#181 Chris Plant
March 30th, 2016
LOCATION: Moha, closest community to the birthplaces of both New Catalyst and Lived Experience.
DIRECTIONS: Moha had a post office in the Yalakom Valley from 1912 to 1947 when gold was being extracted from Bridge River. The cabin in which Chris and Judith Plant starting publishing The New Catalyst newspaper, forerunner to their New Society book publishing imprint, was located near the bottom of a trail leading to their 1980s commune on Antoine Creek near the Yalakom Valley (near the confluence of the Yalakom and Bridge Rivers).
The Plants published The New Catalyst magazine, a quarterly bioregional journal, from 1985 until 1992. Tneir close friend Van Andruss remained in the commune up the hill, where the Plants had been living, and later started his Lived Experience magazine, with his partner Eleanor Wright, in 2000. In 1990, the two couples collaborated as authors for Home: A Bioregional Reader, a ‘classic’ of the sustainability movement, adopted for use in many college geography departments.
The New Catalyst was originally just The Catalist, a catalogue put out by the food co-op with a couple of prominent pages devoted to commentary of its members. At the outset of the computer era, The New Catalyst office was located 30 kilometres from the nearest town, used power generated from the nearby creek and depended upon a radiotelephone for its communications.
The Plants’ New Society book imprint evolved from the Movement for a New Society, an anti-Vietnam war organization in Philadelphia that published materials to support peace. Following publication of Jude’s book Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism in 1989, Kip and Jude opened a Canadian office of New Society Publishers and began publishing books focused on sustainability.
After purchasing the whole New Society company in 1996, the Plants ran their publishing house, mainly from Gabriola Island, until it was bought by Douglas & McIntyre in 2008. In that time, they had shepherded over 275 new books into the public realm. The couple continued active involvement with New Society Publishers for four years. Then, when Douglas & McIntyre were forced to almost declare bankruptcy in 2013, Chris and Judith reached out to their former partner, Carol Newell, and, together, they bought back the publishing company. New Society was once again headquartered on Gabriola Island.
B.C. lost one of its bravest and most essential publishers, Christoper (Kip) Plant of Gabriola Island, when he died on June 26, 2015 in Nanaimo after courageously living with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Multiple System Atrophy for nine years.
Prior to publishing, Kip Plant had lived in the South Pacific and worked as an editor at The Institute for Pacific Studies. He edited New Hebrides: The Road to Independence (Institute for Pacific Studies, 1977) and Rotuma: Split Island (Institute for Pacific Studies, 1978.) He also translated from the French the book, Kanaka: The Melanesian Way (Editions du Pacifique, 1979) and published his MA thesis from SFU, PEACESAT: Communications and Development in the Pacific Islands (1982).
For New Society, he co-edited Healing The Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism, (1989), Home! A Bioregional Reader (1990), Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future (1990), Green Business: Hope or Hoax? (1991) and Putting Power in its Place: Create Community Control! (1992).
As the publisher and co-founder of New Society Publishers (Canada), Plant and his wife Judith (Jude) were decades ahead of their time, pioneering ‘biogregionalism’ in the early 1970s, then leading the way for books to be published on recycled paper in Canada. Together they regarded organizing for a post-carbon future to be the single most urgent task for humankind.
After Chris ‘Kip’ Plant died, his longtime friend Van Andruss, who had published his annual Lived Experience magazine for fifteen years, wrote, “I never knew a more energetic, virtuous, clear-thinking character.”
Here follows Van Andruss’ biographical tribute to the life of Chris Plant, known to his friends as Kip.
My Friend Kip
by Van Andruss
My friend Kip was a talented man. He was a leader, courageous, trustworthy and upright from an early age. In my high school class, he’d have been voted the most likely to succeed. In fact, he was “Head Boy” in his private school in England.
