."
Not all hippies were so lucky. Many
returned to the mainstream and the
corporation, in the process seeming to become
the kind of creature they had run from.
"What changed was the people in my
age group began to have babies," said
Laurel, "Raising a child meant they
needed a steady income, a home, because a
child may not want to participate in a
lifestyle that meant going without shoes, the
latest clothes, videos, all that stuff.
"They sacrificed to make it good for
their children," said Laurel, who has no
children. "A lot of my friends led more
conservative lives while their children were
in elementary and high school, but what I'm
finding now is that people my age are in
transition again. Their children are
graduating from high school and now parents
have the option of choosing lifestyle again."
This may explain the increasing population
of bohemians, who, according to Laurel's
definition, possess three characteristics:
"They strongly believe in compassion,
more than profit. Creative self-expression is
more important to them than conformity. They
believe a relationship between the physical
and metaphysical is important.
"If these beliefs guide their
decisions in life, that person is bohemian,"
Another name for them is "cultural
creatives" and according to a new book,
"The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million
People are Changing the World" (Harmony
Books, $25), by marketing experts Sherry Ruth
Anderson and Paul Ray, they account for a
quarter of the United States population.
"I think this will be cheering news
for everyone. I talk to so many people who
tell me they feel like they're all alone, but
And their ranks may be growing. "I
have a friend who runs the Web site hippy.com,
and 85 percent of the people who visit are
between the ages of 14 and 29," she said.
The growth of technology has spurred an
opposite trend focusing on tactile arts,
including the current hippie trend in
clothing. This is reflected in peasant-style
garments and other natural-fiber clothing
embellished with embroidery, beads and
Yet, beware of those in hippie guise.
Laurel says it's more important to feel the
part than look it.
"The Anthropologie spring catalog is
full of hippie clothes, but they're
expensive, like an $80 skirt and $200
sandals," she said. "It's the same
kind of stuff I used to buy in thrift stores
so it's funny to me.
"What's important is having the
freedom to create, to have compassion for
others. To be ruthless, to me, would be death.
I wouldn't want to hurt anybody."
Reviewed by Linda
Thirty years after its original
publication, the newly revised and updated Living
on the Earth remains the definitive guide
for those interested in shucking off the
trappings of modern life and running off to start
Author Alicia Bay Laurel was just 20 when the
first edition of Living on the Earth
was published in 1970. One can just imagine the
flowerchild she was sitting cross-legged in some
verdant field with her sketchbook in her arms
while she filled page after page in her growing
compendium of modern knowledge for skills almost
lost. Everything from milking a cow, making glue,
soap and candles to building an interesting salad
("and some taste trips like kelp, onions,
raisins..."), organic sauerkraut and
sunflower milk. Really, the list of what is
included is too long to even attempt. Suffice it
to say that, if you were actually taking a run at
community-building at the edge of a wilderness, Living
on the Earth would be a pretty handy book
to have around. Especially if you'd also brought
your Champion juicer and some powdered potash
along for the ride.
The 2000 edition contains all of the homespun
charm of the original. Nothing -- from the
copyright notices to the index -- is typeset.
Everything is in, presumably, Bay Laurel's own
clear and schoolteacherish hand. The author's
naively whimsical illustrations are intact, as
well. The author has included a sketch on nearly
every page. In some cases, the illustration and
the text form a sort of whole. For example, that
sauerkraut recipe is written inside of the jar.
There's lots of utopian brouhaha going on, as
well. Naked celebrants dancing under trees and
playing the instruments they've just made. An
unclothed man sprinkling water from a hose onto
both a cavorting child and a line of willing
plants. Eight unclothed and nearly unclothed
workers joyfully tending their garden.
A great deal of the book is given to the
execution of simple tasks -- and here again I'm
tempted to make a list: tanning leather, curing a
cold, remaking second-hand clothes. However, some
of Living on the Earth deals with
higher concerns. Bay Laurel tells us, for
instance, that "hatha yoga keeps you stoned,"
and that "the Chinese were once very hip to
living in nature." Despite all of this
naively rendered and idealistic exuberance, Living
on the Earth is an oddly complete book,
one that would be useful to have at hand if you
were, for example, stuck on a deserted island or
lost in the woods. It also includes much that
will interest modern vegans (aside from that
leather tanning reference, of course) and others
concerned with finding a more organic course
through their lives.
