The 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition of Living on the Earth: about this edition, and reader response

This video is a sample of the illustrated, handwritten pages of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Living on the Earth, accompanied by my recorded performance of my song “Onward, Onward, Ever Flow,” a song based on a chapter from the Tao Te Ching, which I wrote while living at Wheeler Ranch Commune and writing Living on the Earth, in 1969. I created the video in collaboration with digital designer Karen Tsugawa in November 2020. “Onward, Onward, Ever Flow” is track 12 from my 2015 album More Songs from Living on the Earth.


Buy the 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition of Living on the Earth here.


After the first four editions of Living on the Earth went out of print, I began selling in my online store the remainders I had previously bought from the publishers. When it became clear that I would run out of books within a year, I began looking for a publisher with whom to collaborate on a new edition, which, coincidently, would be published on the 50th anniversary of the first (Bookworks, 1970) and second (Vintage/Random House 1971) editions.

What I really wanted was a publisher who would allow me to create, for the first time, the digital layouts for the pages and cover, and give me the book designer’s typical control over the ink and page colors, and the paper and cover stock. I was very fortunate to find good collaborators in the friendly people at Echo Point Books & Media in Brattleboro, Vermont. Thank you very much, Marshall Glickman, Fred Lee, Mark Chickering and Anneka Kindler!

My digital graphic skills were limited, but I was coached over Zoom by the excellent digital designer, Karen Tsugawa, who I first met when we both had art in a group exhibition in Osaka, Japan, in 2019. Every new skill I learn from her brings me joy.

People ask me how the 5th edition is different from the first four editions. Here is how:

1. We decided to omit most of the appendices, because the information in them becomes outdated from one edition to the next. Most of the information in the appendices is easy to find on the Internet.

2. I wrote a new preface, explaining how, where and why I began creating this book.

3. Greg Castillo, a professor at the school of architecture at University of California at Berkeley, wrote a new foreword for the book. Greg, one of the curators of the Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in 2016 and 2017, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, included Living on the Earth in the exhibition, and has written academic papers discussing the value and message of this book. I am very grateful for his support of my work, and also very happy to call him a friend.

4. The pages are wonderfully opaque. This really shows my artwork to advantage. Thank you, Fred Lee, the production manager at Echo Point Books & Media, for finding this excellent paper, and even finding one that is sustainably sourced.

5. I went back to the original back cover design, from the first edition, with a list of the subjects covered in the book. This seems more useful to readers than a display of a series of rave reviews on the back cover, as we had on the third and fourth editions. If you are curious about what was written on the back cover of the fourth edition, I have posted it below.


Back cover of the Gibbs Smith, Publisher 4th edition, from 2003


Reader Responses:


As for reviewing your book, I am positively behind that. It truly is one of my favorites.

I am so happy to hear about the new 50th Anniversary publication of Living On The Earth. I love my yellowed, weathered copy of the original, and am thrilled that readers of my novel will have easy access to your vision and sage advice. I hope you enjoy my book.

Thank you for sharing your light!  
Portia Sykes
author of Eat the Moon: A Climatic Love Story to Save the World

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I received the book – it’s lovely!

Greg Castillo
Professor at University of California at Berkeley School of Architecture

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The book arrived and it is marvelous! congratulations!
And thank you for reissuing this for another generation.

Rachel Jamison Webster
Author, Director of Creative Writing at Northwestern University

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Thrilled! Just in time for a New Moon in Pisces seed planting time.
It’s as gorgeous as ever!

Jodi Paloni
Author
Maine Coast Writers Workshops

My favorite page:


Jodi, I was at one of Stephen Gaskin’s Monday Night Class lectures when he said this. ABL


I got your book today.. thank you so much.. it’s like a time portal.. the hippie handbook of my youth.. sure doesn’t seem like 50 years ago.. but then it could be 100 years ago.. surprising how little has changed .. but then everything has changed .. I can see why your sales have been good this year.. something for everyone in there..a great and handy lockdown companion.

Mahalo and take care. Aloha,
Diane Burr
Chef and Gardener
Haiku, Maui

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This book got me though the biggest challenges of my life.

Christopher Carnrick
Chef and television personality
Naples, Florida

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There is a better way to live on this sweet planet and we can find it as we dance, sing, make candles, plant gardens. Even if you don’t have a garden you can still learn something in this wonderful book. Over the years I’ve owned 3 copies and given it as a gift more than once.

Patricia Harman
Best-selling novelist, former commune dweller, and former nurse midwife

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This book was a formative book of my youth, published when I was 9. I am so excited to see it is available again! It was a source of enchantment and homesteading fantasies – not just its content, but for the transporting drawings and hand-written text. It is both magical and practical – it’s instructions for simple and sustainable living relevant still. I credit this book with my ongoing interests in earth friendly architecture, healing arts and community systems, and treasure my stained old copy as other books head off to the library sale. This one is staying forever.

