Cover of the April 1971 2nd edition of Living on the Earth, published by Vintage/Random House, New York
Buy the 50th anniversary, 5th English language edition of Living on the Earth
The New York Times Book Review
March 21, 1971
By Raymond Mungo
Living on the Earth is fun, much more fun than reviewing books about it: but Alicia Bay Laurel (is it a girl? is it a tree?) has made such a beautiful, such a divine and practical book, it’s a pleasure to tell you about it.
Pleasure’s the whole point of course, the pleasures of working with the free and rich resources of the planet in order not only to survive, but to live like kings and queens of the cosmos, richer than Rockefeller often on the per-capita income of Indians on the reservation.
Alicia’s book is rapidly making its way into the reservations, which you might also call the rural communes, the end of the road, or the temples. If you were me, you’d see it everywhere you go. Ah, you’ll see if everywhere anyway…
Living On The Earth is a big paperback melody of “storm warnings, formulas, recipes, rumors and country dances” not written but “harvested by” Miss Bay Laurel, with many graceful line drawings by herself. The text is not set in type, but written by hand, and in the ink is not black, but a subtle sepia color.
It tells you what you want to know. About cooking, carpentry, heat, cold, clothing and sewing, gardening, music, yoga, astrology, wood, water, the heavens, crafts, art, life, and even Death. How to cremate a friend on an efficient and ceremonious funeral pyre. How to waterproof your boots, turn an Army blanket into a Moroccan-style djilleva, or a long robe. How to bake bread, of course, but also how to make soap, hammocks, pillows, sandals, flutes, broccoli, mayonnaise and Space.
“How to Slow Down.” “The Truth About Soup.” Herbal medicines for toothache, insomnia or impotence.
Well, maybe not everything. As you and I are proving at this moment, there’s always another word to add, another book, another unending voice in the psychic atmosphere. There are many other books and magazines devoted to advice-for-the-survivors which have won attention and love in communal households: The Mother Earth News, Whole Earth Catalog, Canadian Whole Earth Almanac, and many good cookbooks, the I. Ching, the Merck Manual and thousands more. They’re all useful to some degree, some of them also funny, wise and beautiful. Alicia Bay Laurel’s is the best merger I’ve ever seen of the practical and the beautiful aspects such a book can have.
It is beautiful to see, hold, touch. The drawings and design radiate warmth, simplicity, sincerity. The whole effect of the books, as an object, is to induce serenity and goodwill; people reading it have been observed to smile and be happy, shout “O Wow!”, furiously copy down instructions for making some chair or souffle, and finally and ineluctably pass this book on to a friend.
Alicia is smiling now, as well she might. She’s happy to make me happy, though we’ve never met. I’m happy to make you happy. Get it?
Because, you see, what’s more: Living On The Earth is not just for hippies who do. It’s especially attractive to folks who live in big cities on an ever-tightening budget and wish to hell they could move to a quiet lovely country or seacoast house and peacefully enjoy their own bodies; and that’s just about everybody.
Most of the information in it is useful to everybody everywhere who wants to enjoy and play with the good things in this life. The vegetables, the cloth, the weather, the colors, the sounds: all the real material pleasures your body can stand, not of the plastic, all of the wealth of the universe, none of the money. All of the mystery, none of the boredom.
Such extravagance, can it be true? Yes, it can. At least, it’s a view of reality. You can buy your clothes on Fifth Avenue, eat in restaurants, and register your checkbook balance in your central nervous system : but Alicia Bay Laurel will show you a better way, less pretentious, more enjoyable. She’s Only Human after all, and must have had some sad and sour moments in her life like the rest of us, but she’s saved up in the cedar-chest only the best, most constructive and selfless, revelation about to life to help all of us, including Alicia, get along.
Get ready. Hell is always there, city or country, if you want to live in it. Heaven is nicer. Both of them are on the earth. God is on the earth, also the devil. Maybe they are the same. If Alicia Bay Laurel chooses to be a ray of God, so can you and I. So there. Reviewer secretly in love with author, also with reader. What a story! Living On The Earth is a pretty strong title. Think about it.
“The book of Tao says,” Alicia tells us, “that every day the scholar must know more & more, but the follower of Tao must know less and less. Eventually I must say ‘no’ to this unceasing tide of information. This book is already too thick. But, if the tide bends me again, this book will have a sequel. Besides, it was fun drawing all these pictures.”
The Village Voice, New York City
April 8, 1971
by Blair Sabol
Column: “Outside Fashion”
Along with the do-it-yourself-kits, magazines and other promos have been the run of books on “Grow Your Own Organic Garden”, “Cure Your Own Head Cold With Herbs,” “Build Your Own Home,” “Bake Your Own Bread,” “Have Your Own Baby.” And frankly, though their covers and titles may be intriguing, once you’ve read them, it’s nothing that hasn’t already been pounded to death in Family Circle or Good Housekeeping. And if you’ve been a regular reader of some of the underground papers’ yoga, health and food columns, than a lot of those books will read like instant replays since most of the hipper alternate-counter-culture printed matter is just that—collected columns. Nothing new.
But there are two new, very special books which I highly recommend as survival aids for health and head. One is Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel (Vintage Books, $3.95) which has already been accepted by the book critics with open arms and throbbing hearts, and rightly so. Ray Mungo’s review of it in the Sunday New York Times book section was as gloriously written as the book itself. Alicia Bay Laurel and Ray Mungo were made for each other.
Living On The Earth is a living experience. It compounds all of the Whole Earth Catalog’s hard core information with all the personal warmth and feeling that a girl with a melodically infatuating name like Alicia Bay Laurel could possess. It’s written more from and for the heart than the head. Yet she manages to cover every single aspect of survival, starting with camping, to “simple shelters,” to making musical instruments, to all areas of sewing, candlemaking, first aid, cremation, midwifing, “useful addresses for all sorts of extraneous supplies, etc. etc. I mean, you name it and Alicia Bay Laurel has explained it, and not only that, but has made the whole thing flow with her simple line drawings and hand-written directions. I reads as if she were writing a never-ending letter to you and you alone.
To say Living On The Earth is a must just ain’t enuf…it’s a necessity. And for the back-to-the-landers, it will, no doubt, become a bible.
(BOTH PAGES BELOW) REVIEW IN PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, APRIL 12, 1971
Whole Earth Catalog review by JD Smith, 1970
This may well be
the best book in this catalog.
this is a book for people
if you are a person,
it is for you.
if you are a dog,
and you can’t read very well,
it just might be for you too,
because of the drawings.
she’s our very own
Counterculture Scholarship considers the book Living on the Earth
School of Environmental Design
Paper for the Annual Conference for the Society of Utopian Studies
“Disruption, Displacement, Disorder” – November 1-3, 2018, Berkeley, California
Professor Greg Castillo discusses Living on the Earth
Review below reprinted from the now-defunct online Hippie Museum
The natural effect of the new Awareness was a heightened Earth Consciousness, and as Hippies began to feel the mystical connection of their very Beings as being intertwined and interdependent with that of the Planet, they began to be able to see their World as the enchanted land it is – a loving Mother Nature that nourished their very lives, and concern for the environment grew and information and “shining examples” of the new ways of living and thinking quickly spread. Ironically, the new way of living was in many cases a return to the old way of living, as people began to turn away from the high-voltage, high-powered tools and gadgets, poisons and medications of modern society, and to cherish the simple and natural, the homemade and homegrown.
Proof of the Revolution abounded. In 1968, the informative Whole Earth Catalog was born, a cherished publication that offered information on not only how to live Life more naturally, but held an extensive list of goods and services available with which to do so.
Another great source of Earthy information of the “Back to the Land Movement” of the day was Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living on the Earth. Written on Wheeler’s open land ranch, It was a delightfully illustrated and in-depth how-to-survive in the country manual “for people who would rather chop wood than work behind a desk.” The book was also a milestone marking the height of a Hippie way of living that was close to nature, with a focus on sustainable living and communal consciousness.
Review below from: The ‘Sixties Communes: Hippies and Beyond
by Timothy Miller (1999, Syracuse University Press)
…eventually the communes movement was producing books of its own, books that in some cases got wide circulation and introduced a great many young persons to the idealized delights of intentional community. The foremost of that genre was Living On The Earth, a hand-lettered and whimsically illustrated paean to dropout life by Alicia Bay Laurel, written while she was living at Wheeler’s Ranch, an open-land community in California. Originally published by a small press called Bookworks in Berkeley, the book was picked up by Random House and—in the wake of a surge of publicity that included three major notices in the New York Times in the space of six days, among them a glowing review by Raymond Mungo in the Times Book Review—found an enormous nationwide audience.
Timothy Miller is the Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and the author of three books about intentional communities.
More Excerpts from Reviews of Living on the Earth
Many books are made of other men’s books, but only a handful grow directly from experience. Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living On The Earth is a rare example of the latter variety and, as such, provides a statement which is as richly poetic as it is pragmatic… Her poetic vision, in fact, cuts through the complexities of our daily lives in a manner so incisive as to be absolutely dismaying. With her childish scrawl and her delightfully carefree drawings, she has provided us not only with a prescription for healthy bodies, but, more than this, an elixir for regaining a purer society.
Robert W. Conrow
March 24, 1971
…a joyous testament to the most fundamental pleasures of life…
Los Angeles Times
April 18, 1971
Solid common sense on every subject imaginable makes the big paperback, Living On The Earth, one of the publishing delights of the year….
June 15, 1971
Living On The Earth is the most fantastically beautiful book I have ever seen. Although the book is based on country living, it still contains many practical, sane ideas for those of us trapped in the city. Besides, the entire book is written in longhand, with hand-drawn pictures—it is just a total joy to read.
The Great Speckled Bird
…captures the pure pleasure of being a free creature on the earth…just read it, relax and feel yourself unwind. It’s one of those down-to-earth books that makes your spirits soar.
San Diego Tribune
May 4, 1971
A beautifully drawn and handwritten book… amazingly thorough, covering everything… recommended.
June 1, 1971
…it’s an art book, a handbook, an American primitive…
Mary Ellin Barrett
* * * * *
Cover of the September 1970 first edition of Living on the Earth, published by The Bookworks, Berkeley CA
Alicia Bay Laurel describes Living on the Earth: “There are many other books on this set of subjects, many of which cover them in greater depth than I do. But my book is not only a DIY book. It’s a portrait of a life lived inside the natural world, and outside of the corporate world.“
I’m a 62-yr. old graduate of a midwestern land grant university, and just about everybody I knew forty years ago owned a copy of Living on the Earth.
I used to see Living on the Earth on friends’ coffee tables and cable spools. Once in the late eighties, I noticed it while doing an energy audit for a Lakota woman. For me possession was a token of aspiration. Going back to third grade (1957 or ’58), I can remember thinking that grownups were doing things wrong — and I still have trouble telling which is bathwater and which is baby — but your book sketched out a handmade life, integrated with nature and friends. I wanted to live in a tipi village in the woods, grow pot, make art, go naked, and somebody else had imagined, even lived, that life. More amazing, lots of other people were moved enough by the idea that they bought the book!
