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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.
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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.
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):
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."
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