Friday, August 21, 2009

Ripples: Windmill, Nearby Penikese Island, Hippie-mindedness, Lands End

Cuttyhunk Island in the 1970s, and good ideas ...


A windmill was built on Cuttyhunk in the 1970s and stood for decades without generating power for the island. The person who built it was conservationist-minded (as was his father), built this windmill with his own money, and the windmill was an expression of alternative-energy thinking of the 1960s and 70s. Unfortunately, the town of Cuttyhunk wouldn't pay for the system to hook it into the existing power generator, which still runs on diesel fuel.

The person who envisioned and built the windmill hired many of his friends, also hippies, to build it.


On nearby Penikese Island, Dave Marsh and George Cadwallader created new possibilities for juvenile delinquents, by setting up a state program in a very rustic place, where at-risk kids, who were 'offenders,' from communities on the mainland closeby could come to live and work for many months. Kids had to want to come to be admitted to the Penikese program. The program was paid for by the state of Massachusetts, and kids learned building and other skills, in a radically different environment. The program still is helping kids almost 40 years later. (In a way this Penikese program is an interesting social psychology experiment, vis-a-vis Zimbardo (1972), Milgram, et als.' research, but I never heard of it being conceived of as this).


Envisioning possibilities on Cuttyhunk as a teenager in the milieu of the 1970s, and with radical intellectual, Marxian friends ... with much creativity, I found Cuttyhunk very stimulating and fun, a place where I experienced freedom and sometimes loving bliss. A commune de Cuttyhunk?


In the mid 1970s, there was also a garbage can painting competition on Cuttyhunk. This involved recycling! 55 gallon drums again as trash receptacles, to be used then to keep Cuttyhunk trash-free. In the competition, people could paint their can any way they wanted. People were very creative, and made these unsightly cans beautiful. The competition was one of many summer happenings that brought people together, and benefited the island in multifaceted ways. I haven't seen any of these beautiful works of art in years.

So many benefits emerged from this clever countercultural way of thinking.


I can think of a lot of examples of countercultural thinking from Cuttyhunk from the 1970s. Counterculture was fascinating in its pervasiveness in the U.S.


Cuttyhunk Island's native American name is Pocutahunconoh, meaning something like "land's end," and people have come to Cuttyhunk to get away - for its remoteness - and for decades. In a way, it's a pretty hippie thing to do.

And Cuttyhunk's fishing culture, which is signficant, is a parallel example, but perhaps without the colorfulness or creativity of counterculture, as it found expression on Cuttyhunk in the 1970s.

Cuttyhunk is hard to get to, and people have come here for a long time just to get away from it all, including from modernity ...


In a way, life on Cuttyhunk dovetails sweetly with (and precedes, too) hippie-mindedness - (turn on, tune in, drop out).


( - August 21, 2009)

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