Thomas Roark, May 2011
* * * * *
I’ve been meaning to write and tell you that when Bruce went
back to South Dakota recently, he found his original copy
of “Living on the Earth,” and remembering our friendship
(and the fact that i haven’t been able to find my copy), he
very thoughtfully brought it back for me—what a gas!
leafing through it again brought back some touching old
memories about how inspiring it was at the time and how mind-blowingly
informative it was/is! (and could still come in damn handy if what we
think is coming actually arises, please the gods/goddesses NOT)
so again, thanks again from my heart for your ground-breaking
Author, and editor of Bohemian Buddhist Review
I haven’t talked with you in such a long time – and this is probably not going to be a long note – but I’ve been seeing your name come up quite a bit on Facebook and wanting to let you know about a little “Living on the Earth” vignette:
I was at the local fish market a week or so ago (Monterey Fish Mkt in Berkeley) and I happened to have your tee shirt on, the one I bought when you were speaking at Cody’s on Telegraph several years ago. The fellow who waited on me noticed the shirt (especially interesting because I had a chambray shirt over it, so he really had to look to see it). He was delighted to be reminded of the book from his youth – he proceeded to tell me about his parents, who are old hippies (he caught himself on the “old” and did a bit of back peddling so as not to hurt my feelings;~) – the he went on for the rest of our time together with stories about how the book had figured into his life. He said he would like to get one of the shirts and I said I’d ask you the best way… I don’t even know his name, but he’s been there a long time and I’m sure I’ll see him again. Isn’t that a nice story?
Hope this finds you well and enjoying it all!!!
My daughter is 37 years old and I will attend her wedding ceremony next month. Why is this of interest to you? Well, her name is Alicia, and she is so named because when I was preganant with her in Sky Forest, California, I had a copy of Living on The Earth and was working with many of the suggestions in the book quite sincerely in 1973. I named her out of the inspiration that I took from the spirit of the book. The book helped me learn how to bake, sew clothing, garden, camp out, recycle and save used things and relate communally. I had forgotten about the book as the intervening years brought new and different kinds of challenges…but now I return again to that time and reinvent it in a healing community in which I live and participate. Community is really a center core value that holds true through thick and thin. Your book really expresses that spirit so joyfully. I had the idea of naming my child “Alicia” when I came in from milking the goat one morning, and was settling into some yoga. I wanted to include a plant name as well, but the feeling of her in me, denied this part. So it came out simply Alicia.
I want to give her a copy of your wonderful book for her wedding, as a remembrance of her early life history. She is a happy, very insightful person in whom a mother could not be more pleased than I. I think she would appreciate the book now.
I would be very glad if you would write something in the book for her wedding. Can we arrange this? She is to be married in VA on May 19.
The book is profound, it is really an historical document of a vital cultural movement, that continues in many ebbs and flows… I did not remember the part about cremation. That is awesome, the honesty of that.
You inscription is just right, light and joyful. Thank you for your evocative presence in this life through your art. After 30 years in alternative spiritual communities, your book reminds me of the wholesome things of this world that we can join and support…
I will send you a photo from my daughter’s wedding.
Here’s the photo!
* * * * *
It is amazing to get an email from you, and I am so glad to finally get to share my own artwork with you…finally a reciprocation! I am sure lots of people have talked to you about the effect your books had on them, but I just wanted to share some of my world with you in this regard.
I graduated in ‘69 from a little high school in Alberta. Although I had been accepted into university for their fine arts program I just never showed up. I stuck out my thumb and began my own adventures. I didnÂ’t own anything but what I could carry, but I always had a sketchbook and a rapidograph pen (someone gave one to me—oh revelations!) and I drew everything. And then when the thing was full, I started a new one.
As you probably recall those who were letting go of the status quo cultural constraints were often leaving all their shit behind in the free-store (often just a box outside the natural foods restaurant) and someone struck it rich rummaging through and finding my sketchbooks. I have no idea where they are, now, but my sister could see the writing on the wall (or the drawing in the book) and actually saved some of the individual drawings and I am so thankful that she did. Crazy freaks…
I don’t know what we were all on, but for some strange reason the artwork of those days took on that innocent quality in psychedelic colors, that back-to-the-land essential information exchange, that transcendent mystical call from the Beyond. You were one of the ones to be focused enough to actually get it all down in pages consecutively numbered starting with ONE, and, amazingly enough, get it published! Their weren’t many books on how to live on the earth in that primal way that we were all longing towards, but yours sat on just about every old kitchen table in every old recycled hippy farmhouse and communal bookshelf that I happened upon.
At one point I found myself in a commune at the end of the road on Kauai. I was on my way up into the wild jungle where I later lived for a few months eating guavas and digging roots. I kept my stuff dry in a bamboo tipi (yes!) covered with plastic. At this camp was a large communal kitchen where beautiful (we were all so beautiful) young naked mothers stirred some delicious rice and veggies with their brown babies perched on their hips. Your book was on the table, of course. I sat and shared a cup of mu tea with them, and flowed through the book. It inspired me to return to Canada after my stay in the jungle, to do a little canning and get in some firewood. It was easier, somehow, in a weird backwards way, even though there was so much more work, to live on the earth in Canada, just because there seemed to be more room than there was in Hawaii. So, I returned to the margins, making art along the way, holding some nebulous vision you had helped to nurture, along with those naked mothers.
I never got it together to buy land until all my kids had flown the coop. But I did manage to live on the earth in a sacred way always, and we all learned where the wild things grew to put in our chapatis. I sewed all the clothes, and cooked endless pots of soup, and celebrated life in its simple and abundant glory. I now share a small house in the sagebrush country of BC with my hubby of a decade. We collect wild things, still, and walk in the sage and rocks and sand, and carry beautiful walking sticks to aler
t the rattlesnakes of our approach. Life is good here on the margin of comfort. We have learned to nap in the shade when it gets over a 100º, and bundle up when the canyon wind blows the snow into our faces. We fish in the river, which is in full flood right now, so the fish aren’t biting, but they will, again in the fall… Coyotes sing here, too, like they do in so many places now… yey for them! Survivors and thrivers, like us.
If you look in my recent works, you will see a painting I did of a Being that kept demanding to be painted. It is a Being of the Sun. I see us all as just that. Infinite Consciousness having the Time of Its life! And I always wonder, what would that look like?
Spirit Sister, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
British Columbia, Canada
– – – – – – – – – –
Re: Living on the Earth’s 40th Birthday
I am so thrilled that you are celebrating this most magical birthday! Thank you for all the beauty, fun and wisdom of this great gift to us all these years.
Wishing you (at least!!!) 40 more years of magic and joy!
– Beth Livingston
(you also inspired my style in my own Kind Veggie Burritos (Deadhead) Cookbook .. so sending you even MORE gratitude!)
Thank you, Beth! I love your book! You gave me a copy a long time ago, and it’s happily cuddling with a bunch of other natural food cookbooks on my kitchen shelf! ~ABL
We go all the way back to when I was a wee hippie chick in the early 70s and pored over every word and illustration in your books. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being the very best of that.
Beth Owls Daughter (Livingston)
Just wanted to write you a note of appreciation. We have never met, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. When I was 15 years old and a high school student, I bought your book Living on the Earth and fell in love with it. My sister, friends and I adopted a lot of your ideas about gardening, building and other things. We made our own clothing from instructions in the book too. Our family home was right on a ten square mile forest, so we spent a lot of time in the woods trying out things from your book.
A year later I quit high school and hitchhiked out to the West Coast because I wanted to meet you and Ramon Sender, and met neither of you because I was told you both were in Latin America somewhere. I lived on Wheelers Ranch for a summer, fall and winter, and brought a few friends there too. I used to play music with Snakepit Eddie who turned out to be a wonderful mentor. He introduced me to free improvisation, and also gave me a violin and guitar. I later moved to India and lived there for nine years and Bangladesh for a year, and now my wife and I teach at a small liberal arts school.
Thanks for all the inspiration you’ve given me. I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today if I hadn’t bought your book back in 1971. The book itself was inspiring, but my crazy decision to seek you and resulting “failure” led to a life-changing odyssey that took me all over the globe.
Professor of Sanskrit, Hindi, and Bengali literature
Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina
– – – – – – – – – –
When I was 13 my brother gave me “Living on the Earth” and I pored over that book for hours. . . it gave me new ideas about what may be possible in life for myself and for the world in general. It had a huge influence on me and how I saw life.
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
– – – – – – – – – –
Alicia, I love your book, too. It so reminds me of my childhood, when my mom and I would do things like look at blueprints for treehouses, and dream of living in one.
Joy IsNature Working
Eastern Pennsylvania Permaculture Guild
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Living on the Earth” meant so much to me way back when. I made a little shirt out of a bedspread for my son who is now 43. You taught us how we could begin to live simply. I also have “Being of the Sun” with your beautiful art work. Nice to see more of it here!
There is a message of simplicity that rings with ever greater truth as the years go by and the world goes insane with technology. This beautiful message exists as a strong seed within our larger society. I must believe that it will be embraced, (and no longer thwarted), when the world wakes up to remember the needs of future generations.
Point Arena, California
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Alicia, I wanted to send you a personal note today. I’ve been thinking about it every year on your birthday since you accepted my friend request when I found you here. We are separated by years, a generation, and any number of things.
I will always remember the first time I found my mother’s copy of “Living On the Earth” in the flotsam and jetsam of her life from the ’70s and began to really think about how I was living and…why.
In a large way, it has inspired a number of things I do when I work with young teenagers on our small farm in Wisconsin: Teaching them that rural life and engaging and nurturing the earth need not be coarse, rude, and thoughtless; it can be elegant, inspiring, and transcendent. You have so much to do with that.
I’m sure you know you’ve touched so many people through the years and just wanted to reach out for one brief moment and let you know that I’m one of them. Keep doing your thing! You add something special to the world.
Always a fan,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Your books changed my life. I kept my “living on the earth” from my teenage misery years ’til just recently, when I handed it to my 21 year old daughter. thank you so much for leading me into my hands-on artist life.
New York City
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Your book awakened and fed the hippie spirit in me and I often gauged how “in tune” a person was by asking if they knew your book or not. I think every one I knew was familiar with “Living On The Earth.” And if someone was not aware of it, they were directed to get one ASAP.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Pardon my gushing but I love, love, love, your book. I bought it many moons ago when I was in high school in a little bookstore in Durango, CO. I used to take it out and read it constantly. It was like my bible. Even though so many years have passed I still pull it out and go through it, even if just to look at the beautiful pictures. Blessings to you!!
