a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot


by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

There’s a lot of us out here making some basic changes in our living and driving habits and finding out that it not only doesn’t suck, but it’s a whole new world of suprises that feel good. My friend, Jeannie (watch her weekly posts on this blog) reaping the rewards of small town life in a camper with a dog and a bicycle. Another friend, Greg, living car-free and self-employed in Asheville who contra-dances his heart out regularly in his community. Of course, there’s the abundant declarations of No Impact Man and his family, who experimented during a year of off-grid, off-stuff life in NYC and never went back to much more than a laundry machine and lights.

It was an article I saw yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle that drove this happiness message home for me. It describes a more conventional family of three, including a 12 year-old son, living small outside the city with lights but no television, a non-potable water supply for everything except drinking, a hand-crank clothes washer and only a fireplace for heating. Though one parent needs to commute to the city for work (he carpools with 2 others in a Prius), when the other was laid off, they decided that their cost-efficient lives could be supported on one income, stating, “Living simply makes it easier to weather what could otherwise be hard times.”

To sum it all up from the closing paragraph, written by journalist, Kevin Fagan:

The two say that if they suddenly became so rich that money was no object, and their impact on the environment mysteriously didn’t matter any more, they still wouldn’t change much in the way they live.

Good enough for me.

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