Readers' Forum

Roots in Berea

I copied and sent to friends and family the article in YES! (Summer 2005) on the Berea College Eco-village. We are creating an eco-village here in Detroit, so I knew these friends would want a copy.

I gave all my children a copy, because Berea is close to home. Berea is in Madison County, Kentucky, 15 miles from Richmond, where I was born. All of my five children went to a summer science camp at Berea while in high school.

My radical ways are traced back through my mother, grandmother, and great-grandfather (D.B.). D.B., who was four years old at Emancipation, enrolled at Berea College in 1879. He was in school with James Bond, grandfather of civil rights leader Julian Bond. Quite a few folks were radicalized at Berea in the 1880s. D.B. would get put off the bus every Saturday with my mother for refusing to sit in the back during the 1930s and ‘40s.

Thanks so much from my family for the article on Berea.

- Jim Embry (Detroit, Michigan)

A YES!-inspired Pilgrimage

I made a trip to Portland, Oregon, solely inspired by the article “Street-Corner Revolution.” Three of us drove down from Seattle on a quest to find these neighborhood sites described in the article—;a sculpted cob elephant on a community sauna, a lending library and produce-sharing station, mosaics and painted sunflowers—;all on public land.
They were all there, just as pictured—;only a little wetter. We saw the garden, kids' playhouse, and the tea tree, too. I even traded some clothing at the free exchange (that's what the produce station becomes when produce is out of season) for a small feathered bird ornament.
I planned to send it to you to prove my story, but we had a particularly nice flight attendant on the trip back, so we left the bird tied to the seat back instead.

- Anima Sarah LaVoy (Director,

City Repair Branches Out

Since “Street-Corner Revolution” ran in the YES! Summer 2004 issue, Portland, Oregon's City Repair Project has been inspiring creative activities in communities across the U.S. and Canada. Portland's City Repair representatives have shared the City Repair story with more than 50 communities, providing resources and creating toolkits to guide organized group action and intersection repairs.

So far more than a dozen cities have created groups hosting community tea houses, urban natural building projects, and intersection repairs. A cob bench can now be found at the Oakland Zoo, courtesy of Oakland City Repair. Seattle City Repair reports that the Department of Neighborhoods gave Seattle City Repair a $10,000 grant this year to organize their efforts and work with Portland City Repair.

For more information about City Repair and its organizing guidebook and DVDs, visit

- Katrina Zavalney, City Repair (Portland, Oregon)

Taos Readers Create Community

I was one of 12 YES! readers who met on June 30th, at a home near Taos, New Mexico, for tea, dessert, and discussion. We were a diverse lot in terms of age, background, and methods of making a living. But we shared an outrage at those in power we believe are taking our country, and the world, in a direction we don't wish to go. And we have all found that reading about those who are engaged in positive action has helped us stave off the despair that anger often generates.

Many had already adopted sustainable practices beyond recycling. Several, including our hosts, had built “earthships”—;homes built into the earth with dirt-filled used tires and lots of south-facing glass. They live “off-the-grid” with solar panels and rainwater-harvesting cisterns.
Kevin, produce manager in a local grocery, is buying more from local farmers rather than agribusinesses that truck food over great distances. Bob has learned to live simply on a few hundred dollars a month.

Some of us (an editor, a museum archivist and artist, a speech/language therapist, a nonprofit organizer) are living more conventionally. We have all engaged in political action to some degree, even if just signing petitions and sending e-mails. But a common thread in the discussion was that so much more needs to be done and we often feel powerless.

We are going to continue to meet and use our YES! community to regain our power—;to learn from and support each other, to turn despair into action. We are grateful to the magazine for providing this forum and encourage reader get-togethers in other regions. Dessert helps!

-Helen Rynaski (Taos, New Mexico)

Join Readers Groups

I would love to get together regularly with other fans of YES! in Racine, Wisconsin, to talk about ideas and to generate actions we can take to promote healthier lives. If you live in my area and are interested in coming together once a month, call me at 262/637-3119.