Despite useful and interesting updates in this
new edition, and despite the fact that the book
includes real life instruction for various
activities, at its heart, Living on the
Earth remains a touching reminder of a
quiet revolution. |
Richards is editor of January
|From the Ukiah
The Library File
by Susan Sparrow
June 15, 2000
A few years ago this book would
have been another good book for your 1970's
collection of how things used to be. But, in just
a couple of years, more and more people have
begun looking for ways to simplify and regain the
pleasures of being more actively involved in the
creation of their own living space and lifestyle.
Living on the Earth is written in Alicia's
cursive script and illustrated on every page with
her line drawings. Still containing most of the
original text and drawings, she has updated this
classic counter culture lifestyle book with
information on sustainable technology,
preservation of the environment and new natural
|Author still "living on the
Reviewed by SARA PEYTON
Special To The Press Democrat
June 2000 Santa Rosa, CA
Alicia Bay Laurel is back. The trend-setting
author who in the early 1970s encouraged
thousands to go live in a yurt is in Sonoma
County with a new edition of her counterculture
classic, Living on the Earth.
Years earlier, at 19, the Los Angeles native
was motivated to pen a how-to handbook for
hippies after moving to Wheeler Ranch in
Occidental. The west county parcel, a former
infamous hippie enclave, is owned by landscape
painter Bill Wheeler. Indeed, Laurel's best-selling
tome is entwined with the history of the county's
idealistic back-to-the-land movement and the
repeated efforts of county officials to destroy
it during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
I caught up with Laurel, now 51, in Graton, on
tour to promote her book. She had loose, nut-brown
hair framing a surprisingly youthful face and
wore a denim skirt and a halter top of patchwork
embroidered fabric. Laurel still sports a flower-child
Back in March 1969, a restless Laurel already
an artist, musician, and author of two
unpublished books stuck out her thumb on Park
Presidio Street in San Francisco. "The first
people I met on my journey were on their way to
Wheeler Ranch," says Laurel, whose left-thinking
parents encouraged her artistic bent. "When
I got there I was overwhelmed by the beauty of
the place and the way the people were living and
their cheerful freedom. But there was nothing in
my 19 years that had prepared me for living
without electricity and running water. I was not
alone in needing to learn basic outdoor skills."
The free-ranging manual Laurel conjured
includes step-by-step instructions for making
sand candles (remember them?), cooking on a
woodstove, creating wind chimes out of tin cans
and seashells, and birthing a babe at home.
"How do you grow things? How do you make
clothes from things out of the free box? These
were things I needed to know, and I felt that
other people would surely want to know them as
well," says Laurel.
The unconventional set of instructions proved
to be just what the reading public craved.
Published in 1970 by Bookworks (an imprint of
Oakland book distributor, Bookpeople), Living
on the Earth enjoyed overnight success.
In six weeks the first run of 10,000 copies
disappeared off shelves. Then, two weeks before
he died, Bennett Cerf, president of Random House,
acquired the rights. In 1971, the Random House
edition emerged as the quintessential bible for
wannabe and would-be back-to-the-land types,
selling some 350,000 copies in English and
landing on the New York Times bestseller
list. The original version still sells in Japan.
Why the phenomenon? By 1971 the back-to-the-land
movement was well under way and Laurel's book
resonated with those longing to move to the
country. The large format softcover, written in
Laurel's loopy, cursive script, with few capital
letters, broke the rules. Simple line drawings
cheerfully illustrate the text and included many
pictures of men and women in various stages of
dress and undress. The innovative book design was
emulated by dozens of books including Anne Kent
Rush's The Massage Book and Mollie
Katzen's The Moosewood Cookbook. Just as
surprising to the publishing industry, Laurel's
homage to the hippie homemaking was among the
handful of paperbacks, including the Whole
Earth Catalog, to outsell hardcover titles.
Laurel stayed on Wheeler Ranch for two years.
