The Rise of New America: Life in Rural New Hampshire

The Rise of New America profile of Dennis and Polly Joos and their life in rural New Hampshire.

| March/April 1988

  • 110-078-01
    Despite doubts, problems and the cold, they never gave up. Dennis, Polly and son Aaron on their homestead, which they have named the "Jellystone Wild Game Preserve."

  • 110-078-01

Land economist Jack Lessinger predicts that the dominant lifestyle and economy of the 21st Century will spring from certain rural counties. This Rise of New America profile follows Dennis and Polly Joos and their life in rural New Hampshire. 

The New America: Life in Rural New Hampshire

No two persons embodied the back-to-the-land ethic more perfectly in the '60s and '70s than Helen and Scott Nearing. Their example and their books and articles on rural self-sufficiency inspired thousands of mostly young city dwellers to forego urban life and to attempt various degrees of homesteading, from communal to ruggedly independent. Dennis and Polly Joos number among the latter (they were first reported on in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 26) and are still at it. The following account is excerpted from correspondence between Dennis Joos and MOTHER EARTH NEWS editor Terry Krautwurst. 

In March of '73, Polly and I made the holy pilgrimage to visit the Nearings. We went for their blessing and some advice. Muslims go to Mecca; we went to Maine.

Helen and Scott immediately put us to work. If we wanted advice we were going to earn it.

When I announced that Polly and I were going to build a stone house, Helen just stared. Her eyes said, "I've heard that a million times but I haven't seen many stone houses."

But we owned 20 acres in northern New Hampshire and had already collected 20 or 30 rocks, I told her. Her doubts persisted. Nevertheless, we were full of enthusiasm. So, in April, we quit our jobs, tucked our piggy banks in the back of the truck and headed north. I envisioned ourselves as part Swiss Family Robinson, part Davy Crockett. We would be brave pioneers, living in a lean-to while battling wild animals, insects and starvation. It would be tough but romantic.

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