I first met Kip at Simon Fraser University. He was working towards a Master’s Degree in the newly formed Communications Department, focusing on satellite communications as a tool for communicating amongst the small island nations in the South Pacific. He had been attracted to the ideas of Fred Brown and we ran into each other one day at the doorway of Fred’s office. I faced a handsome, pink-cheeked fellow, neatly-dressed in a white turtleneck sweater, introduced to me as Christopher Plant. We shook hands, delighted to make each other’s acquaintance. He told me about his political work in the anti-nuclear and independence movements in the South Pacific. I learned later that he’d played a key role in the de-colonization of the island group known as New Hebrides, since re-named Vanuatu. Thirty years later, he was honoured for his actions there in a grand ceremony described in “Vanuatu Revisited,” LE 9.
I believe our meeting in Fred’s office took place in the late 70s, shortly before he got together with Judith, also a student of Fred’s at Simon Fraser. About four years later, Kip, Judith, and Judith’s three children would join Fred and about nine others of us at our hideaway Intentional Community located in the interior mountains of BC.
But first the Plant family migrated to the Nass Valley. Judith taught school while Kip worked for the Nisga’a First Nation. Longing for community, they were intrigued by the promise of living in harmony with friends and building a model small society. After due consideration, they packed their essentials, their kids – even a half-dozen ruffled chickens – into a faithful red Chevy truck and set out for a New World destination, up a three-mile trail beside a cold-water creek.
Kip and Jude and the three young ones – Julie, Willie, and Shannon – made a big boost in the power of our enterprise. Upstream from the cookshack and communal cabin, they built a simple dwelling for themselves with a chainsaw and hand tools, a one-room affair with a loft and a nice front porch in the shade of a young cedar tree. That was the Pole Cabin. For a touch of continuity, they hung the old door they’d used on their cabin in the Nass.
Christopher Plant was an ambitious man. He was determined to exert an influence on the world. Our humble domestic life, rather disorganized and slow of progress, could not contain him. He and Jude stayed with us for a time – it must have been about a year – but when arguments arose among us and morale broke down, the Plant family found accommodation at the bottom of the trail in partnership with a former communard, Kelly Booth, currently Professor of Philosophy at Thompson River University. Together they purchased a small piece of property from a retired post master with both a log cabin and a picturesque shack below it, set back from a dirt road leading into our valley. Beside the shack was a charming human-made brook fed by the larger creek that splashed in the canyon below. We visited them often.
There was a people’s food co-op in Vancouver that had emerged in the early 70s. Sage Birchwater mentions Fed Up in his story, “A Spiritual Awakening.” Many back-to-the-land people of our tribe travelled down to pitch in, taking turns. Fed Up sent out a catalogue called The Catalist. Included were articles on various topics of interest to us hippie types along with the bulk food price list in the center section. I wrote a piece on communal living, I remember. When Fed Up changed its form and The Catalist went out of print, the Booth/Plant collective at the bottom of the Creek took over the paper and called it The New Catalyst, aimed at promoting the social philosophy of Bioregionalism, with an emphasis on issues of ecological import for the Province of British Columbia (issues now covered by the excellent Watershed Sentinel). The New Catalyst became BC’s most informative organ of communication in the 80s and 90s among us counterculture folks. It was brilliant and I only wish it were still functioning today.
The Plants connected with a publishing group in Philadelphia at this time called New Society Publishers, a project of the Movement for a New Society that had started up in opposition to the Vietnam War. It’s a long story (watch Judith’s talk for more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z4uJe4FRsw) but they were having serious financial difficulties. They knew our friends from having published Judith’s eco-feminist book, Healing the Wounds in 1989. That relationship led to the eventual purchase of New Society Publishers by Kip and Jude, which brought the company to Canada.
This was the beginning of a long, fertile career for Kip and Judith. Working together, inseparable as a team, they published hundreds of titles on a great variety of subjects, from political and philosophical works to manuals on the use of solar energy, small-scale electrical generating systems, guides to gardening and cookbooks.
