FAMILY SHARES BACKWOOD WAYS WITH WORLD
October 10, 2000 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH When David Duffy started Backwoods Home Magazine 10 years ago, he had no idea it would become a family affair.

Duffys wife Ilene and his 18-year-old daughter Annie work with him at the magazines Gold Beach office. Ilene manages the finances and Annie works in the editorial department.

The magazine focuses on living a self-reliant life. The November/December 2000 issue features Tale of a County Family and Make your own Insulated Water.

Were not advocating any particular life style. We advocate a philosophy of being totally dependent on yourself, Duffy said. We advocate bringing technology to the woods with you.

He added, Why give up your microwave or computer when its easy to make electrical systems for them?

Duffy emphasizes that not everyone has to make their own electrical system or can their own food.

We try to stay away from rigid philosophies. Everyone fits into self-reliance in a different way.

Most of the submissions are written by freelancers. Duffy has approximately 150 freelancers on file.

The only requirement we have for writers is that they have to have done what they are writing about, he said.

The magazine is published six times a year and has a paid circulation of 45,000. Most of the subscribers are in the United States, but there are a few in Germany, Brazil and other foreign countries.

Duffy receives 60,000 hits a month on his web site, where he offers the magazine for free. Offering it for free on the Internet will introduce people to the magazine and may draw them in to buying the hard copy because it is easier to read than the Internet version, he said.

Duffy is no stranger to publications. He was a freelance reporter for 10 years with various publications including the Boston Globe and the Ventura Star Free Press.

He had no formal journalism training until he joined the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The army sent him to a 10-week crash course in journalism. Although he signed up to go to Vietnam four times, he was never sent there.

He went to Europe instead, where he worked as a photo-journalist.

Duffy then worked for the U.S. Defense Department as a technical writer for 10 years, but he hated the job.

He decided to try and live a simpler life. He found two and a half acres near Ashland and set about building his own home even though he had no previous building experience.

He built his 1,000-square-foot home over a period of several years while still living in Ventura, Calif. He studied several home building books during the process.

I made a lot of mistakes, but a home is very forgiving, he said. If the beams are a little crooked, they still hold up the house.

After his home was completed, Duffy decided that he liked the simpler life of living in the country and wanted to teach other people how to live that life. Backwoods Home Magazine was born.

The name of the magazine came from the home he built, which is located in the backwoods of Ashland.

He put out his first issue in Ventura. He and Annie distributed the magazine up and down the streets of Ventura and Oxnard.

An employee of American Distribution Services in Illinois saw a copy of the magazine and called Duffy offering to distribute it. He has been with that company ever since.

Shortly after that first issue, Duffy decided to combine his previous reporting experience with the knowledge he gained building his own home and launch the magazine full-time.

He quit working in the defense industry and moved to Oregon, where he incorporated the magazine.

Duffy said he receives letters from many people who say they thought they were all alone in wanting to live a more self-reliant life.

He has 10 people on his staff and is proud to have his family working with him.

Behind every man is a good woman and that is particularly true in this case, he said of his wifes participation in the magazine.

Backwoods Home Magazine is on the Internet at http://www.backwoodshome.com and can also be reached at (541) 247-8900.