It seems that a lot of the good folks who read this magazine want to get together with like-minded persons to talk about — and become involved in — MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type projects. In fact, we've received any number of letters asking us, "Why don't you form a national network of MOTHER clubs, so we can share our projects, plans, and dreams?" Well, the longer we pondered that suggestion, the more convinced we were that it was a darned fine idea!
But, for a good while now, we simply haven't had the staff or the time — what with our growing lineup of seminars, traveling courses, special issues, and world tours — even to think about such an undertaking. However, all those other projects are finally running pretty smoothly ... so we're ready if you are (and the evidence sure indicates that you are!) to begin work on local chapters of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
That Barn-Raising Spirit!
You know, our staffers often hear from readers who note — with some sadness — the difficulty of finding other MOTHER EARTH NEWS types in their home areas ... and solving this problem, we think, is one of the main reasons for establishing local MOTHER EARTH NEWS chapters. It seems, these days, that many people live in self-created isolation. Such folks are just too busy or distracted — or even plain scared — to make contact with their neighbors.
This situation, of course, has resulted in a breakdown in (and, in many areas, a complete lack of ) any sort of community spirit, since everyone fends strictly for him- or herself. But — as you know — there's a lot to be said for working together. A large group of people, for instance, can complete jobs that would be impossible for one person to accomplish alone, and such work is bound to be easier, quicker, more satisfying, and far more fun when a number of good friends pitch in together to do it!
In addition to simply bringing people together, each local chapter could serve as a clearinghouse for information. After all, MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers are a widely diversified bunch, and just about everyone has a valuable skill to share with others. If there's someone in your area who has knowledge of welding, farming, carpentry, or smithing (or any of a number of other do-it-yourself skills) that you may need to share, chances are your local MOTHER EARTH NEWS chapter would be able to put you in touch with that person (heck, he or she would probably belong to the organization already!).
Furthermore, not only would group members be able to exchange information and instruction in back-to-the-land skills, but they'd also be able to barter goods and services. As most of you swappers know, trading is somehow more satisfying (and usually a lot more fun! ) than simply paying out dollars and cents for the items or labor you need. Better still, such interaction would, no doubt, cause a close sense of community to develop among chapter members ... and that's about the best reason imaginable for starting a club. It would sure be comforting to know that no matter what happened — whether the barn roof collapsed or a power blackout (or worse) threatened the whole neighborhood — there'd be someone nearby who cared and who could be counted upon to help.
Some chapters may even want to become involved in the environmental, historical, or developmental issues of their communities. And when that's the case, you can bet that the collective voice of a MOTHER EARTH NEWS chapter is almost certain to be heard — and heeded — more readily than would the opinions of a single individual, however dedicated he or she may be.
We Want to Help, Too
As if all the above-mentioned possibilities weren't reasons enough for MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers to organize, there's more!
All local chapters will receive regular discounts on selected products and services. They'll also be able to arrange visits from our staffers (to keep the members informed on homefront happenings), or request bargain-priced presentations of our seminars.
In addition, we plan to keep all the chapters informed of one another's doings by publishing a national newsletter. That journal will contain how-to material, barter offers, and low-cost classified advertising as well as local-interest articles on all the subjects that MOTHER EARTH NEWS regularly reports on.
The newsletter will also suggest seasonal projects — such as a solar greenhouse or an alcohol fuel still — for chapters to team up on (and will let you know about the audiovisual and video-cassette programs that MOTHER EARTH NEWS will be preparing for the local clubs). Finally, to further the cause of an extended network of MOTHER chapters, we'll even hold an annual conference (possibly here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS' property) so that all of our regional organizations can get together and talk about their goals and interests on a national (or continental!) level!
Here's How to Get Involved
Now we're betting that most of you will be every bit as excited as we are about this concept. And of course, we're going to need lots of help from you if the dream is ever to become a reality. Our staff is now hard at work on a handbook of organizational information which will help the local units get started, but before we get much more involved in our preparations, we need to hear from you.
It's important that our readers let us know just how much interest there is in forming chapters in their various areas. If you'd like to help with the first steps of putting such a group together, or if you have a barn or some other large space that would be suitable for a meeting hall, or if you'd simply like to become a charter member, the initial membership fee is $25.
Of that fee, $15 will be allocated to national organizational expenses: publishing the newsletter, coordinating the regional groups, mailing announcements to charter members, and so forth. The remaining $10 will be set aside in a startup fund to be distributed to the local chapters as they're formed. (If, for any reason, a group should not form in your area, your $10 will be refunded to you, and you'll still be a member of the national organization!)
Once we receive your responses, we'll start to put together the first national newsletter. Look for that in your mail on or about February 1, 1981. In the meantime, we'll be looking for you and looking forward to bringing you and your good neighbors together!