Moving to South Dakota, Kenaf Paper, and Other New Items

A family who decided to try moving to South Dakota, and Kenaf paper as a substitute for wood-based paper, were among the news items covered in this ongoing feature.

| February/March 1994

The following news items were sent in by readers. 

Moving to South Dakota 

In the April/May 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS the community of Wessington, South Dakota made an unusual request: it was looking for a family.

Specifically, they wanted a "motivated" family seeking a "child oriented community."

What Wessington got were 40 to 50 responses. Seems many people are looking for a quick escape from hectic urban life. But Kathy and Ed Abbey of southern California were motivated enough to get there first—and they had their reasons. They were tired of fearing drive-by shootings and witnessing sidewalk drug deals; they longed for a laid-back lifestyle where their six children would be safe.

So they called the listed phone number, which turned out to be the local high school, and spoke with Naomi Reinhardt, a volunteer on the town development committee. She explained the town's motivation: residents were fighting to keep the local school open. To receive allocated state funds, enrollment needs to be at least 35 children. That wasn't a problem until the superintendent of the school moved away at the end of the school year, taking his children—who were students—with him.

In return for more students, Wessington could provide a friendly, safe community. Naomi spent a good deal of time on the phone with the Abbeys and then sent them a 15-minute video of their potential house and a tour of Wessington. According to the Abbeys, it was no slick film footage—just your average person's drive around town. For Ed and Kathy it was love at first sight. They paid off their bills, withdrew their retirements, packed up the car, and took off for South Dakota. When they got there, three weeks later, they found a pleasant surprise.

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