No Man’s Land: A Herstory of Lesbian Intentional Communities in Southern Oregon as a Manifestation of the Pastoral Dream
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Although not well known, Oregon’s intentional communities date back over one hundred and fifty years. Oregon communalism reached its peak in the 1970s when there was a huge growth in lesbian intentional communities in Southern Oregon. These communities developed out of the back-to-the-land movement and the women’s movement. However, besides thinking about communalism and women’s liberation, the women were also harkening back to a long-held component of American cultural mythology: the pastoral ideal. Pastoral idealism, or the idea that a simple, egalitarian, and spiritually pure life is possible in the countryside, has been a driving force in American writing and cultural movements. Although the members of intentional communities attempted to isolate themselves from patriarchal American culture, their writings demonstrate continued engagement with pastoral idealism. In doing so, these women inextricably linked themselves to American culture and must be seen as part of America’s history of idealism, communalism and activism.