I recently wrote about the alternative magazine Sherrack but was not the only countercultural publication with connections to the Totnes area. Guy Dauncey (one of the Sherrack team also edited another countercultural journal called Interchange which was dedicated to the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, one of the thinkers who inspired the 1970s holistic / new age movement. Dauncey also wrote a periodic book review newsletter for Arcturus bookshop. Following the closure of Sherrack it wasn’t long until another community publication emerged in the Totnes area, The Dart.
The Dart was launched in April 1981 it was the second attempt at a community magazine in the area, although geographically it covered a wider area that encompassed the watershed of the river Dart spreading from Dartmouth up to Princetown on the moor. It was the intention of the founders that this should reflect the ‘bio-region’ of the River Dart, connecting up the various communities along the river valleys.
Like other institutions of the alternative society, community newspapers were premised on a perceived ‘failure’ of mainstream society, in this case the coverage of the mainstream, commercial media. As a review of the first issue notes of The Dart
It was put together by a small group of people concerned that established papers in the area are not fulfilling their role of providing a proper range of information about local issues.
The Dart was published bi-monthly for twenty years until 2001. Like Sherrack it also carried adverts for some of the ‘countercultural’ businesses and in its earlier years it played a similar role in promoting local groups and issues. For example, the Totnes Women’s Centre and later TILT, the local investment fund that was created at the end of the 1980s . Perhaps not surprisingly members of the editorial group were involved in both these organisations and so The Dart proved a useful awareness raising tool. It also campaigned on wider issues, as reflected in this summary from the 20th anniversary edition:
Over the years it consistently argued for rural regeneration and support for local enterprise with an awareness for the environment, long before it was fashionable…acting as a communication channel from Princetown to Dartmouth for anyone with different ideas.
Like Sherrack there was also a local campaigning edge to the publication, in the case of The Dart this was primarily expressed through a close interest in the policies and practices of the Dartmoor National Park. Indeed in later years the geographic focus of the magazine shifted away from Totnes to the higher reaches of the river Dart, partly due to the geographic location of the people involved.