×
  • ×

    Whole Earth Review

    Our family tree here at Utne includes a long line of
    distinguished dissenting publications going all the way back to
    Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense and the abolitionist
    newspapers that published Frederick Douglass. Among our more recent
    ancestors are I.F. Stone’s Weekly, the underground papers
    of the ’60s, Mad magazine, and — because we reprint a lot
    Reader’s Digest. But the publication that exerted
    perhaps the strongest influence on our birth and early upbringing
    was Whole Earth Review, which ceased publication late last
    year.

    Founder Eric Utne kept a complete run of the magazine within
    arm’s reach as he launched Utne Reader, frequently
    grabbing a copy for inspiration and repeatedly quoting editor
    Stewart Brand. Whole Earth, which emerged from the
    best-selling Whole Earth Catalog in 1974 but was titled
    CoEvolution Quarterly until 1985, was a bible of sorts for
    alternative thinkers of many stripes. It was a place in print where
    Luddites and computer zealots, ecological radicals and mossback
    conservatives, renewable energy technicians and spiritual searchers
    could mingle and exchange ideas. Whole Earth‘s
    breathtaking breadth can be seen in the contrast between
    Utne and another publication that it spawned more
    directly, Wired. (Whole Earth‘s publisher-editor
    from 1984 to 1990, Kevin Kelly, helped launch the high-tech mag in
    1993.)

    Appropriately enough for a magazine born from a catalog, each
    issue of Whole Earth was chock full of recommendations for
    tools, books, organizations, Web sites, gear, ideas, and anything
    else that might be useful or interesting to someone somewhere. Yet
    it also published some of the most outlandishly visionary articles
    ever to see print. In the midst of the Cold War flare-up of the
    early ’80s, Whole Earth offered an earnest manifesto
    calling on American and Soviet leaders to merge their peoples into
    one nation. It even offered suggestions for what the new nation’s
    flag might look like. Whole Earth was also famed for
    hurling itself headlong into topics that few other magazines
    thought to cover. A case in point is the 1985 special issue on
    Islam, published at a time when few Americans gave the religion any
    thought except as a bad influence on faraway countries.

    The world is a little poorer in fresh ideas, bold initiatives,
    crazy schemes, and eminently practical suggestions with the loss of
    Whole Earth.

    Published on May 1, 2004

    UTNE

    In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.