Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
How do we gain perspective? How do we gain a prospect from which we can visualize a beautiful, abundant long-term future beyond the obstacles? I think we need to climb on top of the obstacles, one step at a time.
For 40 years the magazine I publish, Mother Earth News, has started millions of people down the first paths of this journey toward a beautiful and abundant human future. The magazine publishes stories about sustainability achieved mostly through the medium of self-reliance. Mother Earth News teaches people how to raise their own food, how to generate clean, renewable energy and how to find joy in a simple lifestyle designed to conserve natural resources. This approach has made Mother Earth News the most widely read, popular and profitable voice for sustainability in the world.
My own life on our little organic farm is a reflection of the Mother Earth News approach. My wife and I grow much of our own food. We cut our own wood to provide part of our household heat. We’re not “off the grid” but we do use solar energy for electricity and hot water. We live on a healthy, pretty and copious patch of tall-grass prairie that provides sustenance for us and thousands of other species.
The farm also provides a prism through which my family and I can focus our larger aspirations for the planet. We might donate a few hours a week toward one worthy environmental cause or another, but we’re happy to spend hours a day working in our gardens and pastures. The time we spend on our treasured little piece of the earth enriches our affection for the planet as a whole. We’ve focused our daily attention on these 50 acres and in the process we’ve reinforced a conviction that we want to help make the entire planet healthier and more beautiful. That’s an exciting possibility. It’s the sort of project that should ignite the passionate human imagination.
Human beings could plan and manage this planet as a beautiful, abundant garden.
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future. We can climb on top of the immediate obstacles to a place where we can see the broad horizon of our destiny.