Minnesotans For Sustainability©


Sustainable:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.




September 21, 1998


Dear Friends:

After much thought and discussion, I have reached the conclusion that I should relinquish my position as a Zero Population Growth Board member. As a twenty-year ZPG activist, this was a difficult and painful decision. I believe in the cause now more than ever.

I've had a vision of ZPG as the organization that unites and inspires all people who are concerned with halting U.S. and global population growth. I feel we have rejected that high role and have isolated ourselves from much of our community by sometimes appearing aloof and uncooperative, rather than erecting the much needed "big tent". (I am not referring to immigration policy here, I am talking about our actions what we say, what we do, how we act, and how we interact.) There are a limited number of precious people and groups that care and work on behalf of population issues. These people and organizations are a key to our cause in the future and we need them all. Yet too often we seem to see "their" cause as conflicting with "our" cause. This may be more apparent to me than to others because of my field and day-to-day involvement.

As you know, I have come to believe that U.S. population growth is a monumental local, national and global problem. It drives most activists and is a critical awareness link to raising community concern on both local and global issues. I was recently told (by both our President and our Executive Director) that requesting ZPG to increase awareness on U.S. population issues is implicitly about immigration. With the many circular Board discussions about the fact that the U.S. population problem is not mentioned in the ZPG brochure, I find it disappointing that such overarching factors are not readily brought into the open for discussion. Perhaps it is this perception that disturbs me the most.

The subdued U.S. population message seems to permeate much of what is done by the National organization, even to the extent of sometimes hiding the population issue or the organization name. National has a disconnect with many local members and activists (and who really services and supports who?). We too often seem to be in the closet about our reason for existing, and fail to articulate our own mission.

With this in mind:

The supplied answers to the eight critical questions I asked, the subject of a memo dated February 26, 1998, are still gnawing at me. Those questions are on U.S. population related policy, programs and actions that I believe are at the core of our mission. Yes, I do feel that the memo avoided the issues. I feel that discussion of those questions (and their implications) is very important, not only to our understanding of our own processes and getting things out in the open, but to our effectiveness and respect among our constituents. To me, the fact that we could not address the questions and overarching factors together is just as significant as the questions and answers themselves.

Other related and contributing concerns:

We seem to attempt to discredit and label other population organizations and individuals, rather than acknowledge our common goals and promote unity. Yes, we do have differences with some of these groups. But as a leadership organization, we should acknowledge such differences and use our common concern over population stabilization in a unified path toward real success. We need each other, and the cause needs us all. If you need further convincing of this, take a look, for instance, at www.overpopulation.com.

Related to such discrediting:

Requests to the Boston Chapter to remove articles and links from its web page and newsletter. Such requests included references to Stephen Mumford’s landmark book "The Life and Death of NSSM 200" (presumably because of his involvement in Quinacrine, not even related to the content of the book). Also excluded were my NPG Forum paper on OverConsumption and OverPopulation, and an article by Donella Meadows. I doubt anyone is more respected in our community than Ms. Meadows, yet ZPG approves of her (or any of us) only when she or the related organization says exactly and only the "right stuff". (One of the eight questions brought up the issue of what chapters could publish.)

I can understand and appreciate constructive position and policy, even in cases where I don't agree with it. I cannot condone suppression of discussion and information or labeling. Honest and cooperative discussion within and among people and organizations leads to more understanding, better policy, more ideas, more members and more synergy. In an age when our opponents are getting stronger, more unified, and more vocal, we need each other more than ever.

I have often been the one who asks tough questions about difficult subjects. This is either my greatest strength or my greatest weakness. I feel that too many of my attempts to ask have been met with reluctance rather than interchange and inclusion.

It has honestly been an honor to serve ZPG with each of you. If I can be of assistance at any time, don't hesitate to contact me. Please do accept my wishes for true success into the future.

And, if one day ZPG decides to erect the "big tent", I'll be glad to carry the poles and would be honored to bring the champagne.


Mike Hanauer


Michael G. Hanauer
Six April Lane  #11
Lexington, MA 02421


Please send mail to webmaster@mnforsustain.org with questions or comments about this web site. Minnesotans For Sustainability (MFS) is not affiliated with any government body, private, or corporate entity. Copyright © 2002 Minnesotans For Sustainability