It has now been eight years since the summer of 1969 ... the summer when we began laying the groundwork for this magazine. In some respects those eight years have sped by as rapidly as eight weeks (where did the time go?). But in so many exhausting ways, those years have been more than the equivalent of eight full lifetimes.
We've all been through a great deal since 1969 that we'd rather not have gone through. The unnecessarily dragged-out conclusion and end of an insane war in southeast Asia, criminals in the White House, lies and duplicity from every level of big government, big business, and big labor, two devaluations of the dollar, starvation in the Sahel, double-digit inflation, increases in the incidence of cancer, the oil embargo, massive oil spills, Kepone in Virginia, PBB's in Michigan, and PCB's almost everywhere else, the biggest recession since the 30's, giveaway grain deals to Russia and China (supposedly the enemy) at the same time soybean shipments were arbitrarily shut off to Japan (supposedly our friend), runaway nuclear reactors, terrorists here and abroad, rumors of atomic weapons being assembled from "peaceful" plutonium in all parts of the world. India's explosion of just such a device ... proving the rumors true, confrontations in Lebanon, Palestine, and other parts of the Middle East, secret arms deals, secret spy deals, and secret economic deals ... all made by politicians sworn to "open" administrations, OPEC dollars and tired old Keynesian economic theories sloshing back and forth from one nation to another and disrupting all the currencies of the world, busing riots in Louisville and Boston and other cities. more drugs and crime and pollution and traffic snarls in our urban areas ... and an increasing amount of the same ills spreading across the countryside, the Alaskan pipeline and all the environmental and economic dislocations it has wreaked — and continues to wreak and will wreak — on our 49th state and most of this continent's west coast, earthquakes, once-fertile soil destroyed for all time at a rapidly increasing rate by strip mining ... and severely damage — year by year — by clear-cutting, pesticides, herbicides, petrochemical fertilizers, ever-larger machinery, and all the other tools of "agribiz," the rights of the middle class — the "backbone" of any stable society — trampled at an accelerating rate, bankrupt cities, bankrupt corporations, and bankrupt banks ... all bailed out with printing press money, ballooning federal deficits, Detroit's defiance of EPA standards for new car exhaust emissions, the winter of 1976-'77, drought in the West and floods in the East and dust storms once again in our Midwest.
Need I go on?
To be sure, we (the little people of the world and the planet itself) have made some gains. We did defeat the U.S. SST (although, it must be admitted, the opposition does continue its campaign to weasel the British/French SST into airfields on this continent ... and our wimpy politicians, sooner or later, will probably give in). And the tide here in the United States is now running against aerosol packaging and throwaway containers of all kinds. And even the diehards are slowly beginning to realize that the horrors of atomic energy (the health hazards it presents to every living thing for all eternity and the absolutely frightening terrorist hazards it presents to all of us now) can never be outweighed by any economic advantage (and, besides, nuclear energy has no economic advantage ... just ask Westinghouse).
In the main, however, we little folks and the planet aren't doing so well on the national and international levels. Not a single emerging or industrialized country in the world yet has a rational, workable, well-thought-out energy policy. Of the few governments now paying lip service to the sun (which, after all and for all practical purposes, does supply every bit of energy we use), most are stupidly and corruptly locked into developmental programs designed to put control of this widely decentralized source of energy into the hands of a few multi-national corporations. Or into the hands of one or two of their own government agencies.
But life doesn't have to be that way! It doesn't have to be what big government, big business, and big labor seem so determined to make it. Who needs a regimented, planet-raping existence dictated by big this, that, or the other anyway? Especially when it's still possible for small groups of people, one lone family, even a single individual ... to take life into his or her own hands, bust out of the mold that "they" want all of us to stay in, and — with a little hard work — build and enjoy an earth-oriented way of living for him or herself.
How do we know? Because — since founding this publication — we've received not hundreds, not thousands, not tens of thousands ... but hundreds of thousands of letters from readers. Even though there are now hundreds of thousands of readers in the world ... there are still hundreds of millions of others "out there" who haven't yet reached environmental awareness. And the regimentation of little people and the rape of the planet not only continues ... but accelerates daily. We don't have much time left to make the changes in our society that simply must be made if you and your children and your children's children are to live lives of real satisfaction and freedom ... and if the planet is to endure.
And that's why — after eight full years of publishing a magazine dedicated to helping all the little people in the world realize the age-old dream of independent self-determination and at the same time helping to make it possible for us all to grope our way toward less energy-intensive and more earth-oriented ways of life — we're still at the same old stand serving up the same kind of publication we started out to print back in the summer of 1969.
Oh yes. MOTHER has changed over the years. She now contains from 180 to 204 pages per issue, instead of the skinny 64 we started with. And we now put a foldout in each magazine and some color, and some of our paper is better than it used to be, and we now print more firsthand reports and fewer reprints from other sources, and we have more experiments from our own labs to feature, and we've financed a great many of these improvements with advertising revenue ... and some of you old-time MOTHER readers write in ever so often to ask why.
And the reason is that such upgrading really does work. Maybe you don't need to see sharper photos in THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS ® to convince you to read the magazine ... but it seems that a lot of other people do. Because every time we crank in such an improvement, our circulation jumps. Every time we improve the appearance of the publication, in short, we find ourselves reaching more people with MOTHER's message ... and that's what we're here for.
And that's why — after eight years of grinding out MOTHERS — we're finally ready to take our ... last big step up. This is the year, we hope, that we'll finally be able to establish a core of field editors to send us natural gardening, wild food, alternative energy, low-cost construction, and home business reports on an up-to-the-minute-here's-what's-happening-in-my-region basis. And begin building the prototype self-sufficient "constructed from waste" house that we've been developing for four years and which we want to feature in this magazine just as soon as possible. And a great many other things that we've been striving toward for eight long years.
And yes, just like everyone else, all our costs have been going up substantially (we've been hit with paper price increases, alone, of 31percent during the past 12 months), and we're barely holding our own now, and we're facing more increases in the cost of publishing this magazine, and all these projected improvements are going to cost too, and we are going to raise the price of this publication.
But we think it's all going to be worth it.
So here we go on the next eight years. The world in general may be a lot more tattered and torn than it was when we began assembling our first MOTHER in the summer of 1969 ... but we know for a fact that there are now several hundred thousand readers in the world who feel that THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS ® has helped them find a way to realize their dreams of self-reliance and environmentally oriented living.
Now all we have to do is keep on working . . . until we (and that includes you ) have turned that "several hundred thousand" ... into several hundred million. Let's get on with it.