|By Tyra and James Arraj.
154pp, large format, 7 3/4" x 11", double columns, paper, $17.95. Printed copies are available. Copyright 1987 Tyra Arraj and
James Arraj. ISBN: 0-914073-11-7 (Also includes The Treasures of Simple
Living (1987) and Radical Simplicity and the Fourth Step
A note to this edition: We published The Treasures of Simple Living in 1987, and have left it much as it first appeared. Radical Simplicity and the Fourth Step updates that story, but more importantly, tries to describe and distill how living in the forest changed the way we saw the world we had grown up in, and convinced us a better way of living was possible. Jim and Tyra, the forest, Summer 2004
Is the world of the fourth step possible? The skills and tools that are necessary have been appearing all around us, as well as the vision to see what to do with them. Here are some starting points for your reflections and adventures. Even good books go out of print, so if you cant find some of the titles below, try your librarys interlibrary loan system.Table of Contents
For a good collection of links on food, water, shelter etc., see Eco-Living: eco-living.net/resourcedb/resourcedb.html
For another overview of resources in the field of simple and sustainable living go to The Simple Living Network: www.simpleliving.net/default.asp
For annotated resources on voluntary simplicity try The Simplicity Resource Guide: www.gallagherpress.com/pierce/index.htm
Many ideas and tools developed with the third world in mind can fit right into our lives. For an 800-page cornucopia of small-scale technology, sources of plans and publications read The Complete Appropriate Technology Sourcebook by Ken Darrow and Mike Saxenian: www.villageearth.org/pages/AT_Library/atsourcebook/index.htm
The Whole Earth Catalogs, the first of which appeared in 1968, were a treasure trove of information, and are still worth looking at. They have continued in the form of the Whole Earth Magazine: www.wholeearthmag.com Mother Earth News: www.motherearthnews.com/ was another rich source of information. See also BackHome magazine: www.backhomemagazine.com/
The State of the World
Small Is Beautiful. Economics as if People Mattered. 25 years later with commentaries, E.F. Schumacher. (1999) Hartley & Marks: www.schumacher.org.uk/homepage.htm and The Limits to Growth. A Report for the Club of Romes Project on the Predicament of Mankind. (1972) www.clubofrome.org/ helped change the way we look at economics, and the limits of the earth. How is the world doing today? Check out The World Watch Institute: www.worldwatch.org/
The Ultimate Resource. Julian L. Simon. (1981) Princeton University Press, and more recently, Bjørn Lomborg. The Skeptical Environmentalist, Measuring the Real State of the World. (2001) Cambridge: www.lomborg.com/ take a contrary view. What can this clash of views teach us? First, dont bet against the ingenuity and resourcefulness of people, especially when they are free to act, and are aided by science and technology, and secondly, environmental organizations need to be sure that they are using the best statistics available. Lets hope the world is actually doing better than is sometimes made out, but the problems we face are still daunting.
Whole shelves of good books are appearing that give us accounts of what our current economic system does to people and the environment. The older Journey to Nowhere. The Saga of the New Underclass. Dale Maharidge, photography by Michael Williamson. (1985) Doubleday describes when the Midwest steel mills shut down and normal working folk were forced to go on the road looking for a new beginning, while the more recent Earth Odyssey, Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future. Mark Hertsgaard. (1998) Broadway Books graphically portrays ongoing environmental degradation in places like China. For the story of the Ford Explorer and Firestone tire fiasco: Tragic Indifference. Adam Penenberg. (2003). How consumed are we by consumerism? Affluenza. John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Nayler. (2001). And for a searing view of our modern workplace: The Working Poor: Invisible in America. David K. Shipler. (2004)
There are plenty of books on building everything from domes to log cabins and cardboard houses. Here are some of our favorites, first from the 1987 edition of this resource guide, and then from the more recent natural building movement. Heres the book that we had with us when we went hunting for land: Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country. Carol Scher and Les Scher. (2000) Dearborn Trade Publishing. It describes looking for land, checking it out, contracts, etc.
Beautiful and efficient housing is in our reach if only we can turn our minds around, and this is a harder job than we realize. Read Architecture for the Poor. Hassan Fathy. (1973) The University of Chicago Press. Fathy, an Egyptian architect, struggled to convince both the government and the poor to accept his elegant, low-cost housing.
Are you thinking about designing and building your own home? From the Ground Up. John N. Cole and Charles Wing. (1976) Little, Brown & Co. and Your Engineered House. Rex Roberts. (1964) M. Evans & Co. will explain the basics. Make that home a passive solar one: Natural Solar Architecture. A Passive Primer. David Wright (1978) Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. and Homegrown Sundwellings. Peter Van Dresser. (1977) The Lightning Tree. Put that home on your own homestead. Let Ken Kerns books show you how: The Owner-Built Home (1972) and The Owner-Built Homestead (1974).
Pole House Notes
Pole buildings, that is, buildings where poles are set in or on the ground to form the supports to hold up the roof, while the walls are filled in with various materials, were a novelty to us, but are probably one of the oldest forms of building. We went from our first pole house using materials straight from the lumber yard, to experimenting with natural materials.
1. Pole treatment is a problem, caught between powerful but poisonous chemicals that might seep into your environment, and various coatings that give less protection. One solution, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, is double diffusion. Green poles are soaked first in a solution of sodium fluoride, and then in one of copper sulfate. The two chemicals diffuse through the wood and combine so that they supposedly cannot leach out. For details see Low-Cost Pole Building Construction (below).
