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January, 1989

From a friend comes a diet that climaxes the Christmas season of overindulgence...


BREAKFAST---½ grapefruit
1 piece whole wheat toast
8 oz. skim milk
LUNCH--4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast
1 cup steamed zucchini
1 Oreo cookie
Herbal tea

Rest of package of Oreo cookies
1 quart Rocky Road ice cream
1 jar hot fudge

DINNER——2 loaves garlic bread
Large mushroom & pepperoni pizza
Large pitcher beer
3 Milky Way bars
Entire frozen cheesecake, eaten directly from freezer!

Tim Johnson has written for the Newsletter before. He has since married, and is in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Willow River winds its way up from the flood plains of the Wisconsin River through sharp sandstone ledges and rolling grassy pastures. In November it all looks pretty normal with the best farms in the bottom land sporting full corn cribs, newly painted barns, and a lighted Christmas tree on top of the silo. The road continues up past an old mill and a decaying town site where the scenery starts getting impressive. Shear sandstone walls plunge to the “river” now no bigger than a stream. "The trout are good up here.“ my friend says, “once you get above the farms with cow lots on both sides of the stream.” There are farms here smaller than below with 15 to 20 cows, and no modern equipment. Why do I think the best farms always have the poorest view? Or conversely, how much tougher for a family to retain the privilege of working a hillside farm. The road turns over the stream and now you see more and more abandoned farms. Some are still intact but evenly faded. You know the farmers took the whole herd buy-out, and just left all at once. There are a few “for sale” signs, and the fence rows are growing up to brush. It reminds me of walking through the woods in New England and finding stone fences on the hillsides. “This looks pretty grousey,” my friend says. We park, check our guns and head upthe snowy north slope of the ravine.

ETHICS IN ACADEME:  In Relation to the Limits to Growth
-Roger Ulrich, Psychology Department, Western Michigan University

In 1970 international researchers at the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology began a study of the implications of continued worldwide growth. They examined five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, ultimately limit growth on this planet, i.e. population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation. The MIT team fed data on these five factors into a global computer model and then tested the behavior of the model under several sets of assumptions to determine alternative patterns for mankind’s future. The resulting message of that study is even more urgent and sobering today than when it was first published in 1972. The earth’s interlocking natural system of global resources, can not support the rate of depletion currently taking place. As humans continue their attempt to expand and grow, the results will be the same. Resource depletion and the ultimate destruction of life-giving habitat will increasingly manifest itself around us. People of wisdom have known this truth for some time. It was at the very root of everyday life for the Native Americans who inhabited this land before the European “no limits to growth” ethic came to prevalence.

On the state and national level the ethics of “limits to growth” has been replaced by the concept of “Big is Beautiful” as more resources are poured into institutions of higher education. This gap between higher education and the reality of the limits to growth, was well illustrated a few years ago by John Silber, president of Boston University. After receiving a $19 million grant from the federal government, with assistance from Senator Ted Kennedy, Silber compared himself to a hungry but “well-connected” Ethiopian child: “Any little kid that gets to where the grain is handed out in Ethiopia is well-connected or he’s lucky, and I suspect that I’m both,” Dr. Silber said.

Senator Kennedy said the money for BU’s new $100 million science and engineering complex would help not just Boston but “the nation’s economic development as well.’ Apparently Kennedy meant that the nation “as a whole” would benefit from the scientists and engineers educated in the new facilities.

Let us right here begin to explore some myths. To start with we should remember that just because a “Supersalesman” such as a senator or a college president tells us something, that telling doesn’t make it a fact. Also let us not forget that the government cannot give anything to anybody without first taking it from somewhere else, and always that somewhere else is the life-giving habitat we call the earth.

It is well documented that our federal government is deeply in debt. The same is true of Universities who help incur the National Debt. There is not one bit of evidence that Boston University can produce an improved brand of scientist or engineer as a function of its new building complex. Intelligent scientists and engineers who understand the first and second laws of thermodynamics recognize that such expenditures speed up the entropy process. College presidents who sell the myth that more buildings will improve economic development would serve us all beter, as well as the expressed ethic of academe to serve truth, to admit that we are all addicted to money and the things it can buy. Overall the world “as a whole” is hurt by the burden new buildings put on available nonrenewable resources.

