MOTHER’s Newsworthies: Robert Redford, Helen Caldicott, Anthony Monde and Helen and Scott Nearing

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Robert Redford wrote The Outlaw Trail. It is Redford's record of his three week personal journey to the legendary land of Butch Cassidy.
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Helen Caldicott is a antinuclear activist. She has become an effective spokesperson,  communicating to her listeners a chilling (but medically and statistically factual) sense of the atomic threat. 
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Anthony Monde is the inventor of a protective bicycle shield after learning that there are up to one million bicycle accidents a year.

Brief: Robert Redford

Robert Redford is more than just another pretty face. His environmental awareness has been demonstrated, for instance, by his association with such groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation.

Now the movie idol is an author, too. The Outlaw Trail (Grosset & Dunlap) is the actor’s record of a personal “journey through time” to the legendary land of Butch Cassidy and other colorful characters of the brawling West. “We’ve already lost much tangible evidence of our heritage,” says the man who played the Sundance Kid. “I wanted to see for myself what remained of the trail before it was too late.”

So, under the auspices of the National Geographic, Redford spent three weeks traversing the route — from Canada to Mexico by way of Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico — through the wild territory into which so many of the Old West’s “badmen” disappeared at the first whiff of “law and order.” Moreover, Robert traveled as the outlaws and settlers did, on foot and horseback.

The chronicle of that trek makes an impressive volume, indeed. With the help of Jonathan Blair’s spectacular photography  — and Redford’s own articulate concern — the book explores the beauty and adventurous history of the area, and sharply contrasts the past with the struggle of today’s ruggedly individual inhabitants: the cowboys and ranchers who are fighting to protect their “great outdoors” from the encroachment of industrial “progress.”

Brief: Helen Caldicott

“Because I see people die, I understand how valuable every single life is … and yet a single pound of plutonium, evenly dispersed, could kill every man, woman, and child on this planet.” These are the words of Helen Caldicott, one of the world’s most prominent — and eloquent — antinuclear activists. The dedicated doctor, mother, and “world citizen” has become an effective spokesperson because she communicates to her listeners a chilling (but medically and statistically factual) sense of the atomic threat … and also manages to convey her uncompromising love for all people — and all life — on our planet.

Dr. Caldicott — who is currently associated with the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston — believes that “one person can make democracy work … all you have to do is have the energy.” Helen’s own life demonstrates the kind of energy that’s required. In 1972, she started a one-woman campaign against French atmospheric A-bomb tests near her native Australia … by writing a letter to a newspaper. Before long, she was researching and publicizing radiation dangers, mobilizing massive protests, even carrying the fight to Paris … all this while working 85 hours a week as a medical intern!

When the French limited themselves to subterranean testing, Dr. Caldicott persuaded Australia’s labor unions to halt uranium mining until the government agreed to a safety study. In her “spare time,” she also spoke out for national parks and aborigine protection … as well as establishing — through her single-handed persistence — a much-needed cystic fibrosis clinic.

Two years ago, the doctor and her family settled in the U.S., but this move has not diminished her activity. “America is the crucible,” she says. “If the world is to survive the threats of nuclear power, this country has to take the lead.” And until the U.S. — and all countries — have totally eliminated the atomic danger, Dr. Caldicott will keep speaking out. “My religion,” she says simply, “is saving the planet.”

Brief: Anthony Monde

Accordion virtuoso Anthony Monde of Reading, Pennsylvania is acclaimed in concert circles not only for his performance (he’s the rare master of a perfect accordion tremulo) but also as the designer of a number of improvements on the standard instrument … notably his “double acting” reed and a keyboard that makes his own “orchestrated organette” unique.

But Mr. Monde’s inventive talents go well beyond musicland. When he read that bicycle accidents were up to one million a year (and that most such smash-ups involve children aged 6 to 14), the world-touring musician stopped traveling long enough to design — and patent — the protective bicycle shield (he’s currently demonstrating in the Image Gallery) and hopes soon to market.

The visible portion of the shield is made of reflective material (for added night protection), behind which is an inflated cushion with valves designed so that the air escapes slowly upon impact. If the bicycle collides with any other object, the collapsing cushion absorbs the shock, substantially reducing the danger of death or serious injury to the rider. And observers comment that Monde has contrived to make the shield good-looking as well as defensive.

Brief: Helen and Scott Nearing

Nearing fans, rejoice! Helen and Scott have produced a sequel to their perennially popular Living the Good Life. The new book, Continuing the Good Life: How to Live Simply With Health and Satisfaction, covers the Nearings’ 25 years of homesteading experience since their move from Vermont to Maine … and shares a wealth of instruction and advice from these Down East gurus of the back-to-the-land movement.

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