Promise Of Paradise

3:30pm Thursdays
  • Hosted by Sarah Reith, Alice Woelfle, Kate Magruder, Laura Hamburg


Welcome to Promise of Paradise, Back to the Land Oral Histories of Mendocino County.  We are working to document an experiment that began roughly fifty years ago all across the country. In the 60’s and 70’s, young people began to “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” Anything was possible. College-educated hippies began to stream away from the cities and into the country, to put a modern twist on ancient homesteading skills. We’ll hear about the sense of exhilaration, the resilience, and how these now aging hippies recall their rush towards freedom and responsibility.

We’ll also hear about how the lack of boundaries led to tragedy and disillusionment; the racial insensitivity; and how the back to the land experiment altered Mendocino County.

Who were these people, why did they come, and what mark did they make on this county’s history?

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.


Promise of Paradise Episode 37: Anica Williams

17 hours ago
Anica Williams

August 15, 2019 — Today we’ll hear from Anica Williams, who was born in Elk in 1975, and raised on a ten-acre parcel her parents bought for $10,000.

Her upbringing by back-to-the-landers is simultaneously classic and unique. She recalls life in the wooden castle, her one-of-a-kind outlaw father, and sometimes feeling like the Beverly Hillbillies, with laughter and clear-eyed affection.

Her father and some of his contemporaries have passed away now, and their children are heading into middle age. Things just seem so much tamer these days.

Promise of Paradise Episode 36: Mac Magruder

Aug 11, 2019
Magruder Ranch

August 8, 2029 — Today we’ll hear from Mac Magruder, who still lives on the ranch his great-grandfather bought in 1919. Mac went off to college and returned to the family ranch to find the old neighborhood full of back to the landers. He married one of them, my co-host Kate, but he’s still ambivalent about the environmental impacts of the movement.

Promise of Paradise Episode 35: Karen Rizzolo

Aug 2, 2019
Contributed by Karen Rizzolo

This is Kate Magruder with Promise of Paradise, 

back to the land oral histories of Mendocino County.  

Today we’ll be hearing from Karen Rizzolo of Potter Valley.

Karen came to Potter Valley in 1975 with her future first husband, Don Buickerood.  

She was 21.  

Like thousands of young folks around the United States, 

they’d been poring over issues of Mother Earth News,  

looking for a place in the country they could call home.

Promise of Paradise Episode 34: Jonathan Frey

Jul 25, 2019
David Field



Frey Vineyards put Mendocino County on the map as America’s first organic and biodynamic winery. 


That wouldn’t have happened if Paul Frey and  and his wife Margarette, known as Beba, hadn’t landed jobs at the Talmage State Hospital in 1959.


Both doctors, they had been hired to do early research on mental health issues and psychedelics -  LSD and psilocybin.


Promise of Paradise Episode 33: Anon Forrest

Jul 18, 2019

There are some names that keep coming up as we travel around the county, gathering back to the land oral histories: people we just have to interview because they played such a large role in one major development or another.