October 1, 2019 — The final event for Promise of Paradise: Dream it Forward at the Caspar Community Center was a warm homecoming for this project. About fifty people showed up on a Tuesday night for a discussion about what these oral histories have unearthed for them. Panelists, who knew ahead of time what the questions would be, shared their thoughts, and then we opened it up to the audience.
What were the values of the back to the land movement? The dreams and aspirations? We moved on from a sense of exultation and wide-open possiblities to the dark night of the soul, including observations about questionable parenting styles and the ambiguous legacy of pot. For the dreaming it forward portion of the program, panelists and community members spoke about the work that remains to be done, and how they are tackling the challenges that face us today.
Many thanks to our panelists, Stuart Greenberg, Anica Williams, Norman de Vall, Zomala Abell, Michael Norman, and Gowan Batiste.Four of these panelists were returning interviewees, but union organizer Michael Norman and organic farmer Gowan Batiste lent the perspective of a younger generation.
Our academic advisor, Cal Winslow of the Mendocino Institute, gave a historical overview that included the 1960s and medieval monks, while Kate Magruder and Laura Hamburg intertwined their personal histories with the themes and sense of urgency about collecting these stories. Facilitator Kirsten Johnsen asked the probing questions and kept everyone on track.
Promise of Paradise is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, the Arts Council of Mendocino County, the Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the Mendocino Institute, StoryCenter, and Grace Hudson Museum.