Christine Davi Whitney
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I so very love reading comments like this to my fairy god mother!
I was truly blessed to be named after a woman of the earth!
Alicia Bay Laurel Moore Ashlock
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Alicia Bay Laurel, how can I ever thank you for touching this hippie heart with your beautiful books? So long ago. I still remember finding Wow! There is another way and stitching a simple long skirt by kerosene light in 1974. I am grateful, so grateful, for you,!!! Thank you up for being a guide and teacher when that was so hard to find.
Waldorf School Teacher
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
People have been asking me to list 10 books—my house is full of books—here are some books that I love and/or have carried with me for a long time—and/or changed the way I thought about things (or did things)
1. Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel, carried it from home to home from age 14
2. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea popup by Sam Ita
3. Paper Dreams by Lorrie Bodger (first book by someone i knew)
4. 600 Black Dots (and others) by David A. Carter
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (keep rereading it)
6 Little Women (took it out of the library 4 times in 3rd grd— “xmas wont be xmas without any presents”)
7 Dashiell Hammett books The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon (novel), etc.
9 The Cat in the Hat (first book i could read)
10 A Commonplace Book of Pie by Kate Lebo
Esther K. Smith
Book Artist and Author
Purgatory Pie Press
New York City
“Your book inspired me to become a Craftswoman.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Denise Petersen Lists Her Top Ten Books
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Omnivore’s Dilemna, Michael Pollan
The Red Balloon, A. Lamorrisse
How to Cook Eveything, Mark Bittman
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
The Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
All of John Green’s books
Sylvie Sunflower, Alicia Bay Laurel
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
i bought Living on the Earth way back when – it has been invaluable to me all these years! i have made everything in the book i think! i still use it, it gives me joy to read it and takes me back to those wonderful years when i was young. a favorite is rose petal jam that i still make. the book is falling apart now, i have used it so much. i just wanted you to know how much i love that book and thank you for writing such a special collection. my heart is still in the 70’s (i am 59 now)
Michigan Upper Peninsula
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
In 1971, I had just bought my copy of Living on the Earth – loved the graphics – and by 1974 was farming in South Dakota with your book on my growing shelf of helpful cool volumes; Edward Espe Brown’s Tassajara Bread book, Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog and Carla Emory’s first xeroxed subscription segments of her Old Fashioned Recipe Book (remember it?).
Teacher, Consultant and Speaker
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
i will never be able to relate to you or anyone exactly how much impact your early adulthood and your books had on me. they completely altered my course. you really were my first guru. seeing this picture and reading your story still captivates me…and having you as a friend on FB, inter-relating with you now…45 years later simply blows my mind!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Kimberly Hughes’ 14 Favorite Books
Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
Chorus of Stones by Susan Griffin
The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen
Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
First they Killed my Father by Loung Ung
House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel
Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
Affinity by Sarah Waters
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Professor, Journalist and Translator
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Alicia Bay Laurel is one of those incredible awakened foremothers. Alicia is a woman who helped pave the way for conscious planet living, which of course there is a louder call than ever for. Many of you will be familiar with Alicia’s many works. Her classic work “Living on the Earth” written in 1971, is more relevant and inspiring today than ever. I love the communal aspects of her book. In fact, I have now taken to calling up my best girlfriend at least once a week to ask rhetorically “Remind me why we are not living in an intentional community and are trying to sustain our families alone?” I aspire to put into practice as many of her ideas as I can. I love the “getting to back to Mother Earth” philosophy as opposed to the “human conquering earth” attitude which has led us to make many assumptions about consumerism which have cost us all dearly.
As we enter into the second decade of the new millennium, it has become increasing clear that we have tapped Mother Earth’s resources, much like in Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”. We are all being forced now to change our minds and hearts because of the changes in our environmental, financial, emotional and spiritual landscapes.
Many profess this to be a time where a real sweet spot exists, an evolutionary juncture during which we make changes in our hearts and minds, embrace the Divine Feminine and subsequently heal the planet as we begin to appreciate Mother Earth.
Jeanine Austin, PhD, CHt
Life Coaching and Hypnosis
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel was published in 1970 as a result of all the communes and hippie living styles that sprung up in the sixties. Completely handwritten, in script, it has matching single line drawn illustrations that are very charming. Some illustrations are for instructions on how to make things, but others, the ones I like more, show people enjoying her suggestions. The author infuses her spirit for peace and serenity throughout. She speaks to her readers and admits that her name is not her birth name, but one she chose because bay and laurel are her favorite trees. Everything you would need to know about how to survive on your own or with other people is in here. From how to construct a house, to giving birth at home, it’s all inclusive, a bible. Thirty or more years ago, I used the patterns to sew peasant blouses and shirts. And I once tried to make dandelion wine. As we return to a greener existence, this book will come in very handy, again. I’m dusting it off and putting it on my night table.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
We could choose to view the [hippie] period through the pages of Rolling Stone magazine or the succession of Whole Earth Catalogs. Instead, my wife recently handed me her copy of Alicia Bay Laurel’s 1970 Living on the Earth, with its drawings and handwritten text, as an insight into the period. I open here and see, “casings for elastic” and then the directions for making a Mexican peasant blouse. A smock-shirt for a man, too. Patchwork quilts, tie-dyes, natural dyes, moccasins, clay and candlemaking, wind chimes. Is anybody going to master that bamboo flute or actually dance naked with those anklets and bracelets? Milk a cow and make cottage cheese or buttermilk? It’s all there in this journal of discovery, including directions for building your own kayak or giving birth at home. Everything seeming so easy, at that. All infused with sunbursts, moons, and stars.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I am so proud to say my parents named me after you!
Thank you so much for the friend request!
They gave me their original copy of Living on the Earth as well as a couple of coloring books.
I am including a pic.
So excited to be in touch with my namesake!
Alicia Bay Laurel Prior
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Your book, “Living on the Earth” meant SO much to me back in the early 70’s when I bought it! It was like my bible for living a sane, natural and magical life! Despite leading a rather nomadic life and moving many times, and losing lots of things along the way, I STILL have that book and I take it out and read it again every now and then. My 42 year old daughter just discovered it a few months ago and is also in love with it! I once decorated our Christmas tree with those little star/sun shaped things that are made out of tin can tops – I made designs for the centers and painted the pointy edges with glitter and the tree was so pretty!
Albany, New York
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I used to be the most anti-computer person perhaps on the planet….when I met Alicia I had been living in the woods with no electricity or running water for 21 years in a cabin I built myself with all hand tools…Alicia was literally the only person in the world to whom I would listen about the potential of the Internet…..the only person with credibility that I would listen to, based on my love of her book , which was one of may bibles….she modeled how it could be used to achieve the same goals that she furthers in her book, so that opened my mind….Thank you, Alicia
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Dear Alicia, I have always admired you, ever since I bought Living on the Earth back in 1971 when I was at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I liked your book so much that during the summer I would sit and color the pictures for hours, very carefully. I thought you would like to know this! It just brings me back to a simpler time when my whole life was ahead of me and I had time to daydream about what it was like to live in a commune. Well, here are some pictures from the pages of your book.
I also shared this book three years ago with a high school English class. The kids passed the book around while I told them that hippies were not just idiots on drugs who said, “Groovy” and made a peace sign, that they actually did believe in living simply and naturally. The summer I bought your book I was living in San Luis Obispo in a little upstairs duplex on Lemon St. (It’s still there, by the way). We had batik curtains, pot, patchouli oil, guitar music playing, etc. but basically, I was still a middle-class girl who went to class every day. But having your book on our coffee table was an affirmation that somewhere out there, people really could live “off the earth” and escape the material world. Thank you for that!
Evelyn Castro Miller
Walnut Creek CA
Dear Alicia Bay, my new olde friend: I love you!!! You’ve been part of my family’s life for years! I’ve had your book, Living On The Earth, since my 18th birthday in 1971 Feb.! It is part of my being and joy! I made my first embroidered peasant hippie-shirts from it, my first dress, had all 3 children home-born! Big influence Your Spirit via Your Book ! We All Love You!
My son, Noah, & I read your book while he nursed ! I passed it along to my daughter, Zoe, who had 4 home-born & home-grown babies! My daughter, Auralia, her daughter, too! Your book is a dear Family Heirloom! You wake up & ignite our whirling & twirling joy & remind us to continue the dance !!!
Thank You wonderful, dear You!!! Now I am off to listen to your music! Love.
Bless you. You helped set me free to be me more!!!
Back in the 70’s my wife and I were living in a VW bus, basically off the land. Your book (and Eull Gibbins’) were some of our favorite reading. I still have a copy…probably the same one I had back then…
I just pulled out “Living on the Earth,” which I do from time to time, and I always feel the same joy from it every time since I was a teenager (I’m now 60!) I don’t know what it is, if it’s the drawings or the possibilities of it, but all I know is it just makes me feel young again, and that, if I had to, I would have the courage to survive with your book at my side. Maybe that’s what it is, it gives me comfort and courage. Thank you!
Terrie L. Burrell
Laurel Krause: Dear Alicia, At a gathering today, I met a new friend. He said, “Did you say your name is Laurel, as in Alicia Bay Laurel?” I had to share how we were friends, and how your book Living on the Earth was my life manual as a young person (saved my life), and he admitted it had been an important book for him too. You have peacefully touched and guided so many souls. You nurtured the heart and spirit of a generation. Thank you Alicia!
Julie Baier: Your book changed my life, via my small town Illinois public library!
From midwife and health educator Zuki Abbott-Zamora: Here is a response from my great aunt Nancy Abbott, who found your book she has had for 48 years or so in her home, and wanted to pass it along to me, not knowing I knew you.
“Hi, Zuki! Yes, ‘Living on the Earth’! Exactly! Please tell your friend Alicia – I still have my copy! Your friend was a real pioneer…not just in what she was talking about, but how she said it … with simple line drawings and cursive handwriting. That meant the world to me because she was speaking directly to me as a reader. I never did half the things she talked about (not living on the land in the country) but I absorbed the sense of things…and it meant the world to me back then, and has the same appeal now. Please let her know I still have my copy and am going to share it with you; I was waiting for the right person to pass it on to! It sounds like her life is rich and full in so many ways!”
What a great experience it was to have Alicia Bay come stay with us, a woman whom I have wanted to meet for over 40 years. In 1971, Alicia Bay Laurel’s book Living on the Earth was published. It was a must have. We still have this book in our library; actually it is on our coffee table. When we have guests, usually someone is reading it.
Harry and Lorraine Emery
Santa Rosa, California
Alicia Bay Laurel es una artista californiana, cantante, prominente hippy, quen en 1970 escribio, tras residir en el Wheeler Ranch, en el condado de Sonoma, en California, lo que se considera la biblia del movimiento “Back to the Land,” “Viviendo en la Tierra,” en el que preconizaba volver a lo primigenio, a la granja, al campo, al autoabastecimiento, el la estela de Thoreau or de Bradfor Angier or de Louise Dickinson Rich.
