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Land of the Free? : River Valley edition : Monday, 27 January 2020 17:37 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Land of the Free?

     by Stephen Morris

How can the best things in life be free, when there is no such thing as a free lunch?

I went to New York City recently and inevitably fell into the "I can't believe how much it costs" game. A bottle of water for $6 at intermission at a Broadway show where the best tickets can top $250 ... $39.50 to park your car for an hour ... $550 for an 8 ounce Kobe steak dinner at a restaurant where it costs $150 to cancel a reservation ... $9.75 for a beer at the ballpark.

So, I went on financial strike and decided I would only do things in New York that were free. Luckily, my son works at a company that has a benefit of free museum vouchers, so we started at the Frick Museum. We were blessed with a great day. From the Frick we walked downtown through Central Park. As we walked past the zoo, we were treated to a show of trickster dolphins. Granted, it was at some distance, but it was delightful to see frolicking against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

We did our share of people gawking and rubber-necking, continuing down to the New York Public Library where there was a fabulous display of maps of the ancient world, for free.

We couldn't figure out how to eat and drink for free, but our friends at the Slow Food organization told us that eating well and eating exotically is entirely possible in the Big Apple. We sampled bialys (like bagels without holes), hand-cured pickles, knishes, and dim sum and spent about the same as that beer at the ballpark.quiet zone

On we walked, putting Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, and the World Trade Center behind us, finally boarding the Staten Island Ferry for a look at old gal Liberty. The ferry used to cost a nickel, but now it's free.

It was a spectacular day of sightseeing, exercise, conversation, and culture. By days end my feet were a little sore, but at least I was starting to like New York again. Do you really get what you pay for? Sometimes the inverse is closer to the truth.
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Green Living is a "free" publication for "friends of the environment." It says so right on the cover. More accurately, it is a gift, from the community that supports our values, making it possible to bring you our editorial content (and their ads). Is it really free? Not really. The printer is paid, as is the designer, the ad salesperson, and even the publisher (hopefully) are all paid. But it is free to the reader, and therein lies the beauty of the business model.

Occasionally, we're asked if it wouldn't be more ecologically sensitive of us to be entirely electrons, a web-based publication. In a word the answer is "Heck no!" There is an ecological side to electrons, but to go virtual would be at the expense of our strongest asset, our service to the local community that supports us financially. The Internet is democratic to a fault. It is as accessible to casual surfer in Bangladesh as to the person next door. Not so with our tangible, recyclable paper edition. Here are some of the strengths of our physical package (i.e. the thing you are holding in your hands):

  1. Our footprint is small. We are printed on unbleached, unchlorinated, recycled newsprint. This is an entirely low-tech process. No virgin forests are being cut for this paper. Our "mines" are the bins at your landfill where you dump your discarded papers. Moreover, printers have learned how to get improved quality using entirely non-toxic vegetable-based inks. Want to use Green Living as mulch or throw it into the compost? Go ahead. No need for even a twinge of conscience.
  2. We recycle ideas. We are over-mediaed. You can't even begin to watch the cable stations or monitor the websites available to you. The blogosphere? Not if you want a life. We find material that stands up to the scrutiny (and formality) of print publication, and we give it a new life. Many of our articles have appeared elsewhere, but they are far from over-exposed. Even after your paper Green Living has returned to the soil, you will find many of our articles archived on our website for future reference.
  3. You won't find our advertisers anywhere else. What a group this is! Recyclers, personal therapists, food co-ops, banks, event the occasional dance band. This eclectic group is united by a single characteristic–they are "friends of the environment" and they want to do business with other "friends." These organizations may not always use the jargon of the socially responsible world, but they are proof that business goes beyond the bottom line.
  4. Our audience self-selects. Don't ask us to define a "friend of the environment." Is it someone who lives off-the-grid in a straw bale house, or someone whose passion is animal tracking, or an activist who puts it on the line to oppose nuclear energy. You tell us. If you pick up Green Living and read it with interest, you qualify, and we don't care about race, creed, color, sex, age, or even species! In the localities where we are published we deliver the largest group of "friends" of any media.
  5. Did we mention that we are FREE? Let us mention it again. Green Living is a gift to you from the businesses and organizations that define themselves "friends of the environment."

Founder of Green Living, Marshall Glickman, once described the enterprise as a "light ship" that would be hard to sink. The longer I have been associated with this venture, the more I have come to appreciate his vision. From its humble origins to its humble present, Green Living is now (we think) the oldest continually published and largest circulation magazine published for "friends of the environment" in the country. As new local publishers join us in this venture our "light ship" is becoming a "light fleet."

Stephen Morris
Editor and Publisher

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