2. Green tree trunks are heavy! If you are working in rocky ground its exhausting to contemplate hoisting the pole in and out of the hole because it has ended up a few inches out of line. One solution is that instead of building a genuine pole building where the poles reach to the roof, you make a pier platform where short poles carry the floor beams and the floor becomes the platform on which the rest of the building is erected. You trade a certain amount of strength for ease in building. The childrens rooms were built as pier platforms, but remember the story of the collapse of Lizs cabin.
3. Building non-bearing walls in a pole building allows the possibility of certain innovations. One is double-framing the wall so that, in essence, there are two separate walls descending from the two main beams that have been connected to your poles. There are no studs going right through the wall, and so inside the wall is solid insulation and, therefore, a warmer wall. The drawback is that if creatures find a way into your wall they can run the whole length of it. Or better yet, fill in between the poles with strawbales or cob.
4. Shutters. One of the greatest heat-saving ideas is also the simplest. Make interior or exterior shutters for all your windows. A daily ritual that we hardly notice any more is to open the shutters in the morning and close them at night. There are dozens of kinds of shutters, whole books about them, in fact. Thermal Shutters and Shades. William A Shurcliff. (1980) Brick House Pub. Co.
5. If you use a natural wood interior like the knotty pine we put in the first house, consider just leaving it be and not using any finish coat over it. Over the years it mellows nicely.
Information on building pole houses. For the basics of pole buildings: The Owner-Built Pole Frame House. Ken Kern and Low-Cost Pole Building Construction. D. Merrilees and E. Loveday. Unfortunately, the later edition with Ralph Wolfe has dropped the information on double diffusion pole treatment which this earlier one has.
For more technical information on wood preservation try the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Products Laboratory, One Gifford Pinchot Drive, Madison, WI 53726-2398, 608-231-9200 http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr113/ch14.pdf
Building a house and up against the code? Read The Owner-Builder and The Code. Ken Kern, Ted Kogon and Rob Thallon. (1976) For a contemporary look at code issues, go to The Development Center for Appropriate Technology: www.dcat.net/about_dcat/current/codes.php
For pole house resources see http://www.helicadesign.com/news/pole-house-design.html
One of the most exciting developments in recent years has been the natural building movement that pays more attention to the ecological impact of our houses, both in terms of our health and that of the earth, itself.
For an overview of available resources go to Dirt Cheap Building at www.dirtcheapbuilder.com/
On cob building, that is, buildings sculpted out of cobs or lumps of earth, see the pioneering work of Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley of the Cob Cottage Company at www.cobcottage.com/ Box 123, Cottage Grove, OR 97424, Phone or FAX (541) 942-2005. They give workshops on all aspects of cob building, as does Michael Smith of the Emerald Earth community, http://www.emeraldearth.org/welcome.htm Emerald Earth Workshops, P.O. Box 764, Boonville, CA 95415 phone: 707-895-3302 email: email@example.com See information about the video we did with the Cob Cottage Company, Building with the Earth, at www.innerexplorations.com/catsimple/b.htm
For strawbale building, see the resources offered by Strawbale Central at www.strawbalecentral.com/ and visit the periodical of the strawbale movement, The Last Straw at www.thelaststraw.org/ For strawbale house designs: www.balewatch.com/ For more strawbale links go to: mha-net.org/html/sblinks.htm
In an important development the natural building movement is reaching out to partner with people in other parts of the world. Builders Without Borders at www.builderswithoutborders.org/ and for a multi-media report on its founding meeting go to www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/builders.htm The Canelo Project www.caneloproject.com reaches to people in Mexico. For an overview of this aspect of natural building read Building Without Borders, Sustainable Construction for the Global Village, edited by Joseph Kennedy. New Society Publishers. Robert Bolman gives presentations on the connection between social justice and natural building. See www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/nb3.htm See, also, Joe Kennedy's work on an AIDS orphan village in South Africa at www.nextaid.org
Here is a sampler of fascinating books on natural building. For a good overview try The Art of Natural Building. Joseph Kennedy, Michael G. Smith and Catherine Wanek. For cob: The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage. Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley, and The Cobbers Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home. Michael Smith, and the Cob Cottage Company. For strawbale try The New Strawbale Home. Catherine Wanek. (2003) and The Straw Bale House. Athena Swentzell Steen, Bill Steen, David Bainbridge with David Eissenberg. (1994) For fascinating home-made buildings: Built by Hand: Vernacular Buildings Around the World. Athena Steen, Bill Steen, Eiko Komatsu with photographs by Yoshio Komatsu. For traditional earth building: The Spectacular Vernacular-The Adobe Tradition. Jean-Louis Bourgeois, with photographs by Carolee Pelas.
Build houses out of bags and tubes filled with earth. See the story of Nader Kahlili and his firing of a whole clay building in Racing Alone, and his work at the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture at www.calearth.org/ Or try a massive passive solar earthship made of tires filled with rammed earth: www.earthship.org/
On natural building and earth-sheltered designs see the work of Charles Woods, architect and philosopher: A Natural System of House Design. McGraw-Hill, and Designing Your Natural House. Charles Woods with Malcolm Wells and David Wright. John Wiley.