La gente de la Libreria Nemo (un templo de buen gusto, del buen rollo, y de los pequeños tesoros graficos) por media de su alter ego editorial, Kachina Ediciones, se ha liado la manta a la cabeza, y van a editarlo. Creo que es un librazo.
“Alicia Bay Laurel is an artist from California, a singer, a prominent hippie, who in 1970 wrote, while living at Wheeler Ranch in Sonoma County, California, what is considered the bible of the Back-to-the-Land movement, Living on the Earth, in that it called back to the original way of life, on the farm, in the countryside, with self-sufficiency, in the wake of Thoreau, or Bradford Angier, or Louise Dickinson Rich.
“The people of Nemo Bookstore (a temple of good taste, good vibes, and tiny graphic treasures), by way of its editorial alter ego, Kachina Ediciones, have bundled up the blankets to their heads, and are going to remake this book [in Spanish]. I think it will be a great book.”
Editor at Editorial Impedimenta
You know that having my name appear in [the acknowledgments of the first edition of Living on the Earth] got me brownie points with [my fiance] Jerry when we first met. I knew he was for me when he quoted a bit from the book.
Pam Tigger Miller
Retired special education teacher and stained glass artist
Child resident at Wheeler Ranch commune in 1969
How wonderful to see your book again! What sweet memories it recalls of joyful and optimistic enthusiasm.
Dr. Leslie Arwin MD
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I wanted you to know that I received all the books you sent, along with the shirt. While I only looked through them (lots of reading ahead), I love the books and the pictures– they transported me back to the 1970’s!
In the early seventies, my husband and I met in Southern California (Riverside), and belonged to a nudist camp. A Canadian company came through, making a film on social nudism, and we were married at the camp for the film. About a year ago, after searching for many years, my daughter found parts of the movie on YouTube and we were finally able to obtain a copy of the film.
The ’70s were truly a great time, full of peace and happiness. Your books are just wonderful, and emphasize much of what I remember. It’s so nice to have good memories reawakened. The books are such an inspiration to me! Thank you !!!
I have been in the process of putting my Living on the Earth Book pages into plastic sleeves in a notebook to preserve it. So cool to find you on Facebook.
My husband and I bought your book back in 1971. We owned a United States mail truck that we converted into a live-in Van and traveled all over the US and Mexico. Often we would refer to your book for valuable tips on all aspects of living. Our daughter later would color your drawings. I remember one time we collected a goodly amount of rosehips to make rosehip conserve only to discover your recipe called for a blender to be used!! Of course we had no such luxury item. So my husband made a wooden pestle and we were able to adequately prepare the conserve! A fun memory.
We consider ourselves Flower Children. We started food co-operatives and recycling stations, and always had a garden. We still garden today, when we aren’t playing pickleball, or dancing to local jives, or making our own wine and beer, and visiting our wonderful grandchildren, of course.
I love the sun and the moon.
Hello to you!
Peace Love and Happiness ☮️
Sheri and Bill Houck
Sun City, Arizona
Today I came across [the second edition of] your book, Living on The Earth, at a thrift store and, as soon as I picked it up, it spoke to me, and I couldn’t put it down. I love it.
I’ve recommended your book to some of my friends as well, who I think would be able to benefit a great bit from the wisdom inbetween the pages.
No electricity, no running water during the dry part of the summer so you had to haul whatever water you needed from the trickling spring, no privies, wood stoves for heat. For the first six weeks I lived in a tent before being gifted (by Sam Matthews, who’d helped fellow Wheeler-ite Alicia Bay Laurel usher her beautifully drawn and written, utterly revolutionary, and incredibly successful book “Living On the Earth” into being) with a one room house made of redwood and canvas and scavenged windows that perched on the western side of the ridge at the back of the land, where the musicians and artists had mostly chosen to settle.
Fellow musician and Wheeler Ranch commune dweller in 1969
Yesterday I was shopping in a small town near my home in the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia. This part of the world would be described as “counter culture” with over 42 “Multiple Occupancy” communities and ideas of intentional living with others. This is a slow part of the world with an interesting history. While I do not live on an “MO” I do live in the rainforest on 2 acres, off grid and so happy. While I was looking in a thrift store I found your book. I was attracted to the cover (very worn but still intact) as it reminded me of Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cook Book. I had never seen it before or even heard of your book but it spoke to me as we are living in a socially conscious way and loving our Mother while we still can 😦
I spent yesterday reading “Living on the Earth” and enjoyed it so much. I will try some of your recipes and I thought how amazing it would be to have such a book for these parts where we live.
My intention is to say thanks for writing “Living on the Earth”. I will look out for your updated version. Have a beautiful day!
I LOVED Living on the Earth when it was published. Radical and fun. Thank you!
San Francisco, CA
I loved your tribute to Bill Wheeler and all of the beautiful photographs. Thanks so much for sharing them. He was an icon in hippie history, and you are too. I remember reading your beautiful book while I was in high school and it had an impact on my young life. Thank you for being You and for sharing your beautiful spirit with all of us….
Former resident of The Farm (commune) in Summertown, Tennessee
I still have my autographed copy & I would not part with it for ANYTHING!!
Round Valley, California
I’ve loved your stuff since I read Living on the Earth and Total Loss Farm lo these many years ago. I’ve got a small, unplugged, self-sustaining farm up here. It’s FB page is Tractorbone Farm.
Somewhere in Northeast Iowa
When I was 13 years old, I found a copy of Living on the Earth in my local library. I read it cover to cover and formed a vision for myself to one day live by the principles in the book. Now, I am 43 and I do largely live by those principles, along with my own. I still have a copy of that book that I got from a second-hand bookseller. Thank you for that work.
“Hatha Yoga keeps you stoned.”
The whole part about waiting for the carrot to grow, and eating it.
The method for making beaded curtains.
I could go on!
Mount Shasta Goddess Temple
I also tuned into the book and way of living at 13 or 14. 47 ? Years ago. Now I feel that Alicia Bay Laurel has been one of my first and most valued teachers. Our Earth would be in much better hands with more people living on the Earth in this manner as leaders.
Port Townsend, Washington
When I came to Maui with my copy of your book, and met [my husband] George, and he told me you were his friend, I just about flipped! He couldn’t see why I was SO excited. LOL. I am happy for you to have touched SO many people on the Earth in this lifetime. Well Done.
Fiber artist, gardener and librarian
Point Roberts, Washington
I can see why George wasn’t over-excited by my book. He already had all of those back-to-the-land skills, in spades. A master craftsman! ABL
I found my first copy in 1971 in Athens, Ohio, in a Tripp’s little bookshop next to a Tripp’s vegan restaurant, went to the place I was staying, and made 3 blouses, and 4 caftans, as shown in the book. I still have that book, traveled many miles. The thing that struck as funny and cute is the illustration on how to “smoke fish”.
It has survived 2 years on an off the grid commune, numerous moves around the country, bunch of kids wanting to color the pictures, and it’s still intact and I love it. I still bake the bread from the recipe and also the mayonnaise and still use the sourdough starter!
My go-to book on many things. Love you, Alicia.
Last night, I found my old treasured homesteading book written by Alicia Bay Laurel in the late 60’s. This was published in 1970. It has everything from how to grow food, live off the land, make lye soap and herbal remedies, make your own clothing, birth a baby, and burn a body in the woods. I guess it was modernized and reprinted, but I like this version the best. I was always a homesteader at heart, but loved that urban bohemian thing as well. Now to marry the two for the next phase of my life. #bohemianlife
I’ve dragged that book around with me from state to state and home to home. You definitely made an impact on many and this info must keep being circulated! Thank you for writing such a lovely, charming, important book – and for accepting my friendship!
Clothing Design, Costumer, Maker, Collector, Seller,
Guerilla Gardener, Mother, Grandmother, Rebel
Here you are! Author of two of my all-time favorite books! You really captured the magic in those books! I still love them and they take me right back to that beautiful place! THANK YOU!
Fabric and bead artist
I am currently reading Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel. I love the way it was written, obviously based on first hand experience of being creative and doing a lot with very little. I also love that it was written in 1970, a time when people wrote based on more first hand experience, and less armed with internet info that comes a little too easily.
I just wanted to send you a personal message of gratitude. I had a copy of Living on the Earth back in the ’70s which I read and savored cover to cover, often on my sunny porch in Santa Cruz. It was a source of inspiration for many paths I followed. Thank you very much for your vision and your art, your beautifully peaceful presence, and your clarity of purpose. Muchas gracias.
Len David Beyea
Founder, Director at The Resources Academy
I am savoring Beautiful Moments & Long Ago Memories of discovering your first edition of Living on the Earth so many years ago. We applied many of your sustainable living concepts and continue to apply them today.
Photographer, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator; Health, Wellness, Joyful Living Enthusiast
You have been an inspiration to me most of my life, and now to my daughter!
Your book was given to me by a dear friend when I was a young woman. It seriously became my favorite go-to book. When my daughter became a young woman, she, too, fell in love with it.
Marsha Hawkins Ruff
My original copy was bought when I was 16. I pulled it out and looked through it a few years ago and realized that it was the source of many of my values throughout my life!
Holli E. Emore
I could never begin to thank you enough for this lifetime of magic, joy, Earth-friendly skills, and sweet hopefulness.
As Holli notes, I can look at these books today and see how they totally shaped my views and core beliefs for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Alicia Bay Laurel, for enriching my world in so many ways.
Beth Owls Daughter
Author of Kind Veggie Burritos Cookbook
Durham, North Carolina
Here is my actual copy, because I just *had* to color the cover.
Loved your book, Living on the Earth. Bought it in London when I was backpacking many years ago; it lived with me in South Africa through university, 2 marriages and four children. It’s with me still – now living in Greece. It is such an honour to ‘meet’ you here, Alicia. I’m sure many say this, but you have been a huge influence on my life 💚 Much love and endless thanks to you wonderful Earth hippie goddess. May you continue to shine ✌💜🌱
I was talking with Facebook friends this morning about demographics and the social markers that define us all, and I was not kidding when I said anyone who was a teenage girl who owned and adored “Living on the Earth” is someone in my tribe.
Alicia, I cannot tell you how vividly I remember so many of those illustrations over 40 years after having last seen them 🙂. You drew and described a utopia that was also faintly scandalous. Who didn’t want to be naked under the stars in a shared sleeping bag? Yet it was also so innocent, so practical… A total revelation, just as much for a lot of us as Our Bodies Ourselves was a revelation. ❤️
I, of course, had The Moosewood Cookbook AND The Massage Book AND The Vegetarian Epicure (which was fantastic), but something about Living on the Earth caught my imagination and influenced me like no other! I think it was because its scope was SO wide. It was audacious as hell, really 🙂. And could only have been written at that moment.
