Local Producers, Local Resources

“Widening the Context in the Biotechnology Wars”

David Ehrenfeld, Professor of Biology at Rutgers University and author of the recently published Swimming Lessons: Keeping Afloat in the Age of Technology, will give a Spring 2002 Schumacher Lecture. His talk, entitled “Widening the Context in the Biotechnology Wars,” concerns the way scientific studies are often used to muddy the waters during ethical debates about controversial technologies, such as injecting cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone, producing genetically modified foods, and cloning human beings. Even some technologies of conservation are subject to this ethical confusion. To mount a more effective response to such practices Dr. Ehrenfeld argues that we must learn to widen the scope of our questions about them, often far beyond the narrow confines of science itself.

The founding editor of Conservation Biology and a founding board member of the Schumacher Center, Dr. Ehrenfeld’s writings focus on the interactions between society, technology, and nature with special attention to the positive role of community in today’s unstable world. In addition to his new book he is the author of The Arrogance of Humanism  (1978) and Beginning Again: People and Nature in the New Millennium  (1993). A regular columnist for  Orion magazine, his articles have also appeared in The New York Times, Technology Review, and New Scientist.  He is the father of four grown children and resides in New Jersey with his wife, Joan.

Within the scientific community, Dr. Ehrenfeld is recognized as a strong moral voice whose comments evoke the kind of concerned reflection that is the basis for change. We look forward to hosting his lecture on the timely subject of biotechnology. Please join Schumacher Center members and friends on May 11th at 7:30 PM in the sanctuary of the historic First Congregational Church, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Tickets are $7, $5 for seniors and students. There is no advance registration. A reception and book signing will follow the talk.


Olivia Stokes Dreier Elected New Board President

Robert Swann, the Schumacher Center’s founding President, was pleased to learn that Olivia Stokes Dreier accepted the board’s invitation to serve as its new President. Bob met Olivia in 1980 in a Berkshire study group considering the relationship between land, labor, and capital in economic structures. The group quickly moved from study to action, establishing the SHARE micro-credit program. Most of the organizational meetings for SHARE were held in the Dreiers’ living room. That common work forged a recognition of shared objectives between Bob and Olivia that has continued over the years and resulted in her joining the Schumacher Center board in 1998.

Olivia Dreier brings to her new role as President a strong history of leadership in non-profit organizations and a deep commitment to social change. A graduate of Yale University (B.A.) she earned a master’s degree in social work from Smith College and recently completed the Masters Program in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her community work includes serving as President of the Hartsbrook Waldorf School in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Vice-President of the Phelps Stokes Fund, which supports educational efforts in Africa.

Recently Olivia gave up her clinical psychotherapy practice to become associate director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding in Leverett, Massachusetts, and in that capacity has led peacebuilding and inter-ethnic dialogue trainings in Bosnia and Sri Lanka. She is also establishing and directing a new course at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, in Psycho-Social Peacebuilding, designed for mental health professionals interested in offering their skills in war-torn regions of the world. As a young woman Olivia worked for a Gandhian School for the untouchable caste village children in India. Her experience there made a lasting impression and helped shape her current work. Olivia lives on a small farm near Amherst, Massachusetts, with her husband, Alexander, and their two sons.

Robert Swann knows that the initiatives he began at the Schumacher Center will be helped to maturity under Olivia Dreier’s leadership.


The Campus: Footprint and Shadow

In small towns around the country the local college or university is often the biggest employer and largest consumer in the region. What if those campuses employed a purchasing policy to support their regional economies, buying food, furniture, supplies, and services purchased from local producers who use local resources? If a college contracted with local farmers for organically grown crops, it might lead the way in creating institutional demand for an invigorated regional food system. Instead of sweatshop-made school uniforms and clothing, a local cooperative of seamstresses could be hired to produce uniquely designed clothing. More costly? Perhaps at one level. But less costly in terms of social consequences and more valuable in fostering a new pattern of responsibility to the local community and its local economy.

The Twenty-Second Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures will be the first in a series of Schumacher Center discussions about the greening of the campus. David Orr and Kevin Lyons have accepted our invitation to speak.

David Orr is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in environmental literacy and campus ecology. He spearheaded the effort to design and build a $7 million Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College, a building described by the New York Times  as “the most remarkable” of a new generation of college buildings. Among the many awards he has received is the 1992 Lyndhurst Prize “to recognize the educational, cultural, and charitable activities of particular individuals of exceptional talent, character, and moral vision.” The author of Earth in Mind  (1994) and  Ecological Literacy  (1992) as well as co-editor of The Campus and Environmental Responsibility  (1992), he is presently writing two books on the larger topic of ecological design.

Kevin Lyons is responsible for setting policy for purchasing contracts at Rutgers University. He is recognized nationally as a leader in introducing environmental standards and local preferences in such contracts, thereby reducing the ecological impact of university consumption. Because of his creative leadership at Rutgers, he was invited by the British government to work on implementing “Best Value Procurement and Local Agenda 21 Policy” throughout that country. His publication Buying for the Future: Contract Management and the Environmental Challenge  is available from Pluto Press.

