Promise of Paradise Episode 27: Gwen and Jen Riddell

May 23, 2019

May 23, 2019 — We’ve heard a lot of stories from people who came to Mendocino County as young adults in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, to bring a fresh perspective to a lot of old-time homesteading skills. But today we’ll hear from some ‘second gens,’ or the children of back to the landers.

Gwen and Jen Riddell are a pair of sisters who came to Greenfield Ranch in 1976, when Gwen was five and Jen was three years old. Gwen is now a nurse practioner midwife who works at Planned Parenthood and Jen is a local biologist. Jen pointed out that Gwen didn’t do it “the hippie way;” she went to Yale. Together, they reflect on what they loved about growing up the way they did: strong and imaginative, reading books and challenging each other to learn. They’ll also talk about what they don’t love, like the drug culture and the environmental degradation caused by building lots of roads in a remote area with fragile upland watersheds.

It was a huge treat for me to hear their memories and insights about what happened in their childhood, which are not always identical. They pretty much interviewed each other while I held the mic and tried to prevent my dog and a rogue ice cream truck from ruining the recording.