New York City, NY
The Boddhi Tree [bookstore in West Hollywood, California] is where I got your first book in the early 70’s. It’s been all over the planet with me..I treasure it always and am so grateful to you for creating it!
I’m looking forward to listening to your music, and I’m happy that you’re being sustained by your passions.
Dear Alicia, I have passed along a copy of your book, ‘Living on the Earth,’ to my daughter. That wonderful volume was much-treasured and influential during my own teenaged years. Thank you ❤️
Holly Vaughan Valadez
I know we have never met and do not know one another, but I feel in many ways, as if I do know you and that was through your beautiful and inspiring first book, Living on the Earth, which I bought the year it was first published. I have my first edition copy, a little dog-eared, but it went everywhere with me for years and perused a 1000 times.
Your book was like a bible for me for years. I loved your delightful, joyful drawings and learned to do many things via your book ~ It was a dream of mine for years to live in some kind of intentional community with other like-minded friends ~ I never really was able to achieve that for many reasons (you cannot really call living in a house with a band and two roadies really an intentional community!)
I just could not resist sending you a message this evening to tell you what a wonderful inspiration your book was for me and how it went all over the world with me to each place I moved during the early ‘70s.
Not only was it a source of information, but also just joyous to look at and dream about. I also bought your successive books as well and still have them all.
Wonderful to see that you are still performing and all your books still available.
It’s truly a privilege for me to be able to tell you directly (in a manner of speaking) how much your book influenced and inspired me all those years ago and wanted to thank you.
Love you, Alicia Bay Laurel, always. Peace and love to one of my greatest inspirations.
Earth and animal rights activist
I’m at my mom’s, going through all my A-list photos and books that I did not bring to the humid moldy tropical forest (while I sold or gave way 98% of all my belongings) and came across these [Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun]!!! I may possibly be your biggest fan.
Look how I colored them… I spent hours and hours with your books…. my first “cool” friend. I owe you so much.
I love BO-HO Style! Reminds me of the late ’60s and ’70’s (MY time!) And Ditto for Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth Book” which was my “Bible” for both Creative AND Sustainable Living during those days. (Now, as well, for that matter!)
Photographer, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator
Health, Wellness, Joyful Living Enthusiast
Letter and embroidery by Tania Berta Judith, delivered to me by her partner, Nacho (Ignacio), at my concert at Molar Books and Records in Madrid, España, June 20, 2019
Drawing and letter by Alegria Cayetano Alvarez Alvarez, sent to me after my concert at Molar Books and Records, in Madrid, España, 20 June, 2019
Alicia vivió en una comuna a finales de los sesenta y plasmó su experiencia en dos maravillosos libros llamados Viviendo en la Tierra y Ser del Sol, lo segundo que actualmente busca fondos para ser editado en español. Alicia es una guitarrista excelente y con un excelente gusto y una voz preciosa.
Alicia lived in a commune at the end of the sixties and reflected her experience in two wonderful books called Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun, the latter of which currently seeks funds to be published in Spanish. Alicia is an excellent guitarist with good taste and a beautiful voice.
Alegria Cayetano Alvarez Alvarez
We had your Living on the Earth book years ago. We named our dog Licia in your honor.
If memory serves me, a quote I hold dear is from your book: “To slow down, plant a carrot and watch it grow.”
Today we are homesteading in California Gold Country. Your book was an inspiration to me. Check our Facebook site, Storm’s End Farm.
I am sitting here reading your book! Your simple drawings and lovely writing are inspiring and timeless. I am in the foothills of the Cascades starting a little goat dairy.
If I get far enough that I am making soap, I’m going to send you some!
Candice de Virginia
Read your first book when I was 16, while living in a farming village. Bought my copy in college. I am so grateful for your work. Love your music.
Your book was my first guide. My development of awareness and dedication to ecology and preservation of natural resources and living simply was due to finding your book at just the right moment in my life. I just want you to know how much I believe in you and your journey.
I’m going to have to write a little bit about Alicia.
When she was 20 years old, Alicia wrote a book called Living on the Earth. The book has simple illustrations, and discusses building a home from nothing in nature, how to farm a field, and how to make clothes, with everything very easy to understand. I was living in the city, so this was a dream world for me. The book is now a world best-seller and my life is very influenced by it.
After the publication of her book, Alicia began recording her songs while living in Hawaii. She began performing as a singer-songwriter, and recorded a lot of CDs. She began coming to Japan every year for concert tours and art exhibitions.
Her singing voice is going to be heard in the meadows of our mountains, and the hearts of the listeners will be naturally healed.
Ceramic sculptor and musical instrument maker
Co-founder of organic Cafe Pani
Nogura Village, near Ueda City, in Nagano Prefecture, Japan
A happy day at Cafe Pani on August 26, 2018: Cafe Pani’s chef, Kunie Sasaki, Orie Ishii, Alicia Bay Laurel, Yuukou, Yoshiyuki Sasaki and Satomi Yanagisawa
My name is Adam, I am 26 and have found myself feeling incredibly grateful that both of your books AND your music have found their way into my life.
In the moments when all the people around me seem to be living by reaction, to remember the ones that came before me brings me so much peace.
I haven’t met you, but I love you.
Your efforts, and those who paved the way, have been nothing short of transformational. Know that there are many young ones reaching back in thirst to listen and drink from your well.
Hope this message finds you well.
Hi! My name is Hunter!
I just wanted to say that I borrowed my friend’s copy of Living On The Earth and wow. It’s officially my favorite book.
It was just such a great read for a 20-year-old that has a hippie soul in 2019.
I just love your tips and how different the book is! I’m totally obsessed with the illustrations and the handwritten words!
I cannot wait to get my own copy! I plan on buying one from your website when I can save up money for it! Do you do autographed copies by chance? ♥️
This book was bought and used daily by my mother, who taught me all sorts of things out of it….like canning, etc. I am now a mother to a beautiful 7 year old, and she is learning how to colour fabric and water-bath can with me from this well loved and well used book. Some day I will pass it down to her as my mother did for me, and your amazingly simple and ineffably useful book will find yet another generation.
This book is the only good thing that came with me when I left home, and it taught me so much. I became a midwife/nurse and avid food preservationist in no small part due to this book. Growing up, I thought my mom wrote it herself (haha) until I was old enough to read it. I love that it is worn and stained and shows just the love 3 generations have given it.
O I hope this finds you very well and deeply happy. Namaste and peace.
When I was 18 or so, I was living in Yokohama, and a member of John John. At that time, I read your book, Living on The Earth, and it influenced me very much. I wanted to established my life by myself, but, of course, I couldn’t then. After almost 50 years, now I am making my forest place in Nagano. My dream has a little bit come true, and now you will come to my place [to sing at our music festival]! Thank you Alicia.
Yougo Cafe and Camp
Your book changed my life. It helped make me who I am..living on the earth.
A new edition is so important. People don’t know how to do things anymore, or how things work, or that you can do it yourself. You gave me that at a formative age.
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Poet, Professor, Writer, Philosopher, Publisher, Printer, Editor, Head Rascal
I bought your book when I was about 20 years old, and I still have it. Love it. Inspired by it. Still.
Back then, the creative audacity of it was how I imagined the revolution of our world would be accomplished. Now, I am still moved by its graceful simplicity and its vision, and perhaps this is still how our revolution will happen: one home, one heart, one community at a time.
So glad you are still around doing creative audacious things.
I have the edition that says “Vintage books edition, February 1971.” So, I must have been 16 when I bought it. My first go-to book when living out in Cochiti Canyon, dying wool, weaving rugs, making bread, loving the earth. One of the most cherished parts of my life.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth”: the first time I picked up this book I was about 18 years old, living in a flickering room in a small house, in a town that never happened, in Japan.
In my experience of the 1960s, Hotel California, Alicia Bay Laurel, and the comic gallo back-bamber were housed in dozens of back-bang bars, and the Shirato Sanpei Kamui den lived together.
Go on a journey! If you hitchhike, you can stomp around a truck in a gas station and say, “Hey, why not give me a ride?” The smell of gasoline calls and the adventure then begins.
Then, to my surprise, Alicia came. Once again, “Living on the Earth” is in your hand. The last page was how to cremate a dead friend: stack the firewood, put the body on it, light the oil. You can read this on the last page of dear Alicia’s book!
One day, if someone dies in the mountains, I will wrap them in a burning flame, so that the smoke rises straight into heaven and the ashes are scattered in all directions, and the joy of liberation is awakened.
Ameen’s Oven Organic Bakery
Author’s afterword from the Soshisha Ltd. Japanese edition, translated by mystery writer Mariko Fukumachi in 1971.
There is no way to capture the influence your book Living on the Earth had on my 9 year old self! If my little girl self had known then I’d be chatting with you, I would have swooned. My fantasy was to live on an island in the Adirondack lake where we vacationed – naked, with boyfriend and survival skills learned from your book! You captured and created that era beautifully!
Reading Living on the earth in my youth was by far the most formative book in my life. Thank you.
Architectural and interior design consultant
I remember having your book decades ago, when I was living on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
Patrick Monk, R.N.
San Francisco, California
Thank you! I received a very loved copy of”Living on the Earth,” from a very special friend! I love it!!!
I still have this book, which I bought from some head shop in Atlanta during my “travelling days,” when I was 16 (1971).
It was my constant companion all over the US and it taught me many useful and wonderful things.
After all these years, my favorite page is still “How to slow down.” 🙂
It’s held up remarkably well for being almost 50 years old and frequently thumbed through. I even took my colored pencils to some of the pages… your drawings were (are!) a delight. Thank you for being a part of my hippie life. 🙂
Signed… still that hippie gal
If you were to own two books, Living on the Earth should be one of them.
Herbalist, Raw Chef, Author, Professor
I read your book when I was a young hippie. I’m 64 now, still feeling young, and I’m still living as as natural a life as possible.
Thanks for being such a positive inspiration.
Keep shining your beautiful light.
I stumbled upon a vintage copy of your book at one of my favorite local record stores.
When I saw it in the back corner (the only little bookshelf in the whole store), I instantly fell in love.
Your book is truly amazing, and I just wanted to let you know how much it has inspired me, and how much joy it brings me!
Your illustrations are beautiful, and your worlds are wise and deep.
Thank you for creating such a beautiful piece of art.
Namaste Alicia ~
So happy to connect with you online in Garden of Oz.
Your book, Living on the Earth, deeply inspired me, and, right now, I am realizing ~ your words and drawings were the most influential as a young woman to live a life of integrity in and with nature, my urge to live a spiritual and creative life, and to be “Surrounded by Beauty.”
Tejasvi Giri (Deja Cross)
Sadhvi, Photographer & Festival Director
You inspired my family in our toughest times. We found your book in a free box years ago, researched it, and found a huge respect for you. Then we lost it, and, over the years, searched, and, today, found it, and you . Thank you so much for the beauty you share.
