Profiles in Self-Sufficient Living

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LEFT: One of the larger log cabins Verlin Jones builds. RIGHT: New Age Community Health Education Services founder Beverly Coleman.  

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over
the country who manifest an attitude in harmony with self-sufficient living.

Verlin Jones: Log Cabin Builder

 For three-quarters of a decade 27-year-old Verlin Jones has been constructing log cabins that are designed to outlast their builder by a century or more. And the Ozark native has priced his handhewn log shelters which sell in kit form at well under the going rate. “Most all manufacturers today,” says Verlin, “don’t bother looking for ways to produce their goods for less money . . . they just jack up the price tag every time their costs increase.” Jones, on the other hand, keeps cutting his expenses and his fees: Verlin currently charges $850 for a 20′ x 20′ structure, $750 for a 15′ x 20′ dwelling, and $650 for a 15′ x 15′ cozy residence.

What’s more, the hill country carpenter extends credit to his customers ($100 down, and $25 per month) . . . and though he’s not equipped to deliver his product will store orders free of charge for up to five years. 

Jones figures that the average do-it-yourself should be able to add a roof and floor to any one of his wall frames with a little bit of elbow grease and about $500 worth of used materials. “My cabins,” Verlin acknowledges, “are made for folks who have more time than they have money! ”

Joseph Maroney: Refuse Recycler 

“Since I moved to Reno in the early 1970’s,” says Nevada resident Joseph Maroney, “I’ve never put out so much as a cigarette butt for the garbage company to pick up.” But despite that fact, a collection agency for the Reno Disposal Co. has sued the 72-year-old for refusing to pay for its “services.”

A city ordinance gives Reno Disposal an exclusive franchise to collect garbage within the city limits . . . in order to prevent the potential health hazards caused by the accumulation of refuse. “But it ain’t garbage until you throw it out,” claims Joseph, “and I don’t make garbage .” Maroney turns much of his food waste into mulch for his garden, burns paper products and potato peelings in his fireplace, and sells aluminum cans and glass bottles for recycling.

Nevertheless, in September 1979 Joseph was ordered by Reno Justice Court to pay the collection agency $100. Maroney intends to appeal that decision: “If there’s a law that says I have to have garbage,” asserts the unremitting recycler, “I say it’s an unfair law.” 

Max Miller: From Pickle Jars to Paperweights

“Eight years ago,” says Max Miller, “an 80-year-old glass blower who was on the verge of retirement offered to teach me the basics of his skill, and I jumped at the chance.” Now Miller a Redkey, Indiana pipe-organ tuner spends all his spare time turning glass jars and bottles into beautiful, handmade paperweights . . . some of which are on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Max uses secondhand and homemade glass blowing equipment for his craft. He begins each work of art by heating clear glass in a melting vat, then shapes his masterpieces on an iron rod and decorates the “sculptures” with colorful crushed-glass designs. And Miller has no trouble accumulating the raw material necessary for his hobby . . . because friends and neighbors make sure the 58-year-old craftsman is well supplied. “Sometimes, when I leave the house in the morning,” says Max, “I find my front porch covered with bottles and jars . . . or folks’ll trade me their empties for a chance to watch me work.”

Most ecologically conscious citizens think of glass recycling as a way of protecting one of this planet’s natural resources . . . but for the folks in Redkey, Indiana — thanks to Max Miller — glass conservation is a means of maintaining an art form as well! –Jeffrey S. Close.

Beverly E. Coleman:  Community Health Educator

In 1975 Beverly E. Coleman founded a health care center called the New Age Community Health Education Services (NACHES) that was designed to teach people to take greater responsibility for their own physical well-being. The Los Angeles-based establishment instituted three basic programs: [1] the use of massage, acupressure, and reflexology to reduce stress and promote relaxation, [2] home parties that explore patterns in healthful living, and [3] individual self-development plans consisting of a personalized diet, exercise routine, and guide to stress management.

In addition to her activities at the center, Ms. Coleman’s endeavors have included the formation of the Foundation of NACHES, Incorporated. This off-shoot organization which was set up to train personnel, offer seminars to the public, and continue research into wholistic self-care will, Beverly hopes, enhance her concentrated effort to spread the word about alternative health care methods. -Valena Broussard Dismukes.

In Brief…

Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri has selected teacher ART BOYT to develop a new curriculum in alternative energy and lifestyles, to begin at the onset of the spring semester, 1980. The Boyts who live by the principles proposed for the program will use their own farmstead as a field laboratory and demonstration model.

At 76, CHARLES CLARK may be one of the last remaining ice harvesters . . . and he’s been spreading the secrets of his skill to gatherings in such institutions as the Stamford, Connecticut Museum and Nature Center. “When we run out of oil,” Clark insists, “ice will be as necessary as it was before the days of the electric refrigerator.”

JEREMY F. CRISS of Eldersburg, Maryland has developed a “worm toilet” that flushes with only two ounces of water, and doesn’t need to be connected to a sewage system or septic tank! The apparatus which is hooked up to a vacuum pump that’s attached to a windmill sucks the waste into a six-foot vat containing mulch and redworms . . . the latter of which convert the sludge to natural humus.

DR. MOSTAFA K. HAMDY and graduate student M.T. NUNN — microbiologists with the University of Georgia College Experiment Station’s food science department have discovered that some forms of bacteria can be used to partially biodegrade PCB (a man-made industrial chemical that can cause many dangerous side effects, including cancer, when taken into the food supply).

FRANKLIN HEESE and MARV NORLUND, founders of a company called Truck Tracks, have developed a way to enable trucks to “float” over sand, mud, and snow. The secret: large rubber tracks that can be slipped onto the back tires of any tandem-axle truck. JV.

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