The following are profiles of people who live the self sufficiency/"do it yourself" aesthetic, including an anti-nuclear power activist, a couple who built a recycles house from scavenged materials, and a Virginia fiddle maker.
In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over.
Anna Gyorgy had no sooner left New York City to settle on a farm in Montague, Massachusetts than she discovered that plans were being formulated for the construction of a nuclear power plant in her new hometown. In answer to that potential ecological threat, Anna joined with a number of other concerned individuals to establish the Franklin County Alternative Energy Coalition . . . a group which has since been instrumental in the postponement of four consecutive hearings for a license to construct the Montague plant.
Now the Franklin County Coalition has merged with several similar organizations to form the Clamshell Alliance (the group which was responsible for the highly publicized April 1977 antinuclear demonstration in Seabrook, New Hampshire). And Ms. Gyorgy—along with several coworkers—has completed a book entitled No Nukes: Everyone's Guide to Nuclear Power. The text attempts to answer serious questions about the safety of a fission-powered future . . . because, as Anna asserts in her volume, "We don't want to be 'nuclear neighbors'." —friends of Anna.
After reading MOTHER EARTH NEWS' interview with Minnesota's alcohol fuel pioneer Lance Crombie, Floyd Horst—a Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania farmer—decided to build an ethanol still for his own farmstead.
Floyd promptly applied for and received permission from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to manufacture the homemade "alky." Buton October 29, 1979 enforcement agents from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board shut down Horst's still. The LCB cited a 50-year-old state law that would require Floyd to pay $2,500 for a distiller's license . . . and added that Pennsylvania law does not currently distinguish between moonshine and fuel-producing alcohol stills.The shutdown was a setback to Floyd's efforts toward energy self-sufficiency, but the brewer's conflict with state authorities couldn't have come at a better time. You see, the agents arrived at the Horst farm the day before the State Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill to bring the cost of a permit for distilling fuel down to $25 . . . and the legislation passed. (It must now be approved by the House and signed into law by the governor.) Floyd's battle with state lawmakers just may have helped set the wheels in motion toward changing another state's outdated regulations concerning alcohol fuel production . . . and that, Horst admits, makes the whole hassle seem worthwhile. —JV.
When Keith and Vicki Lambert decided to build a new home, they resolved to get the job done without benefit of a 30 year mortgage. So the couple set out to construct a recycled house.
The Lamberts soon learned that the old Cramerton mill—a building that had been constructed in the couple's hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina some time near the turn of the century—was scheduled to be demolished . . . and that the structure's materials were free for the taking. In no time Keith and Vicki were hauling old bricks, lumber, maple flooring, curved windows, and other supplies to their home site . . . and the actual construction of the unique dwelling they'd planned was promptly begun.
The result of the Lamberts' labors is a 1,500-square-foot house (heated by a wood-burning stove and fireplace) which involved a total investment of less than $10,000. "And we know for a fact," assert the enterprising duo, "that the materials and workmanship that went into our homemade habitat couldn't have been any finer!" —Robert L. Williams.
Albert Hash has been making fiddles in the small mountain town of Mouth-of-Wilson, Virginia for more than 50 years now. At the age of ten, Hash created his first instrument from an old packing crate and some tacks . .. and, using an elder stick and some white horsehair (the latter was swiped from the mailman's mount), he made himself a bow to go with it! Today, Albert fashions his fiddles from the finest local woods—selected from the top of nearby Mt. Rogers—and assembles them with his own hand-built tools and machines.
Though the craftsman has never advertised and lives far from the beaten track, fiddlers and violinists have been finding their way to Whitetop Mountain to purchase his handicrafts for quite some time. Hash has a tendency to under-price his musical masterpieces ("we seem to be a non-profit organization around here," he says with characteristic humor) . . . but to the artisan—a prize-winning fiddler himself—the real reward is knowing that his precision instruments are being placed in the hands of those who will use them best and appreciate them most.—Randy Ring.
Middle Eastern inventor FREDERICK ESHOO has devised a hot-air balloon that's powered by the sun. Eshoo's "Sun-stat"—which has one transparent side that acts as a lens to focus sunlight, and a black side that serves as a solar collector—recently floated over Albuquerque, New Mexico for more than four hours . . . at an altitude of 12,500 feet.
New Jersey resident MATTHEW RUE has been gathering and drying seaweed to use as insulation. The innovative architect claims that eelgrass knots up to form air pockets which trap heat . . . and that—as a result of the plant's high salt content—it will not decompose.
On June 6, 1978, 23-year-old SEAN MCGUIRE embarked on a cross-continental trek from Alaska's Yukon River to Key West, Florida. The 7,000-mile hike—which ended April 9, 1979—was an effort to draw attention to the Alaska lands legislation now before Congress . . . which will (if passed) provide for 100 million acres of national parks, wildlife refuges, and scenic rivers in the state. —JV.