Please save Saturday, October 26, 2002, to gather with other Schumacher Center friends in Amherst, Massachusetts, to hear David Orr, Kevin Lyons, and a panel of invited respondents.


Renovation of the Library Building 

In February a big Belarus tractor with a bucket loader in front and a backhoe in the rear lumbered up the long driveway of the Schumacher Center Library. Contractor Steve Harding and his co-worker Tom Dellea began their work by exposing the foundation walls on the east, south, and west sides of the building. They then scrubbed and washed all three walls, sealed foundation cracks with a “high-powered cement gun,” coated the surface with tar, attached a double layer of foam-board insulation, placed drain pipe covered with fabric at the foundation base, poured footings under the large cantilevered windows of the upper level, built cement-block columns, and hung steel beams above the columns. They are waiting for custom-made jacks in order to raise the beams to better support all the library books weighing down the cantilever. Then they will backfill against the wall with gravel and, finally, regrade all the soil with the help of a bulldozer borrowed from our neighbor Richard Stanley.

The purpose of all this work is to prepare the two-thousand-square-foot lower level of the building for additional book storage and office space. Architect Joseph Wasserman is volunteering the design and final working drawings, which will include a reconfigured entry way on the north side, interior stairs between the upper and lower levels, a handicapped-accessible lavatory, archival storage area, and meeting spaces of various sizes.

Meanwhile, landscape architect Craig Okerstrom-Lang has volunteered to help us re-imagine the site plan for the building. His preliminary drawings show reconfigured parking space and entry paths and an edible landscape with plum and pear trees, blueberry bushes, and other delicious northern hardy varieties to complement the old apple orchard surrounding the building.

It has been a long and complicated process—complete with mud, tractor noise, mounds of earth in unexpected places, and big trucks delivering supplies. Rain, cold, and unforeseen site conditions have delayed the work at times, but Steve and Tom are a good team. Board member Starling Childs, overseeing the project, expressed his appreciation for their careful attention to detail. By the end of May the grass will again be growing around the building, rendering invisible all signs of the hard work that created a solid and water-tight foundation.

Your contribution to the Capital Campaign has helped build a secure home for the expanding work of the Schumacher Center. There is still more work ahead.


Capital Campaign Update

One hundred and seventy-two Schumacher Center members have contributed to the Capital Campaign, some twice. To date $190,000 has been raised towards the goal of $250,000. These funds have been used to retire the debt on the Library building, install a new septic system, secure the foundation (see above), make several interior improvements to the upper level, and establish a modest endowment fund. Funds are still needed to make the renovations to the lower level and to implement the new site plan.

The completed building will accommodate additional Schumacher Center programs such as the reintroduction of week-long seminars on “Tools for Local Economic Transformation.” These seminars, held around the country in the 1980s, provided an introduction to a complex of local economic institutions such as community land trusts, local currencies, micro-lending programs, community support of farmers, and worker ownership and management. In order to build strong regionally based economies amid the dominant structure of the global economy, it is essential to understand how these new economic forms can remain democratically structured and accountable to the people and ecology of a particular area.

Bob Swan leading the discussion at the 1983 Schumacher Center seminar.

The seminars were discontinued because of the high cost in staff time of organizing in multiple locations. The finished building will provide a home for the seminars that is close to significant Berkshire model programs and at the same time will provide easy access to the wealth of research material in the library collection.

Your contribution to the Capital Campaign will help us fully use all of the resources and experience the organization has developed over the past twenty years. The enclosed donation card is for your convenience. If you are considering a gift of securities, Schumacher Center Treasurer, Ganson Taggart, would be pleased to discuss arrangements with you.


Cheers for Volunteers

LEFT: Merrian Fuller, Dane Springmeyer, Claudia Knab-Vispo and Otter, Susan Witt, and other volunteers.

Tuesday is volunteer day at the Schumacher Center. Jean Dillard is a retired nurse but not retired from active involvement in pressing social matters. She has long championed a single-payer health-care system and coordinates an ad hoc group of citizens working to influence state and federal legislators on this issue.

Jean introduced her neighbor Wanda Weigert to the Tuesday volunteer tradition. Wanda escaped from her native Poland ahead of Nazi forces and has had to be able to learn quickly and adapt to changing situations ever since. She has lived in England, Belgium, and Venezuela, where she met her husband Tony. Wanda brings enthusiasm and multiple skills to volunteer day.

Tony Weigert has not stayed idle in his retirement from textile manufacturing. Before moving to the Berkshires he volunteered in the medical library of his local hospital. When we learned of this, we started Tony on various library related projects, including management of the periodical collection and indexing of new books.

Jean, Wanda, and Tony come every week to help with the work of organizing material and reaching out more broadly so that members and friends have better access to the innovative programs of the Schumacher Center. We break for a hearty lunch to celebrate birthdays, our common fellowship, and the good work itself. Our circle often expands.

Sharon Bean is a student at Lesley University in Boston, where she is pursuing a degree in alternative business structures. She wanted to learn more about the local economic programs developed by the Schumacher Center and so joined volunteer day for discussion and exposure to the library material.