Brandy Hammond (Mama Hope)
Minister at Sweet Surrender Ministry
San Angelo, Texas
Your book, Living on the Earth, was one of my favorite books in the early ’70s. I thank you for it still. My daughter has it now and we still look at it after almost 50 years.
Lytle Creek, California
We had [Living on the Earth] at the Edge of the Wild, Willow Creek, Big Sur, on my jade mining claim in the National Forest. We were 2 miles from the nearest road. 1970-78, sixty miles south of Monterey. I was in an 8×16 cabin with a spring above and PVC line bringing water into the house. Still have family from those days living there. I miss it all the time. We have an annual fund raiser for the local school The Big Sur Jade Festival, first weekend in October.
I loved this book, read it like a kid reads his favorite story all the time, gave it as gifts, and was always soothed by your art.
So happy to have more of you to hold close to my artist-heart.
Much love, yes, so much love for you and all you do!!!!
Singer, gypsy, meta-dreamer
Miami Beach, Florida
I found your book on my mom’s bookshelf when I was a kid, and was immediately intrigued. I ordered my own soon afterward. I have referred to it extensively through the years, and it just makes me happy.
I will never forget seeing it at the Bristol Public Library when I was about 9 and picked it up because we had the same first name. (Ah, the narcissism of youth!) It changed my life. Thank you.
Your book has been by my side since I was about 9 years old. I didn’t own a copy until a few years ago, but I pretty much memorized it because I checked it out so often. Your work (and now your music) have helped carry me through some pretty dark times.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
I read your book last night!! Still it is the best hippie guide ever created..Thank you for friending me..Glad to know you!! (Class of Piedmont 1970)
Angels Camp, California
Your book and drawings really helped me to understand myself, my body and my place on this earth, back in the questing times.
Santa Rosa, California
Ooh, Alicia Bay Laurel, I was born in 1970, but I still cherish my copy of Living on the Earth!
I still have a copy of your book from sooo many years ago, probably around ’71-73. It was one of those books every hippie had to have!
Thanks for being who you have been and who you are now.
Love & Peace
I was an early fan! I feel like you are a sister. I made every one of your clothes patterns! Every year I plant a carrot seed and watch it grow.
With that book in hand, I moved up to the redwood forest – I made herbal flea collars, then opened a natural food store, became a mom, moved to the homestead, defended redwood forests, worked at watershed restoration, started a business making affirmations, all the while sewing, gardening, making things happen…
And, if I see one of your books in a second hand store, I get it to pass along. I learned so much from your work, with the beautiful illustrations. Thank you for your amazing vision and follow through!
When I received your book, Living On The Earth, at sixteen years old as a gift from my mother, I was fascinated and challenged. This book fed my Mother Earth soul and influenced my life in so many ways! Now, my three adult girls, all mamas, are creative and fun and nature-inspired as well. We use natural means for everything. From lemongrass tea to childbirth to dancing outdoors at every opportunity, life is so full of wonderful music and healing! But, you know that. 🌸 Getting the opportunity to spend time with you on Maui in the 80’s was the cherry on top! (Not maraschino😊)
So happy for your continued success ❤️
Saying hello to old friends from the mid 70’s during a rainy-day bookshelf clean-up. Any of these look familiar? They still live in this ancient and awesome bookshelf.
Funny to see this today. I just pulled Healing Ourselves off my shelf yesterday, and recently connected with Alicia Bay Laurel. Our personal libraries capture such flavors of our journeys through time. I love how some teachings can be conveyed this way.
San Rafael, California
As a “back to the lander,” and an artist and musician, I loved your book, “Living on the Earth.”
Lucy Ann Goldberg
Blacksburg, West Virginia
This book is a bible for me.
It’s a book that was drawn 50 years ago, but when it’s open, it’s fresh and exciting.
Oh, how I wish I could bake you a big beautiful birthday cake covered in edible blooms and topped with glimmering beeswax candles. It is one of my greatest joys in life to create confections that celebrate the lives of people I love. I hope that one day I get to make a cake just for you!
It’s hard to say who I would have grown into, had I not found your book at such a young age. In a world that felt so in-humane, the time-worn pages covered in your art and handwriting felt like a promise for my young self, that there was more than what I’d been shown; that there were others who lived in the way I longed to live, even before I could name it.
La Abeja Herbs
To the incredible woman who spoke SO DEEPLY to my 13-year-old self, lying in bed, reading your book, day-dreaming about the day I’D be old enough to join a commune!
Creative producer/head writer
I have saved the letter you wrote to Helen Nearing inside [my copy of] your book.
Your birthday is also my daughter Clara Coleman’s birthday – born 44 yrs ago on our farm at home. I delivered her myself, catching her head with one hand, while on my hands and knees…. amazing birth…. amazing daughter who now runs our farm in Harborside, Maine.
I helped start our farm 52 years ago, near the Nearings’ farm. We bought 60 of their acres of forest in 1968, and turned it into a working farm, just up the road from them on Cape Rosier.
The Nearings’ place has now become The Good Life Center, which people can visit, and which is maintained by stewards.
Sue Lawrence Putnam
Volunteer Coordinator at Maher Park Community Gardens
Alicia, your book started and sustained me during my youth into adulthood, and beyond. Meeting you with [Alicia’s mentor] Esther Blanc was a highlight in my 30’s. I celebrate you as you continue on your journey of self-transformation. Your resilience and artistry inspires millions.
Remote Advice Nurse Educator/Mobile RN/ FCN
Palm Springs, California
Circa 1975, Living on the Earth was the bible of hippie living.
I made a stone button hammock and a pillow hammock.
Also, Alicia’s singing is like Maria Muldaur’s, and I like it 💖.
Naoco Tsubota Shimada
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Alicia! It has been such a treat for me getting to know you after owning/loving your books years ago! Living on the Earth was a sort of Bible in 1970 when I lived in Lawrence, Kansas
Donna Baier Stein
Writer, and Publisher of Tiferet Journal
This book is a bible called Living on the Earth.
I was born and raised in Tokyo. I experienced the spirit of American DIY as an exchange student, but, even so, I found this book surprising. The possibility of the possible, in daily living = art. This book taught me how important this is.
All of the illustration is by the author, and is the best.
Author Alicia Bay Laurel is one of the world’s most respected, loving, wonderful elders, creators and precious friends.
Hiroko Yamazaki Huntley
Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Every time I flip a page, it is a book for us: Living on the Earth, by the author, Alicia Bay Laurel, and it’s hand-drawn.
This book, written in the 1970s is the wisdom that Alicia was making with her own hands, in the time when Alicia was living in a hippie commune.
I came back from living in London for 7 years, and I was excited to get some Japanese books. I found this book while book hunting in 2000. This book is like a friend that teaches me what I don’t know, about everything. It became my precious book, and I keep it on the bookshelf of [my raw chocolate emporium in Kyoto], Cacao Magic.
Alicia came into my shop more than 10 years after I bought this book. My friend brought her in without knowing I had this book. I never thought I’d be able to meet her, so it was like a dream.
“It’s magic!” I am delighted that Cacao Magic is a place where magic happens!
Alicia and I became friends. After that, I developed some new chocolate bars, and I asked to use her drawings on the wrapping paper. So, three kinds of wonderful chocolates were born.
Blessings / 祝福
Ritual / ritual
Love / love
I’m not selling these now, but I want to make them again.
Every day is a celebration.
I lived in Northern CA in a little town called Fieldbrook. I owned your book, and, at that time, it wasn’t the happiest time of my life. I loved the book. You wrote about living on the earth. Your name always called out to me when I carried my daughter, and I decided she would be named after you. She is 43 now and is a wild fisherwoman in Alaska, where I raised my 6 daughters, on an island!
Huelo, Maui, Hawaii
I just got a copy via eBay of ‘living on the earth,’ which I lost in one of my moves over the years. Savoring the sweet drawings and clear, lyrical writing once more!
Thank you for this book, which was a gift to my world and my nascent world view as a young hippie girl/woman. my youthful dreams are once again animated…good therapy at this moment!
San Francisco, California
First, I want to express my heartfelt, deep appreciation for your beautiful spirit, art, poetry, writing, voice, and songs. I was born in Berkeley, CA in 1969 and my sister was born in 1973. I still nostalgically long for the free spirited days of my youth. Your books and music magically transport me there, though. For these beautiful portals I am ever so humbly grateful. Thank you so much for being!
Infinite love and gratitude,
Asheville, North Carolina
My name is Ikumi Koyama.
I got to know you through your book about 20 years ago, and have been a big fan of yours since then.
I just wanted to tell you that I love your drawings so much!
Your messages in your art and words are always full of love and joy.
I hope to see you one day, somewhere on the earth.
I have owned your books, “Living on the Earth” and “Being of the Sun,” since I was a high school student in the mid 70’s.
I love your illustrations!! 💖
We are in the process of moving.
Can’t wait to unpack them and put them on display on our bookshelves!!
Fort Collins, Colorado
My dear friends, Wakako and Oe Masanori, two great artists that grow their own food on their farm in the Japan Alps, have posted today about my book. I am so honored! Arigatou!!
Living on the Earth
By Alicia Bay Laurel
Mariko Fukumachi translation
Published by Soshisha Ltd.
This is the larger-size version issued by Soshisha Ltd. in 1972 (27 x 21 cm).
Handwritten message written by a 19-year-old girl in 1970. Pictures with gentle lines that are classic❣️ Simple and easy-to-understand sentences. Since then, it continues to be the Bible of a girl who dreams of living in a natural and natural way.
Many years ago, I heard about the publication of this book from my girlfriend, who coincidentally visited my art exhibition.
Alicia is still in action as an artist around the world. And I heard that, this fall, the 50th anniversary English language edition will be published. Congratulations ❣️
Alicia is a minimalist jazz pen master.
Living on the Earth got 1459 likes in an Instagram Post.
Hope this finds you well. The book has been a huge success in our store. I was just wondering if any of your other books were available to purchase, or is it just Living on the Earth that’s been re published?
Much love to you,
Your book and Carla Emery’s book and, of course, Mother Earth magazine, were my bibles when I was a “mountain mama!”
1971, I found myself going into my freshman year Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts – and pregnant…. in North Carolina – not a good situation. I saw you interviewed on tv, perhaps the Today Show, and my goal was to escape to your community…. I have regretted not having the courage. My oldest son is in the Food Studies Master’s Program at NYU and an open minded kind human. My youngest has spent the last 5 years of his life, off grid and lives in harmony with Mother Nature by choice. I retired from a long and fulfilling nursing career. My copy of your first book is tattered and well loved. Would love to purchase 3 copies of your 50th anniversary edition, please and thanks. Mari-Jonn Sothoron, aka m.e. (Emmy)
Mari-Jonn (Emmy) Sothoron
Youngsville, North Carolina
In 1971, the year I was born, also was born this beautiful amazing book by a beautiful amazing woman I am so honored to call friend- ‘Living on the Earth’ by Alicia Bay Laurel. I have loved this book for almost all of my life. The 50th edition is set to be released sometime next year. If you are not familiar with this truly visionary work, I highly recommend. The gift she gave us is as vivid and even more imperative than ever, as we navigate a vision of our future world. Thank you, lovely Alicia Bay Laurel! I am so grateful for you!
