FM Interviews: Stephanie Mills

Edward Valauskas

Abstract



Stephanie Mills is an author, editor, lecturer and ecological activist who has concerned herself with the fate of the earth and humanity since 1969, when her commencement address at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., drew the attention of a nation. Her speech, which the New York Times called "perhaps the most anguished statement" of the year's crop of valedictory speeches, predicted a bleak future. According to Mills, humanity was destined for suicide, the result of overpopulation and overuse of natural resources.

"I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is to have no children at all," said Mills, who was 20 at the time.

After graduation, Mills worked as campus organizer for Planned Parenthood. Within one year, she delivered roughly 80 talks on the subject of overpopulation and the necessity of birth control. Mills collaborated with environmental leaders such as Gary Snyder, Stewart Brand and Richard Brautigan to generate the ecological manifesto Four Changes. In 1970, Mills became Editor-in-Chief of Earth Times, a San Francisco-based monthly environmental tabloid, and later worked as an editor for Co-Evolution Quarterly, Not Man Apart, California Tomorrow, and Earth. In 1972, she received a grant from the Point Foundation to conduct a salon at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm Sweden, and in Berkeley, Calif.

In 1984, Mills left the Bay Area and moved to rural Michigan, where she began her first book, Whatever Happened to Ecology? (Sierra Club Books, 1989). The book offers a bioregionalist's look at the idea of home and place. Mills went on to edit and write essays for In Praise of Nature (Island Press, 1990). In Service to the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land (Beacon Press, 1995) and Turning Away from Technology (Sierra Club Books, 1997) followed. Her latest book, Epicurean Simplicity(Island Press, 2002), addresses the rewards and challenges of a simple life.

Mills lives in northern Michigan, where she works as a freelance author and lecturer. This interview was conducted with First Monday's Chief Editor Ed Valauskas via a series of postcards between February and May 2002, since Stephanie does not use a computer or the Internet.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v7i6.965



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