Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Borsodi-Loomis Legacy Articles

Bill Sharp © 1/1/19

Over the last several years I have published a series of articles exploring the Legacy[1]of Ralph Borsodi (founder) and Mildred Loomis (co-founder) of the School of Living.  These appeared in the School of Living Green Revolution(Edited by Bob Flatley).  Following is a list of these articles with links[2].
Please be advised I consider these articles copyrighted under my name but available with appropriate citation, please.  
The work began with Mildred’s biography of her long-time friend and colleague:  Ralph Borsodi:  Reshaping Modern Culture Biographical material about Borsodi is rare and sources often contain errors and contradictions.  I don’t think Borsodi planned to make his personal correspondence and papers public.  He was always reticent about his private life.  Mildred did have and made an effort to preserve the records of the School of Living as well as her own records but following her death in 1986 correspondence, documents, photos and other material were mostly lost and the Borsodi Memorial Library Mildred had established was dispersed.  
Because of other closely related interest over the years before I learned about him, I found Borsodi’s ideas intriguing.  Reading his biography, however, left a lot of unanswered questions.  I conducted web research, bought copies of Borsodi’s books (out of print, rare and rather expensive – but now digitalized and free to access or download) and reviewed the Borsodi archive at the University of New Hampshire.  In 2016 recovered newsletters and a handful of other documents filled some gaps and gave me additional insight into the history of the School of Living.  I believe we now have enough to understand the core values and practices of the Legacy.
A review of Borsodi’s life and works are in the first three articles.  They contain a review of all of his writings.  Article 4 considers what a New School of Living founded on these core values and principles would look like.  I wrote that article after visiting the Borsodi homestead and the original School of Living building and community near Suffern, New York.  Article 5 addressed the foundational principle of the Legacy, which is decentralism – forming small, human-scaled communities that are free of centralized government, economics or other institutional controls. 
After a period of reflection and conversation, Article 6 returned to the idea of reviving the Legacy.  I must thank GR editor Bob Flatley for encouraging that article (actually for the entire series).
1.    The Life of Ralph Borsodi:  Unsung American Back-to-the-Land Pioneer, Green Revolution, Volume 68, No. 1, Winter/Spring 2011: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVaHp5a2xYYUxWXzA

2.    Ralph Borsodi and The School of Living, Volume 68, No. 2, Spring 2011: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVaHp5a2xYYUxWXzA

3.    The School of Living and Community, Volume 69, No. 1, 2012: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVT3BTZE9NSDg5aE0

4.    Welcome to the New School of Living, Volume 69, No. 3, 2012: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVT3BTZE9NSDg5aE0

5.    Ralph Borsodi: Prophet of Decentralization, Volume 70, No. 3, 2013: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVWkJUMExZZExUUmM

6.     Revitalizing Ralph Borsodi and the School of Living, Volume 72, No. 4, 2015: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVbWRZRllCLVI5QzA

The next four articles are about the collaboration between Mildred and Borsodi.  I built this series on the theme of decentralism (Article number 5, above, can be considered part of this series).  Of greater importance, however, I tried to see the School of Living from Mildred’s perspective, rather than my own, in these three articles 
7.    Mildred Loomis and the School of Living, Volume 73, No. 1, 2016: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVU0dfLWdQaGJoV2M

8.    Mildred Loomis and Decentralism, Part 1, Volume 73, No. 3, 2016: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVU0dfLWdQaGJoV2M

9.    Mildred Loomis and Decentralism, Part 2, Volume 73, No. 4, 2016: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVU0dfLWdQaGJoV2M

The tenth article in this series is my attempt to put decentralism into a modern perspective.  “Decentralism is a rarely used and little understood concept but the philosophical content remains highly relevant under any name. From the beginning I have worked with both the School of Living Legacy and Transition Towns (established 2006).  Transition Towns is founded on the principle of “localization” which can be considered a synonym of decentralization. 
10.Decentralism Today, Volume 74, No 2, 2017” https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVLVl2c0tjSXFnS1U

