Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Back to the hands

The back to the land movement led folks to buy cheap land in Arkansas upon which to do back breaking labor. There had been a tremendous loss in population in Arkansas begining during the great depression. You could buy land here during the seventies and eighties for very little money. When well-known hydrologist Tom Aley became interested in studying Karst terrain, he looked for a map showing Karst in the US. What he found instead was a map of poverty and found that Karst and poverty provided a near perfect overlay. That map explained why the land was cheap and attractive and why the back to the land movement was a challenging proposition,

Karst is characterized by steep hills underlain by soluble limestone with caves and some springs. The hills are overlain by thin soils unsuited to most agriculture. It is also characterized by clear springs and streams with water that looks refreshingly clean but is not. So when the back to the landers hit Arkansas looking to build lives away from the military industrial complex that was driving the American economy and turning American politics away from democratic ideals, they encountered the same circumstances that led thousands of folks to leave Arkansas during the great depression. They were drawn and deceived by the beauty of this place. Some of the hippies attempted to go back to traditional techniques including plowing with mules. For most it did not work so well. Winters in shacks that the hippies had built for themselves were hard and in the Eureka Springs area, many rural dwellers would spend a lot more time in town during the winter months

In what I can choose to describe as a "back to the hand movement," many young folks moved near Mountain View and Eureka Springs to self-construct lives as craftsmen in clay, wood, leather, fiber arts and many of the traditional pioneer crafts. The Arkansas Craft Guild played a big role in bringing these folks together and provided the opportunity for them to sell their wares. I was a member for many years. I participated in guild sponsored craft shows and sold my work through their shops. I also found a great deal of encouragement for my own work through association with other craft artists. This same movement was taking place in Oregon and California.

Make, fix and create.

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