“You’re either buried with your crystals or your shotgun.” That laconic comment captures the hippies-versus-hicks conflict that divides, and in some ways defines, modern-day homesteaders. It also reveals that back to-the-landers, though they may seek lives off the grid, remain connected to the most pressing questions confronting the United States today. Jason Strange shows where homesteaders fit, and don’t fit, within contemporary America. Blending history with personal stories, Strange visits pig roasts and bohemian work parties to find people engaged in a lifestyle that offers challenge and fulfillment for those in search of virtues like self-employment, frugality, contact with nature, and escape from the mainstream. He also lays bare the vast differences in education and opportunity that leave some homesteaders dispossessed while charting the tensions that arise when people seek refuge from the ills of modern society—only to find themselves indelibly marked by the system they dreamed of escaping.
Meet the Author
Jason Strange grew up in eastern Kentucky and northern California—places with rich histories of homesteading—and not always with modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing. He has traveled in four continents and forty-nine states and held a variety of jobs, working as a migrant agricultural laborer, in restaurants, as a carpenter, in a car-parts factory, and as a production potter. He brings this experience to his work as a scholar and professor of Peace and Social Justice at Berea College, a liberal arts college that only admits low-income students and doesn’t charge tuition.