Green Line Magazine

GreenLine was a magazine that was published 10 times a year from March 1982 until the late 1990's. Its base for most of the period was in Oxford, key founders having been involved in OEM and PERG. Copies from 1982 to 1990 are available for download in the Doc.Library on this site.

Green Line started as a result of a motion passed at the Ecology Party autumn conference in 1981 which prohibited the National Council from publishing a magazine for members. It also instructed council to facilitate the creation of an independent green magazine instead. A group of eco members and others based in Oxford quickly rose to the challenge.

Jon Carpenter had been involved in the Oxford Ecology Movement (OEM) and was running a bookshop in Cowley Road called E.O.A. (East Oxford Advertiser). The Advertiser itself was an occasional local freesheet distributed door to door and financed by local advertising. EOA Books was a fairly standard alternative/radical bookshop of the type which flourished in most university towns in the 70's and 80's. At the back of EOA books was The Inner Bookshop run by Anthony Cheke, a key figure from OEM and PERG. The Inner Bookshop had a more spiritual bent.

Jon took the lead in setting up the magazine, doing the bulk of the editing and chasing copy. The fairly loose editorial group became known as The Green Line Collective - essentially consisting of anyone who turned up to help.

Once the magazine got establish a lot of copy was simply submitted unsolicited. Illustrations were cut out of all sorts of sources without asking permission - they tended to use overseas magazines which they received to take stuff from as there was less risk of anyone complaining. Some articles were simple reprints or extracts from other similar magazines - used with and without permission. The copy was prepared initially by physical cut and paste and use of Letraset. The print run came back as separate A3 sheets which had to be collated and folded manually. The assembly and preparation for distribution was done a Jon's shared house where he happened to have a big enough table.

The first issue was published in March 1982 with the masthead "A magazine of Ideas and Action from the Ecology Party and the Green Movement" and a cover price of 25p

The editorial in issue #1 set out the stall:

"This magazine has grown from a desire within the Ecology Party to see an independently edited and self—financed paper which would serve both the Eco Party and the wider green movement with which it is allied. 

We shall respond to your response. Initially Green Line's base — both inspirational and physical — is very much within the membership and following of the Eco Party, but with time we hope to achieve a wider foothold and to reflect the commitments, activity and thinking of a number of different groups.

We shall retain our grassroots page on.Ecology Party activity, and will extend this to include other groups where appropriate. At the same time we shall explore some of the problems which confront national organisations, and the ways in which they can develop in a manner true to ecological principles of devolution and decentralisation."

No editor name was given, a box gave an address in Alexandra Road, Oxford for "the Green Line editorial collective". Contributors included Brig Oubidge, Stephanie Leland, David Taylor, Angela Needham, Richard Hunt and Martin Collins.  

In the second issue it was announced that "over 900" copies had been sold of #1. The publisher box simply said "'Edited at 14 Alexandra Rd..."

Only a small proportion of the space (about 2 pages out of 12 or 16) was taken up with Ecology Party specific items - a round up of news from branches and items about elections - but evidently there was some concern as a callout box on the branch news page stated "Green Line tries to avoid too much detail on matters of mainly internal interest to the Ecology Party. ... New Readers please note Green Line is a movement paper, not a party organ."

For the fourth issue the masthead changed to "The Magazine of the Green Movement" and an editorial statement reads

"WE'VE DROPPED the words 'Ecology Party' from the cover for two reasons. First. it implied that Green Line's editorial stand was much narrower than it is, and we found many people reluctant even to look at the magazine for fear that it was just a party newsletter. Second, we don't want to imply that the Ecology Party — or any other group “'necessarily supports all or part of the contents of any issue. We hope everyone will be happier with the new masthead."

Tim Andrewes lived round the corner from EOA Books and remembers buying Green Line from the shop from early 84, and then in 87/88 he got involved in assembling the magazine and thus 'joined' the collective. There was no formal organisation as Tim remembers - essentially if you wanted to get involved you simply turned up to help and that is were decisions were discussed around the large dining table where the collation, folding, stapling, envelope stuffing took place.

Tim particularly remembers encounter a very vicious industrial stapler that was clamped to the end of the table and had quite a bite (this must have been in the late 80's as the early issues were not stapled).

In 1988 shortly after Tim joined, Jon Carpenter was getting a bit burnt out and Jerry took over the main editorial role. Jerry had a copy of Ventura Publisher (an early DTP application) and a computer (the first 'home computers' had only been available since the early 80s) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corel_Ventura) so started using it to prepare the copy. This was then exported as Postscript files which were taken over on floppy disk by bike to the Oxford Daily Info office (a daily listings sheet targeted at the student community) where it was printed, the images photocopied enlarged or reduced to the right size. the printout of the text checked at which stage any error would involved a trip back to GL Central to fire up the PC make the correction and pedal the new verison back. For any colour used on the front/back cover colour separation prints would have to be produced which involved a lot of fiddling and trial and error to get right.

By the late 80s subscriber numbers had crept up to 2000 which together with occasional ads and paid-for inserts brought in just enough to pay the print and postage bills - the labour was all volunteer effort. A continuing issue often reflected on the editorial pages was to get people taking bulk orders, typically small alternative retailers, bookshops and the like, to pay their bills.

Envelope stuffing sessions once the magazine was back from the printers was the opportunity for collective editorial discussions; there were no formal editorial meetings. Jerry had taken over the main editorial effort, largely because he had the computer and Ventura Publisher software and knew how to work it. Tim's shared house in Bridge St. was used for distribution. After the 1989 election Jerry stepped back and the magazine had a six month break in publication. There was still a lot of mail and unsolicited articles coming in and eventually the group reformed and Tim's house became the Green Line base and Tim learnt to drive Ventura himself.

Tim then took the informal lead editorial role until he left Oxford in Dec 1992 and Paul Ingram took over the lead function. By the mid 90's production had moved to a Cooperative in Lostwithiel, Cornwall and issues became a little sporadic. The last issue we have been able to track down was no 149 in Nov '98 published by "The Catalyst Collective" in Lostwithiel.

All copies of the magazine from issue 1 up until 1990 are being scanned and are becoming available in the Doc.Library. The back issues make fascinating reading - many articles are as relevant and topical today as when they were first published. Since it aimed to be "the magazine of the green movement" its Network News section provides something of a picture of what was happening in the wider movement - albeit filtered by the availability of reports and the interests of the editorial collective.  

 

Sources:
  • Green line editorials
  • notes from conversation with Tim Andrewes Dec'17
  • emails with other participants

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