Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture

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Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture
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Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture
Crowther, Edward
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:28:56 PM] Home Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the CountercultureAcross the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the CountercultureSubmitted by jainlayconley on 2-28-2011 09:39 PMAuthor: Roberta Price Publishing: Foreword by George Miles. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2010. Color photos. 107 pages. 9 x 10. $34.95 hardcover. Reviewer: Edward R. Crowther Reviewer Affiliation: Adams State College The mention of Colorados Wet Mountain Valley conjures images of cattle, gold, and a kaleidoscope of alpine vistas. Its isolation has long attracted settlers looking for a new life in a land of beginning again. In the 1960s, the Wet Mountain Valley offered new beginnings to a variety of denizens of the counterculture, who established warrens of communal style settlements along the streams that emptied into the valley floor. Roberta Price, a native of New York, while a graduate student at SUNY-Buffalo, came to photograph their lives in 1969. In 1970, she became a resident of the aptly named Libre community on the east side of the Wet Mountain Valley, in the western shadow of Greenhorn Mountain, whose namesake was slain protecting his peoples own beginnings in 1779. Now an intellectual property attorney in Albuquerque, where she has worked since completing her law degree at the University of New Mexico, Price is the author of Huerfano: A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004), which was selected as one of the top ten university press titles for that year. That tome, like this brief volume of splendid photos augmented with limited text, shed valuable light and, in this case, provides clear visual images of the counterculture in Colorado, of people struggling to find effective alternatives to the dominant culture of the 1960s. Photos of children appear as often as guitars and marijuana, indicating that these people were attempting to forge a new and permanent future, not merely seeking a youthful escape from work, higher education, or the draft. Some of the photos earlier appeared in Huerfano but this is Prices complete surviving collection from 1969 through 1977. (For Merry Prankster buffs, theres a great shot of Further at the Aspen Meadow Bus Race in 1969!) The written and visual narrative largely follows the themes Price elegantly and honestly developed in her earlier volume. Living in a commune was hard work, filled with constant tensionsdemonstrated selfreliance augmented by the need to obtain food stampsand the challenge of living with other people. While she did not see Libre as a permanent home, she committed herself to the lifestyle and the larger community. Unlike the nearby Red Rocks Commune, where everyone lived in a single large geodesic dome, each domestic arrangement in Libre (a couple, a family, or a solitary sojourner) lived in a stand-alone dwelling, required to be built out of sight of neighbors. The current members of Libre voted to admit or reject each newcomer. While some Wet Mountain Valley locals remember the hippies as a throng of invaders, in Prices work relations with the locals varied, but Price considers them to have been mostly supportive. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWe were most agreeably surprised to find him a polished gentleman. Description of James P. Beckwourth, African American mountain man, fur trader and explorer.


Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:28:56 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us In much of contemporary popular memory, the counterculture is singularly represented by images of drugs, violence, and irresponsibility, politically charged tropes for un-American behavior. Participant memoirs and current scholarly work certainly confirm some drug use, but in a United States divided by racial violence at home and the Vietnam War abroad, much scholarship is treating the counterculture as a serious, or at least understandable, set of attempts by young people to discover a life with some meaning other than consumerism and materialism. Indeed, Prices title, taken from The Bands song by that name, represents that phenomenon. A young woman left the East for the West to find out about life just east of the Continental Divide itself. Today, the home built by Price and her partner at the time still stands in Libre and is visited annually by the participants in the annual Hippie Days celebration in Gardner, Colorado. Evidenced by the ubiquitous Che Guevara t-shirts, including the one of Che Guevara wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, much of the residue of the counterculture has been commodified, but the easy infusion of many of its values (more flexible adult relationships, greater personal freedom) into the larger society suggests the historical significance of these utopian experiments. Along the great divide, in Prices words, the land and the sky diminished our petty concerns, [while] they increased our sense that we were on a glorious mission(102). This lavish volume records that errand into the wilderness. Reviewer Info: Edward R. Crowther is a professor of history at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. He is the author of Southern Evangelicals and the Coming of the Civil War (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2000) and numerous articles and reviews. Add new comment