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From the Editor

Big Changes at Earth Island Journal

Dear Readers,
There are exciting new developments afoot at Earth Island Journal.
First, after more than 15 years at the helm of the Journal, Gar Smith has assumed new duties as Earth Island Institute's Roving Editor. Gar is working full time for Earth Island writing, researching, and compiling material for our new Web publication, "The Edge: Eco-Journalism from the Brink." The site includes a combination of short items, features, and special investigative reports and will provide story material for the Journal. We're very excited about this new way to reach people quickly and effectively with news and perspective, and the opportunity it provides for Gar to continue to use his prodigious sleuthing and writing talents for the protection of the planet. Check it out at
We at Earth Island owe Gar immense gratitude for the years that he has spent crafting the Journal and making it an internationally recognized, widely respected and award-winning publication.

Next, we are pleased to announce the hiring of Chris Clarke as the new EIJ editor. Chris has lots of experience working with the Journal, as associate editor working with Gar and as editor-in-chief while Gar was on sabbatical a few years ago. Among other extensive journalistic credentials, he has edited and written extensively for Terrain, the magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center, and, a very ambitious "Green Portal" Web site that had great beginnings but fell victim to the dot com contraction two years ago.

We are very pleased to have him back with us on a full time basis. Chris, on volunteer time, will also continue to press ahead with the Web magazine Faultline (, which recently came aboard as an EI project.

We are very excited about these steps forward for our journalism efforts. We think you will be too.

Dave Phillips
John Knox
Executive Directors, Earth Island Institute

Note from the Editor

We'd like to thank our devoted readers who filled out and returned the reader surveys in the previous issue of the Journal. We haven't crunched the numbers yet, but one thing's clear: you care deeply about this publication. We received both positive and negative comments, but they all seemed to be very heartfelt, with plenty of underlines and exclamation marks thrown in.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common comment about the Journal's content was that the sheer magnitude of the bad news we bring you every three months is overwhelming and depressing. "I find it hard to get all the way through" one person wrote. Another correspondent, who got in touch with us by email, said that a recent article was a "compelling argument for suicide."

No doubt about it, as long as there's environmental damage being done in the world, reading Earth Island Journal is going to be a potentially depressing experience.

Still, there are positive things for us to report on: new, creative campaigns, victories, new species being found, old ones being protected, a million different ways that people of good heart find to help preserve this unique little planet.

So in this issue of the Earth Island Journal, we've taken those items out of the Solutions and Positive Notes departments, and put them right up on center stage. Paul Rogat Loeb describes the corrosive effect of cynicism on activist movements, and spells out his vision of a "clear-eyed idealism" to sustain activists in hard times. Jonathan Rowe, director of Earth Island's Tomales Bay Institute, presents the notion of the commons as a concrete organizing principle around which we might create a sustainable culture. Wildlife biologist Ben Ikenson tells a story of a restoration project working to keep the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn roaming the desert southwest. And the Journal's international editor Nicola Swinburne describes what might be the most basic kind of affirmative organizing you can get: the sister cities movement, in which ordinary people from different parts of the world get together to see what they can learn from one another.

And of course, as in every issue, we have the usual incisively written litany of wrongs done the planet. Until we stop doing those wrongs, the Journal will keep reporting on them. But we'll strive to do so in a way that makes you angry and motivated to change things, rather than depressed - and we'll give you ways to turn that motivation into action.

As for the other most popular comment - about the Journal being hard to read - keep an eye out for our coming redesign.

We at the Earth Island Journal most certainly have our work cut out for us, living up to the high standards of reporting set by my predecessor, Gar Smith. Gar is a very tough act to follow, but we think you'll like what the Journal will be bringing you in the next few months.

- CC


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