Whole Earth Truck Store - An Original Inspiration October 15 2015
Perhaps some of you have heard about the famed counter culture magazine from the 60’s and 70’s called the Whole Earth Catalog. But did you know that a Rolling Shoppe similar to our own preceded the publication. It was called the “Whole Earth Truck Store”.
The “WETS” was a 1963 Dodge truck that was a true travelling road trip. Not simply a store on wheels, but one with an educational angle as well. They offered an alternative lending library, and a mobile micro-education service. Soon the catalog was developed to explain and market tools and things that the truck could not display. Eventually, the mobile concept shop nestled into a fixed location in Menlo Park, CA and migrated toward a tool catalog, which they’d mail to people and have folks contact vendors directly about purchases instead of facilitating them off the truck.
The Whole Earth Catalog was a product catalog complete with editorial focused on product reviews, holism, and DIY culture. Think: Consumer Reports for counter culture, selling honest to goodness, good products for good people.
Editor Stewart Brand, named the project after a campaign he initiated to have NASA release the first satellite photo of the earth’s globe from space. Brand was a progressive who wanted people to see the image to conceptualize the entire magnitude of our planet. His hypothesis was that that might help align American industry with ecology and social justice. Lofty goals.
According to Fred Turner in From Counterculture to Cyberculture (2006) “In time the Catalog would become the single most visible publication in which the technological and intellectual output of industry and high science met the Eastern religion, acid mysticism, and communal social theory of the-back-to-the-land movement." Eventually the business and publishing took a tole on Brand and he decided not to go forward with the concept.
The final issue in 1972 had a slogan on the back cover that has rung in the ears of many: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” I encourage you all to follow suit with the same tenacity.