Growing up the youngest of five girls, my oldest sister was my hero. And, she was a hippie. As I look around today, I wonder, “Where have all the hippies gone? Just what has become of them?”
My sister is now a grandmother who is soon to embark on the joys of retirement. Her plan is to get a travel trailer and go about the country with her little dog and paint beautiful scenes. Now, apart from the painting bit, her retirement sounds just like my grandparent’s retirement. Are there any hippie communities my sister might enjoy retiring to?
She might like Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It’s well known as an art community. Perhaps she could get her peace and love groove on there. And the Ozark Mountains are full of fabulous scenery for her to paint.
She could also try Montana. The town of Missoula has a strong peacenik history. In June of 2007 the entire town supported a referendum that pushed for Congress to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. I’m sure my sis would have been on board for those politics.
And, although Arizona is often thought to be part of the Wild, Wild, West, it is also home to many hippies. Bisbee once was a mining boom town. After that charming part of its history was over, the hippies moved in and turned the town into a hippie enclave. Every year they hold an annual Poetry Festival. Tourists and artists fill the streets of this charming little town.
If the desert has no appeal for my sister, she could continue west to Arcata, California. Although this city is known as a college town, it is also environmentalist headquarters. It is so green, in fact, that in 1989 it became officially zoned free of nuclear weapons.
My sister could leave the Pacific and head due east to the Atlantic and find more birds of the same feather in Ithaca, New York. Being an Ivy League university town, Ithaca’s hippiness shines through in its cooperative community programs such as farmers markets, art collectives and a community vibe of self-reliance.
Nearby is Burlington, Vermont. If you want to know just how hippie Burlington is, consider that the city banned McDonald’s and embraced Ben & Jerry’s. So, yes, flower power is alive and well in Vermont.
While my sister is tootling around in Vermont in her retirement travels, she could then direct her course to Berea, Kentucky. Particularly because she is an artist, this could very well become a place she would like to settle awhile. The town has an artisan center that is popular with the tourists. She could probably get lost there for days. But the hippie spirit is not just found in the arts and crafts produced by the denizens. The town’s college does not charge students tuition.
The paragon of all hippie communities may be found in the Pacific Northwest town of Eugene, Oregon. This city is teeming with aging flower children who manage organic farms and live on cooperatives that are models for communities everywhere.