EcoNews in the ’80s: Who Needs Computers?

Do you have memories of the early NEC that you’d like to share? Photos, recollections, poems or lessons learned from campaigns? Did the NEC launch you into a life of environmental activism? We want to know what the Northcoast Environmental Center has meant to you over the years, whether you were involved right at the beginning or anywhere else within this last half-century of advocacy. Please send your submissions/article ideas to


It was back in the ‘80’s.  I had just moved to Humboldt from the Bay Area and was trying to connect with the environmental community. 

Connie Stewart, Wesley Chesbro and Tim McKay on April 9, 1999 at the NEC anniversary event at the Arcata Community Center. Photo by Mark Larson

At that time, the NEC was located in a storefront in downtown Arcata.  Tim McKay  was in charge; Sid Dominitz ran EcoNews; Connie Stewart was the secretary; and Andy Alm was just getting into that mysterious futuristic realm called the Internet.  The office was crowded, busy, crammed with papers, and filled with people working on various projects.

At first I worked on layout.  Computers had just become available to the general public, but Windows had not yet been invented:  Everything was done through DOS using text commands.   You really had to know what you were doing.  

Sid didn’t bother with computers, using a typewriter for everything.  Typed text was literally pasted up on whiteboards.  Graphics were clipped out of other publications.  To get the size right, you had to carry the printed material to the Co-op, and use their coin-operated copy machines.  

Sid Dominitz with Connie Stewart, Aug. 13, 2006 at Tim McKay’s memorial at HSU Kate Buchanan Room. Photo by Mark Larson

I appreciated the humor, dedication, and hard work of all the folks there, although some, such as Sid, took a little getting used to.  He had a tough New York sense of humor, but since I was also an ex- New Yorker,  it seemed refreshing. I remember him complaining that California hot dogs all tasted as though they had been faxed.  

When they learned that I could write, they gave me a monthly column to create each month, dealing with toxics.  Andy took me in hand, showing me how to use the computer to locate various sites that had valuable information, and also gave me software to help me get there.  (Remember, this was way before Google.)   Connections between computers were made by telephone, and you had to know exactly where you were going.   


Eventually, I moved on to other venues, but still have stacks of old EcoNews issues buried somewhere in the back of a closet.  

submitted by Elaine Weinreb, former EcoNews contributor

Cartoon: Sid Dominitz and Tim McKay playing poker in heaven. Cartoonist Terry Torgeson. Photographed 2015 but uncertain as to when created = likely for Sid’s memorial and used in the Econews.