"I left to go on tour for the book. My
impetus to leave was that we were being raided by
a combination of the county health department,
the housing department, and the vice squad. The
big raid came only a few weeks after I threw a
huge party to celebrate the publication of my
book. There were 800 people including people from
communes from all over California."
Recalling that hippie gathering, Laurel says,
"Each group had a different campfire and
music at night. (Actor) Peter Coyoteís group led
owl totem chants. Coyote had three children named
Big Owl, Owl, and Little Owl. I'm sure they have
different names now," she adds, laughing.
The county crackdown at Wheeler Ranch mirrored
the years of raids for building and sanitary code
violations by county officials on nearby Morning
Star commune. That land was owned by the late Lou
Gottlieb, formerly a member of the Limeliters, a
well-known folk singing group. A limited edition
scrapbook crammed with news clippings from The
Press Democrat and San Francisco Chronicle
details the tumultuous period between 1966 and
1973, when county authorities labored to stem the
growth of Occidental's "shaggy-haired,
An online memoir about the communal ranches
recalls Laurel as a hardworking participant,
generating "income from various creative
projects which she sold, an activity then unique
among Open Landers." After she achieved
success, "Alicia was very generous with her
checkbook," says Wheeler.
"It was kind of a shock to be the only
hippie around with money," admits Laurel
chuckling. She pocketed an $8,000 advance from
Random House, a gold mine in 1971. "People
weren't shy, and they just came up to me saying,
'I want a trip to Hawaii, I want glasses.' I
didn't buy anybody a trip to Hawaii, but I did
provide dental work and glasses. When there was
the big raid on the (Wheeler) land after the
party, I bailed everyone out of jail. Later, I
put up money for the court transcripts for the
trial that followed."
Laurel created and published six more
illustrated books after Living on the Earth.
In 1974 Laurel visited Maui and decided to stay.
There she worked as an underwater photographer,
yoga teacher, book illustrator and teacher. In
1988 she opened a destination wedding business,
selling it in 1999. "I wrote books while I
was in Hawaii but nobody wanted to publish them."
Not long after selling the wedding business,
Random House decided to re-issue Living on the
With the help of experts, Laurel updated the
30th anniversary edition of Living on the
Earth (Villard Books/Random House 2000; $16.95)
with new information on sustainable technology
and preservation of the environment and new
recipes for natural foods basics. The directions
for growing bean sprouts aren't as "funky"
as they were, but all the original drawings are
there. "I was very careful not to put in new
things that were out of character with the person
I was then." The result is a book that looks
very much like the original, but the updated
resource listings include Web site addresses.
Traveling to readings in an old royal blue
Peugeot, Laurel has met many who have said her
book changed their lives. Several carried Living
on the Earth around the world. One young
woman was named after Laurel. "She was born
in a teepee, of course," says Laurel.
During her sojourn in Sonoma County, Laurel
plans to catch up with old friends and walk over
the land at Wheeler Ranch, recording her
impressions on her Web site. "The thing
about the relationships that began in those days
is that they've been extremely durable, almost
like blood relatives," says Laurel.
"We are intertwined through our love of
the land and through our creativity," agrees
Freestone author Salli Rasberry, whose first book
was published shortly after Living on the
"Those of us living in and out of the
communes began experimenting in simple living,
attempted to use all of our senses as we
connected with the natural world. People like Lou
(Gottlieb) and Bill (Wheeler) provided sanctuary
and a time out to try and make sense of a world
that made no sense to us," adds Rasberry.
Undoubtedly Laurel will find that the
Occidental area reflects the integration of the
rascals, artists, hippies, and greenies who moved
to the established rural town some 30 years ago
or more and stayed. Among them, Wheeler, who
celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday.
Reflecting on her time at Wheeler Ranch,
Laurel says, "It seems like a shimmering
star. It's amazing I could live so fearlessly. I
loved the social openness. Normally, we spend so
much of our time in clothed society separated by
social status. There, most of us were naked most
of the time when the weather allowed. I had a
sleeping bag and a dress and a jacket. Everything
else was dispensable."
