thiscangobacktothearchives

January 23, 2015

Hippies in the Village

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 10:05 am

While processing the files of Stephanie Newman, a Social Planning Consultant that helped secure funding for the community service initiatives of Federation agencies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I came across an interestingly titled project proposal in the Jewish Family Service folder: “Village Project: Therapy Training Program in Dealing with ‘Hippie’ Youth” (c. 1970).

The Jewish Family Service of New York, one of the organizations that merged to form the current Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, was a counseling agency staffed by social workers and mental health professionals that served individuals and families in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Though the organization had Jewish roots, a 1968 project proposal notes that “among latter-day developments of the Jewish Family Service has been its readiness to move beyond its sectarian, Jewish base and assume responsibilities for serving the non-sectarian, interracial community.”

Indeed, this 16-page project proposal describes the hippie population of the Village as part of a nation-wide youth phenomenon, and addresses the specific needs of this population and the challenges of providing social services for them. The project aimed to “produce a corps of therapists who are specifically and especially trained for dealing with a clientele of ‘hippie’ youth whose unsolved problems constitute one of the major problems facing not only the mental health professions, but our society at large.”

Take a look at some of the other language in the proposal used to describe hippies …

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

And used to describe the problems hippies posed…

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

The proposal really paints a certain picture of what was going on in some neighborhoods of New York in the 1960s and 1970s. And while it does not indicate whether the project was actually funded, a separate 1973 proposal for mobile van service for youth in Brooklyn notes that “… in 1969 we set up a ‘rap’ room, reach-out storefront service in Greenwich Village of New York, with interdisciplinary staff and ‘indigenous’ youthful workers also employed.” So, it appears that the Village hippies did indeed receive some mental health services from the Jewish Family Service.

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