For more about our sunroom: www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/sunroom.htm The beams for it were made with a simple chainsaw attachment: www.haddontools.com/lumbermaker.html For more on our greenhouse/guest see www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/green1.htm
When we came to the forest we made pools lined with PVC plastic, used plywood and particle board, treated wood poles, and other materials without thinking about the potential health hazards they might pose. Now we wonder, did the plywood have formaldehyde in it, or were the poles treated with chromated copper arsenate which exists in many pieces of playground equipment, or is the PVC leaching dangerous chemicals into the pond water? I suppose back then we imagined that the manufacturers had done that kind of worrying for us. Guess what? They didnt. How to determine what is in the buildings we live in, and just how toxic these things are, and what we can do about it, is not an easy job. Whether it is the food we eat, or the clothes we wear, or the building materials we use, we need to ask about their impact on the environment and our health. Read John Bower, Healthy House Building (1997) www.hhinst.com and see www.healthybuilding.net/ William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things. (2002) North Point Press describe the toxic nature of everyday things, and also how things need not be made this way. mbdc.com For more on healthy building: Building for Health Materials, www.buildingforhealth.com
Water and Waste
Composting human waste? The idea takes some getting used to, but it makes a lot more sense than putting the waste in potable water and pretending it doesnt exist anymore. Read Joseph Jenkins, The Humanure Handbook www.jenkinsslate.com/store_books.html#hh, and about how to make an inexpensive sawdust toilet: www.jenkinspublishing.com/sawdustoilet.html Go also to the world of composting toilets: www.compostingtoilet.org/ Why waste household water after you have used it once? For understanding grey water recycling and more, try: www.oasisdesign.net/ For a small manual washing machine that actually works: Wonder Clean from Lehmans Catalog of Non-Electric Appliances: www.lehmans.com/ For information on EPDM rubble and polyethylene pond liners and drip irrigation: dripworksusa.com/
More Water for Arid Lands, No. PB 239 472, (1974), U.S. Dept. of Commerce was a special favorite depicting both ancient and modern ways to conserve water. Its a springboard for innovative ideas like turning mountain sides into catchment systems. We have taken to using bubblepack foil-faced insulation not only for shutters, but making the shutters do double duty in the summer as floating pool covers to retard evaporation: www.reflectixinc.com/
Our original solar system consisted of one Arco Solar Electric Module, M-75, with a peak output of 47 watts, 2.94 amps, a deep-cycle battery, and a Heart Interface 300-watt inverter for converting 12-volt DC to 120-volt AC house current. Presently we have four solar panels, four golf cart batteries, and still use our original Heart inverter.
A good case can be made for needing full spectrum sunlight for optimum health. See Health and Light. John N. Ott. (1973) Pocket Books. We eventually went from double mantle propane lights and DC flourescents to AC low energy flourescents, and recently to full spectrum AC low energy flourescents: www.fullspectrumsolutions.com For our backup electrical needs and shop tools we replaced our old Sears generator with a state-of-the-art Honda EU2000 that was expensive, but is quiet, starts easily, and is fuel efficient, and also puts out genuine sine-wave AC current.
A good all-round source for information on solar and other small-scale renewable forms of energy is Home Power Magazine, www.homepower.com/, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 USA 800-707-6585 or 541-512- 0201
For renewable energy supplies: Real Goods, 13771 S. Highway 101, Hopland CA 95449, 707-744-2017, www.realgoods.com/ and Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, 1395 Rolling Thunder Ridge, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864. Phone: 208-263-4290. www.backwoodssolar.com/
Meet the Master of Pyromania! For the excitement of rocket stoves that roar with their self-created draft, and Rumford fireplaces that actually warm us, see the work of Ianto Evans of the Cob Cottage Company: www.cobcottage.com/cob-workshop.html#Pyromania and read Rocket Stoves to Heat Cob Buildings by Ianto Evans with Leslie Jackson. 2004. For more information write firstname.lastname@example.org For new book on rocket stoves called Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson go to http://rocketstoves.com/
Ole Wik wrote Wood Stoves. How to Make and Use Them. (1977) Alaska Northwest Publishing Company. Wik, living out back in Alaska, tells us the basics of stove making and gives us a breath of good spirit at the same time.
Tired of splitting wood with a maul and dont want a
splitter that uses fossil fuels? Take a look at a manual splitting machine that requires a
number of whacks but saves your back:
Earth-Sheltered Buildings and Greenhouses
Make your own earth-sheltered home, greenhouse or bioshelter. Earth Sheltered Housing Design. The Underground Space Center, University of Minnesota. (1979) Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. provides design fundamentals and a collection of actual earth-sheltered buildings for different climates. Take a look at David Wrights Sundown House in California elegant lines and efficient heating. If its a bioshelter youre after, its well worth learning about the pioneering work of The New Alchemy Institute, by way of The Green Center at http://www.vsb.cape.com/~nature/greencenter/
Earth-sheltered building by the owner-builder faces its own special challenges.
1. Leaks. If they are built into a south-facing slope, then water drains towards the building, so it is difficult to prevent leaks.
2. The hillside above the house also presses on the building, trying to push it down the slope.
3. Many owner-builders prefer to work with wood, but most designs are for concrete or reinforced cinder block. Think twice before putting a lot of earth on your roof.
For a funny and informative account of wood earth-sheltered buildings that can help you deal with these problems get The $50 & Up Underground House Book. How to Design and Build Underground. Mike Oehler. Mole Publishing Co., Route 4, Box 618 , Bonners Ferry, ID 83805. 208-267-7349. www.undergroundhousing.com/ Mike has made inexpensive dwellings out of wood, cutting into the north slope above the house to form the entrance, and an atrium to avoid drainage and pressure problems. See our interview with Mike at www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/mike.htm
See also the work of Charles Woods. The Complete Earth-Sheltered House: passive solar, low maintenance, low cost, modular design, and Natural Architecture: 40 earth sheltered house designs.
