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Whole Earth Catalog created a peer-to-peer network that connected and galvanised like-minded people. In doing so, it created a legacy as an early link between the counterculture movement and the cresting personal tech industry. It spoke to a growing generation of do-it-yourselfers and innovators—particularly those entrepreneurs who’ve found themselves in California over the years.
The catalog was preceded by the "Whole Earth Truck Store". The WETS was a 1963 Dodge truck: In 1968, Brand, who was then 29, and his wife Lois embarked "on a commune road trip" with the truck, hoping to tour the country doing educational fairs. The truck was not only a store, but also an alternative lending library and a mobile microeducation service.
As an early indicator of the general Zeitgeist, the catalog's first edition preceded the original Earth Day by nearly two years. The idea of Earth Day occurred to its instigator, "in the summer of 1969 while on a conservation speaking tour out west," where the Sierra Club was active, and where young minds had been broadened and stimulated by such influences as the catalog. Despite this popular and critical success, particularly among a generation of young hippies and survivalists, the catalog was not intended to continue in publication for long, just long enough for the editors to complete a good overview of the available tools and resources, and for the word, and copies, to get out to everyone who needed them.
Around the same time Charles M Schulz was becoming particularly concerned by ecological issues and began to include messages of conservation into the Peanuts strip. By 1972 Snoopy and Woodstock were spearheading the US Governments 'Johnny Horizon' Environmental campaign, emblazoned on posters encouraging the public to 'Pounce on pollution!' and stop littering 'Bend a little, pick up a lot'.
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