The Story of MOTHER EARTH NEWS

From its humble beginnings as a pioneer of the environmental movement in the 1970s, the magazine has grown in popularity and influence, and will continue to evolve.

| March/April 1990

  • Mother's Eco-Village Waterwheel
    At the magazine's Eco-Village, a waterwheel powered the workshop.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    MOTHER EARTH's "3VG," one of the several experimental vehicles built by the technical staff.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    John Shuttleworth at work. Rather than by "desktop" publishing, he started the magazine more by an "on the kitchen table" method.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Rafters on Alsek River
    Subscribers on Alaska's iceberg-strewn Alsek River; "Tours that Teach" went everywhere.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    A pioneer in publicizing solar energy, MOTHER constructed many passive-solar models at Eco-Village, including this greenhouse. Active solar also became a focal point of its energy activities.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Beekeeping was a staple of MOTHER's hands-on teaching style.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Former editor Bruce Woods at work in one of the many experimental organic gardens maintained by both editorial staff and gardeners.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Like beekeeping, hydroponic gardening was another one of MOTHER's summer seminars. Indeed, in its heyday, the magazine functioned almost like an open-air university.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Sara Pacher pausing by China's Great Wall.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • Mother's Eco-Village Waterwheel
  • 122-096-04
  • 122-095-01
  • Rafters on Alsek River
  • 122-098-01
  • 122-099-01
  • 122-096-02
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Early in 1978 an advertisement seeking "only the best writers in the world" ran in major newspapers throughout the country. It promised that those hired could set their own hours, design their own offices, and name their own salaries. The ad was obviously tempting. But even without that challenge to arrogance and those flowery promises, I still had good reason to apply.

For 1978 was a time of hyperinflation, the energy crisis, oil-spill-soaked and DDT-destroyed bird life, proliferating nuclear power plants, an exploding world population, and rising crime and pollution in big cities like Paris, New York, and San Francisco, where this small-town, Southern girl had spent most of her adult life. Then, too, in my years as a travel writer, I'd seen firsthand the ecological rape, poisoning, pollution, and thoughtless development of many of the world's loveliest places. To say I was appalled is an understatement.

Moreover, in this environmental wasteland, one of the strongest voices for the planet and all its life-forms was MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the magazine that placed the ad.

MOTHER's Early Years

Approaching environmental problems from a down-to-earth, practical, how-to standpoint, MOTHER was a pioneer in providing solutions to the energy crunch and promoting recycling, family farms, saner agricultural practices, better eating habits, medical self-care, more meaningful education, affordable housing, and, in the process, offered a platform for some of the most far-thinking minds of the day.



One of the most persuasive voices in those days was that of John Shuttleworth, who, with his wife, Jane, had started the magazine "on a shoestring" in 1970. In March 1975 he wrote: "For at least 20 years now, I've been getting an increasingly uncomfortable suspicion that all the major nations of the world—capitalist and communist—suffer from the narrow delusion that only people, and people alone, have any rights on this planet. Further, that human wants, needs, and desires—seemingly the more capricious the better—should be instantly gratified. And further still, that this can always be done in a strictly economic frame of reference.

"In short, I think that we live in an unbelievably marvelous Garden of Eden. Surrounded by miraculous life-forms almost without number. Kept alive by a mysteriously interwoven, self-replenishing support system that, with all our scientific 'breakthroughs,' we still do not understand.






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