Readers' Forum

Readers' Forum is a place for your feedback and ideas. We welcome you to use this space to share your thoughts, inspire us with your personal stories, and challenge our thinking and that of our readers.

Greenwashed energy

I read YES! cover to cover and share it with friends and colleagues. I especially enjoyed “Energy at the Edge” (YES! #12, Changing the Climate). This article was a helpful compilation of a broad range of statistics and information.

I work full time on energy issues in Manitoba and the US Midwest. The Pimicikamak Cree Nation at Cross Lake in northern Manitoba has been devastated by a colossal hydroelectric project in their backyard. The huge dams on the Nelson River have reduced the Cree Indian homeland (an area roughly half the size of Minnesota) to an environmental slum.

About one-third of the power produced on the Cree land is sold as “clean, safe, and renewable” in the US Midwest – primarily to Northern States Power Company, based in Minneapolis. For customers at the southern end of the transmission lines, the power is the cheapest in North America. For those at the northern end of the power lines, the imposed social and environmental costs of flooding and dispossession are crippling. Hydroelectric imports from Canada, if successfully marketed as “renewable,” will supplant development of truly renewable sources by selling power that is subsidized by the suffering of the Cree.

The Cree have launched a major campaign in the kilowatt hungry US Midwest. As part of this campaign, I will be distributing “Energy at the Edge” to several environmentalists, human rights activists, faith community members, and others.

In a world saturated with words, you have created what I consider to be an uncommonly relevant and
distinctly mature social voice. Keep it coming!

Will Braun
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Another idea

In view of recent record-breaking temperatures, increases of severe storms, melting of polar ice caps, and other indications of global warming, I commend you for your wonderful special issue on climate change (YES! #12, Changing the Climate). As you indicate, the time to act is now.

One important thing each person can do to reduce threats related to global warming is to switch toward plant-based diets. Modern livestock-intensive agriculture and the consumption of animal products contribute great quantities of greenhouse gases. The burning of tropical forests to create areas for livestock releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Cattle emit methane as part of their digestive process. The large amounts of petrochemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops for grain-fed animals create significant amounts of nitrous oxides. Also, the increased refrigeration necessary to prevent animal products from spoiling adds chlorofluorocarbons to the atmosphere.

Hence, for the health of our precious, but imperiled, planet, as well as for our own personal health, it is essential that we shift toward plant-based diets.

Richard h. Schwartz
Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism
Staten Island, New York

YES! reception

I wanted to write and say “Thank you!” for your generous invitation to subscribers to attend the reception you held at the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle prior to the WTO meetings. I was in awe of the people in attendance and those who spoke. It was an honor and a privilege to be there.

The next night I went to your website and found a new series of commentaries about the WTO, including David Korten's speech. Wow! I am very impressed with and moved by your work – moved to action at this point. Thank you for your excellent work and your inspiration!

Donna Noonan
Poulsbo, Washington

On Boulder and pigeons

Regarding the summation to Donella Meadows' review of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac (YES! Fall 1999), I found offensive the smug assertion of humanity's “superiority over the beasts.” Leopold asserts, “Had the funeral been ours, the pigeons would hardly have mourned us.”

Pardon me for being fey, but how does he know that? Because we are such a logos-oriented species, we
assume much about the emotional life of our planetary peers without true objective evidence. I have seen small animals of all varieties mourn the loss of a human companion as well as having watched pigeons, among others, mourn the death of their own mates.

I also wanted to reply to “Anonymous in Boulder,” whose letter appeared in the Fall 1999 “Readers' Forum.” If you think Boulder is bad, try paying rent in Chicago or New York. It's true that Boulder could improve public transit and perhaps even try solar-fueled transit alternatives, etc. All in all, though, Boulder is terrific!

Olivia Kahlo
Denver, Colorado

Nontoxic YES!

When I picked YES! up at the post office, the first thing I noted was that it isn't toxic. I often start sneezing immediately after opening a publication, but that isn't the case with YES! Thank you.

Doris Cochran
Salem, Oregon

Washing wool

Regarding a long ago Doug and Annie column on wet-washing wool (“YES!… But How?”, YES! Fall 1998), I wanted to let you know that I have been washing woolens in the washing machine for years. Here is the process I use:

Fill machine with tepid to cool water. Add detergent of choice. Turn off machine. Add woolens and swish around briefly; let soak about half an hour. Turn machine to spin cycle. Fill machine again on rinse cycle and turn off, swishing articles around again. Let stand another half hour. Turn to spin cycle to complete process.

Betty Neville Michelozzi


I lived and worked at the Gesundheit Institute for three weeks this past summer. (See “Patch Adams,” YES! Spring 1999). I found myself laughing all the time, surrounded by hope – a hope that we can change the world and shape it into a healthier, saner, more loving place. At Gesundheit!, I saw one man's beautiful dream – a dream of building a hospital that brings laughter and love into medicine – turning into reality. We all have our dreams; maybe they would come true if we supported each other.

While at Gesundheit!, I worked beside a doctor from the Czech Republic, a marine biologist from California, a public health worker from New Orleans, a farmer from Canada, a musician from Pennsylvania, an artist from Montana, an actor from Iowa, and a master carpenter from the British Isle of St. John.

After seeing the movie, Patch Adams, many doctors around the world are eager to bring fun, friendship, and the joy of service back into medicine.

I wanted to invite everyone to help make this dream come true. See the movie with others and talk about creative solutions in healthcare for your own community. Visit their Web site at to stay informed and find out how you can volunteer your services. Or call 877/SILLY-DR.

Morten Toft

Joreen exposed!

I LOVE your magazine and am subscribing after getting a freebie at a conference. I was reading it for the second night in a row when I had to hop out of bed to send you this note.

Joreen (YES! #11, Fall 1999), if I'm not mistaken, is the pen name for Jo Freeman, a sociologist who, last I tracked her, was at one of the New York Universities – perhaps Binghamton?

I believe she also wrote “Bitch is Beautiful” in those early years, also a classic.

I first met her in the late sixties at the University of Chicago, where we were both students. Even then we passed around her articles in mimeographed form. I believe the article you quote from first appeared in an early issue of Ms. magazine called, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness.” Jo's dissertation about the relationship of radical grassroots groups vs. more liberal ones to public policy is a classic, and still offers many, many valuable insights.

If you do track her down, I hope you find out what she's up to and share it with us all.

Barbara Waugh
Palo Alto, California

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