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The Back to the Land Movement of the 1960s & 1970s and How It Complicated the Customary History of Environmentalism in the Ozarks

04 Mar 2019 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Jared Phillips, PHD, Director of Internship of International & Global Studies at the University of Arkansas, returns to Hobbs State Park to discuss another chapter of the fascinating story of the “Back to the Land Movement” in the Ozarks.  “Hipbillies” of the 1960s and 1970s had a profound influence on cities like Eureka Springs as well as northwest Arkansas in general.  According to professor Phillips, “Counterculture flourished nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s, and while the hippies of Haight–Ashbury occupied the public eye, a faction of back to the landers were quietly creating their own haven off the beaten path in the Arkansas Ozarks.  I will combine oral histories and archival resources to weave the story of the Ozarks and its population of country beatniks into the national narrative, showing how the back to the landers engaged in ‘deep revolution’ by sharing their ideas on rural development, small farm economy, and education with the locals—and how they became a fascinating part of a traditional region’s coming to terms with the modern world in the process.”

One of the very interesting aspects of the Back to the Land Movement involved how it complicated the customary history of environmentalism in the Ozarks.  Environmentalism is the theory that environment, as opposed to heredity, has the primary influence on the development of a person or group.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Arkansas Ozarks found itself host to an evolving conversation on environmental stewardship as National Forest and other development interests clashed with young members of the back to the land movement (hipbillies) and local hill folk.  In part, this clash was the result of contested forestry and agriculture practices in the hills, but in reality the back to the land movement offered a uniquely American rebuke to the emerging environmentalist discourse of the day.  While agreeing that wild spaces were indeed important—after all, bioregions like the Buffalo River were (and are) central in countercultural efforts at ecological preservation—hipbillies argued that wild spaces made sense only in the context of working agricultural land.

Join professor Phillips on a nostalgic stroll through an unforgettable and sometimes bumpy segment of our recent Ozark history.  If you were part of the Back to the Land Movement, come share some of your experiences.

Where:  Hobbs State Park visitor center located on Hwy 12 just east of the Hwy. 12/War Eagle Road intersection.

When:    Sunday March 10, 2019

Time:      2:00 pm

Cost:       Free.  The public is invited.

For more information on Hobbs State Park programs, trails, picnicking, or meeting room rentals:   Call:  479-789-5000

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