To purchase a copy of Vivre sur la Terre, click here.
To see a flip book of the covers and opening pages, click here.
Here is an English translation of the introduction to the book written by the editor at Editions Ulmer, Lila Hervé-Gruyer.
“How Living on the Earth became Vivre sur la Terre…
“The story of this book is magical. For several years, I have dreamed of getting my hands on this mysterious book, but second-hand copies are sold at a high price on the Internet. One day, I came across a website that sold the Spanish version. When I received it, I was moved.
“Alicia’s drawings and words resonate very strongly with me. This 19 year old hippie embodies a freedom, a simplicity and a carefree attitude that we miss today. An almost dreamed life, a total commitment. Alicia proposes to live like a flowing river or a growing tree. To live in the middle of nature, in community, out of the consumer society and far from capitalism.
“50 years after the first edition of Living on the Earth, the biosphere is enoxerably degrading and anxiety is rising, even faster than the ocean level. Alicia reminds us that ecological movements are not new. Today too often derided, the hippies had the courage to question the very foundations of a capitalist society. It does a lot of good to delve into their legacy, full of struggles and inventiveness. Reading Alicia, the answer is here, almost obvious, in front of our eyes. I am convinced that living on love alone is not naive, but one of the possible solutions to face this ecological crisis. A fair, beautiful, desirable, joyful and fun path.
“One day, I bring this treasure to the office, to share with my colleagues. This hippie bible is a literary UFO! A bestseller that has gone around the world, translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish… And sold more than 350,000 copies for the American version.
“We bet with Emmanuelle and Antoine, Ulmer’s managers, that it could work. I contacted Alicia who quickly told me that the book would be published in English to celebrate its 50th birthday! What a happy coincidence, life is well done. Virginie started translating and Alicia agreed to rewrite everything by hand in French, a language she does not speak. Once the translation is finalized, Alicia starts writing, courageously. She spends more than 6 days on some pages. Until she injures her hand and the project comes to a halt.
“That’s where Harmonie the aptly named comes in. I was working with this potter-designer-artist on another book. I had shown her Alicia’s book and she too had fallen in love with it. She often asked me about the translation and I was disappointed to tell her that it wasn’t going well… Until I received a handwritten note from Harmonie: her handwriting looked like Alicia’s! So Harmonie started to rewrite the book with a lot of enthusiasm. 248 pages later, Agathe proofreads, Camille prepares the files, it goes to the printer’s.
“This is why you can now hold this precious book in your hands. The moving testimony of an emancipated young woman living as close to nature as possible, patiently rewritten to be as close as possible to the original. Because in 2022, we continue to have a great need for Peace and Love.
This is Virginie Gettle, who translated Living on the Earth into French last year. Vivre sur la Terre will be released in October.
I recently sent Virginie as a gift the apron I designed from the herb and spice page of Living on the Earth, with her French translation. She is posing in it in her kitchen and just outside the kitchen door of her house.
I am so thrilled to receive these photos.
If you would like one of these aprons, the order page is here.
“Round, brown eyes, round, young body and round, curly brown hair, Alicia spoke softly but with assurance. After thinking quietly for a while, she asked me if I knew of any coffee houses where she could play and sing for money. Shortly before dark, she dressed warmly and set out to find a place to stay. My concern over her welfare that rainy night was unfounded as I discovered a few days later when she returned to the studio, bursting with merriment, and related her adventures. She had been welcomed at several people’s houses and was planning to go back to the city, get her things and come back to stay.
“Gray weeks passed before I saw her again. This time, Alicia wore the air of an established resident and nothing else. When most folks were still in warm sweaters, Alicia could be seen wandering around in the fog without a stitch of clothes, a book or some sewing under her arm. When the sun began to warm the air the following spring, she was in the garden almost every day, doing yoga and tending the vegetables. She was the only community member who gardened regularly that second summer. Without her care, the community garden would have never started. In those days she was also the only person on the Ridge who was neither ‘without income’ nor on welfare. She generated income from various creative projects which she sold, an activity then unique among Open Landers.
“Alicia began working on an intercommunal newsletter, describing in unpretentious script and with simple line drawings the basic skills needed by newcomers to live primitively in an isolated, rural community. She demonstrated with childlike fluidity how to build a shelter, shit in the ground, chop wood, have a baby, etc. The project took her over a year, during which time she left with the winter ’69 exodus that took many Ridge residents further north into Humbolt County.
“When she returned the next summer, she announced that the newsletter had grown into a book which was being privately financed and published by a Berkeley publisher with the title Living On The Earth. It turned out to be a phenomenon, the first edition of 10,000 selling out in three weeks. One copy found its way to Bennett Cerf at Random House. Delighted and impressed, Cerf bought the book and Alicia, now Alicia Bay Laurel, was sent on a national promotional tour to explain to America the joys of Open Land living. By the following Christmas, Living On The Earth had become a best seller with 150,000 copies sold. It engendered much sympathy and interest in a simple, non-technical life style. Whatever it was we were doing together on the land, people were hungry to know more.”