Sara Peyton is an Occidetal free-lance
writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publishers Weekly: Nature and Environment:
Nurturing the Whole Earth's Catalogue, October 4,
1999 by Robert Dahlin
in which writers address the wide breadth of
relevant issues have evolved over the years.
"In the '70s," remarks Counterpoint
publisher Jack Shoemaker, "a small number of
important American writers turned their attention
to the environment, people like Gary Snyder and
Wendell Berry. In the '80s, another group of
extraordinarily talented writers coming out of
the poetic sensibility joined in, writers like
Barry Lopez and Gretel Ehrlich, as well as
scientists and naturalists like Terry Tempest
Williams. An explosion of attention was paid to
landscapes, and every bookstore had to have a
natural history shelf that soon became filled
with writers of lesser talent. People started
predicting that this was a flash in a pan, and
publishers backed away from rushing material into
print that wasn't ready. Today, nature writing,
what I call landscape writing, has grown into a
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Farming is certainly a paradigm of living with
nature, as is gardening with a protective eye to
the land itself. Rodale's extensive list of
gardening books has long stressed organic methods.
In January, Bantam publishes Gardening for the
Future of the Earth (A Seeds of Change Book)
by Howard-Yana Shapiro and John Harrisson, and
February will bring The Landscaping Revolution:
Garden with Mother Nature, Not Against Her (NTC/Contemporary)
by Andy Wasowski with Sally Wasowski.
While some plant, others seek out plants,
occasionally for health reasons. Medicine
Quest: In Search of Nature's Healing Secrets
(Viking, Mar.) is Mark J. Plotkin's look at
botanical as well as animal cures. Living on
the Earth (Villard, Apr.) by Alicia Bay
Laurel includes herbs to treat stomach ailments;
this title became a surprise hippie bestseller (300,000
copies sold) when it was originally published
nearly 30 years ago. Nature's Medicines:
Plants That Heal (National Geographic Books,
Apr. 2000) by Joel L. Swerdlow specifies and
illustrates 100 of the most curative plants.
30 years ago, Alicia Bay Laurel wrote a book
on natural living during
her stay on a commune in California. That
book, called "Living on the
Earth", surprisingly became a New York Times
"Living on the Earth" has recently been
released again as a revised and
updated 30th Anniversary Edition. The book
is still the ultimate guide
to living a simpler, self-reliant, close-to-nature
lifestyle. Just like
the projects and recipes in the book, the book
itself was made from
scratch, entirely handwritten and beautifully
illustrated by the author
herself. Alicia Bay Laurel gives
instructions for building a kayak,
making musical instruments, sewing comfortable
clothing, dealing with
pests naturally, and building simple shelters,
just to name a few. The
30th Anniversary Edition is updated with new
information, such as new
organic recipes and environment preservation
tips, but all of the
original drawings and most of the original text
"Living on the Earth" is not just
loaded with useful information; it's a
pleasure to look at. A new discovery awaits
you each time you turn the
page. This magical yet practical book will
get lots of use.
We can do it
by Betsy Marston
It was 1970, and people were dropping out in
droves. Wood stoves were replacing electric heat,
milk cartons were transforming wax into candles.
Someone noted that more pottery was created
during the "70s than during the history of
mankind - perhaps an exaggeration. One of the
gurus for back-to-the-landers 30 years ago was a
woman who named herself Alicia Bay Laurel. Then
19, she lived on a California commune, and after
collecting country lore, she hand wrote and
illustrated a book, Living on the Earth. Now her
hippie how-to book has been reissued so that once
again it invites contemporary malcontents and
vicarious readers to make almost everything from
scratch. That means jerky from game you shoot
yourself, soap from ingredients you stir for
hours, patchwork quilts from upholstery samples
and remnants. Nothing goes to waste in her world;
everything yields to human ingenuity as long as
there's time enough to fiddle. Bay Laurel also
doesn't shrink from life's inevitabilities. Her
simple recipe for forest cremation: "Make a
pyre of wood, lay the body on top, pour on
kerosene and lots of incense. Burning bodies
don't smell so good." Bay Laurel's was the
first paperback to out-sell hardcover books, says
her publisher. It recalls a time when rural
America was the destination for those seeking to
create a life free of materialism and full of joy.