Solar greenhouses should be a part of all our homes. From among our earlier favorites here are some excellent books that cover the subject in depth: The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse. Bill Yanda and Rick Fisher. (1976) Muir Publications. The Solar Greenhouse Book. James McCulloch. Rodale Press. The Beautiful Solar Greenhouse. A Guide to Year-Round Food Production. Shane Smith. (1982) Muir Publications. More recently: Solviva How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre & Peace On Earth. Anna Edey.
For individual greenhouse experiences see The Survival Greenhouse. An Eco-System Approach to Home Food Production. James DeKorne. (1975) The Walden Foundation, and Building and Using Our Sun-Heated Greenhouse. Helen & Scott Nearing. (1979) Social Science Institute. Every town should have its community greenhouse, as well. A good example is the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens: www.botanic.org/More_Details.asp.
For information on water, resources, sanitation, food processing, etc., see Village Technology Handbook. (1978) A Vita Publication. www.vita.org/publications/refpub/vth.htm
For a genuine underwater stove made of marine grade aluminum, and ideal for hot tubs: Snorkle Stove Co. www.snorkel.com/stoves.html
Gardening can become an adventure in drawing closer to nature and a more balanced way to live. We can grow the plants suited to our area and emphasize perennial ones so we create a sustainable food-giving environment, or permaculture. For more information try The Permaculture Activist Magazine, PO Box 5516, Bloomington, IN 47408, www.permacultureactivist.net/ Another source for information on sustainable agriculture is The Land Institute, 2440 E. Water Well Road, Salina, KS 67401, www.landinstitute.org/For intensive organic gardening go to Ecology Action, www.growbiointensive.org/ and read John Jeavons How To Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries and Other Crops than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine. Ten Speed Press. For more on Jeavons: www.motherearthnews.com/menarch/archive/issues/121/121-045-01.htm
One of our favorite trail blazers is Masanobu Fukuoka who developed a Buddhist-inspired farming of nothingness, and wrote The One-Straw Revolution. An Introduction to Natural Farming. Rodale. Eventually he could scatter straw, throw his rice seed on the ground and get a harvest at least equal to his more conventional neighbors. See: www.fukuokafarmingol.net/fover.html Fukuoka encased his seeds in balls of earth before he cast them about. See www.seedballs.com/
The world of plants is waiting for still more explorers. Countless foods and healing substances are either unknown or underutilized. Grow something different and exciting. Breed a better Jerusalem artichoke, or if you live at a high altitude, look into quinoa, the South American grain which is a cousin to our lambs-quarter. For more gardening excitement read Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value. (1975) National Academy of Sciences. Anybody for a mangosteen or a cocoyam?
For the full story of The Childrens Forest see www.innerexplorations.com/forest.htm
On the sad state of our forests read: Derrick Jensen and George Draffan, Strangely Like War, The Global Assault on Forests. (2003) Chelsea Green, and The Legacy of Luna, The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods. Julia Butterfly Hill. (2000) HarperSanFrancisco circleoflifefoundation.org/home.htm For information on restorative forestry and herbs go to Friends of the Trees: www.friendsofthetrees.net/index.htm
Travel Break 1
You dont have to be a large organization with plenty of money to do important work on world hunger. One of the most interesting experiments we visited was run by Paul and Francisca Jackson in Colonet, Baja California Norte, Mexico. At an age when most people are thinking about retirement Paul and Frances found themselves standing in a field studded with brush which the local farmers had given up on. They were wondering whether they could make a life-long dream come true, and make it come true with very little money. Paul knew there were countless little-known and underutilized plants that could be grown in poor rural areas all over the world and cultivated in such a way that the local people could do it themselves.
They transformed those few acres of sandy ground into a thriving homestead with a house built with local rocks and a giant garden of conventional and exotic plants. It included 35 different kinds of food-bearing trees: cherimoya, white sapote, capulin cherry, loquat, leucania, and many others. Among the vegetables were wing beans and Tahitian squash. We spent some wonderful days with them eating Franciscas delicious Mexican meals and sampling Pauls experiments. The Tahitian squash was the best squash we had ever eaten. Its a vigorous and productive plant that can yield over 300 pounds per vine of firm-textured, sweet-tasting, long-keeping golden orange squash. We have tried it here but it doesnt seem to fruit at our latitude. One morning for breakfast Paul served Washi pancakes Washi being an Indian name for the Leucania tree, from whose seed he added to the pancakes. They probably would have been fine, but the children were dubious because they turned out greenish-blue! Paul, gardening to the end, died in 2001. For a video with Paul Jackson go to Good and Wild.
Basic Books on Healthy Eating
Some of our old-time favorites: Diet for a Small Planet. Frances Moore Lappé. (1971) Ballantine Book put foods together for protein complementarity. Laurels Kitchen. Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Bronwen Godfrey. (1981) Bantam Books, brings you along on the adventure of breaking old food habits and discovering the fun and fulfillment of a natural, basic diet. The Tassajara Bread Book (1970) and Tassajara Cooking (1973) Shambhala, both by Edward Espe Brown, approach cooking in a more creative way. He gives the general outline and leaves some of the specific ingredients to the imagination of the cook. Future Food. Politics, Philosophy and Recipes for the 21st Century. Colin Tudge. (1980) Harmony Books is a refreshing down-to-earth view of many aspects of food without hyperbole.
