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 We decided to omit most of the appendices, because the information in them becomes outdated from one edition to the next.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.

Front cover, Living on the Earth, 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition, Echo Point Books & Media, 2021
Back cover, Living on the Earth, 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition, Echo Point Books & Media, 2021

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


Reader Responses:


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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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.
It is SUCH a beautiful book. A treasure of beauty and awareness.

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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The video looks great, and captures the feeling of your wonderful book. My sister and I adored the 1st edition of Living on the Earth, and you definitely influenced our views on the right way to live. I can’t believe it is now 50 years later!

I love the fact that I read and enjoyed the first edition of Living on the Earth in 1970. And now I’ve had the chance to meet you 50 years later. A real pleasure and honor.

Mark Chickering | Project Development

ECHO POINT BOOKS & MEDIA, LLC (publisher of the 50th anniverary edition of Living on the Earth)

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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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Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful work of art. I’d wanted this book for many years and am so happy it is finally part of my library!  

Eleanor Whiteley
Berlin, Germany

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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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Buy this book.

So happy to know that this amazing book is in print. It’s a family treasure.

Amazon Customer April 7, 2021

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I lent my friend my copy of Living on the Earth a year ago and she decided she couldn’t live without it!  She just adores it! Not long after getting her own copy, she actually switched to vegan eating and holistic living!

Alicia Bay Laurel Moore Ashlock
Johnstown, Colorado

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I bought a copy of Living on the Earth directly from Alicia’s site after seeing a post you [Beth Owl’s Daughter] made a few years ago about books that you found life-changing. I instantly adored this book! Her drawings are enchanting and the information so important. It was so cool to see it in Melbourne as part of the Revolutions exhibit for being an icon of the back to the earth movement in the ’60s.

Christine Candora-Hickey

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I just wanted to reach out and say that I recently had an amazing thing happen regarding your book Living on the Earth. I found and purchased my first copy almost 20 years ago and quickly fell in love. I would take it with me everytime I would move around, and unfortunately I lost it after a terrible breakup almost 10 years ago, along with most of my possessions. Fast forward to the present, where in conversation someone mentioned how neat it would be to have a handwritten field guide of sorts for simple living/homesteading. I immediately remembered your book, and tried my best to describe it and even googled some of the images to share. 4 days later, a friend that lives almost 2 hours away randomly showed up with a gift. It reminded him of me he said, and then produced a copy of Living on the Earth. I was stunned. He had no way of knowing that I had been discussing this book much less my heartache over losing it. Your guide influenced my life in so many ways as a young adult trying to find my way in a mostly uptight southern Indiana town where I struggled to find a community or peers who shared these interests. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and being such an inspiration in my life. I have built a business doing design/sewing from my home and am actively working on my homestead to this day! Shine bright, beautiful, and thank you for taking the time to read.

Kate Stempf
https://www.gratefulkatedesigns.com/

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This book is a major touchstone for me, having poured over it as a wee child endlessly. Thank you, Alicia Bay Laurel, for having the brilliance to create this monumental manual to life! So happy I finally found a copy several years ago…I read it often. Amazing illustrations! Thank you for showing me how to sew and remake clothes from my earliest years, Alicia! You rock!

E Georges Grinnell

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I still have a copy of that book — I cherished it all the way from the ’70s til now. That book reminded the out-of-the-box wild child me that I was not alone, and that loving trees and playing music and dancing in the sunshine and looking up at the blue sky was the worthiest thing I could possibly do with my life…

Kym Trippsmith
Amazon Queen~Magical Liberation Accomplice
Musical Instigator, Songwriter, Author, Healer, Mama

Sebastopol, California

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Part of Laura Clayton Baker’s epic blog post, “In Appreciation of Trees” on her site, “Painting-Box.” Laura is an interior designer in Santa Monica, California, who I met through Verandah Porche.

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Thank you, Alicia. I still have my original first edition book, and was overjoyed to send the 50th Anniversary edition to two of my grown granddaughters.

Seasons Greetings (and Happy Anniversary 💜) and to a Bright and Healthy and Joyous New Year❤️❤️

Peace & Love, Sharon Bonner

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I think about how you held on all these years to the best of what our generation imagined, not only in your writing, but also through your music and your art (painting and drawing), giving us purity and a return to nature that now is the only option. I find that prophetic.

[When he met you, Kurt] Vonnegut missed a chance to realize a joyful, loving, hope-filled daughter of his own childrens’ generation.

