Gil Friend and David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

A Plowboy Interview with the founders of the Washington, D.C. organization, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

| November/December 1975

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    Gil and David show roof-grown cantaloupe and cucumbers.
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    Gil Friend and David Morris, founders of the Washington, D.C. organization, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
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    Basement-grown alfalfa sprouts are harvested for market.
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    Hydroponic garden grown with compost fertilizer.

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In 1973 — while food and fuel prices were going up, the employment rate was going down, and the quality of life in all our urban centers was generally deteriorating — a small miracle occurred in Washington, D. C.  

Not in the White House. Not on Capitol Hill. And not in the red-tape-strewn offices of any bureaucratic agency set up to "save the people".  

Nope. This miracle took place a couple of miles northwest of the center of the city . . . in the run-down, high crime, "little hope left" Adams-Morgan area. And it all began when some of "the people" (whom both our establishment politicians and chic radicals presume to save) decided to save themselves.  

One of the main tools used by the Adams-Morgan residents in their fight for self-respect and self-sufficiency was-and still is something called the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is a non-profit, tax-deductible foundation set up to research, develop, and help establish politically independent, economically self-sustaining, and ecologically sound urban communities. Communities ruled from the bottom up by the individuals and families who live in them . . . rather than from the top down by distant bureaucrats who "know what's best" 

The ILSR's work has — so far — included experiments with imaginative new ways to produce, process, and distribute food right in urban neighborhoods . . . the design of low-environmental-impact waste recycling systems. . . the promotion of solar energy for do-it-yourself city use. . . the organization of creative community government on a grassroots level . . . and the publication of a wide variety of "how-to" material about the foregoing projects. Members of the Institute have also done a good deal of intellectual arm-twisting on the "powers that be" in behalf of self-reliant, sub-municipal, people-oriented government. 

Two of the individuals who belong to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance — David Morris and Gil Friend — can probably speak for the whole group as well as any of the organization's members. 

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