In order to carry out this work, Kip and Jude moved to Gabriola Island, setting up business where up-to-date technology supported their labours.
They bought a house, found investors, added an office complex and hired a congenial staff. They raised a vegetable garden, fruit trees, grew grapes, nurtured a flock of chickens and carried out their publishing ambitions in a domestic setting. After a few years Julie, Judith’s eldest daughter, joined her parents, packing books with her newborn son slung on her hip.
Today, eighteen years later, she is the chief operating officer with Judith backing her up. I might add that the business has recently launched an Employee Trust Fund, an achievement that Kip was very excited about.
Beyond sketching out Kip’s formal career, let me say a few words about the man’s informal side. Up from a day at the desk, he was looking for good food, exercise and fun. He pursued projects around the house. He loved his shop full of tools and tinkered contentedly at the workbench. Things were always arranged in good order. Parked in the shop was perhaps the most useful tool of all, the ElecTrac – a relic from the early 70s that was completely to his taste.
In conversation, Kip was congenial and thoughtful. He did not bum you out (as I am inclined to do) with all the bad stuff of the world, or try to convince you of his ideals. His attitude was constructive. He had a builder’s mentality.
He never wavered from a Bioregional vision. The books he sought to publish were essential to that vision. It was clear to me that he went to bed at night with a good conscience. I envied his ability to lie down and just go to sleep. He liked his pre-dinner glass of beer at night and relished well-prepared food, was a cook in his own right, but lucky devil, had endless beautiful gourmet meals set before him by Jude. It was always such a pleasure to eat at their table. Driving down to the island for a visit (we stayed in the yurt), I would begin wondering what we were having for dinner! Jude would have made something special for our arrival . . .
The sturdiness of Kip’s personality was celebrated by Jack Plant, his father, on the young man’s twenty-first birthday. Kip himself read this piece aloud at his sixtieth birthday party on Gabriola Island. I found it both true to his character and hilarious. I’ve had to cut out most of the speech for lack of space but Jack’s ironic, English sense of humour is easily registered:
“From an early age there were disturbing signs that he had inherited my own notorious absent mindedness.
“As a little boy, Pat’s custom [Kip’s mum] was to send him upstairs to get his potty when he wanted to do his doosis, as she put it. One day she sent him up for something quite different, which he quite forgot, returning instead with the potty.
“His life since has been marked with strong enthusiasms, pursued with remarkable tenacity.
“In his early teens he decided to become a drummer. And with very little financial help, by judicious sales of toys accumulated over the years – and perhaps other bric-a-brac found lying around the house – he acquired an expensive set of drums and somehow negotiated his way into a pop group – a bunch of real thugs much older than himself – with whom he played.
“His next enthusiasm was racing cycling. Again with determination he managed to become the protégé of the top man in this sport in these parts. He earned, scrounged or otherwise obtained the cash to buy not only several fabulously expensive racing bikes but also a motor bike and sidecar in which to transport the bikes to race meetings.
“In this phase he imposed upon himself a regimen that will amaze some of his present friends. He ate only energy giving foods, went to bed early, did exercises, abandoned all girlfriends, and eschewed strong drink.
He rode in track and road races with such verve and dash that we got quite used to being called to remote hospitals to which he was frequently rushed with grave injuries.
From time to time there have been other objectives. Most of them needed more money than I could provide, so he worked. Already in a short adult life he has been a warehouseman, barman, milkman, brush salesman, hospital orderly, timberyard labourer and farmhand. Indeed he and his friend Clive Bromelow were among the top 40 brush salesmen in the country, and were under great pressure to make a career in brush salesmanship, door to door.
Equipped with this facility for setting a target and pursuing it with monomaniacal fervour, he could go far.”
And far he did go.