Susan Hadden
Architectural Designer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
https://www.aresolutionllc.com/background

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My most favorite book ever. It’s a road map on how to live naturally and be happy.

Vincent Dembinski
Ingleside, Illinois

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Hi Alicia,

I just wanted to say that your book arrived today! I have only read through the first few pages, but already it is reawakening my desire and excitement to pare everything I own down to what can fit in a van and set off to explore the country! The illustrations are so beautiful, as are the words. Thank you for creating such a lovely and useful resource. Everything is blooming here in central Missouri and I can’t wait to use the earth’s many spring offerings to try out the recipes and guides from your book. It could not have arrived at a more perfect time.

Samantha Leal
Studied intentional communities at university and planning to visit some!
Columbia, Missouri

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Breezily and refreshingly original, educated a generation in the art of living hip, transmitted by a true hippie pioneer who was THERE at the exact right time to experience it all, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. A must have for any library.

Stephen

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Fun, beautifully illustrated, and full of fascinating and very useful information. An absolute must have in your home library — for generations to come.

MGS

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A lifetime ago, this beautiful book was bought for me to celebrate the freedom of the seventies! May it continue to inspire a new group of young people with its simplistic yet meaningful message. Live and respect our earth!

Susan Wexler
Retired School Counselor
Worchester, Pennsylvania

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Your book has arrived! It’s simply lovely! 
I liked the instructions on sauerkraut, as I had been thinking I might try it. Nut milk. 
I’ll be reading it some more.
And I see the new addition to the book!
That has information I have been wanting. 

Cherryl Chow
Author
Milpitas, California

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I’m just realizing my need to invest in the future beyond me. So, now my daughter’s little family and I are planning how best to transform the family property into our food source. The first thing that comes to mind is my fairly new copy, (because my old one was 47 years old and quite frankly falling apart), of Living on the Earth. Good place to start.

Elaine Marie Noel
Oceanside, California

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I love Alicia Bay Laurel…her book contributed so much to my life when it came out..I still have my 50-year-old copy, which is basically in tatters because it traveled with me everywhere, and also another newer edition from early in the 2000s.  Far cry from my urban industrial home girl vibe, but it resonated so deeply….was a guiding force in me moving to Marin too.  So cool that she sent you an inscription for your new copy.  And awesome that it is still in print…♡♡♡


Lindsay Forbes
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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This timeless, classic, magical book was my bible to natural living when I was a teen. I had a copy of the original printing of this book, and the wonderful drawings, the ideas, the simplicity and beauty and love for the Earth that Alicia put into it, is a true gift to the world. It touches the human heart, and harkens us back to a way of life that I feel is so needed in the world today!

Rhianne Newlahnd
Artist, Writer, Musician
Sedona, Arizona

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I love this book. This timeless handbook continues to inspire. The whimsical line drawings are masterful in their simplicity.

Leslie Arwin
Medical Doctor and Horsewoman
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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I STILL have my well-used and much-loved copy of Alicia Bay Laurel’s original 1970 edition of LIVING ON THE EARTH on my bookshelf. I finally met Alicia in person in 2000, when she performed for Earth Day in San Diego. She graciously signed my book, which I had been carrying around for thirty years.

Linda Joy Lewis
Vegan Chef and Cookbook Author Earth Angel Kitchen
Jacksonville, Florida

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What a gorgeous book! Love that it’s getting reprinted. Congrats!


Leigh Birdmoon Medeiros

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Ray Mungo wrote a love letter to Alicia Bay Laurel when Living on the Earth first came out. The radical simplicity and sophistication of her vision, page after page, enchanted us on Total Loss Farm. Luckily, ABL visited and lived with us for a time in the frozen north, the start of lifelong friendships. The children who used the pages as a coloring book have children of their own. LTE had a huge influence of book publishing. They called the oversized paperback “the Alicia Bay Laurel format.” In this pandemic year of loss and climate catastrophe, Alicia’s lyric vision is a consolation for our “over-civilized,” disconnected nation.

Verandah Porche
Poet, teacher, community leader
Guilford, Vermont

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I bought my first copy of Living On the Earth way back in the early 70s when I was 17 years old. It’s concepts and values influenced me so strongly and shaped my early adult life. My life ended up going in another direction for a time, but 50 years later, I’ve found my way back. The 50th anniversary edition is as relevant today as it was back then. It feels like reuniting with a past lover.

Peter Glatz
Bertha Bus Gypsy Wagon Cuisine
Eclectic fine dining in a school bus!

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