Once again, changing our attitudes is the biggest battle in creating a saner and simpler life. There is enough to eat for everyone in this world if we could only get it together. For the real causes of world hunger read Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity. Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins. (1977) Ballantine Books. Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, 398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618 USA, 510-654-4400 www.foodfirst.org/
What happens to our tax money that goes for foreign aid? Read Lords of Poverty, The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business. Graham Hancock. (1989) The Atlantic Monthly Press.
Why do companies like Monsanto think that they have the right to make the world eat genetically modified foods whether it wants to or not? Read Seeds of Deception, Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods Youre Eating. Jeffery Smith. (2003) Yes! Books, www.seedsofdeception.com/
For an excellent source on food issues like mad cow disease and bovine growth hormone see http://www.organicconsumers.org/
For a graphic picture of our industrialized food production systems: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Eric Scholosser, and The World Is Not For Sale, Farmers Against Junk Food. Jose Bové.
Frances Moore Lappé and her daughter, Anna, traveled around the world 30 years after Diet for a Small Planet, visiting creative examples of how to deal with our quest for self-sufficiency: Hopes Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé. (2002) Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. Among the places they visited: Landless Workers Movement. Poor Brazilians take over unused land, and in the process transform their lives. www.mstbrazil.org; Grameen Bank, pioneering tiny loans for the poor, www.grameen-info.org/; Green Belt Movement. Kenyan women plant trees, and change their world inside and out, http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/; sustainable agriculture in India, www.vshiva.net.
Soyfoods: Tofu and Tempeh
The Farm, www.thefarm.org/index.html, one of the better known earlier intentional communities, publishes books on tofu and tempeh, and Plenty, plenty.org/ has had a long-running program introducing soybeans in the highlands of Guatemala and elsewhere.
William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi Shurtleff have played an important role in introducing soyfoods to America. Among their many books are The Book of Tofu: Food for Mankind and The Book of Tempeh: A Super Soyfood from Indonesia. They are concerned not only with soyfoods, but with world hunger, meatless diets and commercial soyfood production: www.thesoydailyclub.com/SFC/catalog.asp For a source of tempeh, natto and other cultures try Gem Cultures: www.gemcultures.com/
We grind our wheat and process our soybeans and do other kitchen chores with a Vita-Mix blender, www.vitamix.com/household/ It is a durable machine, but expensive. We bought ours second-hand.
Check out Mohammed Bah Abbas food cooler made from two clay pots inside each other: http://www.rolexawards.com/laureates/laureate-6-bah_abba.html And build a Solar Oven: solarcooking.org/
For more on our earthen oven go to: www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/oven.htm Build your own oven out of cob: Kiko Denzers Build Your Own Earth Oven, Hand Print Press, PO Box 576, Blodgett, OR, 97326, 541-438-4300 For more on Kiko go to www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/nb3.htm For interesting information on masonry ovens: www.mha-net.org/msb/html/bakeoven.htm Learn more about the artisan bread baking movement reviving and expanding the tradition of great bread: Bread Alone. Daniel Leader and The Bread Bakers Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. Peter Rhinehart, Ten Speed Press, and www.bbga.org/
Lets add some wildness to our diet! Stalking the Wild Asparagus (1962) and Stalking the Healthful Herbs (1973) are both by Euell Gibbons, David McKay Co. Also Feasting Free on Wild Edibles. Bradford Angier. (1966),Stackpole Books. For a thorough book about the West see Wild Edible Plants of the Western United States. Donald R. Kirk. (1970) Naturegraph Publishers.
Winter, Travel and Wild Places
It would be nice if we could develop alternative means of transportation and get away from our dependence on gas-hungry vehicles. A surprising amount of work has been done on pedal-powered vehicles and machines, as well as bicycles powered by small gas and electric motors: International Human Powered Vehicle Association, www.ihpva.org/ When it all finally comes together perhaps we will have a light-weight durable vehicle that can go by either human power or a tiny motor, as well as totally rethought cars: www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid386.php
If you have hesitations about taking your television out of the center of your familys life, read The Plug-In Drug: Television, Children and the Family. Marie Winn. (1977) The Viking Press, and they will be gone. We take it for granted that everyone has one, two, or even three in their homes, and we have come to believe we deserve relaxation in front of the television after a long and tiring day. But this book, as well as The Disappearance of Childhood. Neil Postman. (1982) Delacorte, Growing Up on Television: The TV Effect. Kate Moode. (1980) Times Books, and Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Jerry Mander. (1978) Quill will help change your mind. We love movies, but have trouble finding good ones. We often break up a good movie into two or three sections, and enjoy it as much, or more, than watching it all at once.
When we started doing home school with our children in 1976 there were only a scattering of home schoolers, and we didnt even know if there was a home schooling movement. Now one estimate puts the number of home schoolers at more than 1,000,000. John Holt was a sensitive teacher in the regular school system, but what he saw there provoked him to write How Children Fail (1964) Delta Books, as well as other books pointing out faults in the school system, and helped eventually created Growing without Schooling magazine, all of which helped inspire the home school movement. www.holtgws.com/.
