Promise of Paradise Episode 31: Kirsten Ellen Johnsen

Jun 27, 2019

This is Laura Hamburg with Promise of Paradise, Back to the Land Oral Histories of Mendocino County. 


Today we’ll be listening to Kate Magruder’s interview with Kirsten Ellen Johnsen of Ukiah.  


Kiri is a child of the back-to-the-land movement, part of the second generation of hippies whose parents settled Greenfield Ranch, an intentional community in the early 70s.


Today, Kiri still owns her family’s land on Greenfield, where she is raising her own children when she’s not working on her PhD studies.


But, back in 1974, Kiri was seven-years-old, a first-grader at Jefferson Elementary school in Berkeley. Her parents relocated the family to Mendocino County after seeing a flyer in 1972 about Greenfield Ranch posted at the Berkeley Co-op.


In many ways, the story of Kiri’s childhood mirrors the arc of what was happening in the larger counter-cultural movement. 


Kiri tells us about being a child during the bright, shiny 70s, about coming of age herself during the conflicted and sometimes dark 80s era and then how the County’s back-to-the-land adults found their place in the larger community in the 1990s. 


Kiri paid attention as a little kid. She was watching the adults, with appreciation, with humor and sometimes horror as the back-to-the landers made this place their home. 



Kiri, age 7 at Chickenfoot House (1974).
Credit David Emrick
Party at Greenfield Ranch House (1974).
Credit David Emrick

Party at the Greenfield Ranch pond (1974).
Credit David Emrick