After carrying on vigorously in the publishing business for over twenty years, he dreamed of retirement in the Yalakom Valley, until now not affordable either with time or money. Around the same time, he began to experience odd symptoms in his hand, a shakiness. It was a queer development. At the computer his thumb seemed too weak to manage the space bar. He went to a doctor for an examination.
Meanwhile, he and Jude, acting on the retirement scheme, bought a piece of land in the Yalakom Valley, where they planned to build a house for the future enjoyment of the whole family. Kip drew up plans, walked the property, took steps to locate water for a well. But almost on the very day the land was purchased, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He didn’t believe it. How was it possible to arrive at so grave a conclusion after a twenty minute exam!
In the end he had to give up the idea of living on the land again, and eventually even of visiting the land. The disease progressed rapidly. It seemed more rapid than most cases of P.D. (The condition is described eloquently in “The Dragon and the Snail,” LE 10). Weakening, he did what he could to stay reasonably able. He rode his bike, walked, kept active around the place, in the garden, in the kitchen. Time passed. He was reduced to a cane. Then a walker, and finally to a wheelchair. And then a new diagnosis came along.
He may not have P.D., after all; they said it was likely Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Multiple System Atrophy. Both. The symptoms were similar at first but far more devastating as time goes on.
The whole business was a nightmare. He lost his ability to move freely, to sleep peacefully, to swallow easily, even – and this was the final blow – to form words with a tongue that would not properly articulate. The disease brought him down. From a pinnacle. It was very sad for his dear friends to witness, and heartbreaking for Jude, upon whose shoulders the relentless care-giving was laid. Eleanor and I visited as frequently as we could. We were with Kip the week he died in the Palliative Care wing of the Nanaimo hospital, on June 26, 2015. He was placed there to get his meds under control. But it was the end.
During this final period, I was astounded, how a person so outstanding, so wholesome and fit, could be brought down so low. I still wonder at the event. It goes without saying that we grieve at our loss. The departure of a dear friend leaves a hole in your life. You carry on, as you must, but you are not the same. There’s a sense in which, when your friends die, you go with them. No words, no reasoning will bring them back. It is some consolation to acknowledge that Kip enjoyed great success in what he set out to do and that he found happiness with his wife and family. He was an attentive husband and father, made loyal friends, travelled when opportunity arose, relished the pleasures within his grasp, and there were many. Before disease dragged him down in its final stages, he’d had a very good time of it, a fortunate life. If he could hear me, I know he would agree. But no final say can ever make his passing okay.
[This tribute, written in December of 2015, first appeared in Lived Experience #15 – 2016]
by Chris Plant
Essay Date: June 2009
Twenty years ago, when Judith Plant published her first book, Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism with New Society Publishers in Philadelphia, she and her partner Chris Plant wrestled with a publishing decision that changed the course of their lives, leading them out of the backwoods to the forefront of the Sustainability Movement. Here Chris Plant recalls the evolution of their remarkable imprint.
When Judith Plant published her first book, we were living in the mountains north of Lillooet, where we had published The New Catalyst magazine for four years.
Perched on a rocky bluff by the side of a mountain stream, we generated enough electricity from a micro-hydro system to power our household and our fledgling business.
After the Paleotehnic era
Having to sometimes type by the light of two candles placed on either side of our portable Osborne computer, we called this our Paleotechnic era.
That summer we received a visit from the chief New Society editor and his partner, who was the finance manager for their book publishing operation. They had recently left the East Coast to open a West Coast office in Santa Cruz, California.
David Albert suggested that instead of publishing our quarterly magazine on tabloid newsprint, we should consider packaging the material in book form. That way it would last longer and have more shelf appeal.
It was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse. We decided to open up a Canadian office for New Society Publishers, acquiring editorial projects ourselves and marketing the whole of NSP’s list to the Canadian market.
That’s how New Society Publishers Canada officially opened for business in 1990.
The first project we undertook was to edit, with our good friends Van Andruss and Eleanor Wright, the first anthology on bioregionalism, Home! A Bioregional Reader.
