You Could Learn a Lot From a Hippie


Original photo by Shawn Smith (CC license)

Remember the initial mass rebellion against the banking system that launched the Tea Party? At early events, you’d see everything from “End the Fed” signs to “Fair Tax Now!” to “God Back In America” to “My Kid Isn’t Your ATM!”

Then, shortly after, we had the rise of Occupy Wall Street. In the beginning of that movement, I saw quite of few of the same kind of signs denouncing the government bailouts, etc.

Quickly, however, the Tea Party became a “Republican” movement and attracted neo-cons like Sean Hannity… and “Occupy Wall Street” became a “Democrat” movement approved by socialists such as George Soros.

The Tea Party movement? Hateful Evangelical fascists who want to control us all!

The Occupy protestors? Dirty hippies backed by international communism!

There’s a lot of effort being expended to make sure protests against the state get shuffled into a nice binary system. You’re “Left” or you’re “Right.” If you’re pro-life, it means you vote R. If you’re anti-war, you vote D.

The irony is that neither party does anything to really fix the things they say they care about. If you’re anti-war, it doesn’t make sense to vote for either major party. Obama and Bush both escalated and created international conflicts… as did most of their predecessors. Republican Supreme Court nominees enacted the Roe V. Wade decision… and Republicans since have done basically nothing to end abortion except occasionally talk about how bad it is so they can get reelected.

When you limit yourself to the two-party system and binary thinking, you limit your chances to make a difference… and your chances of survival.

I teach courses off and on throughout the year. I write for this site… and for Mother Earth News. I also maintain a monthly column for Natural Awakenings magazine. There’s a local prepper/survivalist group that welcomes me in as their survival gardening expert… and sometimes, I’m also the gardening expert for the local Home Depot Ladies’ Organic Gardening Group.

All of these outlets are way different from each other. The local prepper group is a hardcore group of gun-loving Americans who are ready for the Apocalypse. On the other end of the spectrum, Natural Awakenings magazine caters to upper-class women who often lean New Age and shop at Organic markets.

Both groups are interested in growing food. Both groups have knowledge to share. Even if you think someone’s views or lifestyle are ridiculous… you can bet there’s something you can pick up from their experience that will help you become more prepared.

This last weekend I had the honor of teaching at the Florida Earthskills Gathering. As a Christian and a proponent of Western Civilization, I found some of the speakers’ interest in a return to pre-civilization pagan tribalism unappealing. At the same time, there are indeed things we can learn from tribal societies and their skill sets.

Actually, let’s just make a list of the pros and cons of pre-Christian, pre-civilizational tribalism right now:



Knowledge of local edibles

High level of hand-made craftsmanship

Healthy hunter-forager diets, natural foods

Lots of exercise

No set work week

Emphasis on community

A feeling for place in the environment

Nomadic existence based on preferences

Chance to take on multiple wives

No government regulations



Little significant technology

Wife-burning, infanticide, etc. are common

No antibiotics

The world is filled with fearful demons and angry gods who must be appeased


Might makes right, revenge common

Starvation possible

Childbirth often fatal

No absolute guide or standards for living

No Cheez-its.


It’s like an olive: eat the meat, spit out the pit.

I’m quite interested in many of the “pros” of ancient pagan groups. It’s great to pick up what you can about basket-weaving and tool-making… but it’s also important to avoid:

What does this all have to do with hippies?

Well, one thing I’ve found to be true from my interaction with counterculture groups: they often know how to do things that folks inside the system do not. This last weekend I met many nomads who are voluntarily living in a manner that approximates how many Americans may be forced to live post-collapse. I met people who could navigate their way across mountain ranges on foot, hunt and skin animals with primitive tools, make their own clothing, light fires without matches and even fight off attackers through traditional martial arts.

If you were to write them off as a bunch of danged “hippies,” you’d be writing off a chance to learn. Most people are happy to share knowledge, particularly inside the community-focused neo-tribalist movement. Even if you live in the suburbs and it’s never even crossed your mind that the yucca plant by your neighbor’s driveway could make some great rope, there are still skills you should know. Despite my non-hippie looks and my open Christianity, I was welcomed at the the local Earthskills Gathering… and you would be too. There are plenty of skills and knowledge sets that transcend the binary system we’re used to.

Don’t write off your “gun nut” neighbor or that old hippy chick living in an old Airstream and raising goats. You may need them both when things get rough… so why not start connecting now?

Last weekend I learned about edible mushrooms, grafting fruit trees, raising rabbits, making cordage, navigating in the woods, tanning hides… and the list goes on and on.

You can do it too. Just as long as you’re not allergic to patchouli.

About David The Good

David The Good is a naturalist, author and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David is the author of four books, writes a regular column for The Ag Mag in North Central Florida, is a Mother Earth News blogger and has also written for outlets including Backwoods Home, Survival Blog and Self-Reliance Magazine. You can find his books on Amazon here. David is a Christian, an artist, a husband, a father of seven, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie who now lives somewhere near the equator on a productive cocoa farm. Visit his daily gardening and survival blog here: The Survival Gardener And for lots more gardening info, click here and subscribe to his often hilarious YouTube channel.

View all posts by David The Good

2 Responses to “You Could Learn a Lot From a Hippie”

  1. John Says:

    Pidgeonholing people and the creation of the binary D and R system has been keeping us divided for so long. This is the first election cycle I’ve witnessed where people have viable options for candidates outside the establishment. Hippies and survivalists unite!!


    • Chet Says:

      I saw a great quote on this by one of the founders, I’m not near my resources as I respond, but I think it was John Adams who said something to the effect of “The biggest fear he had about our political system, was that it would ever turn into a two party system”. Interesting thought to ponder.


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