Hoy os cuento este proyecto que busca fondos a través de Verkami porque me ha parecido maravilloso. Confieso que no conocía Viviendo en la Tierra de Alicia Bay Laurel, a pesar de ser un bestseller, una guía clásica para la vida natural, bohemia y alternativa en el campo escrita por Alicia Bay Laurel en la comuna Wheeler Ranch en el norte de California a finales de los sesenta. La biblia del movimiento back-to-the-land y las comunas hippies de la década de los setenta que capturó el espíritu de toda una generación.
Viviendo en la Tierra es para aquellos que prefieren cortar leña para el fuego antes que trabajar en una oficina para pagar la factura de la compañía eléctrica. Un libro diseñado sin índices, sin capítulos, sin reglas ni estructuras, un libro que se construye sobre el aprendizaje del día a día.
Escrito e ilustrado a mano por Alicia Bay Laurel cuando esta tenía tan sólo 19 años, como si se tratara de un diario, originalmente fue concebido como una guía destinada exclusivamente a distribuirse internamente entre las comunas. El libro fue publicado por The Bookworks en Berkeley, California y se agotó inmediatamente. Random House lo reeditó en 1971 y vendió más de 350.000 copias en pocos meses convirtiéndose así en un New York Times Bestseller. Viviendo en la Tierra cambió radicalmente la forma de concebir un libro y con su estilo ha influido durante décadas a numerosos artistas y diseñadores.
Kachina ediciones pone en marcha este proyecto, para hacer posible la traducción, edición, impresión y distribución de este mítico libro. Podéis contribuir comprándolo y eligiendo modalidad para las recompensas siguiendo este enlace. Es un proyecto valiente que vale la pena apoyar.
Podcast: November 2021 interview of Alicia Bay Laurel by herbalist/skateboarding goddess/millennial bohemian Bianca Scott, broadcast on Spotify.
Writes Bianca: “Alicia Bay Laurel, a pure child of the revolution. We seek the truth as we discuss Alicia’s journey of peace, love, freedom, poltergeists, acid and spirituality. We share our thoughts surrounding The Cockette’s pink velvet cock and balls of sexual anarchy to the power Media has over innocent human beings. For the first time on LifeFlux, I drank tea picked out by my guest. Who would have thought ginger tastes so good in hot water? It was a dream come true to speak with such a bright soul who’s book, Living on the Earth, gave light to my journey just a few years ago. Purchase Alicia Bay Laurel’s handwritten and illustrated, award-winning books and music CDs at aliciabaylaurel.com. If you are human, these books are meant for you. Cheers!”
My dear friend, celebrated director/screenwriter SJ Chiro, who, right now, is launching her latest masterpiece, “East of the Mountains,” just took the time to review my first, and most likely, only, movie, “Living on the Earth – The Musical.”
Here is what she wrote:
I watched Alicia Bay Laurel’s one woman show, “Living on Earth – The Musical,” with rapt attention. The 1-hour-47-minute running time flew by.
As a child of her contemporaries, growing up on one of the communes on which Alicia herself lived in her early years, I listened as she unwrapped her history, a history I had never known. Tales of when she was a girl. The experiences which shaped her, including a fraught relationship with her mother.
As children, we only know what we experience of people in the present. I saw adults who had already made the decision to break with their straight, uptight parents and go back to the land, living simply and illegally, eating brown rice and vegetables communally, and walking down long dirt roads with bare feet. This was their present, but how did they get here? And now that they were here, what did living on the land mean to them? What were they eschewing? Why had they created a new paradigm?
Alicia tells the answers to these questions, and more, as she sings and plays her guitar in the style that brought me back to my childhood, her mellow voice, sometimes soothing, sometimes full of energy. I saw a portrait of a strong-willed and clever independent teenager who lit out for San Francisco and eventually made her way North to Sonoma County.
Always energetic and creative, Alicia decided to make a book illustrating Life on the Land. She called it Living on the Earth and it was surprisingly a huge success. As a young woman she was suddenly famous, and had money. A lot more money than most of the people around her. Alicia doesn’t shy away from honestly recounting how this imbalance caused some problems and resentments among her peers, but the show keeps on truckin’.
Soon Alicia is in Hawaii and other locales. The stories keep coming. At one point, she is joined on stage by her great long-time friend and collaborator Ramón Sender Barayón. How beautiful to see two artists who have known each other for so many years, respect each other’s company and make music together.
Some of Alicia’s rawness may shock, some inspire laughter, some elicit “Wow!”s from the audience. That is the glory of the unvarnished truth of a lifetime, and we are so lucky to get to hear all this from the master artist Alicia Bay Laurel.
The trailer is already available at the same link.
There is a modest paywall of $7.50 US to “rent” the movie for 48 hours.
The movie will remain available on Vimeo for a few years, at least.