As promoters of the bioregional idea (we had organized the third continent-wide North American Bioregional Congress in 1986), this was a project close to our hearts. We then got to work on the new series. The first volume involved the transformation of some past New Catalyst material into book form. Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future comprised a collection of interviews we had conducted with key characters in the sustainability movement that had appeared in the centerfold of The New Catalyst magazine. The book came off the press at the very time that we moved from the Lillooet area to our new home on Gabriola Island, and we spent many hours around the dining room table packaging up copies to send out to our 2000-odd subscriber list, conscripting my visiting aunt into the mailing process.
Other volumes followed in close succession—including Our Ecological Footprint, by Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel. We released two titles per year, sold by subscription and direct mail, as well as through the conventional book trade. We originated other B.C. titles, too, including Colonialism On Trial, something of a pre-Manga cartoon record of the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en land claims court case, and Clayoquot Mass Trials which documented a watershed phase in the environmental movement.
For the next couple of years or so, we learned the basics of book publishing, alongside advanced study in business cooperation. New Society was organized as a collective and our task was to insert ourselves into their management structure from a distance. There was no e-mail at the time and communication was a challenge, to say the least. Nevertheless we managed our tiny transnational corporation from three locations with remarkable ease.
The fax machine was a revolutionary tool that simplified our lives tremendously. We gathered once a year at an annual face-to-face meeting, and governed ourselves by means of a very unusual mutual aid agreement. We were publishing books to build a new society and running our lives according to the same values we espoused in our publications. These were heady times indeed.
At a face-to-face meeting in Philadelphia in 1995, we learned very suddenly that the Philadelphia office was basically bankrupt. Unless someone stepped up to the plate, the publishing operation overall would be forced to close. Unlike the key players in the Philadelphia collective who seemed tired, we were not ready to stop publishing—on the contrary, we were just getting going.
The only thing to do was to take over the whole operation. We were organized as non-profits at the time, and at first we tried raising the necessary capital through charitable means. But good fortune stepped in at the right time in the form of an angel investor, Joel Solomon (this angel had been on our mailing list from the beginning of The New Catalyst days), and so in 1996 Gabriola Island became the international headquarters of New Society Publishers.
We bought just over 50 percent of the NSP list along with the U.S. distribution infrastructure and a whole lot of goodwill. Not everyone was entirely pleased that New Society had become a Canadian enterprise, however, and our task became that of convincing authors and others that we could continue to be an effective social change publisher from north of the border.
New Society had started as a social movement, opposing the war in Vietnam, nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and publishing pamphlets on peace and nonviolence, civil disobedience, conflict resolution and social change. Their early books focused on nonviolence, feminism and alternative economics.
When we entered the picture, we added an environmental focus. Now we needed to reinvent the company and did so around the emerging idea of sustainability which, in our eyes, combined all of these interest areas and more. The question was whether we could sustain a values-based publishing operation while making sustainability successful in the business world.
It didn’t help that, not too long after we purchased the company, InBook, our U.S. trade distributor, went bankrupt. It also didn’t help that postal rates climbed dramatically as mail subsidies were gradually eroded—a kiss of death for the direct mail sales on which the company had been built.
Switching to Consortium for our U.S. trade presence was a major relief: they were well-organized and effective. But our attempts to support trade sales by religiously attending BEA, ALA and the like drove us to despair.
Slowly, we realized that, as an activist publisher, we had to be where the activists were, not try to compete in the glitzy corporate world of trade bookselling. We switched strategies, making it our business to be at renewable energy fairs, Green festivals, natural building colloquia and a myriad other events where we could network with the people who needed the material we were publishing for their organizing work—and who were writing the material we wanted to publish.
In the early years of this period, we continued publishing The New Catalyst as an occasional free broadsheet, distributed in tens of thousands of copies. Inside was our catalog of New Society books. Direct mail continued to be a major source of revenue, and early employees—and the occasional family member—took phone orders and packed books in the crowded little office next to our home.
