What was Project Survival?

On the cold winter night of January 23, 1970, the doors of Northwestern's Technological Institute opened to ten thousand people who were about to experience an all-night event called, "Project Survival: A Public Teach-Out on the Environmental Problems of Species Man." It proved to be no less than the nation's first large scale environmental movement event.

Event Poster

Project Survival was conceived, planned and organized in less then two months by a newly created student group, Northwestern Students for a Better Environment (NSBE). Composed primarily of science and engineering graduate students and a few undergrads, their goal was to build awareness of the environmental peril we were in, and to do this on a foundation of rigorous research. As Casey Jason, President of NSBE put it, "the anti-war protesters were important - they stopped the war. But we wanted to create something that you could build on."

The Project Survival organizing committee brought in nationally renowned environmental speakers: Paul Erlich, Barry Commoner and Victor Yannocone spoke about water and air pollution, radioactive fallout, overpopulation and the depletion of our national resources; political leaders spoke as well: Lt. Governor Paul Simon, Illinois Attorney General William Scott, and Adlai Stevenson III. The event took over the entire McCormick Institute of Technology building, beginning at 7 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. the next morning. The auditorium was standing room only with closed circuit TVs set up in lecture rooms throughout the building to accommodate the crowds.

Students came by the busload from campuses throughout the Midwest, along with environmental activists and interested Evanston residents.  People were everywhere: filling the halls, lobbies and classrooms. One of the organizers quipped, "We were a little too successful."

Nine thousand cups of coffee ...MORE

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