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A Decentralist Solution

Library Interior

Schumacher Center Board member David Ehrenfeld first suggested that the Center publish the Annual Lectures in pamphlet form.   He reminded us of the days in which pamphlets played a major role in the cultural life of the country. Ideas could be circulated for discussion quickly and affordably. In fact, some of the prized pieces in the Schumacher Library are pamphlets from the early part of this century.

The Annual Lecture pamphlets have been used as David predicted. A member may buy a dozen copies of a favorite lecture for a study group. Another member will send in money requesting a particular lecture for a son or daughter studying at college.

We thought that you too might want to give a Schumacher Lecture to a friend. All of the Lectures listed on the publication list are in print. Your requests will be mailed within five days of receipt, in time for the holidays. We will include a simple card with quotes from Small is Beautiful acknowledging that the gift is from you. No wrapping. Just a friendly hello from you and thoughts to share and discuss. You can use the enclosed order form for your instructions.

The Center is pleased to announce that it has hired Virginia Rasmussen as Director of the Schumacher Decentralist Library and Resource Facility. Virginia was the Director of Education at New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod beginning in 1986. The closing of New Alchemy Institute this year was a big loss to all of us active in issues of ecological integrity. Virginia brings many educational skills and experiences gained at New Alchemy to her work at the Library. She welcomes interns and volunteers who would like to help catalogue the growing Library collection. She plans to develop a bibliography on different decentralist topics and begin an educational outreach program.

Virginia’s presence has given extra urgency to completing renovation of the lower level of the Library. The Center has an immediate goal of installing a central heating system for the building. The contract price is $6,000. Any donation towards this amount is most welcome. More than 80 organizations and individuals have contributed books and other printed material to the Library to-date. Most every book is well chosen and valuable to the collection. The Library is growing into the unique resource the board envisioned.

The importance of the Schumacher Decentralist Library became vividly clear this summer during the flashy media attention of the Berkshire scrip program. The coverage elicited many inquiries. However the compressed prime-time TV spots could not adequately convey the years of study that prepared Schumacher staff to recognize an opportunity for a decentralist solution and then design and carry through a program. Nor could the packet of legal documents and an hour’s discussion with staff prepare a would-be organizer to undertake a similar project in his/her own area. We found ourselves asking, “Have you read Jane Jacobs or Henry George? Are you familiar with the discussion of the value of commodity backed currency over a labor backed currency? ” Even those with traditional training in economics were not familiar with decentralist economic thinking.

If a decentralist movement is to be sustained and not just a passing experiment, then that same literature must be collected, organized and readily available to those working in the field. It is this that makes the Library so significant.   Our appreciation to all who have helped.