We nervously borrowed money against the property to build the company, and slowly added staff. I was doing the editorial and production work; Judith masterminded finance and market-
ing; and we both made acquisition decisions.
Sustainability was a hard sell but we relentlessly released books on sustainable communities, simple living and eco-cities alongside critiques of economic growth, manuals on progressive leadership skills (facilitation, mediation, group process and the like), and parenting and education resources.
Thinking of ourselves as a progressive business, we even ventured into business publishing with a series called Conscientious Commerce that highlighted the ways in which the corporate world could contribute to environmental and social sustainability. Importantly, we walked the talk ourselves, committing, in 2001 with the release of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change by Guy Dauncey, to printing all of our books on 100 percent Post Consumer-Waste paper and, a few years later, going carbon-neutral. We estimate, as of 2008, our pulp nonfiction business has saved over 13,000 trees.
For many years we existed on a very uncomfortable financial edge. But we were slowly building our market and our reputation. When peak oil first emerged as a crucial topic for the future of industrial society, we were there with one of the first books on the topic, The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Society, by Richard Heinberg.
When 9/11 happened, we released a major exposé on the topic, linking the event to peak oil, that sold strongly. We added important renewable energy books to our categories of interest, as well as a line of natural and green building titles that caught the emerging Green building wave before it became merely fashionable.
Sales increased. We added staff. We added buildings. We almost doubled our output of titles per year. We gained some recognition for our efforts through two Ethics in Action awards for our social and environmental initiatives, and the BC Publisher of the Year award in 2003. In a note attached to the award, Jim Douglas praised “the international quality of our list.”
And we began to make money. Always five to ten years ahead of the mainstream, our books rapidly gained relevance for a wider audience as the early years of the new millennium came to pass, and sustainability was suddenly the name of the game. As “green” became the color of choice, sales rose steadily, and we realized we had moved into a new phase.
At last, the sustainability publisher had become financially sustainable. But we were tired. We wanted our freedom back—including freedom from the anxiety of running a publishing business in a volatile market. So with considerable trepidation, we put New Society up for sale.
It was a relief when the final purchaser turned out to be Douglas & McIntyre. Their list had integrity and we had obvious compatibilities with their Greystone imprint, David Suzuki’s publisher. More to the point, they were demanding no radical changes in the way the company was run. With our on-going mentoring, our loyal and highly capable staff will gradually take over the management of New Society. It looks like a win-win situation.
Judith and I never really intended to be Publishers for Life, and we certainly weren’t business people at heart. In 1990, we had made a conscious decision to do our bit for the “turn-around decade” that was called for by David Suzuki and others. But somehow that turn-around decade has turned into almost two decades…
Now it’s time for us to be doing more of the things we were publishing about. So we’re forging ahead with a new chapter…
Much admired as leaders of the sustainability movement, Chris and Judith Plant are recycling themselves, buying back their New Society imprint from D&M Publishers Inc. Here’s the three-part story of how their healthy, homemade New Society imprint continues to live up to its name.
In 1985, Chris and Judith plant were back-to-the-landers of sorts, seeking the communal experience twenty miles down a gravel road from Lillooet, producing an environmental newspaper called The New Catalyst, a let’s-fix-the-world endeavor that soon led them into publishing books.
Started in 1990, their fledgling publishing imprint called New Society eventually took over its sister company—New Society Publishers, Philadelphia—with whom they had worked for six years.
“We made a conscious decision to do our bit for the ‘turn-around decade’ that was called for by David Suzuki and others,” says Chris ‘Kip’ Plant, “But somehow that turn-around decade turned into two decades.”
Based out of Gabriola Island, the Plants parlayed their dedication to “bioregionalism” into a successful vehicle for promoting ecological consciousness and community action world-wide.
