Kate Daloz - We Are As Gods (San Francisco)

Saturday, June 4, 2016 - 12:30pm

In the spring of 1970, when Loraine, Craig, Pancake, Hershe, and a dozen of their friends purchased 116 acres of Vermont woodlands, they had big plans: to grow their own food, build their own shelter, and create an enlightened community. They had little idea that at the same moment, all over the country, a million other people were making the same move—back to the land.

We Are As Gods—the compelling nonfiction debut from Kate Daloz—follows the Myrtle Hill commune as its members enjoy a euphoric Free Love summer. Daloz, whose parents were among the back-to-the-landers—and who now grace the cover of We Are As Gods—introduces readers to a colorful cast of characters. There is single-mom and herbalist Lorraine; football jock-turned-activist and commune leader, Craig; and sixteen-year-old runaway and sexual assault survivor, Amy. Collectively, they were disillusioned by their parents’ lifestyles, scarred by the Vietnam War, and yearning for a better world.

Ideals, as always, prove harder to live up to in the cold light of day. Daloz confronts the somber realities faced by these radical experiments in self-sufficiency, from the practical (how to insulate a lean-to during a Vermont winter) to the societal (how sexism pervaded even the most equitable of communes). Despite these challenges, the 1970s Back-to-the-Land movement remains one of the most influential periods in recent history. Politically, we are witnessing the legacy of this movement in Bernie Sanders (who was a frequent visitor to Myrtle Hill). Culinarily, we can point to the Back to the Landers as the harbingers of the $39 billion organic food industry. We can even say our Internet culture was directly impacted by The Whole Earth Catalog—a bible for communards and which Steve Jobs cited as a major influence. As one generation fought to change their own lives, in the process, they ended up changing the world.

Offering a unique perspective on commune culture and the Back to the Land Movement of the 1970s, Daloz takes readers behind the curtain inside the geodesic domes that communards called home. Daloz’s affectionate, clear-eyed prose, combined with never-before-seen images of Myrtle Hill, creates a compelling debut text for anyone striving to understand this quietly impactful era.

Kate Daloz received her MFA from Columbia University, where she also taught undergraduate writing. She currently teaches at Baruch College and works as a freelance writing consultant. Daloz grew up in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, in the geodesic dome her parents built. She lives in Brooklyn.


1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
We Are As Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610392259
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: PublicAffairs - April 26th, 2016

At the dawn of the 1970s, waves of hopeful idealists abandoned the city and headed for the country, convinced that a better life awaited. They were full of dreams, mostly lacking in practical skills, and soon utterly out of money.