Hedley Donovan, 1972-1979; Henry Anatole Grunwald, 1979-current.
1.8 million ( 1987).
Lawrence W. Lynch
The most successful of the alternative-life-style magazines is Mother Earth News. Originally inspired by the back-to-nature movement of the late 1960s, the magazine still has plenty of vigor, claiming a paid circulation of almost 800,000. 1
The force behind the Mother Earth News--Mr. Mother himself--was John Shuttleworth. In the summer of 1969 he and his wife, Jane, were doing sales- promotion work in Cleveland--and hating it. Like many others in those days, they wanted to drop out of the corporate-oriented system. Both had grown up on farms, and they wanted to buy their own and settle down. 2 But that decision, they soon became convinced, would not be one they could make on their own. They would not be able to revive the small family farm in what they saw as an increasingly corporate and centralized society. Before they could realize their dream of going back to the land, they would have to help others go back to the land. 3
They could do that, they thought, by publishing a little newsletter in their spare time. As John sketched out the first issue, however, it became clear to him that what was needed was a magazine. They quit their public relations jobs, borrowed money, and with $1,500 in capital and a small cottage near Madison, Ohio, they put together the first issue of Mother in the fall and winter of 1969. 4 Their goal was nothing less than
to change the world completely by helping all us little people throw the vested interests . . . off our backs so that we can all live richer, fuller, freer, more self-directed, self-sufficient, and self-reliant lives while encouraging us all to put the long-term interests of the planet ahead of the short-term profits of the consumer society. 5
They not only made it past the first issue (to their surprise), but found such a demand that they spent ten years of their lives--eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, sometimes long stretches without sleep--trying to meet that demand. They filled the bimonthly magazine's pages with advice on food, health, housing, energy, and the environment. They distilled information on witching for water and milking a goat, on pruning apple trees and raising strawberries, on building a shelter or a log cabin or a teepee.