If you didn't live through that decade, no
problem; Bay Laurel will still bathe you in
The East Bay Express Online, December, 2000
on the Earth
Alicia Bay Laurel
Random House (2000, 1970), $16.95
it "That 70s Book." Originally
published in 1970, it finally went out of print
in 1980 after it sold more than 350,000 copies to
folks on communes and to curious middle-class
moms and dads in suburbia. Living on the Earth,
Alicia Bay Laurels hippie workbook, was
just what city kids needed in the 70s when
they left home or dropped out of college, and
moved to the countryside. Written with a graceful
hand and easy to read, it provided practical
information about homesteading and farming, and
offered beautiful drawings of naked girls and
boys in an Edenic landscapeall of which
made the rigors of rural living look like fun.
with third-generation hippies quickly coming of
age, Laurels book is back in print in a
new, revised 30th-anniversary edition thats
more environmentally sensitive than the original.
This time the author doesnt suggest bathing
in streams or cutting down trees in the forest to
make human habitats. There are other changes here
and there, but overall the joyous, down-to-earth
feeling of the original book has been preserved.
The values of the counterculture come through as
loudly and clearly as ever before.
hard to believe, though, that Living on the
Earth will sell as well in the coming decade
as it did in the 70s when it reflected the
belief that paradise could be created here and
now. Today, it seems in part like a cultural
artifact from a long-ago decade. Still, Laurels
book is undeniably charming and its likely
to make unreconstructed hippies feel nostalgic
for days gone by. For the utopians of the 21st
century its likely to provide renewed
inspiration to live in harmony with the planet
and its creatures.
Fellowship for Intentional
by Alicia Bay Laurel
2000 (revised and updated 30th
anniversary reissue of the
original 1970 book)
246 pages, illustrations on
almost every page, $16.95
Laurel had grown up in Los
Angeles, and was 19 when she
moved onto Wheeler Ranch, a 350-acre
commune in Sonoma County, with a
hundred other "city kids."
It was 1970. "We didn't know
how to live on the land,"
she said. "As a service to
the community, I thought I'd put
together a handbook for the new
people detailing how to build a
fire, how to build an outdoor
kitchen, how to make soap. And I
had information of my own to
share. I had gone to dress-design
school and learned pattern
drafting so I could explain how
to sew a simple tunic. My mother
was a ceramic artist so I knew
about clays and kilns. I tried to
find out everything I could and
wrote out all the information by
hand. By the time I finished, it
was too big for me to publish
Laurel got in contact with
Random House, which published 10,000
copies of Living on the Earth.
The copies sold out in two weeks.
"It was not like I wanted to
prove anything, like tell people
how they should live. As it
turned out, many people were
inspired by my book to go live on
the land. You never know what's
going to come from following your
dream. You might end up broke and
miserable, or you might find
something far greater than you
ever imagined. My parents
certainly didn't want me to go to
a commune. My mother expected me
to be an English professor at
The 30th anniversary edition
of Living on the Earth
maintains the innocence, lyricism
and whimsy of the original,
enriched with current information
on sustainable technology and
protection of the environment. At
once a practical manual of
recipes and directions for
creating from scratch all of
life's basic amenities and some
of its frivolities, an
influential artist book with an
instantly identifiable style, an
insider's view of the Utopian
commune movement of the early
1970's, and a spiritually
uplifting lifestyle book, Living
On the Earth is as charming
today as it was 30 years ago.
The Austin Chronicle, September, 2000
It all seemed a lot simpler in 1971.
The simple solution to my misery was to
get back to nature and learn to grow my own food
and weave my own fabric and live in a field with
dozens of other dispossessed hippies, children,
and dogs. Fortunately, that never really
happened, and it chills me to realize how close I
came to it. So when the reissued Living on the
Earth landed in my hands, it was like I was
trapped in a time machine in an old science
fiction movie. Suddenly I was flailing helplessly
against a big whirling spiral. In 1971, I was a
mess -- a confused adolescent trapped in the hell
between hideous teenage persecution and suburban
emptiness. And this book offered a way out. As if
she were a cross between Martha Stewart and a
Deadhead, the author presents a utopia of simple
self-sufficiency with decidedly childlike
illustrations, presumably to underscore the
simplicity of simplifying your life. It's not
really all that easy, but, back then, this book
made me dream of it.
