Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 17, 1975 · Page 63
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August 17, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 63

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, August 17, 1975
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Page 63
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Stodgy Maine Now Where the Action Is By Jerry Harkavy Maine '.^ - Strange the techniques of organic gardening in hope of coaxing a subsistence yield from the reluctant soil. Gradually over the past decade the stat? has become a magnet for bright, disenchanted city folks fleeing places like New York and Boston in quest of simpler, more natural wavs. BRUNSWICK. things are happening Down East. Mossy old Maine, that rockbound bastion of conservatism, has become a laboratory for innovative trends in alternate life stvles. A new company which designs wind- powered electric generators has taken over a vacant machine shop in Brunswick. A few miles away, in Bath, the Shelter Institute offers instruction in do-it-yourself low-cost homes which are in tune with the environment. Farther up the coast, in Rockland. a company owned by a Rockefeller heiress produces a waste composting alternative to the flush toilet. It is called a clivus multrum. And throughout the state, from the rugged coast to the fringes of the North Woods, hundreds of new homesteaders are working long-abandoned farmland, using THE INFLUX HAS resulted in a. dramatic turnabout in Maine's population trends, says Louis A. Ploch, professor of rural sociology at the University of Maine. After six decades of a steady loss of people, the past three years have shown a net gain. Ploch said. "It's people seeking the rusticness, the lack of hurly-burly." he said. "They want to be related to the land, the soil and the environment. And they want a place where they feel safe." Oddly enough. Maine's basic conservatism is part of the lure. It's reflected in a Scott Nearing Back-to-Land Movement Symbol Author, 92, a Folk Hero in Maine -APWIrephoto personal frugality, a throwback to the old Yankee aphorism. "Waste not. want not." "Maine is to the 70s what Paris was to the '20s: this is where the expatriates are." says John N. Cole, editor of Maine Times, an influential statewide weekly which serves as a clearing house for new ideas in energy, housing and homesteading. Cole has been quick to recognize the hallmarks of the new lifestyles: self-sufficiency, independence, thrift, craftsmanship, recycling, harmony with nature, all the old New England virtues rediscovered. If Cole is the philosopher of Maine's alternate way of life, the folk heroes are Helen and Scott Nearing. Author Nearing, vigorous and healthy at 92. is a living symbol of the back-to-the- land movement. A pilgrimage -- that's what it is -- to the couple's organic farm at Harborside is a must for would-be homesteaders seeking inspiration and a final push. Nearing says no fewer than about 2,500 people a year parade through his place. "They say they'd like to see the garden and the greenhouse and they often ask if we know of any land available at a moderate price. Most of the visitors are from middle and upper class families and grew up in an age of affluence. "They've had everything and yet they're profoundly dissatisfied with life," says Nearing. Nearing wrote "Living the Good Life" and "The Making of a Radical," among other books, and predicts that America's capitalist economy will continue to decline, forcing people to fend for themselves. To gain total self-sufficiency, some Mainers are giving first thought to achieving energy independence. But energy independence doesn't come easy in a state noted for its long, hard winters and which is forced to spend on imported oil to heat most homes and run most factories. ^ To the new homesteaders, natural, renewable wood is preferred for heating and building over petroleum and its derivatives. Wood-burning stoves, some dating back to the 19th Century, have become fast-selling items in recent years. Looking beyond wood, some of the better-heeled homesteaders are examining other alternatives. One of these is the windmill. Scores of curious visitors showed up last March in Brunswick when the Zephyr Wind Dynamo Co. unveiled a prototype of its wind-powered generator. Today, with close to a dozen signed or- ders, the fledgling company is Bearing production of its basic 15-kiiowatt homestead model. The generator, at $2.687, isn't cheap and there's the additional costs of a steel tower and battery' storage equipment. But some prospective purchasers look to wind- power as a long-term bargain. »· BUT WHAT ABOUT energy for an entire community? Maine innovators are exploring alternatives to nuclear plants, refineries and dams, all of which are controversial issues throughout a state jealous of its clean air and unspoiled vistas. One often-mentioned possibility is a tidal power project, a 50-year-old dream of harnessing the 25-foot tides of eastern Maine to generate electricity. Another idea -- one being touted by independent Gov. James B. Longley -- is production of Sunday Gazette-Mail The Page Opposite methanol, a fuel distallable from the state's vast timber resources Adequate housing has been a perennial problem in Maine and at a time when the median price of a new house is more than $35.000. the Shelter Institute is teaching students how to combine efficiency and functional beauty into self-designed dwellings at just one-third that cost. Located in an aging office building overlooking the Kennebec River, the institute was founded last October by Charlie Wing, an MIT-trained physics teacher, and lawyer Pat Hennin and his wife. Patsy. Several dozen students have completed the school's 15-week course and many of these have started work on their own houses. Shelter Institute dwellings use rough-cut and leave no room for individual expres- lumber from local sawmills, rather than sion. standardized materials, which. Wing says, cost too much, consume too much labor Please Turn to Page 7E. C.harlvtton, It. t'a., Auguit 17, 1975 Page 3E High on Best-Read List: The Labels on Products Lawrence. Stessin it president of Man and Manager, Inc., newsletter publishers. By Lawrence Stessin (CJ A'.Y. Times Service : NEW YORK--Businessmen generally are not a literary lot, but lately many have been perusing the printed word with positively avid interest. What they are reading is hardly the stuff with which to wile away a lazy vacation- it's labels, the prose that is stamped, printed, pasted, branded, riveted or ta- tboed on products headed