Having encouraged the use of recycled paper for books, the Plants received the James Douglas Award for outstanding publishing in British Columbia in 2003. By 2005, they were the first publishing company in North America, and only the second publishing company in the world, to declare themselves “carbon neutral.”
A family health problem prompted them to retire and sell New Society to Scott McIntyre’s Douglas & McIntyre, often touted as the largest publishing house in Western Canada It’s possible Lone Pine in Alberta might have greater sales worldwide. D&M was by then Vancouver businessman Mark Scott’s company, since his purchase of the majority of the shares just prior to the acquisition of New Society, but McIntyre remained on board.
“Their list had integrity,” Chris Plant said, “and we had obvious compatibilities with their Greystone imprint, David Suzuki’s publisher.”
So D&M Publishers Inc. became a consortium of three imprints; New Society, Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone. The new owner, Mark Scott, was an acquaintance of Scott McIntyre. “One of the trickiest challenges any company faces is getting succession right,” McIntyre said in 2012, “and I’m very proud of the path we are embarking upon.”
With McIntyre at the helm as its chairman, D&M Publishers Inc., filed for protection from bankruptcy in November of 2012, having accumulated debts exceeding $6 million, including more than half a million owing to authors.
The second phase of New Society—through no fault of the imprint—was in jeopardy. Judith Plant herself became one of D&M’s major creditors because the full purchase of New Society by the D&M consortium had yet to be completed.
So what to do?
The Plants opted to come out of retirement and buy back their press, with the essential help of their financial angel, friend Carol Newell of Renewal Partners who had helped them from the outset.
Whereas almost the entire staff at D&M in Vancouver was rendered jobless by the business failure, New Society has remained stable, staff-wise, and they’re now proceeding with a full spring list with the usual range of sustainability titles and one book with a distinctly local flavour.
Chris and Judith Plant came out of retirement to buy back the company they began in 1990
Much admired as leaders of the sustainability movement, Chris and Judith Plant are recycling themselves, buying back their New Society imprint from D&M Publishers Inc. Here’s the three-part story of how their healthy, homemade New Society imprint continues to live up to its name.
Signaling the phoenix-like resurgence of New Society, Hollyhock: Garden to Table (New Society $24.95) by Moreka Jolar and Heidi Scheifley reasserts the presence of a unique B.C. institution, Hollyhock, a centre for learning and well-being, B.C.’s Findhorn, created in 1982 on the grounds of the former Cold Mountain Institute on Cortes Island.
Near its ocean-view kitchen, the world renowned learning centre of Hollyhock boasts a spectacular organic garden.
Based on thirty years of cooking, Hollyhock: Garden to Table provides more than 200 new garden-inspired recipes as well as growing tips from Hollyhock’s own Master Gardener, Nori Fletcher. Moreka Jolar has been a chef at Hollyhock for fifteen years and Scheifley is a certified gourmet natural foods chef who has cooked around the world.
The Plants’ first B.C.-grown book upon their return to ownership harkens back to their roots in Lillooet—all puns intended—where communalism was viewed as a healthy and natural necessity. It’s also a follow-up to Hollyhock Cooks (New Society 2004), co-authored by Jolar.
Now New Society also intends to deal head-on with 21st century technological challenges. “We’re already selling all of our books as e-books,” says Judith Plant, “and an increasing volume of sales are electronic.
“The real challenge is adapting as a publisher to the broader electronic culture. We must consider ourselves more as purveyors of information that can be parlayed in diverse forms than strictly as a producer of books alone. Being fluid in such a world is crucial.
“The intelligent, committed and passionate people on our staff, many of whom have spent most of their working lives with the company, are raring to go. So, yes, this amounts to a re-birth of sorts.”
This third phase of New Society will also provide an opportunity for a partial employee buy-in to the company. A portion of the shares are being made available for the staff to buy anytime, and a further portion can be bought at a very attractive price, provided certain sales and profitability targets are met. 978-0-86571-727-5
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