The autumn equinox event will include Q&A with Alicia about the movie (so please see the movie first), as well as about the two new editions of her 50-year-old books, Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun. She might tell some stories that aren’t in the movie, too.
Alicia will create and send (via email) free illustrated, personalized book inscriptions (normally $10 each) for either of these books if purchased from the Indigo With Stars online store during the event.
Monday! Monday! THIS Monday! I am sooooo excited about this!The truly, utterly divine work of my friend and lifetime shero Alicia Bay Laurel is coming to LIFE in a video. A musical, no less! I would not miss this for the world. Join the celebration!
I watched the trailer, and I think your film is going to be incredible. You are such a wonderful storyteller, as I learned the day we spent walking around the arboretum and talking. And you are so funny! I will watch the movie once it comes out. What a wonderful story about how the movie came about with Luis Olano.
Barbara Light Lacey Author, Singer/songwriter Dallas, Texas
I loved Living on the Earth and have followed Alicia Bay Laurel a bit, but had not heard of this new work. I count myself incredibly lucky to ended up at Star Mountain, and the amazing communities in the area in the very early eighties. My life was forever changed by those times, and I am so grateful. Thanks for the recommendation.
Alan and I watched the movie last week. Wow! I love it! I enjoyed hearing your story and songs. It brought up many memories – a lot was familiar to me, but some was not and your story tied it all together. I’m glad I was able to see it – thanks for sending me the link! Your art is continuing to evolve and expand!
Living on the Earth: The Musical, is an original one-woman, two-act show of quirky, edgy stories about the birth and aftermath of the book, Living on the Earth, plus some of the songs I wrote during these times.
During the year 2000, I performed the show 75 times during a twice-cross-country road tour plus five shows in Hawaii. I performed the show occasionally in succeeding years as well, including three shows in California and Arizona in 2016.
No two shows have been entirely identical, since I chose which of the stories to tell while on stage and interacting with the audience. And, as I accrued additional life experiences, I added a few new stories to the end.
Following are comments from audience members, emailed to me after seeing the show:
“Great performance by our legendary friend Alicia this afternoon in Venice, California. It was amazing!” Pauline Adamek, Theatre Critic, Los Angeles, California
“Alicia Bay Laurel is a wealth of storytelling! What an amazing trip she’s taking us on….” Gwendolyn Sanford, Film Composer and Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, California
“My Beautiful Alicia, Thank you for a fabulous evening! We all loved it and you are Beyond Brilliant…your show was so much fun and filled with so much love, it was a happening and wonderful to behold.” Brenda Lowy, Legal Secretary and my beloved cousin, who brought her entire household to the show Los Angeles, California
“I am so glad that I went to hear Alicia Bay Laurel’s show tonight. The songs were great, but the story telling was amazing. She shared the life journey that led to her writing Living on the Earth and beyond. It was a fascinating history lesson and a peek at what my parents were doing just before I was born.” Amanda Timbermoon, teacher, mother and community leader Occidental, California
“I was so glad to be there and hear Alicia perform. No wonder the Japanese are such fans!” Erin Sheffield, co-curator of the open land commune exhibition, “The Hippies,” presented by the Sonoma County Historical Society at the West County Museum Sebastopol, California
“It was such a special, intimate event! An honor to be there, especially as it is the last of the kind! Alicia, your guitar playing, storytelling, songwriting and singing are authentic,uplifting, humorous,and enchanting. For me, it was a real validation of my/our/ the counter-cultural collective/ choices, experiences, and commitment to natural living, in the many forms that takes. And to see the on-going creativity, insights, and awareness you embody is very inspiring! Within minutes I was drawing again! Thank you!” Andrea McShane Radoccia, bed and breakfast owner and natural gardener Clarkdale, Arizona
“Dearest Alicia your musical words moved me beyond measure. I had tears in my eyes while listening to some of the lovely lyrics that you wrote. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt heartstrings last evening, it was positively divine!” Mardy Bee, antique collector and scholar Prescott, Arizona
“I am so grateful for being able to attend an intimate home concert with beautiful music created by Alicia Bay Laurel. Her music has different sounding elements, from hippie folk style to Hawaiian to bluesy sounding magic. I love her hippie stuff – Oh Sweet Self and Mandala are two of my favorite songs. I am smiling and spinning around my home this morning getting all my chores done. Feeling so blessed.” Jennifer Price, Artist Sedona, Arizona
“Alicia, we loved your concert! You should write a memoir! Seriously! Thank you for coming to Sedona and sharing your clear presence with us– come back soon! My daughters will love their t-shirts and cds, as will my husband and I. We remember those ‘Paisley Days’!” Elizabeth Oakes, Writer and Professor Emeritus of Literature Sedona, Arizona
In 2021, I collaborated with Spanish filmmaker Luis Olano on the movie version of “Living on the Earth: The Musical,” which he filmed on November 13, 2016 while gathering footage for Sender Barayón – Viaje Hace la Luz, a documentary about the life and work of Ramón Sender Barayón, who made a guest appearance in the show.
Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, “1966.” You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.
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