On the Cover of The Rolling Stone… or Mother Earth News

During high school in the 70’s I was into music. And girls, but music was a big thing for me. I think it was for a lot of us. And why not? We missed the whole polio/nuclear winter thing and hadn’t even contemplated AIDS, climate change, peak oil, 7 billion people, yadda, yadda, yadda … it was bliss!

During the 70’s a typical suburban first world problem was finding someone with a car to hitch a ride to the Grade 12 Phys. Ed. Unit on bowling, which was held at the bowling alley, of course. My small suburban town had no transit system to speak of. Bliss indeed!

There was band call Dr. Hook that had a song about their goal of getting their photo on the cover of a Rolling Stone Magazine. I didn’t think it was a great song but it was a great concept with some great lines …”gonna get my picture on the cover … gonna buy 5 copies for my mother …”

I learned to play the guitar in my late 30s as an ‘interest,’ which one often pursues in the luxury of a city, in a home heated by natural gas and food grown by ‘someone else.’ (In other words I had a lot of time on my hands back then.) The pinnacle of my guitar playing was mastering the acoustic version, including the intro, of Eric Clapton’s unplugged “Layla.”

That and changing the lyrics to “The Times They are A changing” by Bob Dylan so that they were suitable for anyone having a party… 40th birthday.. baby shower.. etc. I could be counted on to not only come up with alternative lyrics but to perform them at the event. The one thing I never deluded myself about was the possibility of making it on to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. I have no natural musical abilities, although when I play “Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town” I am light years better than Eddie Vedder … at least in my head… and just using “C” “G” and “A” chords!

When we moved off the grid and started heating with wood and growing food and publishing books about sustainable living, the guitar, like the canoe, was put aside and gathered dust. I no longer have the time or desire to use it. We enjoy magazines like “Harrowsmith” when we could find old issues from before about 1980 when there were long detailed articles. Mother Earth News magazine also became an important resource for us. The articles were detailed and relevant to what we were doing. After we published “The Renewable Energy Handbook” we started pitching the magazine with story ideas and got several published. There’s nothing like picking up a magazine you respect and flipping pages to a story you’ve written. It’s awesome!

I’ve continued to suggest story ideas and a while back they liked the idea of one about avoiding some of the pitfalls of going off grid. When we moved here 17 years ago there was very little knowledge about using renewable energy sources and everything was very expensive. So we made a lot of mistakes. We share these and how to avoid them with people who attend our workshops and there seems to be a lot of interest in it, even if people aren’t going off grid but adding some renewable energy to their homes.

As we were working through drafts back and forth with the magazine editor, they mentioned that they were considering our article for the cover story. I was surprised because I had noticed that their covers tended to be beautiful photos of baskets of tomatoes and things and that they didn’t focus on individuals. So I pushed the thought aside so I didn’t get my hopes up.

Michelle has taught me over the years to lower my expectations. I have a tendency to expect too much. Years ago, if I was going to a conference, to speak at or just attend, I would start mentioning how much I was looking forward to the coffee and danishes at the breaks. This would ramp up to historic portions to the point where they could have had a European bakery full of chocolate éclairs and donuts, and it would not have lived up to my hopes. When I went to the AGM of the Green Party of Ontario last year they had fruit and veggies for breaks. No really! Vegetables! Blurg! I just about quit the party because of it. I can eat vegetables at home. I don’t, but I COULD. At a conference I want sweet, fatty carbohydrates that will cause me to have a metabolic crash shortly after consuming them.

But this time I didn’t need to lower my expectations or worry about getting my hopes up. This time our little piece of paradise has made it on to the cover of Mother Earth News! It’s kind of big deal and I’m over the moon about it! I feel we’ve hit the big time of sustainable living magazine-dom! It’s interesting too that in the age of declining print readership Mother Earth News readership continues to go up. So if you’re going to be on any magazine cover, this is the one!

Mother-Earth-News-October-N jpg

And unlike getting our photo in “People” magazine we don’t have photographers hiding in the bushes taking our photo. There is no paparazzi in our bushes, and Jasper the Wonder Dog would constantly charge at the tree line with that terrifying bark of his to ensure that any photographers stationed there would high tail it.

So I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this outstanding magazine … the October/November 2014 issue of Mother Earth News. If we get single copy sales up high enough I’m sure they’ll ask us to be regular contributors. Maybe a column. Or advice for country living.

My mother died over a decade ago, so I won’t be buying her 5 copies, but I will buy one for my Dad… and my daughters… and our post mistress … and that guy who said “Good Morning” to me on the street the other day… and …

12 Responses to “On the Cover of The Rolling Stone… or Mother Earth News”

  • Musia:

    Hi Cam and Michelle

    Further to the comment I posted on your previous post I have been emailing my family and friends across the country, (and the US) and telling them to buy the magazine because I was actually THERE at your farm for a workshop a few years back. So hopefully from Vancouver to Halifax and from Seattle to Los Angeles to Washington DC folks will buy the magazine and read how FANTASTIC you two are !!!!

    Take care

  • JD Longwell:

    And never say never… you might STILL end up on the cover of Rolling Stone since so many of their feature articles these days are non-music related. As you so aptly noted in your posting, “the times they are a changing”. Cheers!

  • Just picked up the issue and read your article straight away. I love the pic of the solar splitter in front of the big wood pile!

  • Angela Macri:

    Congratulations!!!!…this IS a big deal!!! Speaking of deals…mine is done! Just subscribed and I’ll be purchasing single Oct/Nov Special Cover Story Issues for my family, friends, visiting aliens and as giveaways to place on our guests’ pillows! – your proud neighbours!

  • Gerrit:

    I saw you guys when our latest copy arrived. Excellent stuff. We’re happy for you guys.

  • Neil B. (Orleans):

    Congratulations to you both!! It is nice to see your hard work get recognized.

    I never miss a blog!

    Abundant Blessings!

  • Steve Martyn:

    Congrats. A Mother Earth News cover. This is a big deal. I subscribe to it. When it came in the other day I put it in my To Read basket as I didn’t have the time to read it. I usually wait until I have a good block of time to go through it from cover to cover. Now I can’t wait to get home from work to read it.

  • Tricia:

    I saw your house on the cover, and even though I’ve never met you in person, I was Proud!!!

  • That’s so cool, you (and your lifestyle) are celebs! I will pick up an issue at the newsstand and save it for you to autograph when I am next out your way.

  • Robin Bailey:

    I saw MEN on the news stand and recognized your home right away. Congratulations!

  • Sammie:

    Loved the article and love keeping up with your blog. Even though I “homestead” in the city, I get so much useful information from the magazine and your blog. Sometimes I think I live vicariously through others who really are homesteaders.

  • I received my copy of Mother the other day and instantly recognized your home on the cover. I enthusiastically devour that magazine from cover to cover every month because of articles such as yours. Congratulations on making it big time!

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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