Travel Break 2
Edisons Village. When the Klamath Indians sold their reservation, Edison Chiloquin refused his share of the money. Instead, he asked for one of the traditional village sites of his people. The answer was no. He lit a sacred fire on the land and tended it summer and winter for years as a symbol of his hope for the land and the age-old ways of his people. Finally, through an act of Congress, he received a 200 acre site in trust for the tribe. There he tried to recreate the traditions of his people and held periodic gatherings open to everyone. Edison died in 2002.
In the years just before World War II Thor and Liv Heyerdahl, tired and discouraged by what the world offered them, poured over maps to find an island paradise they could escape to. Finally, they settled on Fatu Hiva, a remote island in the Marquesas group in the South Pacific. In Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature. Thor Heyerdahl. (1975) Doubleday & Co., Thor tells the story of their trip to the island, the many adventures they had there, and the lessons they learned. They saw nature both friendly and life threatening. Part of their stay was idyllic, living off the land and experiencing natures bounty. But at other times they suffered from mosquitoes and ulcers on their legs, and feared the diseases that were ravaging the native Polynesians. Finally, they decided to return home, but they considered their adventure a success. There was no way back to the past, not even in remote Fatu-Hiva. Men had changed the earth too much, but in going and attempting their back-to-nature experiment they could see the modern world as if from the outside. Even though they were going back they decided "we did not want to be a single step farther from nature than life in our part of the world made necessary." They had met an old Frenchman on another island who symbolized the answer they found, which was a balance between nature and culture. "That happy old man was neither a child of nature nor an illiterate. His recipe for happiness was to be found at its very source: within himself. If the environment had facilitated his search, it could be crystallized in one word: simplicity. Simplicity had given him what millions of others searched for through complexity and progress. The old mans requirement, his world, was a tiny shack in a vegetable plot. Neither a cave in the wilderness nor a castle in a park. Simplicity is indeed another magic word, denoting something so modest that it is easy to step over in all its unpretentious greatness." (p. 262) "...Real treasures are not to be looted in enemy territory or robbed from a bank. They are weightless and on the wrong side of our eyes, so we do not see them." (p. 269)
The veteran traveler, David Yeardon, in Lost Worlds: Exploring the Earths Remote Places, had a similar experience: "Only twice maybe three times in my life have I entered a space that has truly spoken to me. The most memorable occasion was a decade or so ago on Cliff Island in Maines Casco Bay I came across one of those places that hopeful hermits dream about a tiny hand-built A-frame house sheltered in pines with windows overlooking the bay, and a natural boat ramp up a slab of exposed Maine granite bedrock Inside had a similar well-organized feel. A single room, maybe twenty by twenty feet, rising to a pyramidal apex and equipped with all the necessities of the simple life propane gas range, wood-burning stove, stereo, CB radio, an old sofa covered with a worn quilt, scattered rugs, a well-stacked library (with a bias toward books on ecology and small-scale farming) on shelves supported by gray cinder blocks. On a low table was a manual for constructing a solar greenhouse This little home on this quiet Maine island seemed to envelop me in its pure and simple totality. It wanted me to stay, to sprawl by a blazing fire in the cast-iron stove, cook up a few mussels and fish caught fresh from the bay outside the door, listen to fine music on the stereo, or read for days from books that Ive long promised myself Id read but never have." (p. 299-300)
A Dream for the Future: A Bioshelter Community
While the story in Chapter 12 is a dream, which the two of us tried to live out, there are people all over trying to make the dream of larger communities come true. Whats happening in the world of intentional communities and ecovillages? Go to Intentional Communities, www.ic.org/, and www.thefarm.org/ecovillages/index.htmls
Years of experience have taught intentional communities some hard-won lessons. Profit from them by reading Builders of the Dawn, Community Lifestyles in a Changing World. Corrine McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson. (1985) Book Publishing Company, The Farm.
All this good reading and surfing should inspire us to make our own attempts at a simpler and saner lifestyle, and help some of the good projects that are already going on, or create our own. There are large and well-known groups that we constantly hear about, like Greenpeace, the environmental activists who put themselves on the front lines for all our sakes, www.greenpeace.org/international_en/ or Amnesty International, www.amnesty.org/ with its work to free prisoners of conscience all over the world, or Co-Op America, www.coopamerica.org/building which is an alternative marketing place with green products, socially aware investing, boycotts etc.
And we have a special attraction to small-scale direct action groups. Here are some of our favorites of people-to-people sharing without a lot of bureaucracy and red tape.
Appalacia Science in the Public Interest, www.a-spi.org/ promotes ecological sanity in Kentucky with good hands-on projects. See our interview with its founder, Al Fritsch, at www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/af.htm
Cascadia Forest Alliance, www.cascadiaforestalliance.org/ works to save Oregons old growth forests, work which includes going up into the tree so they wont be cut.
Casa Juan Diego, Houston, www.cjd.org/ reaching out to poor migrants from south of the border.
The Franciscan Worker, PO Box 2027, Salinas, CA, 93902, (831) 757-3838 has a soup kitchen, and provides rooms and other programs for those in transition to a better life.
MANO (Mexican-American Neighbor Organization), (619) 443-0983 is a group of volunteers based mainly in San Diego who helped build a clinic in Tijuana, work with a girls orphanage there, and collect food for distribution in the poor barrios of the city.
Plenty: www.plenty.org/ P.O. Box 394, Summertown, TN 38483, (931) 964-4323. Check out their work in Belize and Dominica.
The Quixote Center, www.quixote.org/ with its Quest for Peace work among the poor in Nicaragua, and selling fair trade crafts through the Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance.
