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  • Nov 3-5

Back to the Garden

back to the garden documentary film

Watch the trail­er here

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.