I’m proud of the hippie values we adopted in our youth and happy to see these values continue to shape our society. Forest Park, in particular, has become a community influenced by hippie culture and values. 

What are hippie values? Let’s start with protecting the environment. Hippies hate littering. They don’t just refrain from tossing their garbage on the sidewalk. They participate in village-wide cleanups. They recycle, collect rainwater in barrels and fill compost pits with organic material. Many grow plants in their front yards to avoid the waste involved in maintaining a lawn.

Hippies promote tolerance and value diversity. We advocate for the rights of women and minorities. We recognize how our land was once home to Native Americans and we acknowledge how Europeans stole this land for themselves. We are nature-loving and campaign for adequate greenspace.

Whenever possible, we support local businesses, especially the homegrown mom-and-pop places. We value the interaction that takes place. Small business owners become our friends and we are loyal to them. At the same time, we reject materialism.

We advocate for non-violence and some of us have protested unjust wars. We also protest intolerance, like the recent rally against book-banning at the library. We love public gatherings for parades, concerts and festivals. We support public art, like murals and repainting the Circle Bridge. We attend community theater productions and gather to listen to storytellers.

We try to eat healthy by avoiding fast food and other processed junk. We buy our food fresh to prepare that day. When we are cooking, music is playing to add to the festive atmosphere. We have many vegetarians and some who embrace holistic medicine. We are walkers and bicyclists and appreciate living in a town where driving is not required. Our town’s walkability makes it an ideal training ground for the visually impaired. 

Hippies promoted the use of recreational drugs until marijuana was legalized and became part of the mainstream culture. Hippies triggered a revolution against formality and conformity. We favor casual, colorful, comfortable clothes, like Hawaiian shirts and yoga pants. Our tastes have influenced fashion and the arts.

We are supportive of the many artists in our community. We appreciate live music, attending concerts whenever possible. We enjoy many kinds of music, from folk and rock to classical. We help fill concert halls and sit on lawn chairs at Stoop Sessions. We also decorate scarecrows and display them in our front yards.

We do our best for the less fortunate. We have provided food and clothing to the homeless. Local businesses and organizations conduct toy drives. They hold softball tournaments to raise money for other charities. 

The hippies started out as a countercultural movement that rejected mainstream traditions. We were mostly middle-class, white baby boomers. We protested oppression by the government. We valued freedom and expressing our individuality.  

By 1980, hippies were giving way to a new generation who were intent on building business careers. Yuppies. Hippie culture, though, has become part of the fabric of American society. It has also inspired millions of people throughout the world. 

When we moved to Forest Park in 1980, it was a very traditional community. Hippie values were not a big part of the culture. There was a strong military presence and residents flew American flags in support of the Persian Gulf War. 

We are still patriotic but are quicker to question government policies. I’m proud to be part of a movement that was derided in its day but has now found acceptance. It is part of what makes Forest Park such a unique place to live. 


John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.