Back to Economic Basics
Neither technology nor business is opposed in itself to simple and sustainable living. They just have to be rethought to bring them into line with human values. For good examples of how this is being done go to the Rocky Mountain Institute, www.rmi.org/ and read Natural Capitalism, Creating The Next Industrial Revolution. Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. (1999) Little, Brown and Company, and its fraternal twin, Factor Four, Doubling Wealth-Halving Resource Use, The New Report to the Club of Rome. Ernst von Weizsäcker, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. (1998) Earthscan.
Its wonderful to dream of what it would be like to have plenty of money, but we neglect the fact that it is difficult to change our attitudes in order to use it properly. Lottery Winners. How They Won and How Winning Changed Their Lives. Roy H. Kaplan. (1978) Harper & Row, and Rich Kids: Young Heirs & Heiresses: How They Love & Hate Their Money. John Sedgwick and edited by Pat Golbitz. (1985) Morrow. Instead of feeding our fantasies these books bring us down-to-earth when we see how little genuine happiness appears to have come out of the money.
For a basic discussion of the nature of money and inflation see How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation. Harry Browne. (1971) Avon Books.
There are various ways to try to go back to economic sanity. We have noted any number of ideas for a simpler lifestyle, and they should include death, burial, and probate, as well. Instead of an expensive funeral, lets learn about the alternatives available through memorial societies, and instead of seeing our material resources go to an inordinate legal system instead of our loved ones, we should avoid probate by setting up intervivos trusts. Read How To Avoid Probate Updated. John Dacey. (1980) Crown. Need to create a legal entity for your business to shelter your personal finances from liability? Check out setting up a limited liability corporation. Find good information on this and your other legal affairs at Nolo Press, www.nolo.com/
Know your rights as a juror and the power a jury has to vote their consciences called jury nullification: www.caught.net/juror.htm Read Jurors Rights by Jacqueline Stanley.
Health of the Whole Person
We need health care that looks at wellness as well as illness, and boosts our immune systems with vitamins and herbs. One approach was called orthomolecular medicine by Linus Pauling. For a good overview go to: www.doctoryourself.com/ To learn more go to www.orthomed.org/ For the orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia: The Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research, www.schizophrenia.org/
To see this approach in action: The Center For The Improvement Of Human Functioning International, 3100 North Hillside Avenue, Wichita, KS 67219 USA, 316-682-3100. brightspot.org/index.shtml
Here are some representative older titles in orthomolecular medicine: Brain Allergies: The Psycho-Nutrient Connection. William H. Philpott & Dwight K. Kalita. (1980) Keats Publishing, Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia, edited by David Hawkins & Linus Pauling. (1973) W.H. Freeman & Co., Cancer and Vitamin C. Ewan Cameron and Linus Pauling, and the work of The Linus Pauling Institute of Science & Medicine http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/, A Physicians Handbook of Orthomolecular Medicine, edited by Roger J. Williams and Dwight K. Kalita. (1977) Keats Publishing, and Cancer and Its Nutritional Therapies. Richard A. Passwater. (1978) Keats Publishing.
For a historical review of using vitamin C in the treatment of disease: www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/index.htm. See also Thomas Levy, Vitamin C and Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. (2002) Xlibris. And go to www.orthomed.org/
A good source of vitamin C in powder form by the kilo try Bronson
Pharmaceuticals, 1945 Craig Rd, PO BOX 46903, St. Louis, MO 63146-6903. (800) 235-3200
Learn about the latest alternative medical breakthroughs with the newsletter of David Williams: www.drdavidwilliams.com/index.asp Some of our favorite home remedies that we learned about from Dr. Williams include: Sambucol elderberry extract for fighting viruses; citricide for water purification, pine pitch for insect bites and other skin problems we just go outside to a pine or white fir tree and get some; powdered rhubarb for internal bleeding. Also a simple but effective treatment for stroke victims: www.taubtherapy.com/
The Complete Book of Natural Medicines. David Carroll. (1980) Summit Books, is one of our favorites when someone gets sick. Where There Is No Doctor. A Village Health Care Handbook. David Werner. The Hesperian Foundation, is widely used in developing countries and not out of place on our homesteads. Our son John used to read it and study the gutsy pictures: www.hesperian.org/review_doctor.htm
Criticism of Our Social Systems
From Thoreaus Walden, www.walden.org/Institute/ to Helen and Scott Nearings Living the Good Life, to Wendell Berrys, The Unsettling of America, people have been taking a long close look at what is wrong with our society. Try Ivan Illichs Deschooling Society, and Medical Nemesi. For more on Illich: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich.html
Green Revolution, published by the School of Living, www.s-o-l.org/greenrev.htm draws on the inspiration of the earlier decentralist thinkers Ralph Borsodi and Mildred Loomis. And read Resurgence, a "forum for ecological and spiritual thinking." www.resurgence.gn.apc.org/
The theme of simple living is American as apple pie. For a historical overview throughout U.S. history see The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture. (1985) David E. Shi. The University of Georgia Press.
