Newsworthy People: Harry Chapin, Korczak Ziolkowski and Earl Holliman

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Harry Chapin helped co-found World Hunger Year, in 1975,  to provide constant exposure for the facts about starvation and to help search for causes and solutions.
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Earl Holliman served as national chairman for Responsible Pet Care Week, which focuses its attention on both the joys and the responsibilities of pet ownership.
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Korczak Ziolkowski has spent the last 30 years drilling and blasting a 641-by 513 foot statue of Sioux Chief Crazy Horse out of Thunderhead Mountain.

Brief: Harry Chapin

Occasional $5 handouts or bang-up benefit performances cannot solve the problem of world hunger, says Harry Chapin — popular rock singer of moral fables — whose chief extra-musical concern since 1973 has been to do something about malnutrition.

Even a $2 million concert every night for a year, Harry points out, would provide less than $1.50 for each of the world’s half million malnourished people. The only long-range answers lie in increased self-reliance and redistribution of resources … “and the best way to start making a difference is to learn and then act.”

“Harry has championed the goals of knowledge and action with relentless energy. In 1975 he and Bill Ayres co-founded World Hunger Year to provide constant exposure for the facts about starvation and to help search for causes and solutions. Among other things, WHY produces 24-hour “Hunger Radiothons” (broadcast by top radio stations across the country) to explore three questions: What are the root causes of hunger? What is being done about them? How can the individual contribute?

When communities do find a way to help (community gardens, improved school lunches, etc.), WHY often assists.

In 1977, Chapin and WHY expanded their education service by establishing (with the Institute for Food and Development Policy) a bi-monthly information forum called Food Monitor, for which the singer writes a regular column.

WHY’s activities get a big chunk of their funding from Chapin’s 60-plus benefit concerts each year. Furthermore, it was chiefly Chapin, storm-talking his way through the Capitol week after week, who was responsible for the passage of a congressional resolution calling for the establishment of the Presidential Commission on hunger and malnutrition … and Harry is one of 14 people appointed to the group last September by President Carter. Says Ralph Nader, “I’ve never seen an entertainer dedicate so many hours or so much imagination to a civic cause.”

Harry Chapin responds simply: “I’m in for the long run.”

Brief: Korczak Ziolkowski

Korczak Ziolkowski (pronounced CORE-CHOCK JEWEL-KUFF-SKI) is a shaper of mountains. The 70-year-old sculptor — who assisted Gutzon Borglum in carving the busts of presidents at Mt. Rushmore — has spent the last 30 years drilling and blasting a 641-by 513 foot statue out of Thunderhead Mountain (which he bought for the purpose) near Custer, South Dakota.

A statue of General Custer? On the contrary, the massive work is a monument to Crazy Horse, the Sioux chief who won the Battle of Little Bighorn.

It was Henry Standing Bear, Crazy Horse’s nephew, who asked Ziolkowski to erect a memorial “so the white man will know that Indians had their heroes, too” … and ever since Korczak began to research the idea, his vision of the statue’s significance has dwarfed everything else in his life. “The mountain comes first,” he warned his wife, Ruth, “then the children … and then you.

“It certainly isn’t the money that keeps the sculptor toiling up and down the mountain: Although a million tourist observers a year (at $4 per carload) pay the expenses now, Ziolkowski went into debt to get the project started … and the property itself has been deeded to the Indians through the Crazy Horse Foundation.

Nor does Korczak do it for his health. The mountain has taken its toll in the form of hearing loss, heart attacks, broken bones, and a permanent limp.

Rather, the man who helped immortalize presidents knows that the history of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln is only one side of the American story. Crazy Horse, too, has a tale that must be told … and Americans must know both of these truths.

So much remains to be done that the artist will likely not live to see the completion of the work that has obsessed him since 1948. But his sons, he says — working from his books of complete engineering drawings — will carry on his vision … including a carved inscription which will be visible a mile away: “To you I give this granite epic, for your descendants to always know … ‘My lands are where my dead lie buried.’” — Robert Woessner.

Brief Earl Holliman

Earl Holliman, co-star of the TV show Police Woman, served last fall as national chairman for Responsible Pet Care Week (sponsored by the Pet Food Institute to focus public attention on both the joys and the responsibilities of pet ownership). Mr. Holliman, who is also president of Actors and Others for Animals, has a habit of harboring stray pets … perhaps partly because he grew up as an orphan himself. The Holliman household currently includes three shepherds and two all-American mutts … each dog an abandoned wanderer until Earl took it in.

Mr. Holliman is deeply committed to the humane treatment of animals and the conservation of wildlife, and he takes every opportunity to promote these causes. He has narrated films on pet care for libraries and schools, and works closely with humane societies. Being a responsible pet owner is a good bargain, says Earl: Where else can you “gain so much by giving just a little?”