The Allure of Do-It-Yourself
A Response to Jennifer Bernstein's Essay in Breakthrough Journal
Before Michael Pollan, there was Deadwood, Oregon. Located in a dense green valley in Oregon’s Coast Range, the small pioneer community became a magnet for the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. After a decade of chaotic uproar, young hippies were looking for a novel way to protest consumerism and conformity. Many self-styled rebels moved to the country to create alternative communities based on a commitment to “Mother Nature,” organic gardening, and a do-it-yourself ethos. Deadwood’s remote location and seemingly fertile soil made it appealing. My parents set up camp in 1976, and I grew up with a shovel in hand. We grew a rambling garden; we canned fruit, vegetables, and fish; we sat down together every evening to eat an elaborate home-cooked meal.