Ceremonialist/Performance Artist at Ishtar Noir Temple Liminal Ritual Theater
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I remember your first edition back in the 70’s. Your words set me on my path to living simply and well.
Palm Springs & San Francisco, California
It’s like an excerpt from my brain — the part of it you wrote.
NY Review, Paris Review, LA Review
Novel in Regress
NYC & Williamstown
Aw: you really touched the heart of our generation: so belove’d and inspiring::: a vision that these times call for desperately: bring it on!
Is this the book that had delivering a baby in it? Cause if it is, thank you! Delivered my baby in the front seat of a pick up truck on way to hospital. Would have been panicked if not for this book.
We lived so far from anywhere, we decided to carry all the things mentioned in book whenever we went out anywhere. So we had new shoelaces and cloth diapers . We knew what to do when we had to pull off highway and our baby was born.
My husband and I loved your book and named our daughter after you. I tell her she was named for peace, love, and simplicity. She is 44 and lives her life with these morals. Just a note for you in these crazy times. Stay safe.
Susan and Mitchell Wexler
Trees pages from Living on the Earth
I am in tears. Living on the Earth, and later Being of the Sun, completely changed my life and let me know that the dream I had of how to live my life with shared by others. 50 years later, while I never did live in the communal setting I wanted (although now that I am a Crone and living on my own, anything is possible!) so much of my spiritual, professional, and personal life reflects its earliest roots in seminal books of the time such as yours. To find you again (through the Advent Solstice wheel website) was a delightful serendipitous Joy! Since my original copy has long been cut up into tiny pieces I can’t wait for the new edition!
I really hope you enjoy both books, Alicia. Can’t tell you how much it means to me to have you read my books after so loving YOUR books.
Donna Baier Stein
Award-winning author of amazing novels and short stories!
The best book ever! I love this book. You’ll be the coolest person at your next group camping trip, or honestly, anywhere with the knowledge from this book. I love that all the practices are grassroots and earth-friendly. One of my all-time favorite books that I hope to pass along for generations to come.
A Classic for Ecology. I bought this book for a second time. I had a copy when it came out in 1970, but I loaned it out never to see it again, and I missed it.
Have you ever missed a book?
This one is an inspiration, and a manual for cooperating with the Earth. Invaluable advice, and simple, low impact solutions for reducing impact on the environment. And a useful index with information on how to obtain materials to build your own or do it yourself without great expense.
I have found this book to be a very charming book and one that any person who really cares about the earth, and the possiblity of living at one with it in harmony should indeed read. From making your own soaps, to making your own shelters, it covers topics of living in peace and harmony. Many forgotten things are covered and tips and hints for cooking and canning that might be lost otherwise. The handwritten pages and wonderful drawings are beautiful, and just lovely to cherish for years.
My wife and I found an old copy of your book in a store awhile back and love it, so when a fellow earth lover and handmade craft enthusiast was selected for my company’s gift exchange, I thought it’d be a perfect gift for her.
Have a great 2021, and congrats on making it through this crazy year!
Micah Aaron Schmidt
16-year-old me got your book when it first came out.
It was an important compass in a lot of ways.
I am so excited to share it with my kids!
Thanks for your treasure book!
Green Farms, Connecticut
Living in Colorado in 1971, with visions of homesteading, we bought your book and devoured it. Now at 70, living in Morro Bay and spending lots of time in Big Sur, I think of your book each time I find a bay laurel tree and pick a few leaves.
Morro Bay, California
I’ve moved many times.
Living on the Earth is the only book which has found its way into a box and onto my shelves since the ’70s.
Though I haven’t really read it thoroughly since my adolescence, I’ve walked through it over the years and again recently and it still gives me such joy!
Yellowed, stained & brittle now, it is inscribed “To Kathy from Pammy”, and I must have received it from a friend in 7th or 8th grade. I had recently transplanted in 1970 to NYC from CA. All I ever wanted was to be a country girl. I was different from most kids (especially in NY), and grew up wanting to do different things, mostly involving animals, gardening, cooking, and my hands.
I grew into being a…hippie prepper?
Was it that your book influenced me so much? Or that it was the one that made the most sense to my young brain back in ’71-72 and Pammy saw that? That’s why I couldn’t let it go.
I studied languages, traveled, married a handy kibbutznik I met working a desert farm in Israel, became a nurse. We raised 3 kids bright and strong & out on their own – then bought land down in TN. (Red State, not a happy vibe… But the land is good)
My whole life I have wanted to know how to do things, make things, grow things. I’m not religious, but ” God loves a project” has always been my motto.
We built a log cabin, installed our own solar electric and solar hot water/heating system, grow organically for the local market, and basically live the book.
I’m 60 now and have studied, practiced or intend to learn (soap making is high on the To-do list) almost everything in that crazy, loving, dreaming, planning, cursive book. I even found a yellowed & brittle newspaper-cutout pattern (a 1975 NY paper advertising space in the World Trade Center) for a sewing project tucked into the pages. I have a few neat scarves, maybe I’ll try that one again!
So thank you for that.
All that and more.
You are a blessing.
I realize the historical impact of your gracious book is the counterbalance to where the movement turned deathwards in the hands of that evil stooge Charles Manson! Your angelic understanding of possibility far, far outlives and outweighs the antithesis.
Like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” this book resonates down generations
Your work is a part of the best of American/world cultural heritage, not just an artifact, but ecological, agrarian, simple, organic, Gaia culture. You are a visionary’s visionary!
Attorney, Professor, Journalist
Winter Park, Florida
I just ordered 2 of your books for 2 of my sons. If I’m to request an inscription, it would be something like: “One of my generation’s greatest influencers is now in your hands! With love from your mother!”
Point Arena, California
What a seminal book of alternative living and loving… Brilliant!
Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
Author of Spaced Out: Radical Environments of the Psychedelic 60s, which included illustrations from Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun
New York, New York
That teenager you were changed the world with a few strokes of a pen.
Owner, Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping
Santa Cruz, California
I cherished your book back in the days. Cutting edge visionary.
Catherine Usha Prescott
Psychotherapist in private practice
My mother threw out the original book my brother bought me back in 1978.
This book made a big impression on me!
You’re an amazing person who influenced me in a big way.
Photographer and Civil Rights Activist
St. Petersburg, Florida
This is very exciting. I can’t wait to get my anniversary copy.
Who knows what happened to the copy I bought back in 1970 or 1971! It was my teen bible!
Jazz vocalist and teacher at Berklee School of Music
Oh how I love this hippie classic !!! Still have my old copy from which I made clothes, ( out of an Indian bedspread) for my now fifty year old. Thanks for teaching me that I could make my own patterns !!!
It was special for me because I was a kid who didn’t think she could really do anything. Couldn’t do the sewing machine because I was a bit ADD and would have needed more help than I got to master threading it. I was twenty in ‘71, the baby was a year and a half, and you became an early influence in showing me I could do things after all, (and in natural ways I could relate to, at that) !!! Thanks Alicia !!!
Point Arena, California
I only recently discovered your work and it has been such a blessing! Your music has been carrying me through the final throes of this winter and getting me excited for spring. Once the pandemic dies down, I am planning to move into the back of a pickup truck and begin making my way around America to visit various sustainable intentional communities and homesteads to learn about living with nature – your book will no doubt serve as an excellent guiding light to these off-grid, countryside endeavors!
It is funny you mention Dancing Rabbit. In college, I studied anthropology and wanted to do my senior thesis on intentional communities and actually had plans to go visit DR for a few days when I was home summer before last, but apparently they had a bad experience with a visitor before I was supposed to come and so they temporarily halted any kind of outside visitation. I ended up doing my thesis more on the concept of community, and explored this by looking at how young women who practice modern witchcraft are using the internet to create sacred community and learn about the ways of the old world. Although I am not a witch myself, learning from them led me down my own path of spirituality, sisterhood, and closeness with nature. A women’s art and spirituality instagram account (@odeandiefreude) that was recommended to me by one of the witches is how I found your work! So full circle, I guess, haha! I love little moments like this when we’re reminded of how intertwined everything and everyone is ❤
One of my all time favorite books. Knowing how to live on earth is our life’s work!
Musician, Author and Record Label co-owner
Soundings of the Planet
One of my FAVORITE authors of gorgeous books, filled with helpful advice and joyful drawings, Alicia is an expressive songwriter and storyteller as well as singer/musician. I STILL have her 1970 edition of her original LIVING ON THE EARTH book, lovingly used and earmarked over the years, that Alicia Bay Laurel graciously signed for me when I saw her perform for Earth Day in San Diego in 2000. I also have several other of her books and CD’s, and will be ordering her 50th anniversary edition.
Linda Joy Lewis
Author/illustrator of vegan cookbook Earth Angel Kitchen
I was born in 1970 to very young parents, and your book was on their shelf. I loved reading it as a kid. Bought my own copy at an estate sale years ago. We live on 14 acres and are working toward building an eco-commune. Your writing is very much part of my inspiration for wanting that my whole life.
Morgan Lynn Corvidelle
Much gratitude to be among the hundreds of people you have touched with Living on the Earth. I enjoyed reading comments written to you in appreciation. What a magical, mystical beautiful woman you are!
Lytle Creek, California
I mentioned this book some years ago and said it was the best book I ever read. This appeals to me. Not for everyone. I have always loved nature and making things. Making things with your own two hands for survival fascinated me. I proudly have her book in my bookcase and look at it often. She inspired me to explore and experiment. Eventually I made a solar oven that gets to 350 degrees out of a cardboard box. That’s what I call fun. Like a Boy Scout. “Be prepared”. Anyone who knows me well knows I am very crafty. I learned how to clean raw wool and spin it on a drop spindle. So, if I ever need clothes or a blanket I can make something. Weaving is great too. My younger sister Denise weaves baskets out of just about anything. My other sister Debbie introduced me to Alicia Bay Laurel.
Preserving food. Collecting rain water. What a fun hobby it has been.
Kate Calton and I learned how to make paper together. It was soooo exciting to pull our first piece of rustic paper. We can send send a note in a bottle.
I learned that if I had an onion, I could cook a dinner. My friends have always known that, if necessary, they could come to my house for food and shelter. I have many pantries, two refrigerators and a large freezer. We grow garlic and veggies. Have fruit trees. Live on ten acres in the woods outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Heaven. My husband loves how I always am making survival things. Cooking stoves and air coolers. Grew a huge garden. Had a greenhouse.
