Amy Martin launched Moonlady News in the 1990s to spread wholistic green community news in North Texas.
New endeavors on her horizon include becoming a contributor to Green Source DFW.
Photo courtesy of Marla McDonald
Dec. 17, 2013
By Rita Cook
Moonlady News has been a green resource in the Metroplex for nearly 20 years, but come next week, Amy Martin, the founder of the alternative news site, will retire -- fittingly on the winter solstice.
Martin says she is closing the publication, which bills itself as a “little piece of Austin or Portland in North Texas,” because she Peter Principled herself into a role that didn’t fit.
“I'd taken the leap from YahooGroups to my own custom system at my website two years ago because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. People had encouraged me to make the most of my ‘brand,’ to ‘monetize’ my operations and ‘take it to the next level.’ In journalism, reporters become editors then become publishers. It seemed like a natural progression.”
Her job became exceedingly clerical, with lots of bookkeeping and she was unhappy.
“I was far from the writer I'd always seen myself as being,” she says. “I wasn't even a community organizer anymore. I was a copywriter, an ad salesperson.”
So one day she realized she needed to get back to her “bliss.”
While Martin plans to dig back into arts and entertainment writing, look for her byline on GreenSourceDFW.org as well.
A longtime eco-activist, Martin’s green writing chops were honed in the 1980s when she got involved in the pilot program for recycling in Dallas.
After prodding the Dallas Morning News to cover their recycling efforts, she ended up writing the story herself. A regular gig writing a recycling column called “Talking Trash” evolved.
It was at that time she also met the editor of Garbage magazine, Bill Breen and began writing a Q&A recycling column called “Ask Garbage.”
“I was the Dear Abby of Trash,” Martin joked.
From there she took on stories like features on environmental schools, but she says her favorite was a petrochemical primer series.
“I immersed myself in organic chemistry and learned all about refining petroleum,” she says. “Oil cracking towers, absolute hell on Earth. I became an expert on plastics and petrochemicals. Especially petrochemicals and how pervasive they are in our lives. You never wanted to eat with me; I'd tell you what was really in your food. I was grossing out my hairdressers with how their products were made. It was fun.”
One of Martin's cover stories, 1991.
Another important issue that Martin says she tapped into was when she was just 16 years old and covering the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant construction west of Fort Worth for a local organic gardening magazine.
“I educated people about nuclear fuel was created and disposed of, and how the power was created from nuclear fission. I won a statewide environmental award for that.”
Since that time Martin says the DFW area has definitely changed in regard to green issues, she says it has, in fact, “mainstreamed.”
“It was practically communist in the '70s, most non-eco were hostile about it,” she remembers. “I was actually a bit scared of covering it and used pen names on occasion. The eco opportunities for kids are amazing now. We had sterile parks with swingsets, not preserves with hiking trails and naturalist classes like we do now. There was absolutely no awareness of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Texoma or the National Grasslands near Decator and Bonham.”
Amy Martin, 1996. Courtesy of Scooter Smith.
However, Martin says while she sees progress, the city has not made much progress on alternative energy. She does believe that air and water pollution has much improved though, due to groups like Downwinders at Risk and Sierra Club.
“Industry used to scoff, but now no one likes being opposed by these folks; it means a serious and protracted fight in the courtroom and the media.”
Martin also still believes that open space programs need more support, but perhaps that’s something for her own next article that she will invariably be writing as she says while she is retiring from Moonlady News she is not retiring as a freelance writer.
“I've got the freelance shingle out and am ready for business.”
Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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