Hippie Values Still Hit Home
But most involved in the movement point to a more fundamental reason why the hippie phenomenon has lasted where other cultural trends have faded.
"The reason is that hippie era ideals were very, very sound," says John McCleary, author of the forthcoming Hippie Dictionary. "The whole movement wasn't based completely on sex drugs and rock and roll."
The hippie values of anti-materialism, environmentalism, non-violence, and so on, are both valuable and appealing to a broad range of Americans, McCleary says.
"The truth of the matter is that there are literally millions of people in this country who still live with and are interested in the ideals of the counterculture."
McClearly and others also point to the roots of 1960s counterculture, which they trace back to the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many other artists and intellectuals from centuries past.
Younger hippies today have embraced different elements of the original movement, and added their own twists.
For many younger scions of the '60s, constantly touring jam bands like Phish, Widespread Panic and String Cheese Incident have taken the place of the Grateful Dead.
Phish — which Rolling Stone called the most important band of the 1990s — disbanded a year and a half ago, but not before spurring another wave of free-form rock musicians to hit the road. Some experts also suggest the drug-friendly dance culture that emerged in the 1990s has roots in the '60s.
Moving to the Mainstream
If hippies have become more restrained in their rejection of mainstream values, it is also true that the mainstream has embraced many elements of 1960s revolution.
Recycling and the organic food movements have roots in the hippie movement, Miller argues, as does the widespread use of illegal drugs and relaxed attitudes towards sex.
The fashion world has repeatedly tapped into flower power for inspiration, too. This year, style writers across the country trumpeted the return of peasant blouses, crochet work, ponchos and hip-hugging bellbottoms.
"American youths' relentless hunt for fads has unlocked the 1960s counterculture," wrote the Knoxville News-Sentinel last month. "Knoxville teens and 'tweens have embraced it — faded jeans, tie-dye, incense, hemp belts, Grateful Dead and all."
Today's hippies aren't that different from those 30 years ago, says Bates.
"They know how to stay out of trouble better," he says.
"On the other hand, they still freak freely."