Our universities could learn alot from the Amish communities, one of the few sectors of American life that purposely tries to remain unaffected by the University’s influence. The Amish live off the land and respect it. They thrive because they believe in avoiding waste. An Amish farmer was asked to compare his costs for his corn crop to Ohio State’s budget estimate for such a crop. Ohio State’s estimated cost was $393, and the Amish farmer’s actual cost was $44.07. The Amish respect for nonrenewable resources and efficiency has applications beyond farming, too. For example, they don’t waste resources on unnecessary buildings. The Amish home doubles as the Amish church. The Amish home is also the Amish retirement village and nursing home as well as an institution of continued “higher education” which, in fact, has produced a population of alumni whose record of social problems are infinitesimally small compared to those of the graduate institutions which beg at the door of the government halls for more money to help save the world.

There is, sadly, a great deal of evidence to support the contention that our university-led culture does not have much respect for the likes of the Amish and other minorities who refuse to buy into the trap that there are no limits to growth. In his book, Pagans in Our Midst, Andre Lopez explains how expanding civilizations destroy people who live close to the earth. Cities and universities depend for their existence upon their ability to exploit the people and the physical resources of the countryside. That the countryside may be populated by people who do not particularly want to be exploited in no way changes the relationship of the city and university to the countryside. Both are centers of technology and that technology, in order to provide for the survival of the civilization, must by definition be an extractive technology. More and more today, the world market is cornered and regulated by government, where the decisions on the land are made by politicians and judges, elected by a citizenry, all taught in schools that no longer model by their own actions, the truth of mother earth’s laws. Such a situation breeds the very social problems our Universities promise to eliminate, yet promote by continuing to ignore their own wasteful ways as well as the true ways of nature. This threat has been written into our laws by university-trained graduates who have left the earth to become legislators, judges, and controllers of other lives, i.e. “civilized leaders”. Herein lies another myth, the myth that such a system is ethically sound and will sustain us.

It is extremely important for all citizens, as well as our students, to note these examples of University exploitation and to no longer depend so strongly on University trained leaders for ethical guidance. It is time for the people of this community and nation to refuse to sit back and allow themselves to be talked out of their own self-survival so that educational institutions can continue the costly myth that only they can serve as the saviors of our future prosperity.

Synopsis of MLT Annual Meeting:
MLT ANNUAL MEETING, Kalamazoo Nature Center, November 13, 1988 Rhonda Sherman-Huntoon, secretary

GUEST SPEAKER. The business meeting was preceded by Ken Asmus, a local expert on trees. Ken identified six tree crops that can be raised for food in this area. These are chestnut, heartnut, filbert, persimmon, saskatoon (serviceberry), and paw paw. He recommended planting the seeds in the fall, and they will come up in the spring.

ANNUAL REPORT. In 1988 (1) there were several improvements to the barn and house (including a new kitchen floor and a greenhouse), a pond was created, and many trees were planted. (2) Our by—laws were amended and approved. (3) A permaculture presentation was made in June, and hand-outs were developed for interest groups. (4) Three newsletters were produced this year.

ELECTIONS. Board members who were elected to one year terms last year were nominated for two year terms: Sally Kaufman, Ken Dahlberg, Swan Sherman—Huntoon, Mike Phillips, and Margaret Laatsch. Maynard
motioned, Lisa seconded, and it passed.

FARM REPORT. Ideas for the coming year: landscape around the pond with edible trees and plants, create a windbreak, and add fencing. Replace the living room picture window with a sliding glass door and porch. Also purchase publications for the MLT library.

PERMACULTURE PRESENTATIONS. Some garden clubs have shown an interest in presentations.

MAJOR GOAL FOR COMING YEAR. Increase membership and attendance at meetings. Maynard suggested that we change the policy of admitting board members only after attending three meetings, and instead invite people to be on the board because of their achievements. Hopefully they would be active and attend meetings.

NEXT MEETING: Sunday, January 15, 1989, at Ken Dahlberg’s home. New officers will be elected. Meeting at 3:00 P.M., potluck at 5:00 P.M. [Questions? Ken’s phone number is 343-4748, Ed.]

THE MLT NEWSLETTER began in 1980, and I have enjoyed being its editor during those years. It is time for a fresh voice to be heard.. .This is my last newsletter. I want to thank all those who have written articles, made suggestions, contributed art work. And a special thanks to Ken Dahlberg for seeing most issues of the newsletter through the printing stage, and to Maynard for watching over my shoulder in recurring hopes I would sometime do it right! And, finally, thanks to all you patient readers.

-Sally Kaufman, Editor

Wendell Berry

Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
on time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be.

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