The first author I would like to introduce here is someone
whose books have been on my shelf (and in my heart) since the
early 70s. As young back-to-the-land homesteaders headed
for the idyllic country life, many books were needed to give
us suburban transplants some sorely needed guidance. A number
of us had never even seen a vegetable garden before!!! Let alone
know how to can, freeze etc. without killing ourselves in the
process!! And during that time, amidst all the other purely
practical books..Living on the Earth was born. Hand-lettered
and illustrated by Alicia, it was loaded with practical advice
of all sorts in a wonderfully whimsical manner...weaving spirituality
with earthiness. Her works have always been a reminder to stay
true to my heart..and to retain simplicity in lifestyle, love
for all and stay high naturally by being in love with life.
Please check out her Website, and I recommend anyone with the
tiniest bit (or residue) of hippie in them to definitely invest
in her books. They are a treasure, and so is she. Today is my
birthday, and I want to thank Alicia for making my life brighter
with her good work and sweet vibes.
Blessings, Mamma Moon
An original work of its time, now returning to print after
twenty years at a time when environmental awareness and concern
is at a high.
The Rainforest Alliance, New York NY
From: Thoreau Green World, May 6, 2002
OK, on to the final part of my economic rant. In addition to
getting your own thing together, I think it is equally important
that you want less. There are several books that I recommend.
First, the classic. Walden. Second is a book on the practicalities
of a Thoreauvian lifestyle in the present day, Alicia Bay Laurel's
"Living on the Earth". The third book is somewhat
deceptively titled "The Tightwad Gazette", by Amy
Daczyn (not at all sure about the spelling of that last name,
pronounced "decision") It is not about being ungenerous,
rather it is about giving yourself a lifestyle of sane spending.
Additionally, many of the ideas in this book are also environmentally
beneficial. It is one of those nice situations in life where
there is little tradeoff: If you are doing it for the environment,
you also save money; if you do it to save money, you also save
the environment. Not bad, huh?
I'm not sure if we can ever cease craving, but our cravings
do have to be calmed. In addition to all the practical suggestions
in Alicia Bay Laurel's book, she also suggests meditation. Try
it. Unless enough of us calm our inner fires, we're all doomed.
On The Earth" by Alicia Bay Laurel
This book is illustrated by the author in
simple line drawings. She draws knowledge about
communal hippie living from many individuals and
acknowledges them in her book. They give specific
directions on how to build your own shelter, dig
a proper latrine, grow your own food, sew your
own clothing, and live harmoniously on the earth
with your fellow humans. These lessons taught by
Alicia Bay Laurel and her friends should become
part of our American oral tradition. People of
all generations can benefit from the author's
childlike perspective on simplicity.
The MLS Bookstore
Back in print
after 20 years, this homesteading primer presents
a practical and fun design for life lived the
natural way. Readers will learn how to construct
an outdoor kitchen, practice midwifery, build a
kayak, and make their own soap.
Powells Books, Portland OR
A classic of the back-to-the-land, do-it-yourself philosophy
of the 1960s, this free-spirited, homemade, information-packed
book is updated with information on sustainable technology and
the environment, while maintaining the freewheeling lyricism
of the original 1970 edition. In drawings, recipes, and handwritten
text the book depicts human life in ecstatic harmony with nature.
It's also a wide-ranging compendium of country living skills,
in a design that influenced many books to follow, created by
a then-teenaged resident of a northern Californian commune.
