Douglas’ presentation on the history, vision, and changes on The Farm was a model of inspiration, entrepreneurship, and sustainable living. His talk was a highlight of our semester – students continued to talk throughout the rest of the semester about The Farm and their practices of living in moderation and thoughtfully. Some of the students visited The Farm afterwards and came back enthused about that they learned. Students suggested that he should visit Belmont every 2-3 years so that all students have a chance to hear about The Farm’s history, evolution, and ideals.
Coordinator, Environmental Science Program
Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Comments from students in the Environmental Capstone Seminar, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
- I was very impressed with how The Farm has adapted and remained successful over the years. The talk was very thought-provoking and made me think about my own practices when it comes to sustainable living. My favorite part of the talk was learning about The Farm’s green building techniques.
- Douglas was one of the founding members of The Farm so it was really interesting to hear about how The Farm has evolved from the ‘70s to now. He juxtaposed the evolution of The Farm with the course of history.
- I was really encouraged by the sorts of eco-friendly buildings that had various methods of reducing their impact. His talk was one of the best academic lectures I have been to. I always hear a lot of talk about being sustainable, but actually seeing it done is exciting and inspirational.
- The presentation was refreshing – to hear of successes that result from sustainable living. A lot of the time when you hear the word “sustainable” there is a negative connotation because people pair sustainability with compromise.
- I was impressed by the logic, beauty, and principles that guide The Farm. Hopeful because I’d like to carry those same principles into action in my own life one day. It was inspiring for me to see how it is possible for a large group of people to live in harmony. When I think of The Farm, the words moderation, giving, resourcefulness, and adaptability come to mind.
Mississippi State Honors College
- When Doug came to talk to The Honors College about his way of life and their goals as a whole group, I was interested, to say the least. I found it a little bit amusing that it started as a gang of 18-year old hippies, looking to make a change. People always take teenagers, or young adults, as a joke it seems; adults always seem to think that anything a youngster does is just a fad, and will pass just like a new hairstyle or cell phone. Obviously, this is not the case, as The Farm is still around, proving that sustainability is a lifestyle worth the ‘inconveniences,’ and that anyone can do it, even young kids just looking for a new ‘fad.’ I was also greatly impressed by The Farm’s efforts to make life better in other areas besides Tennessee. The work done in Guatemala, I think it was, was amazing and inspiring. Doug definitely made me think about the choices I’m making now, as a young adult, and what kind of choices I could be making now and in the future.
- When Doug Stevenson came to speak to the student from the honors college, a lot of the kids sitting around me were ready to leave before Doug was even introduced. However, once he started talking about life on The Farm and how communal towns were run everyone sat silently, soaking in what he had to say. What Doug spoke of was interestingly different from what other speakers we heard this semester talk about, his information was about real life. He spoke about building homes by yourself, a whole community living as one unit, of bettering the world through group efforts put on by the farm and that by treating people as equals can make a huge impact. Doug Stevenson really made us start thinking about what a difference a town can make in the world if they would only work together.
- During the Honors College Forum, Doug Stevenson brought numerous new and old ideas on sustainability in everyday life. His story about the creation and development of The Farm was quite inspiring and thought provoking. He provided a great deal of information on the actuality of the idea of hippie culture and permaculture in the world. It was very much a spiritual journey and development of oneself while they learn their place in the world.
- When Douglas Stevenson spoke about The Farm during Honors Forum, he discouraged several myths that I personally believed about hippies and showed me a new way to look at this community that I would soon be visiting. Although I was always under the belief that hippies constantly danced to disco music while under the influence of drugs, this is not the case. Tie-dying and other stereotypically hippie culture facets may be true, but for the most part, hippies are not as we picture them today. Douglas Stevenson really showed that the hippies of The Farm were just people legally standing up for what they believed in. He proved that they were people we can all connect with in some way and that we should not judge people based on what we expect them to act like.
- I was very drawn into Douglas Stevenson’s presentation about how The Farm got started and how it has been shaped over the years. Having been told a little about The Farm and its values as a commune beforehand, I felt like I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. However, during the actual presentation, I was very surprised to learn about its origins and all that the community as a whole had accomplished from the local to the international level. I had no idea that so much had influenced its development as a place of solace, as well as action. I learned how interconnected the whole community is. The residents of The Farm provide a great example of what it means to work together for a greater cause. The Farm is also a great example of how people with innovative ideas and diverse perspectives can accomplish large scale projects by relying heavily on one another. By and large, I consider Douglas Stevenson’s talk both interesting and eye opening. I would definitely attend a presentation like his again.
- Doug’s lecture completely changed the way I think about communities such as The Farm. Not only was the talk informative, but it was inspiring for me because he spoke of a group of teenagers that decided to take their efforts overseas and help people. One project in particular that really fascinated me was the midwifery. These teenaged women with no background experience became skilled in complex care for women, and decided to help other women around the world with these skills. Especially the midwifery projects in South America inspired me to really spread the knowledge and resources that we are blessed with in our country. All in all, the talk was motivating and I really learned a lot from it.
In a world spinning in directions that often cause fear, confusion, and dismay, there is a consistent voice that reminds us there is a ying and yang to everything …be vigilant, do what you can do, and be calmly consistent.
Douglas Stevenson is a natural born teacher with a huge dose of common sense. He is consistent with purpose in, and with his life. The words he offers resonate with young and old alike because what he teaches makes sense to our souls. He is clear, reasonable, and logical. He lives what he teaches with a passion that I’ve only seen in a very few.
No matter if Doug is speaking about vegetarian food preparation, sustainable living, telling a story about living on The Farm for 40 years, or singing a song, you will come away with a renewed desire to be a better person … do a better job at whatever you do … and live a little more gently on our earth.
Toni van Gils
President, Purest Products