for the consumer or industrial market. Labels have reached best seller status among government agencies, consumer groups, the courts and lawyers. On Aug. 20, for example, the Food and Drug Administration will conduct hearings in Washington to dramatize its decision to require manufacturers to use "stronger language" in spelling out, on pill boxes,, the dangers of certain drugs used by the more than 1.5 million diabetics in this country. , Tom Fesperman Horror of Heller, Surplus of Skelter Time has stopped. The air is without movement. Silence covers us like a fog. lam sitting in a specialist's waiting room. I have swimmer's ear, an ailment of Aquamericans in August. The left ear is full of the debris of Arizona, stirred with pool water. The mixture has hardened. »· THE CANAL IS CLOSED tighter than Suez was. The specialist has used all but the pneumatic drill and today, on the fourth visit, he will try irrigation. But I don't know that. My immediate future is filled with doubts, fears, imaginings of deafness. It's best I, sit here concentrating on the present, reviewing what I've learned in the wax ing and waning of the past two weeks. When I came here first, to this cluster of medical nests, I was nobody. Then a woman handed me a simple blank on a clipboard and a dulled pencil, and pointed mutely to a plastic sofa. So I became a name, an address, a birthdate, a Blue Cross number, a real somebody listing to port with crud. Ah, and with my own personal appointment: 3:15. So I had thought. Now I have learned. Three-fifteen is not my exclusive property. It just sounds exclusive I am surrounded by three-fifteeners, and time has stopped. We sit smokeless in silence, strangers in sobriety. Muzak is banned. Mantovani is missing. Across the room, a young boy and two women of some age are asleep, heads fallen back against green plastic, mouths open, inviting the motionless air. A pudgy white-haired man to the west of me turns slowly through last October's Harper's hoping against hope for Bunnies. Atfirstlhad thought, if 3:15meansanurse'ssummonsat4:23. followed by 24 minutes of prayer in a tool-filled closet while the specialist looks into other ears, other rooms, would it not be smart to comeat4:22? »· NO. IT WOULD NOT. I am a veteran now and know this would be self- defeating. East of me sits a leathered man, the footprints of birds engraved near his eyes. He counts his fingers, slowly. They are all there. Suddenly I am inspired. This is the American cure-all. We have all complained, and forgiven our failings with a common alibi. There is no time for scholarly thought for musingsand quiet planning. There are too many errands, phone calls, meetings, urgent trips across clogged towns, bills to pay. luncheons to rash to. sales toattend, appliances to repair, a horror of belter, a surplus of skelter. One swimmer's ear per capita could change the course of history. In Congress, more than 100 bills have started through the mills, some having reached the committee stage, most still at the planning point, with the aim of tightening controls on communication in packaging. For some time now, businessmen have been aware of the fact that watching their P's and Q's in discribing their products- contents, how to use. potential hazards- was not an idle exercise in semantics. False, obscure or omitted information on labels has often meant lawsuits, high insurance premiums and costly recalls. ' j. j, j. THERE ARE thousands of applicable regulations extant, ranging from village ordinances to Supreme Court decisions-but a litigious "no-man's-land" it is likely, will continue to plague business no matter how careful the literary efforts at shooing the produce user from harm. The criteria as they now exist are simple to state. The general rule is that when a company produces a product containing a potential hazard, the danger must be described in verbiage that is conspicuous, urgent and clear. "So clear." one regulator remarked. "As to do a Hemingway proud." Interpretation, however, is a far muddier field. Even companies that have followed the lyrical injunction to clarity to 'the letter--or so they thought have not always avoided prosecution. Take the case of the Connecticut-based Hubbard-Hall Chemical Co r which manufactures insecticide used by farmers. The insect killer came in heavy sacks and the print on the burlap--"poison-fatal if inhaled--do not use indoors" -- was as clear and distinct as a billboard. It so happened, however, that two years ago a farmer had hired two laborers "of limited education and reading ability." They spent the night in the barn with the sack of insecticide as their pillow and both developed several respiratory ailments. They sued the company on the grounds that the label was wanting an adequate warning. "What more could we have done?" was the gist of the company's defense. "Pay damages," ruled the judge. He had no criticism of the copy on the sacks or the size of the message, but management, he said, should have anticipated a world peopled by its share of illiterates. Haley Allied Chemical had some success in invoking just such creativity. The company manufactured a chemical which, unless proper precautions were taken, could result in serious accidents. The sales force kept returning with stories that there were several industrial customers whose employes were disregarding the warnings imprinted on the packages. Without waiting for the other shoe to fall, management sent out a cadre of engineers to its customers and % seminars with customers' supervisors, conducted safety courses on the proper use of the product. The supervisers then went out on the factory floor and in language familiar to rank-and-file admonished the employes who were jeopardizing their lives and those of others by lack of caution. A few months ago one accident did occur and an injured employe sued the manufacturer for improper labeling. She lost. The jury decided that the safety meetings had exon- et$ted the company from any guilt of neg- ' I Pre-Season Savings New Fall Corduroy Vested Suits / 69 90 Regularly S 95 Truly an exceptional value... especially now when the trend is to a casual, sportive look that's easily adaptable to city as well as country wear. Our own imported 100% cotton corduroy in a most desirable vested model. Suede trim on button holes and pockets. Natural, tan or tobacco. Regulars, shorts, longs, extra longs. Leather Trimmed Corduroy Sport Coats, Reg. $55 39.90 Men's Clothing--Second Floor PARK FRK 2 HOURS, with p^Miose, at Community Parking lot, corner of ^irginio and Hole Streets

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