-Betty Brenneman (Racine, Wisconsin)

I'm interested in meeting YES! readers in Albuquerque. I want to meet people who believe that a better world is possible and who have the passion to help create that world! I'd love to host a gathering of YES! readers at my house in Albuquerque. If you'd like to attend, please contact me at [email protected]

-- Margaret Ambler Kamp (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Editors' Note: If you are interested in forming a YES! readers' group in your community, please send postal mail to the address on page 4 or e-mail us at [email protected] We'll help you contact YES! readers in your area.

Join an Eco-Village

We are planning to start an ecovillage in the north of Portugal. We would like to live there with nice people such as we think your readers are. We would like to make a village for 150 people, where we could grow most of our food, make money by inviting visitors for holidays, make our own energy, and live like neigbours. We want to develop skills to live without polluting the earth we live on. Now we are looking for about 10 grown-ups who have the courage to start a village—planning, building, and giving form to structures that help people to find their way to a way of living that is less unpleasant than the “normal” nowadays.

Write me at Uiterburen 38, 9636 EE Zuidbroek, Nederland, or [email protected]

- Leo Oord

Farm Apprentices Wanted

I have owned and operated a (sustainable, self-contained, bio-interactive) small homestead farm nearly all my life. Marilyn and I are 60 years old with a new (half completed) community-supported agriculture 30-plus-acre homestead. It is rapidly becoming more than we can develop physically. So we are offering three six-year apprenticeships to small families or individuals.

This is an opportunity to afford an alternative lifestyle, free from being a wage slave. We seek partnerships based on sweat equity, sacrifice, and creativity. First comes production partnerships, later comes land partnership. We will provide raw material help for housing and table. For the philosophical green person, this alternative allows you to become totally independent.

The homestead farm and co-op community must be honest, empathic, free, equal, ecoistic, and personally for alternative development. Critical thinking skills are mandatory. All training and education will be tailored to the individual. No cost to those chosen for an apprenticeship. Call 870/447-2669, e-mail [email protected] or write us at the address below.

Boyd and Marilyn Nelson
Shady Grove Co-Op
876 Trace Ridge Road
Leslie, Arkansas 72645

News on Building Community

Thank you for listing Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and New Village in your resource guide in the Summer 2005 issue.

New Village is now publishing books instead of a journal. Two of our first books this fall profile the Village of Arts and Humanities and many other community-building programs in North America. We are also publishing a book about green job training for those people in and recently released from jail, and a guide to ecological design and building schools.

You can learn about these and upcoming titles on our new website, The press is a project of ADPSR, whose correct phone number is 510/845-1000.

- Lynne Elizabeth, director New Village Press (Oakland, California)

In Living Color

The new color pages in the Summer 2005 issue were lovely, but your calling attention to them made me realize that I've actually been seeing the black and white photos in color all along! Every issue—;every article has always been imbued with such vitality that all the true colors came shining through.

- Cecil Jones (Meridian, Indiana)

YES! and the Good Life

One again, YES! has put into words an explanation of why and how I am reveling in the “good life” of my second childhood at 84.
I moved to Bainbridge Island in 1992 to be a volunteer for then In Context and am still able to help at YES! enough to say these have been the happiest and most satisfying years of my life.

- Millie Smith (Bainbridge Island, Washington)

Musicians on a Good Place

At my regular monthly stint as emcee for the Tuesday Night Victory Music Open Mic at Third Place Books in Seattle, I ask each participating musician a non-music question about themselves before letting them go on stage.

Inspired by the Summer 2005 issue of YES!, at the May show I asked, “What two things make a great place?” Here are some of their answers.

Landscape and water; cold and rainy climate; ocean and warm weather; friendly people and a lake; good public transportation and a library; a place with more bars than churches; a good bed and some peace and quiet; community and love—;lotsa love; seclusion and a woman; a cat and a good book; nice scenery and lenient landlords; beer ... and, uh ... more beer; music, books and food; nudity and a pair of binoculars; more than a one-song night at Victory; family—;that's the one and only important thing in life; a place that's safe: safe to be me and safe to be you.
My personal favorite answer of the night: Excellent acoustics—;and a dishwasher.

- Deb Seymour (Seattle, Washington)

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