Living On The Earth is recommended at the following web sites:
CHURCH OF ALL WORLDS - Basic Bibliography
Hundreds of books have contributed to the
constellation of ideas and world-view that is the
CAW. Of these, the following bibliography
includes the most vital, essential, basic,
challenging, and revolutionary. We have organized
the list into a number of topics, which are here
presented in order of essential relevance to our
present gestalt. Within each category, individual
books are listed in what we consider the ideal
order in which they should be read for the most
coherent presentation of the ideas involved, as
in a course of study. ref: Mircea Ellade,
I. THE VISION
1. Paul Williams, DAS ENERGI
2. Robert Heinlein, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
3. Mack Renolds, EARTH UNAWARES (OF GODLIKE
POWER, previous title)
4. Tom Robbins, ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION
ref: Joe Pintauro & Alicia Bay Laurel, EARTH
ref: Ramon Sender & Alicia Bay Laurel, BEING
OF THE SUN
Wheeler Ranch [1967-1973]
Wheeler Ranch was founded by landscape artist Bill Wheeler
on a 320-acre ranch along Coleman Valley Road. Wheeler opened
the ranch to everyone after county authorities began rousting
the residents at Morning Star Ranch. When Morning Star was leveled,
Wheeler Ranch continued as a quintessential hippie commune until
the bulldozers arrived in 1973. Wheeler Ranch was written up
in the June 1970 issue of Harper's. The book "Living on
the Earth", a best-seller in the early '70s, was written
while author, Alicia Bay Laurel, was living on the ranch.
VEGAN dairy recipes
i got this recipe from a FABULOUS book, "living on the
earth" by: alicia bay laurel.
~soak raw hulled sunflower seeds or almonds in water for 8 hours.
~drain and rinse
~blend with water to desired consistancy
~add sweetner (honey, or stevia) and vanilla extract
~strain, chill and serve!
(same website also quotes the beaded curtain recipe from LOTE--abl)
a wonderful web site devoted to hippie crafts:
Threads for Heads
- This comb-bound book of about 50 pages is the only "commercial
pattern" I know of that is oriented specifically to the
hippie market. It gives instructions for basic items like apron
shirts, pants and shorts, skirts, etc., including guidance on
constructing your own patterns from your measurements. I loved
the personal touch of the quotes and bits of poetry throughout...
it reminded me of the Alicia Bay Laurel books...
Jams Magazine, spotted among recipes and instructions for
cooking while camping out, by a writer named Sunflower Junction:
Read Alicia Bay Laurel's book "Living on the Earth"
for more ideas on camp food. I consider this book to be the
essence of hippiedom.
Earth Magazine's review of The Encyclopedia of Country Living
by Carla Emery:
Nevertheless, as folk literatureas
the crazy quilt of a quarter-century's worth of hints for rural
living and as a monument to one woman's determination to feed
her seven children by ingenuity and hard workthis book
should be shelved in your collection between the Foxfire books
and Alicia Bay Laurel's Living on the Earth .
Stephanie, age 17: Well, I know a book you could refer to.
I have this book called Living on Earth by Alicia Bay
Laurel and it is pretty much a guide to life. It explains methods
to make just about everything yourself so that it is healthy
and environmentally friendly, and more often than not, vegan
or vegetarian. The book includes beauty products, like soaps
(facial), different types of baths (Japanese, steam, etc.) and
a bunch of other things. You should get this book - it's amazingly
helpful, unique and extremely interesting. A "how to"
guide to suit your everday needs.
the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage website:
We were graced with two fabulous performers
this week, who stopped here on their way across country. Alicia
Bay Laurel wrote a best-selling book called Living on the
Earth in the late sixties based on the skills she learned
living on a commune. She just rereleased the book and is traveling
the country telling stories and singing songs about that time.
She performed here because Alline contacted her about selling
her book through Community Bookshelf, Alline's book business.
Hestia Guild Bookshelf:
Living on the Earth When I first met Bella, I saw this
book on her bedroom wall and knew we'd have the same goals in
life. (I also had a copy!) It's the original hippie guide to
homesteading. It's a great book to color in the pages with your
kids - there are big, childlike, sweeping illustrations. No
printing...everything is just handwritten in Alicia's loopy
cursive. This book starts with outdoor survival and moves to
important things like home birth and home medical remedies,
how to make your own shellac and turpentine, dealing with crabs
and lice. Also fun things that only the hippies would think
of - tie-dyeing with natural dyes, making musical instruments,
wind chimes, and kid toys out of recyclable materials, etc.
Will bring a smile to your face, and your kids will love it.
It's another one that is probably out of print and you'll have
to look hard to find a copy.