Made soap. Hair rinses. Sold them at a farmers’ market.
I owe so much to you. I learned how to live on the earth. Thank you for writing the book.
Donita Louise Male
I’m writing you because I’m a great fan of yours! When my husband and I were first together, we lived on a romantic, leaky 1903 ferryboat in Long Island Sound in the ‘70s. We had a tiny refrigerator, and Living on the Earth helped me so much. All these years later, I still wrap greens in damp paper towels! My stepdaughter who lives in Maine now has my dog-eared copy.
New Orleans, LA
Author of Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love and Loss
- kellyr wrote
Wow. I am so happy to learn about this book! What lovely line drawings. Thank you for sharing Mom.
January 28, 2009 8:47am
- Jane wrote
I looked up the author’s website, and she is still doing what she does. She is also a musician and has illustrated several other books. Her website is http://www.aliciabaylaurel.com if anyone wants to look further.
January 28, 2009 1:43pm
- Caitlin wrote
I LOVE books like this. I have a set of tarot cards that were my mom’s from the 70s that are a similar style- but a different artist. I’m going to look at her site now…
January 28, 2009 3:59pm
- Lynn wrote
Alicia Bay Laurel! After so many years. Thanks, Jane and Jack and Julia too.
January 28, 2009 8:09pm
- Sally wrote
Hello mum … my mum had this … I remember when I was really young that I thought it was a bit rude to have a naked lady on the front … but now it looks like the kind of book I would buy!
hurrah for the never ending cycle of life.
January 28, 2009 9:01pm
- THE ARGYLE ACADEMY // mike lowery wrote
I wish my parents were cool. Just kidding they are. But they don’t have cool books.
January 29, 2009 12:11am
- anna wrote
that’s so lovely. great week of posts julia’s mom and dad!
January 30, 2009 6:26am
- Laurel wrote
As a teenager (in the early seventies) this was my favorite book. The author’s name being the same was a treat! The hopes for a peaceful future, a communal philosophy, natural beauty, and simple pleasures were all involved in shaping who I became. The copy I treasured belonged to my cousin and best friend Amanda….I water coloured all my favorite pages for her and eventually had to return it. I bought a used copy just a few years ago because I missed it!
February 1, 2009 12:35pm
I still have my copy that my mother bought for her hippie son way back in the early ’70s. This book had lots of influence as to who I am today, and is one of my favorites.
I fell in love with your art (like many others) when my friend showed me her copy of “Living on the Earth,” then I got my own copy when I came across it in a store that no longer exists. Your book was a piece of my larger journey towards an authentic and conscious life, integral to my early twenties.
Artist and writer
Stolen Thyme ‘Zine
“Living on the Earth” saw me through the year I lived in a tiny mountain town in Colorado, the one year away from Vermont.
That book was a very important part of the whole beautiful experience.
It has so much heart in it, that it always takes me back.
Loraine Cruz Cummings
San Diego, California
Alicia Bay Laurel, I have to tell you how much of a fan I am of yours, too! In high school the only time I ever hitch hiked was to go buy your book.
I still have my original copy, and a replacement I bought in better shape.
And my original of the book you wrote with Ramón.
AND a t-shirt I bought at one of your speaking appearances in SF!
I credit your work with my love of nudity, crafting, and long-haired men!
I am noodling with the idea of memoir. But, should I tell the story of when I hitched all over the country alone as a teenager? The years would be between 1970 and 1978 and the POV a very young girl on her own at the tail end of the hippie era. I was all over the eastern seaboard, then caught a ride west with the Earth People, a very loose commune. I ended up in Berkeley in 1972. Hitching was the way to travel for a long time. But a bit different for a 14-year-old 5-foot-tall girl traveling alone… there were some close calls, but I had my ways of avoiding ending up in a dumpster. I had a copy of Living on the Earth in my pack… I knew carrying books was impractical but I couldn’t help it. When my copy wore out I was living in Berkeley. I found a used copy at Moe’s.
Publisher at Taos Magazine, Creator at Annabel’s Good Times Kitchen, Visionary at Life Beyond Capitalism, Author at The Frugal Goddess
I found your book on my mom’s book shelf when I was a kid and was immediately intrigued. I ordered my own soon afterward. I have referred to it extensively through the years, and it just makes me happy.
Alicia, did I ever tell you that, when I was young, I would sit on the dining room floor in a pool of sunlight and page through your Living on Earth as I imagine others do the Bible? It was both a comfort and a dream.
You can rest assured that you have done your part and more. Your book was a great inspiration to me and my partner living in a wilderness cabin high up in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Your young yet ancient wisdom helped point a generation onto a desperately needed path of a more gentle and reciprocal relationship with with our home – the Earth.
Thank you and all BlessSings to you!
greetings and salutations!
i’m julie, and i was just recently gifted a copy of your book, living on the earth, from my grandmother.
when i was a kid (i’ll be 19 in september, i’m a virgo) i fell in love with your book and the illustrations and your handwriting is absolutely beautiful.
now i’m not even sure if you’ll see this email, but my grandmother is a humongous fan of yours, and when she sat me down to gift it to me she expressed that it was one of her most prized possessions and to cherish it forever- but i have an idea.
if it’s possible, could i send you her copy; and could you maybe sign it for her? i can cover shipping and whatever costs no hesitation; i just want to give back to her in a way that is personal and special (she’s done a lot for me)
i hope this reaches you – i hope to hear back soon!!
best wishes, julie
We will be celebrating our 50th (canceled due to fires & Covid) and now 51st anniversaries of our adventure on a piece of land in Trinity County back in 1971.
Locals then said we wouldn’t last two years, but we’ve lasted half a century. Most folks are widely scattered now, but the place is still there and new generations have come along, and though I’m beyond broke, I have this magnificent place to leave to my children.
Two of the early essentials were the “Tassajara Bread Book” and “Living on the Earth.” I decided I’d buy and bring new copies to help start the next 50 years. I’d like to let you know that you’re an important connecting thread down through the decades.
You, of course, would be always welcome, should you find yourself traipsing back to Northern Cali.
I feel that we’ve been kindred spirits through this journey and am very happy to have at least met you in the ethers and have this connection. I’ve always thought you were a treasure among us, and now I get to tell you.
Read living on the earth back in the ‘80s. Just ordered a new one cause I lost my first one during a move 10 years ago. Miss everything about this book. Made some leather mocks and wore those ‘til they wore out!
It was such a charming and timely book. In my communal hippie farm college life it sat on my shelf between the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and Our Bodies Ourselves.
Author, Educator, Consultant
Zeeva Amrita De Paz Y Amor:
Alicia, did you ever think, all those years ago, that this book would become such an international hit?
Alicia Bay Laurel:
Zeeva, I had no idea what would come of that project while I was doing it, only that it would not leave me alone for a minute until it went off to press. Then I made a one-page calendar and a set of post cards to sell at street fairs; I was back to my previous life of making small artworks to sell. I was, and still am, astonished and grateful for what happened next, and even more so that it continues to speak to people more than 50 years later.
Evelyn Castro Miller:
Alicia, your gratitude and humility makes it all worth more than money could buy.
I had this book in the ’70s & ’80s, as a teen/young adult. I got it at a used book store in Santa Barbara, where they’d leave books outside overnight in a ‘free’ box. I read it so many times. It helped turn me into a maker and imaginer.
Somewhere along the way, the book left my world. I never imagined I could find it again. I now see it’s well known and important to so many others, too. As it should be!
I’m excited to bring your book back into my life, though it has really never left.
Thank you for this amazing gift to the Earth. Wishing you moments of Peace.
“the book of tao says that every day the scholar must know more & more, but the follower of the tao must know less & less.”
Have you met Alicia Bay Laurel yet? She has been my superhero and teacher since as a child when I was lucky enough to read her classic 1971 book, Living On The Earth.
How many times have I poured over these 200+ hand lettered and drawn pages? Alicia taught me and inspired me more than I can ever say.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered we have a mutual friend in SJ Chiro a few years ago. Alicia is truly as dear to me as a beloved auntie.
Thank you for teaching me how to quilt, Alicia Bay Laurel!
Thank you a thousand million zillion times for your astonishing brilliance, Alicia.
How very blessed we are to have been to love you these past five decades.
Alicia Bay Laurel invented “upcycling”!
you came up!
We knew you would!
you always do!
hooray for you!”
E. Georges Grinnell
Human Being at Here & Now
My mother had your book when I was growing up. My parents were sanyasans and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by musicians, artists and craftspeople. They were involved with a beautiful communal property on the south east coast of Australia where they built fantastic homes in creative ways. Your book takes me to the happiest memories from my childhood when I spent hours admiring the world around me. My family just bought 150acres in the hinterland of Australia’s southeast coast surrounded by national park and are about to build our own off grid property. Your book will be my bible.
Please write whatever you feel will inspire us for the inscription.
Thank you so much
I have powerful memories of sitting on the floor reading Living on the Earth in Shakespeare’s used books on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight Way.
I had somehow lost my original copy while traveling.
I was happy indeed to replace it.
That must have been 1973 or 74.
Writer, publisher, activist
Santa Rosa, California
I absolutely love your book!!!
Have gifted it so many times, it is also like a bible for me– yours and Carla Emory’s!
An amazing book then. Even more so now. What a treasure!
I remember it well… you were (are) such a star in our far reaching comm-unity
A very influential book for me personally. And in 1977 I moved from Mill Valley, where I bought the book, to Occidental where it was birthed.
I still have my copy purchased as a teenager. It had a profound influence on me and shaped my thinking about fitting in on the earth. Thank you.
It has always been my favorite book to read when I need to relax. Best day dreamer book I ever read. You honestly had a effect on my life! Thanks for sharing!
That wonderful book, which I still have on one of my bookshelves, brings back good memories, Alicia. I had a talk with Denis Hayes about Earth Day this week in Seattle, and just did a speech about the first Earth Day here in Hawaii.
Bruce Justin Miller
Former Director of Sustainability at University of Hawaii
Former Director of Extension Programs at University of Hawaii Sea Grant
I’ve worn out one and gifted many. Love to you, Alicia.
Bruce O’Shire Brummit
Wizened Hobbit and Earth Steward at Lilac Moon Shire, a 50 acre homestead practicing the tenets of permaculture
Pine Point, Wisconsin
I just wanted you to know I found your book from 1970, Living on the Earth. I love everything about this book and shared it with a good friend. Thanks.
Madison Heights, Virginia
I gave a copy of your “Living on the Earth” to my stepson, Chris, and his wife today. He just built a house in Joshua tree❣️ They love the book…
Artist, actress, activist, yoga and meditation instructor
Los Angeles, California
You must be logged in to post a comment.