Locals say Pullman acts as hippie haven

Students expect conventional cultural values, but spiritual practices in Palouse area lean radical



Owner of SAM’s Apothecary, Kraig “Sam” Brown, says alternative spiritualities thrive in Pullman Thursday night at his shop.

SAM SCHMITKE, Evergreen reporter

Stereotypes paint Washington as liberal on the west side and conservative on the east side. Pullman seems to defy this expectation of the eastern side of the mountains.

Some prominent community members let their hippie side run free. They show their passion for the spiritual and natural approach to life and are willing to share it with the community. To truly dive into the hippie side, you’ll have to move past the conservative rural stereotype of the Palouse.

Ryan Cirillo, a freshman psychology major, is from Reno, Nevada, and she didn’t know what to think of Pullman.

“I have always thought that Washington was pretty liberal,” Cirillo said. “But, every time I thought of Washington, I always pictured Seattle.”

Kraig or “Sam” Brown, the owner of SAM’s Apothecary, said Pullman doesn’t match our red county.

“The area around here is more diverse, especially because of the student population,” Brown said.

Alex Woytovech, employee and brother of Pups and Cups co-owner, said he’s heard stereotypes about eastern Washington include the word “hick.”

“I’ve seen a lot of narrow-minded people in eastern Washington,” Woytovech said. “I think Pullman is separate from eastern Washington though, mainly due to the college town. People don’t grow up over here and so their views are different.”

CJ Robert, the owner of Pups and Cups cafe, said Pullman reminds her of her hometown of Austin, Texas.

“We say, ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and Pullman sure does show that,” Robert said.

Robert said people tend to lean to the conservative side.

“People around here are typically in the valleys in seclusion and don’t really experience what people in Seattle experience,” Robert said.

Robert has a severe condition called gastroparesis, which means her stomach can’t digest food properly. This ailment led her to explore the hippie community on the Palouse.

“It’s like a foot cramp but on my stomach every minute of every day,” Robert said. “I couldn’t eat anything for three years. I tried going to doctors, eat foods, take vitamins, everything. Nothing worked.”

Robert said her mom nagged her to go to acupuncture.

“I didn’t think that this mumbo-jumbo would work. I mean you are sticking me with a needle to try to realign me,” she said. “I remember the acupuncturist putting the first couple needles in and I cried. It was the first time in three years I didn’t feel pain.”

Robert said since her first appointment her view on spirituality changed from skeptical to open-minded.

Robert said college towns seem more open to spirituality. She said she thinks a neutral approach to people’s beliefs spreads.

Brown said that for his shop, people tend to buy specific items.

“There seems to be a demand for quality loose-leaf teas,” he said. “Everyone enjoys the products whether it’s oils, teas, crystals, or CBD.”

Brown said that there is an interest in reiki, tarot cards, oracle cards and items with energy.

Robert said people like to believe facts and science. Which makes the aspect of spirituality and energy difficult to accept and understand.

“Your fact-based mind tends to be narrow-minded,” she said. “So, you might not understand it, but you should take off the horse blinders to see everything. Because energy is everywhere, that’s just fact.”

People need to have a more open mind to understand the world. That is something Brown and Robert agreed with. Don’t be scared of something just because you don’t know about it. You might end up enjoying it.