John Shuttleworth's Inspirational Figures of the Ecology Movement

John Shuttleworth shares his speech from a 1975 alternative energy and agriculture program held at Goddard College up in Plainfield, Vermont, and recalls the many figures of the ecology movement who have inspired him along the way.

| September/October 1975

As most readers of this publication should know (thanks to full-page ads placed in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NOS. 31, 32, and 33), Goddard College up in Plainfield, Vermont hosted a program on "alternative energy and agriculture" during the summer of 1975.

John Shuttleworth's Inspirational Figures of the Ecology Movement

And, sandwiched in among the heavyweights (the Murray Bookchins, Karl Hesses, Wilson Clarks, and Steve Baers of the ecology movement), the editor-publisher of this magazine was invited to attend the three-month gathering for a week as one of the "visiting faculty". Apparently someone wanted to measure the real movers and shakers against a farm boy from Indiana so that, by contrast, everyone would know how important all those other guys really are.

At any rate, whenever I'm invited to speak at one of these shindigs, I always seem to come home with more insight than I took. This trip was no exception.

Because as much as I've helped to promote wholistic ways of living and the so-called "alternative" energy sources . . . and as much as I approve of Goddard's experiments with aquaculture, wind generators, solar collectors, low energy construction, bio-dynamics, methane tanks, etc. . . . and as much as I liked, admired, and respected almost everyone I met during my week in the program . . . and as much as I intend to continue trying to modify our society so that it can be operated by a gentler technology . . . that Goddard program rubbed my nose — and rubbed it hard — in some unpleasant facts of life.

In short, I came away from Vermont with a bone-deep feel that even we "enlightened ecologists" of the ecology movement are still far too much a part of the problem instead of the solution. That we're more interested in rearranging the external trappings of our lives instead of really making basic changes in the way we live. That we find it much easier to tinker with solar collectors and windplants than to teach ourselves to exist without the gadgets that such "alternative" energy devices are designed to operate. That we still prefer to point fingers at other people's "stupid" electric toothbrushes . . . while donning the headsets of our own stereo systems.

It was this feeling which led me — on Wednesday, July 2 — to open my class with these words:

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