What is the downside of our global economic system? Try The International Forum on Globalization, www.ifg.org/index.htm, and their Alternatives to Economic Globalization, (2002). On a practical level look into socially conscious investing: www.socialinvest.org/ and make fair trade purchases of food and crafts from third world sources: www.tenthousandvillages.com/ and TransFair USA. www.transfairusa.org
Travel Break 3
In the late 1930s Thor and Liz Heyerdahl met the captain of a trading schooner who commented on the changes he was seeing among the Polynesians: "Crazy. But they want it, like everybody else. I detest our own civilization; thats why I am here. Yet I spread it from island to island. They want it, once they have had a little taste of it. Nobody can save them from the avalanche. I certainly cant. Why do they want sewing machines and tricycles, or underclothing and canned salmon? They dont need any of it. But they want to tell their neighbors: Look here, Ive got a chair while you are squatting on the floor And then the neighbor also has to buy a chair, and something else not possessed by the first one. The needs increase. The expenditure. Then they have to work, although they hate it. To earn money they dont need." (Fatu-Hiva, p. 29)
Not many years before, Loring Andrews wrote a travel book called Isles of Eden about his life in Tahiti. There he, too, met an old sea captain who tried to get to the bottom of the difference between the Polynesians and people born and bred in Western civilization: "He struck a match and, holding it in one of his gnarled, brown hands to see by, drew a circle in the sandy earth with another. Over this he drew a straight line That, if ye can read it a-right, is all there be to the mystery of life. The line above is the spiritual line of perfection Paradise, ye may call it. The circle, descending from it and rising to it again is the cycle of evolution. These happy brown people ye wrangle about are near the top line on the start side they havent fallen yet. The truly great characters of the world are near it on the other side, the finishing side where life goes back into the God source again. Theyve gone through all the initiation of the fall."
"And what, may I ask, is at the bottom of this circle?" Queried Farnham.
"Civilization at its worst the other thing ye fight about and love and hate, but dont know whats for."
"Aw, hell!" exploded Larry wearing his darkest scowl, "whats the use of runnin around in a damned circle for like a rat? You only come back to where you started from!"
"Aye, but with this difference," demonstrated Brabson, "ye come back with understanding, appreciation, self-awaredness "
Here is some of our favorite reading that makes us realize what we lost by straying too far from the earth, and inspires us to try to go back and recapture that connection: Walden by Henry David Thoreau does something to our perspective when it describes in the 1840s the same problems we have today mortgages, everyone in a hurry, and people living lives of "quiet desperation". Ishi. Last of His Tribe. Theodora Kroeber. (1964) Parnassus, and Ishi in Two Worlds. A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America. Theodora Kroeber. (1961) The poignant story of the wanton destruction of the old ways, a story that is still being repeated all over the globe. Cultural Survival www.culturalsurvival.org/, fights to protect the indigenous peoples through research, education and advocacy. Farming in the Iron Age. Peter J. Reynolds. (1976) Cambridge University Press. Archeology comes alive. The story of an Iron Age farmstead being reconstructed in Hampshire, England. It gives us a sense of our past, which could give us a clue for the future. Did you ever dream of becoming part of a tribe of hunter-gatherers in the jungle? Read the story of Randy Borman in Mike Tidwell, Amazon Stranger and visit www.cofan.org/
On the complexities of the development of human societies see Jared Diamond, on the transition from hunter-gatherers to farming, and from bands to tribes, chiefdoms and states in Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies. (1997) Norton, and Marshall Sahlins, on hunter-gatherers as the original affluent society in Stone Age Economics. (1972) Aldine-Atherton.
Mark Plotkin in Tales of A Shamans Apprentice (1993) Viking, takes us to visit the Amazonian shamans with their deep knowledge of healing plants, and describes his attempts to save this knowledge.
Helena Norberg-Hodge in Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh (1991) Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, www.isec.org.uk/ gives us a fascinating account of the traditional culture of Ladakh and what happened to it as it encountered our modern world.
For dalle de verre slabs of glass: The Blenko Glass Company, www.blenkoglass.com/dalle.html and for epoxy resin to put the pieces together: KR-116 slab glass epoxy. Color: limestone at Key Resin Company. (513) 943-4225. www.keyresin.com/
Great pieces of wood disguised as old stumps and drift wood are waiting to be discovered. For inspiration see: George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree, and Nature, Form, and Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima. Mira Nakashima, www.nakashimawoodworker.com/
Butterfly Hollow Farm, "Discovering Nature, Saddles and Solitude in an Old Abandoned Tennessee Farm" www.butterflyhollowfarm.com/
The City of Curitiba, Brazil: www.curitiba.pr.gov.br/pmc/ingles/
Ecomundo. Natural building and ecology on the Sea of Cortés, Baja California, Mexico. home.earthlink.net/~rcmathews/ and our multi-media report on it at www.innerexplorations.com/simpletext/ecomundo.htm
Creating a community in Columbia against the odds: Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World. Alan Weisman
Solar Haven, self-sufficient living in Arizona, solarhaven.org/SolarHavenMainPage.htm
Whale Tours, and Research in the Azores: www.whalewatchazores.com/
Wild Thyme Retreat Center. Innovative gardening and forestry at www.wildthymefarm.com/index.html
Body and Psychological Types
Who was C.G. Jung? One of the best ways to find out is to read his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections. (1961) Vintage Books. For more about William Sheldon's work read The Varieties of Temperament. A Psychology of Constitutional Differences. W.H. Sheldon (with the collaboration of S.S. Stevens). (1942) Harper. And as a guide to body types see his photographic Atlas of Men. A Guide for Somatotyping the Adult Male at All Ages. W.H. Sheldon (with the collaboration of C.W. Dupertuis and E. McDermott). (1954) Harper.
The Treasures of Simple Living
Radical Simplicity and the Fourth Step