Chat on http://archives.his.com
OK, I may be just speaking to my fellow
aging hippies out there, but I want everyone to
know how pleased I was to discover that Alicia
Bay Laurel's ``Living on the Earth'' has been re-issued
in a special 30th anniversary edition. For many
of us who came of age in the 1960s and began our
journey through the various crafts in the early
1970s, ``Living on the Earth'' was both a roadmap
and a bible. This book, written entirely in
Alicia's own cursive script and illustrated with
her charming line drawings, was intended to be
the definitive guide for sustainable living. And
for may of us it really was. I cannot imagine how
many people were inspired by this book to try
their hands for the first time at sewing, dyeing,
weaving, pottery-making or even candle-dipping
and sprouting our own veggies. Everything she
described seemed so infinitely possible. So we
just plunged in and did it. Didn''t wait for
anyone's permissions. I can remember in my
pregnant hippie days constructing most of my
maternity clothes from the patterns in the book.
(And yes, I really did have a tie-dyed maternity
top). The first dyeing I did was by following her
instructions for tie-dying. There was a pattern
for constructing a simplke Inkle loom, and
instructions on how to make simple musical
instruments from items around the house. Learned
from this book to distil rosewater, for example.
I am so pleased that the book is back in print
again. Of course this time it costs $12.95
instead of the $3.95 my mom paid for the copy she
bought me back in 1970. The new edition is
updated, taking into account some technological
innovations and new ecoogical concerns that have
arisen in the last three decades. But its lovely
heart and soul are still intact. Here's a URL for
Alicia Bay Laurel's own website. And you can buy
the book through this site. Ah, I am filled with
I made an inkle loom and many belts. My son made
a red, white , and blue one and almost got kicked
out of school for it (that's how it was then).
I'm going to get the book and share it with my
Jo Rice in Ohio
I love the site of Alicia, yes nostalgia I
presume. Our childeren say my husband and I are
still hippies, but I think many things are
different now. I have cut down at doing
everything myself, growing my vegetables becomes
heavier, and I buy some of my clothes now. And I
use our computer quite a lot.
Marijke de Boer
When I'm not making the folk festival circuit, I'm a student
at SUNY Geneseo. I'm an Art major/English minor, but I have
no idea where I want to go with that since I'd rather be living
out of a van with a guitar, a change of clothes, and a jar of
peanut butter to keep me alive.
I thrive on unusual books. Any suggestions are welcome, since
my "to read" pile is gradually decreasing to the size
of two small rooms. Most recent books I've read: "Living
on the Earth" by Alicia Bay Laurel and a collection of
humorous essays by Mark Twain.
My only dream is to ride freight trains across the country
with my guitar. If I never do another thing afterward, I will
have lived more than everyone on this campus combined.
Globe: The Daily Freak 7/4/00
Early last week, I picked up a book "Living
On The Earth" by Alicia Bay Laurel. Very
sixties, very countercultural, especially in this
sense: It practically teaches you the skills to
survive and enjoy life completely off the grid,
or at least as far off it as you want to be. It
isn't a book about "survivalism"
practiced by militias and wackos. It's all about
forging a good life outside mundane society. It
doesn't promote revolution, it creates revolution
by giving you the tools to live the good life
without J.C. Penney, Nike, Stop+Shop, The Gap,
And again I ask...how independent are you?
have always loved this book. It rings true and honest, advocating
a simple, celebrate-life existence. Subtitled, "celebrations,
storm warnings, formulas, recipes, rumors and country dances".
Quirky line drawings by the author. Cover drawing of naked woman
in reverance to the sun. Overall a bit worn and well-loved.
Several dark spots on cover.
(ad for used book)
" hippie: an open hearted
being striving to develop a soul`s link to
The heart's motive is peaceful resolution of
conflict and love in action" ~s.f.heart~
It is not the destination, it is the
journey and here are some books for the trip!!!
(Living On The Earth rated 5 stars out of
|Alicia Bay Laurel,
in my opinion, is the world's sexiest woman.
Equal parts hippie chick, geisha, and earth
goddess--a total babe.
Blessings upon you, John, whoever you are...ABL