Claudia Weldon and Billie Best attended a recent Schumacher Lecture and were motivated to develop a forum for similar events around the country. While working to shape their dream into a reality they are helping to promote the Spring Lecture program.

If you would like to join us for “volunteer day” (Tuesdays 10:00 – 4:00), please call in advance so that we can prepare the work and plan the lunch! Much has been accomplished because of the volunteers. A big cheer to them all!


Welcome to Our New Librarian

Claudia Knab-Vispo, LIbrarian.

Claudia Knab-Vispo holds a doctorate in Land Resources from the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her botanical and ethnobotanical fieldwork in Venezuela from 1994 to 2001 was financed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fundacion La Salle de Sciencias Naturales. Fluent in German and Spanish, she is a fine researcher, and a recent mother. Over the winter she and her son Otter joined us on volunteer days. This spring Claudia, accompanied by Otter, began part-time work as the new librarian for the Schumacher Center. The Library work accommodates a flexible schedule so that Claudia can break for walks and play as needed. And with his wonderful smile, Otter reminds us to consider carefully the legacy we leave a new generation. If you have questions about the Library, call the office.

A Fond Farewell to Heather

Many Schumacher Center members have come to rely on Heather Davidson to respond to their queries quickly and accurately. Her jobs have been many. She successfully organized recent Schumacher lecture programs, bringing a graciousness and attentive spirit to each event. In the office she created operational systems that encouraged greater efficiency. As a self-taught webmaster Heather posted information to the Center’s website in a timely and logical manner, thereby facilitating easier access to the content.

Heather first began work with the Schumacher Center in January of 1999 during her last semester at Colby College. Her Colby friends, however, gathered in the Boston area, and she has missed them. In December she decided to follow her heart and move to Boston in April. Heather continues to serve as SchumacherCenter webmaster from her new home and will join us on occasion at lecture programs.

Schumacher Center board Chairman, John McClaughry, captured the feeling of us all when he wrote: “I know I speak for all the board members when I tell you how sorry we are to see you go. You have been talented, dedicated, and extraordinarily competent in your service to the Center. I am sure you have made the right career and personal choice in moving on to new opportunities, but we will sorely miss you, and we deeply appreciate all you have done during your association with the Center. Best of luck to you, please stay in touch, and let us know if any of us can be helpful to you in the future.”


Twenty-First Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures

The Twenty-First Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures drew over 550 people to Amherst College to hearAlanna Hartzok, John Todd, and Amory Lovins. Each speaker focused on integrated approaches to addressing ecological and social problems. Audience reaction was enthusiastic. “The speakers renewed my faith in humanity,” commented one attendee.

In his closing remarks at the lectures Amory Lovins noted that the day had been about connections. It is clear that we ought to understand and harness connections before attempting to design a solution, and for that reason it is important, he commented, to understand root causes as well as linkages: “We are all designers whether we know it or not, and if we do not pay attention, we may design something we do not intend.”

Lecture pamphlets edited by Schumacher Center Vice President Hildegarde Hannum will be available at the end of June. They are: “Ecological Design: Reinventing the Future”  by John Todd; “Natural Capitalism: The Next Revolution”  by Amory Lovins; and “Democracy, Earth Rights, and the Next Economy”  by Alanna Hartzok. Pamphlets are $5 each. Orders will be shipped as the pamphlets arrive.


“Buddhist Economics” in Translation

The reprinting of “Buddhist Economics” has drawn a positive response from Schumacher Center friends around the world. In this essay Fritz Schumacher imagined vibrant, self-sufficient villages that foster in their citizens a sense of security and of responsibility to place, enabling them to work in peace and cooperation with residents of other villages.

To highlight the universality of this message the Schumacher Center is undertaking to gather and print as many translations of the essay as possible. Mrs. Schumacher, HarperRow, and Hartley & Marks Publishers, holders of the copyright on  Small Is Beautiful,  have kindly extended permission for this initiative. As the translations are received they will be posted on the Center’s website. To date we have located existing translations in ten languages and are seeking permission to post these versions. We are also soliciting new translations. If you know of anyone who might be interested in helping with this project, please contact the office.


An Economics of Peace

We are pleased to announce the publication of the pamphlet “An Economics of Peace.” Included are Fritz Schumacher’s classic essay “Buddhist Economics,” considered a rallying call for an alternative to the dominant global economy; Wendell Berry’s beautiful “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear,” written soon after September 11; and Susan Witt’s “A New Peace,” adapted from remarks made at the Global Dialogue for Peace conference on September 16th in Forest Row, England. Copies are in stock and may be ordered for $5 each using the enclosed card. For orders of ten or more the price is $3 each plus postage.

From the point of view of Buddhist economics, therefore, production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.

—E. F. Schumacher, “Buddhist Economics”

Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any local capacity to produce necessary goods.

—Wendell Berry, “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”

By all rights this founding of a new peace is a spiritual mission and at the same time an economic mission, an environmental mission, and a humanitarian mission. It will require a collaboration of individuals and cultural organizations working together to succeed. Its sign of success will be the renewal of local communities around the world.

—Susan Witt, “A New Peace”