Flower Power Comes Full Circle
In 1988, Seattle filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson interviewed a group of back-to-the-land ”hippies” who had isolated themselves from mainstream culture by living off-grid in rural Washington State, practicing peace and love. In 2006, Tomlinson returned to their community to learn what had become of their utopian dreams. He talked again with the original interviewees, as well as their children, to determine how living this alternative lifestyle actually played out. Back to the Garden is an extremely poignant time-lapse view of these idealists, told with moving personal stories. It offers profound insights into one of the most iconic social movements of our time, speaking to all of us who grew up in the 60s or were affected by the counterculture of those days. The non-conformist lifestyles of these aging hippies and their now-thriving families – all firmly insulated from global economic shocks — today looks ahead of its time and wiser than ever.
Back in 1988 (nearly 20 years after Woodstock!), when Director Kevin Tomlinson was interviewing members of an isolated community at a back-country gathering in Washington State, he asked himself, where did all the flowers go? In the 60s, Tomlinson observed, the hippies were satirized and vilified for rejecting materialism and corporate culture; in the 70s they stopped the war, started communes, and urged back to the land and environmental sustainability, and by the 80s they had virtually disappeared from everyday life. But in rural Washington, Tomlinson found and filmed a group of drop-outs from the 60s who, contrary to popular belief, were still intact and thriving. They were raising their families while refining their hippie idealism, independent of a mass culture that had marginalized and all but forgotten them.
Doubtful about how seriously his film footage would be viewed in 1988, Tomlinson left the footage untouched but not forgotten for almost 20 years. In 2006, he decided to take another look. What these off-grid hippies were talking about in 1988 — sustainability, living simpler, love for the earth, questioning authority, self-reliance, and community responsibility — seemed to be blossoming with incredible force and coming full circle 20 years later as the impact of climate change, an unpopular war, shopping-as-patriotism, and the green movement was taking center stage in mainstream discussion. Tomlinson set out to find his original subjects again with new questions. Had their radical off-grid lifestyles and ideals survived? Had anyone gone mainstream? What about their children — how did they rebel against the rebel generation?
Back to the Garden provides a compelling look at a social movement that sowed the seeds for much of today’s thinking.
Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes.