culturemaking / reading

The fruits of back-to-the-land

“… the spin off effects of the back to the land movement on regions where it was focused is both surprising and largely unacknowledged. I have argued that the rural resettlement in the more desirable coastal and high rainfall parts of Australia is a major social and economic force which runs counter to the acelerating decline of rural economies and communities generally. There is little doubt that on the north coast of NSW as well as other rural focal points of the counter culture, the cultural and economic foundations of the diverse and vibrant economy is built on the cultural and economic infrastructure created by the counter cultural pioneers.

It is very ironic that some of those who abandoned jobs or university study to buy marginal dairy farms on the beautiful north coast for the purpose of becoming new age farmers, have become successful local business people, artists, Shire councillors, health practitioners and even organic and biodynamic farmers. Many of those buying in are the peers of the pioneers who stayed in the city, making conventional careers and money but are now seeking the cafes, art galleries, health food shops, and alternative health clinics along with alternative schools and community activities for their children. This rural cosmopolitan culture flourishes wherever the counter culture was able to generate a critical mass of successful rural resettlement. The burgeoning development and tourist industries and the planning and policy bureaucracy which has grown up to feed off and control this social and economic up welling are barely aware of the goose which has laid the golden egg of cultural vitality.”

David Holmgren, ‘The counter culture as dynamic margin’, in Collected Writings 1978-2000 ; cf. ‘Art helps Lismore’s heart’, ABC North Coast 12 November 2012

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