You make us all proud, dear Alicia. I love your rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” 😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊, and you were the first to reimagine Ben Franklin’s Farmers Almanac in our terms – lasting terms!

Dale Murphy
Teacher and author
Sarasota, Florida
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Alicia Bay Laurel, I just showed your book to my youngest daughter. She’s 14. She loved it. Now she wants to collect books on those topics. She was comparing your handwriting to her own. She’s trying out different ways to make letters to give them more of her own style. She’s one of those kids that nearly didn’t get cursive at school, only printing. There was just no way I was going to let them not learn it. Too much actual first-hand history is in cursive. That’s absurd to allow a generation to come of age and cursive is no more readily understandable than ancient Hieroglyphics.

Anyway, my kids, they don’t have a very high opinion of what they consider “hippies” from what they experienced in Hawai’i. Lot of “crazy,” “drainbow.”

I’ve told them it used to be different, but you know, “yeah, right dad…” lol.

My youngest two really enjoyed the way you made your book & what it covers. They thought it was really cool.

I’m glad.

Michael McNally


Michael, I discovered Living on the Earth at 15 or 16 years old just after Allison’s killing [Allison Krause, one of the four students murdered in the Kent State Massacre]. Alicia’s book saved me and remains a cornerstone of my life view today. Your kids know the real thing when they see, read and explore it!

Laurel Krause
Allison Krause’s sister, and founder of the Allison Center for Peace
Co-founder and director at the Kent State Truth Tribunal

Laurel Krause, your story is a powerful affirmation of the healing power of that book (although I did not recognize this while I was creating it!) Come to think of it, I DID notice that whenever I focussed on getting the book done, miraculous offers of help would arrive, and whenever I got distracted from working on it, I felt miserable. Living on the Earth has been a force to be reckoned with from the beginning.

Alicia Bay Laurel
Author/visual artist/singer-songwriter/storyteller/freelance fairy godmother

Dear Alicia, in the turbulent early 1970’s, your book “Living on the Earth” was my shelter in the storm. A blueprint of a world I longed to be part of. Your words and pictures were my “how to” guide when all was lost. Thank you so much ☮

Laurel Krause
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Alicia, your book was and is one of my favorites for this lifetime.

Susannah Grover
Devotee of the Ineffable Stream

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What a lovely surprise! Basically Books, a treasure trove of a bookstore, serving Hilo, Hawaii, since 1985, is now stocking the newest edition of Living on the Earth!

New copies of the 50th Anniversary edition of Living on the Earth at Basically Books

Basically Books

The 50th Anniversary edition of Living on the Earth is back in stock. Memories of an idealistic youth. (I still have my original copy) We can always choose to make the world a better place. #livingontheearth #aliciabaylaurel #sustainability #lovetheearth #supportlocal

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Growing up, several seminal books helped pave the way to my adult self. One was Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth.” The lifestyle she illustrated was especially enchanting to me, but it was also her simple line drawings that caught and held my attention. I hold her work with Matisse’s or with Jean Cocteau’s for conveying much with only a simple line. Now so many years later, we are Facebook friends, and she is every bit as delightful and wonderful as I imagined she was, all those many years ago.

Terri Van Orman
Executive director at Folklore Village
Former Executive director at Arkansas Craft School
Former Director of Craft Programming at Ozark Folk Center
Acolyte in the temple of Beauty
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Crescent Dragonwagon:

We both have Big Anniversary Reissues coming out this year! Congratulations on Living on the Earth’s return. Oh, how I adored this book when it first came out! I was 16…

Alicia Bay Laurel:
Congratulations on your anniversary editions as well. Your cookbooks are legendary and award-winning. I love your recipes!

Crescent Dragonwagon:

Crescent Dragonwagon with the 30th Anniversary edition of her cookbook, Soup and Bread.

Alicia Bay Laurel:
You are totally adorable!

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I love your work so much, Alicia Bay Laurel! I am a secondhand bookshop owner and I have a wonderful personal collection of your books. Thank you for all the joy.

Sarah Tooth
Owner, Blackwood Books
Adelaide, Australia
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Today Fiona stayed home from school and we read Living on the Earth together!!! A magical moment!

I was wearing your shirt and she was asking me about it so I pulled out the book and she was fascinated, of course!

Gwendolyn Sanford
Film and television composer, singer-songwriter
Los Angeles, California

Gwendolyn Sanford and her daughter Fiona, September 2022

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