fter completing a number of films for local non-profits an idea began percolating for a film that was close to our hearts. We had the desire to highlight the amazing activists on the Mendocino Coast, the people who have steadfastly protected our environment from clear cutting, from a nuclear power plant being built on an earthquake fault, from oil drilling off the coast and on and on. We interviewed Els Coopperrider and Doug Mosel about their successful campaign to stop GMOs in Mendocino County with that film in mind.

      But then, in a dusty corner of the barn, we found the next piece of the inspiration puzzle. We discovered a box of Super 8 film cans of footage shot during the Country Women days in Albion around 1970. Country Women was a feminist magazine that was published on the Mendocino Coast during the 1970s. The magazine was born from the consciousness-raising movement and lasted about ten years. At its height it had thousands of subscribers and was sold nationally. Women from all across America sent in articles, photos and drawings on the themes for each issue. Sexuality (a big seller), Homesteading,Women as Artists, Older Women and Kid’s Liberation were some of the themes. The other half of the magazine had “how to” articles to help women in the country learn the skills that they needed to be self-sufficient and liberated from roles. The magazine was a powerful force for change in this community and some of the founding collective members still live here.

      The film footage we found in the barn was still in good condition and we thought “what if these same women were interviewed today, forty years later? What would they have to say?” Women On The Land: Creating Conscious Community was born.

      The film took three years to complete. We worked on it when farm work was slower in the winter. As we interviewed one woman we were directed from her to another woman. The film unfolded in this way. We filmed community events as they happened. This is something that a filmmaker from out of the area could never do.

     We were able to grab the camera and be there when the time was right. Laurie, the cameraperson, followed Carmen around the farm capturing special moments that also would have been impossible for any other cameraperson to get. Hiving a swarm of bees, following the cheese making process from goat kidding through milking and finally the cheese making itself. This is what makes the film a “local” production.

      The film is the story of one rural community but it could be translated to thousands of others around the country. The consciousness-raising that inspired the magazine was about women understanding gender roles and their oppression. The women were transformed by what they learned and brought their insights back to the men of this community (many of whom started their own groups). As a result, our entire community has consciously evolved and Women On The Land is the story of that evolution.

—Filmmakers Laurie York and Carmen Goodyear

Photo of Filmmakers Laurie York and Carmen Goodyear
Photo by Rita Crane
The Albion hills