Thursday, June 18, 2009


A reader of the Gila Sustainability Forum emailed me and requested that I post a bio as part of my column. So I wrote a 600-word synopsis of my saga. (We all have a saga; what's yours?) I'm sure he wanted only a sentence or two, but you know me... everything I write has that mythological quality, and I've got to tell the whole story. I guess I read too much Joseph Campbell at an impressionable age.

Without further fanfare, here it is:

I received a request to explain myself, so here goes:

I have long thought that it would be a nice touch if people would develop the custom of handing out a little bio whenever they met each other. Like a calling card but more extensive. It would speed up the "getting to know you" process. For example, last year a close acquaintance of mine died suddenly. Upon reading his obituary, I realized that we had shared several interests in common that I never knew about. We could have had some great conversations if only we’d known about our mutual interests.

My name is Gordon Solberg. If you say this real fast and slur it a little, it comes out as "Golden Soarbird." This has become an ongoing joke in my family, and I find that "soarbird" makes a good username for a wide variety of applications, including this forum.

My "sustainability saga" began when I was a fledgling planetary astronomer working for Clyde Tombaugh at NMSU. I was doing research on the atmospheric dynamics of the planet Jupiter. But I was also of the age group where I partook of the "sex, drugs, rock and roll" ethos of the era, as well as anti-war protests. I must have gotten a little carried away, because in 1969 the university administration fired me for putting out the campus underground newspaper, The Conscience. The ACLU sued the university on my behalf because my First Amendment rights had been infringed upon, and eventually the university settled out-of-court.

I took my loot and bought my first homestead in the Ozarks, where I lived for 3 years. I missed New Mexico, and moved back to my present microfarm on the bank of the Rio Grande near Radium Springs in 1973, where I have lived ever since.

I am married to Laura Solberg. We support ourselves as beekeepers. We are well-known in the Las Cruces area as the "honey people." Laura is known as the "honey lady" at the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market. I have sold my honey at Organ Mountain Food Co-op since 1977, and have served on the Board of Directors twice.

In addition to beekeeping, I am a serious gardener, orchardist, and builder. I realize that "back to the land" has been considered quaint for many years now; we shall soon see how that turns out. I have always considered myself a pretty hardcore homesteader -- it’s the only way of life that has made sense to me.

Some of you old-timers might remember Dry Country News. I put that out. I also put out Earth Quarterly and Papercrete News. I always got a fair amount of enthusiastic feedback, but always lost too much money to continue. Publishing is a hard business.

Laura and I and another friend started the Las Cruces Peace Vigil in 2002. People are still vigiling today. Later we started a sustainability group, "Living Locally with Less Oil (LLLO) in 2005. I have written many articles for Grassroots Press over the years. I am way to the left of liberal, and a treehugger to boot.

I don’t know if I should even be posting on this forum. I don’t live in the Silver/Mimbres/Gila area, and never will. (It’s a wonderful area, BTW.) I do know a few people in that area, but I’m much more LC oriented, as one would expect. But this forum is the only online sustainability action in the area that I know of, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Why did I start this column? I just wanted to post some of my more soul-oriented stuff. It’s so easy for me to be a hardheaded scientist and businessman. But these writings from the soul have always meant a lot to me, and various people have really liked them over the years. I could just as well post material about various aspects of sustainable living, or about the climate/financial/political/spiritual breakdown that has just barely begin. I could just as well do a column entitled "The Ecopeasant Chronicle" or "Coping with the Crash." But for some reason I felt moved to post my more soul-oriented writings first.