This site contains a collection of photos that I took at Green Valley School from 1972 thru 1975, Green Valley being one of those social experiments in alternative living of the 60’s and early 70’s. The idea was to create an egalitarian world unto itself, what was largely unstructured, where kids could grow free from society’s restraints and expectations into their natural selves.
In looking at these old photos, certain question come up. What was the result of that experiment? Are its critics right who say that children do best with structure, discipline and guidance? Did not societies develop their social constraints for good reasons? Are the differences between Green Valley School and the larger society, radical or just matters of degrees? I will let others settle those questions, but I will say for myself after looking back on it from the distance of some three decades, what sticks most in my mind, is that, for better or worst, it was the only time in my life that I can remember, that I would wake up in the morning with a sense of excitement at being alive and that a new day was beginning. I am unable to sort out now if that was due to a special character of the community or if it was from being away from home for the first time.
I would like to share these old photos with other Green Valley initiates (I can not imagine anyone else having the slightest interest in them) who perhaps, like me, had lost touch with that part of their lives and would like to open their memories up to reflection and reexamination. I want you to understand that I am not one who obsesses on his past — my fault is to live too much in the future. And as such, had completely forgotten my Green Valley days until recently finding a dusty box of old negatives and contact prints while cleaning out my basement. But once that box was opened, the memories flew out Pandora like and took over my life. I started this site with the hope that it would help clip their wings. I don’t mean to suggest that I remember Green Valley as some dark place of dread. As I said, I remember that time as being exciting. But working on this site has helped put the time in its proper perspective and free me to get back to my usual preoccupation of plotting and planning the future. And I thought it would be fun to catch up with some old friends and get their take on that place.
A word of warning: Take what is said here with more than a grain of salt. It was a long time ago and I am sure I am I misremembering events and garbling facts.
Enough with the blather, let's get on to the photos.
Our tour starts in March of 1972 with Green Valley School at its apex, having its main campus outside of Orange City, Florida, a second campus near the township of Rosco, New York, a marina on the St. Johns River and with plans in the works to further acquire a farm of some 300 acres Madison County Virginia. But all is not well – listen carefully and you can hear the canons of doom sound from beyond the horizon.
Click the thumbnail and let's get going.
Here we examine a smattering of photos, that didn’t fit anywhere else, to get a brief view of the rhythms of campus life.
Click the thumbnail and let's get going.
Actually, The Characters would be a better title for this collection of portraits, because, let’s face it, if you spent much time at Green Valley, you must have been something of a character.
It’s Friday night and time for the General Meeting – the central organizing structure of the community, if it is appropriate to use those words when discussing Green Valley. Here we have a collection of photos from three different General Meetings, one of which may very well be historic because what happened there may have been the first domino to fall in that series of events that ended with the demise of the community. I will lay out the evidence and theory and let you correct me where I am wrong .
What does one do with a collection of miscellaneous photos featuring trips to the beach, boat trips down the St. Johns River and a trip to the Bahamas? Make a chapter called On The Water and stick them all in there.
Sadly, not all the original negatives survived my many moves around the country as I struggled to find my place in this world. But the contact prints did. True, the technical quality of these scans is rather low, but there are some interesting images, and hey, maybe the fog of age makes them Art.
With the campuses of Green Valley and Buckbrook abandoned and in ruin, we end our tour at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural Virginia where we find George and a handful of refuges from the Green Valley staff taking shelter in an ancient farm house.
We can say Green Valley School ended in the fall of 1975 when I packed up my truck and headed from Twymans Mill, westward, being the last "student" to leave.
In June of 2007 after an absence of some 33 years, I returned to Orange City for a last look at the old campus and to close the circle, whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.
Is it really possible to return home? Should we even try? Come along and find out and hear some superficial musings on life and mortality along the way.
And this time it is in full living color.