Back to the Land Project #13

Dear advisory board and friends, We hope that this Newsletter finds you in good spirits and health! The Back-to-the-Land (BTL) Project, both an affiliate and a founding member of the Counterculture History Coalition (CHC), has been vibrant with activity since our last Newsletter. We’re excited to share some highlights from our recent undertakings and offer a glimpse into our promising future initiatives. The past months have been a whirlwind of activity, with events and developments stretching from Deadwood, Oregon, to Ariège County, France, and from heartwarming gatherings to poignant losses. During Paolo’s last trip to the US, the BTL Project and CHC were highlighted at the Deadwood Community Center on December 1, 2023. The event showcased presentations centered on back-to-the-land and 1960s counterculture migrations and was well-received. Engaging conversations flowed during the potluck, complemented by standout presentations. CHC member Kate Harnedy offered insights into her documentary work in Deadwood and the ongoing Deadwood Oral History Project. Additionally, Paolo and Brian of the BTL Project delved into the BTL movement in France and the US. Writer and Deadwood resident Felisa Rosa also captivated attendees with a chapter from her memoirs and personal archive slides. In January, the “Luttes locales, espérance globale. Rencontres internationales du biorégionalisme” event at the Académie du Climat in Paris drew significant attention (see detailed report in this Newsletter). Co-organized by CHC, the event featured enriching conversations and attracted over 700 participants over two days, marking the potential beginning of radical collaborations and setting the stage for future cooperative endeavors. Shortly after, Brian shared insights on KMUD radio, and Kate Harnedy joined Paolo in exploring back-to-the-land communities in Ariège County, France. This trip was important for comparing Back-to-the-Land movements across the Atlantic, highlighting both similarities and differences. Notably, new back-to-the-land movements appear to diverge significantly: in Europe, especially France, there’s an effort to promote a greenwashed, depoliticized post-COVID back-to-the-land by the State and big corporations, while simultaneously hiding and repressing radical initiatives and collectives (a topic studied by an upcoming academic article from Paolo and colleagues in the Clermont-Ferrand region, as well as discussed during a future initiative at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, in May). In contrast, the US witnesses a rise in Land-Back movements (see our previous newsletter) and off-the-grid living. This transatlantic comparison was also central to an article published in the French journal Ecorev, where Paolo interviewed Deadwood community members and Brian about his Denny experience. We aim to translate this article for a future Newsletter issue. In March, CHC held a pivotal meeting, including the election of a steering committee. Paolo was elected as coordinator of CHC until 2026, and Brian was appointed to the board. This marks a new chapter in our collective journey. We’re also honored to have been joined by Michael Polson, the new director of UC Berkeley’s Cannabis Research Center, renowned for his ethnographic studies on cannabis since 2010, focusing on the political ecology and capitalism. Welcome to CHC, Michael! Amidst the celebrations and advancements, we also mourn the loss of Chuck Trout. His contribution to the Denny and Trinity County communities will always be cherished and remembered. An obituary will follow in the Newsletter (see links section). In France, we also bid farewell to Jean-Philippe Legois, aged 55, a passionate researcher on student movements and counterculture activism. While back-to-the-land was not his primary focus, Jean-Philippe was a great friend and supporter of the BTL project, and we wanted to honor his memory in this editorial. Looking ahead, exciting initiatives await. Without revealing everything (subscribe to our media to receive updates), CHC and the BTL Project are expected to officially participate in the Oregon Country Fair near Eugene, OR, from July 12-14. The coalition has already secured a spot on the Still Living Room Stage, and we anticipate an exciting turnout. This initiative could also provide opportunities to learn from the wisdom of our elders while empowering the next generation of activists and change makers. In conclusion, the past months have been a tapestry of experiences, lessons, and connections. As we move forward, let’s continue to build bridges, foster collaboration, and strive for a world where human communities live in harmony with each other and the Great Earth Mother. Thank you for being part of this journey. As always, stay tuned with us. And don’t forget to follow the White Rabbit. Warm regards, Paolo Stuppia and Brian Hill

Leave a Reply