In 2016, we received several boxes of material from the estate of a former School of Living trustee.  A good part of this material consisted of old issues of publications edited by Mildred Loomis beginning in 1945.  Among boxes of more of less routine correspondence and other research, I was able to find bits and pieces of information that helped construct a more detailed description of Mildred’s stewardship of the School of Living from 1945 – when the School of Living was moved to her homestead in Ohio – to her death in 1986[3].  
I should note that the title “Grandmother of the Counterculture” was bestowed on Mildred by the editor of the Mother Earth News.  As I studied the material from the Counterculture era, roughly late 1960s and lingering through the 1970s, I found that both Mildred and Borsodi were troubled by the free living and escapist attitude of the Hippie youth.  It had nothing to do with a “generation gap.”  This was a result of a profound difference in fundamental values that transcends generational differences.  The last article, drawn mostly from Mildred’s own words, gives some insight into the demise of the Legacy following her death.  I will leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions after reading this material.
I should note that after the death of Mildred’s husband, she moved to the new School of Living center in Maryland.  She had worked for several years to establish this community.  By and large it didn’t fulfill her vision and she moved to Deep Run Farm near York, Pennsylvania, where she spent the last years of her life trying to preserve the Legacy she and Borsodi had sought to leave.
11.  Mildred Loomis, Grandmother of the Counterculture, Part 1, Volume 74, No. 3, 2017: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVLVl2c0tjSXFnS1U

12.  Mildred Loomis, Grandmother of the Counterculture, Part 2, Volume 74, No. 4, 2017: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B1wQ6T5I3eBVLVl2c0tjSXFnS1U

13.  Mildred Loomis, Grandmother of the Counterculture, Part 3, Volume 75, No. 1, 2018: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/160ElsSY119Tk1ITUT8cetxhk0QaQLlLs

14.  Mildred Loomis and the New School of Living Heathcote, Part 4, Volume 75, No. 2, 2018: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/160ElsSY119Tk1ITUT8cetxhk0QaQLlLs

15.  The Legacy of Mildred Loomis, Part 5, Volume 75, No. 3, 2018: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/160ElsSY119Tk1ITUT8cetxhk0QaQLlLs
This series was completed in the third, and next to last, issue of Green Revolution[4].  Mildred chose that title for the School of Living newsletter in 1963.  So in another sense, the Legacy closes.  The articles provide insight into what she had hoped to achieve. I consider it something of both a privilege and an irony to have completed the history of the Green Revolutionas that publication came to an end.  
With 2019 the title of the School of Living Newsletter is School of Living News. On balance, I believe the name change was the right thing for them to do.  The School of Living newsletter has had at least six names over the year, each consistent with the expression of its mission at the time. A redefinition of the mission of the current School of Living board is long overdue.  This change of name, and dropping the core concept of decentralization, integral education and human potentiality, may be of benefit to them as they search for their mission.
There was one more issue of the Green Revolutionto come, Winter 2018, and I was asked for one more article.  This last article described the current status of the twin streams of my work that started together in 2010:  The Borsodi-Loomis Legacy and Transition Towns.  
16.  Building Resilient Community, Volume 75, No. 4, 2018: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/160ElsSY119Tk1ITUT8cetxhk0QaQLlLs

Resilient Communities takes the “bar” of the Borsodi-Loomis Legacy and Transition Towns up a notch or two. The Legacy started during the Great Depression, a horrendous economic collapse, followed by World War II. Resilient Community brings us into the twenty-first century era of global economic and political instability, continued rising population, rapid depletion of nonrenewable resource and climate change.   It promotes a model for local communities that are secure enough to weather the worst. It is about achieving self-sufficiency and self-determination.  Rather than intentional communities, it is at the level of existing, highly diversified towns and urban neighborhoods.  My interest in Borsodi and Loomis is that they established principles and practices that I believe are even more relevant today than they were then.
In October 2018 I published a book that focused on education and personal development related to building leadership capacity for Resilient Communities.  This is a core value of the original Borsodi and Loomis Legacy.  The book is Self-Reliance:  Achieving Personal Resiliency and Independence, William Sharp, on Kindle.
More information can be found at www.transitioncentre.org.  




[1]I use a capital “L” to signify a proper name for this work, short for The Borsodi-Loomis Legacy.  It is that Legacy and the wisdom it embodies that I wish to restore for use by others seeking an alternative to this problematic society as did Borsodi, Loomis and friends.
[2]It is my intent to write a book about the Borsodi-Loomis Legacy.
[3]These are also being digitalized for use by future scholars and interested people.
[4]Beginning January 2019 the newsletter title is School of Living News.