Profiles in Self-Sufficiency

A piano tuner who pedaled his bike from one job to the next, an inventor who developed a new way of generating electricity from tide power, and a mother who campaigned for a ban on the 2,4,5-T herbicide are among the profiles in self-sufficiency presented in this article.

| July/August 1980

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over.   

Bonnie Hill: 2,4,5-T Herbicide Hazard

After giving birth to two healthy children, Alsea, Oregon resident Bonnie Hill miscarried in her third pregnancy. At the time, the doctor could offer no explanation for the spontaneous abortion ... but in the summer of 1977—when Bonnie read of some studies that showed adverse effects in the reproductive systems of rhesus monkeys exposed to the herbicide 2,4,5-T—she began her own probe.

The Hills live in timber country, where herbicides are applied to kill the broadleaved brush that shades out Douglas fir seedlings . . . and Bonnie soon discovered that eight women in the Alsea area had suffered a total of 11 miscarriages, each within two weeks to a month of a major spraying operation. The women promptly composed a joint letter—which they sent to government agencies, legislators, the industries that had used the spray, and the media—asking for help in determining whether there might be a cause-and-effect relationship between the herbicide use and the miscarriages. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency initiated an investigation that brought about a temporary emergency ban on 2,4,5-T (and the related chemical silvex) in February 1979.

There was no spraying near Alsea during either of Ms. Hill's last two pregnancies—each of which produced a fine baby girl—but Bonnie sees the issuance of a permanent ban on the herbicides as the public's only lasting means of protection.—Peter Jensen. 

Bruce E. Grimes: Pedaling Piano Tuner

After a three-year apprenticeship under a Piano Technicians Guild craftsman, California-raised Bruce E. Grimes decided to put his new skill to use in a unique manner: The keyboard repair man packed his tools and supplies into a tiny trailer, attached the carrier to his ten-speed bike, and began pedaling from town to town to offer his services for sale, for barter, and—sometimes—for free!

Grimes trained for the trip—while he was learning his trade—by making house calls on his three-speed bicycle. And from the beginning the itinerant tuner was encouraged by the ways in which folks reacted to his unusual means of livelihood. "I've been invited in off the street—on more than one occasion—and offered a meal and a place to sleep," says Bruce.

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