This is rÉ-edited, our new content series brought to you in the spirit of what would Fréd read. We hope it inspires you to move more consciously through whatever your world is.
Consciousness for Earth and Nature is prevalent in our times and our generation of urban movers, but how did it develop? In this upcoming 4-chapter series we want to introduce you to some elements that helped manifest this consciousness to where it is now. We hope it inspires you to move more consciously through whatever your world is.
Starting today with “The Whole Earth Catalogue”. Published from 1968 to 1974, its editorial content dealt with self-reliability, ecology, alternative education techniques and other do-it-yourself practises and products that would serve the reader. Tellingly, its cover proclaimed as a subtitle “access to tools”. Tools was used as a wide definition, all meant to inspire individuals to “conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.” (From the 1969 edition opening page). Later editions focused more on the power of community rather than the individual.
Its final issue read on the final page “Stay hungry. Stay foolish." If you think now this sounds familiar, you got a point - Steve Jobs famously used this as his final words in the 2015 Stanford University Commencement speech. And just to give you a bit more context for how impactful the Whole Earth Catalogue was in certain circles - he called it “the bible of my generation”. (Later issues had a circulation of 1.5 Million). That generation, was grounded in Californian counter-culture. Think San Francisco, Post-Vietnam war, anti-establishment, The Grateful Dead, the rise of surf culture and movies, and also LSD and other ‘perspective-enhancing’ elements. Stewart Brand, a studied biologist and designer, was at its core and the Whole Earth catalogue originated out of a roadshow that consisted of Brand, his wife and an old Dodge truck named the Whole Earth Truck Store. More on him in another chapter.
Brand was also responsible for the title image of issue one - the whole earth. While a common sight now, in 1968 it was an eyeopening image and perspective. Back at that time the public sentiment, with the cold war on the verge of slipping into a nuclear one, was influenced by dystopian and destruction images, one of the most leading ones being the atomic mushroom cloud. Stewart campaigned and lobbied with Nasa, and the American space authority indeed ended up publishing an image taken by satellite ATS 3 from earth orbit in 1967 which was the first image in colour of earth from space, composed of several shots. His hunch of an image of the whole earth changing people’s perception on life and on Earth itself was right - further similar images with this overview effect would gain wide-spread influence and made it onto Time Magazine’s cover and on stamps. A movement would evolve from this, leading to Earth day, Environmentalism and nature conservation.
More on Stewart Brand, the Merry Pranksters, LSD trips, the overview effect and what it all inspired in the next chapters - keep an eye on our channels.