Happy, simply-like resources and beyond downshifting

In the past couple of months since building the Happy, simply home with a crew of volunteers (or really built by a crew of volunteers) people have been asking me for some resources and links to the ideas and tangible actions similar to the Happy, simply lifestyle model and education project.

So for those looking for an entry point or a few idea on simplicity / downshifting / sustainability or living life more with less (money, resources and harm on society and the environment) here are a couple of top sources for you…

  • The Post Growth Institute – postgrowth.org – alternative economics
  • Simplicity Collective – http://simplicitycollective.com/ – academic look at simplicity and it’s ‘worth’
  • Make Wealth History – makewealthhistory.org – a great blog of current events and ideas on the ‘best’ things in life…

Then there are also great podcasts and resources from the Moneyless Man – http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/

This will give you a great intro and beyond the idea of downshifting where it is not just about getting rid of stuff but more about a happier, simpler and richer ways of living!

This is kind of the opposite of what I am talking about - taken yesterday on my walk around Atlanta

This is kind of the opposite of what I am talking about – taken on my walk around Atlanta

The struggles of living in luxury

I am either going to sound like a dickhead or a crazy guy who lives in a little house in the woods (or someone’s front yard in NZ) with this one.

How did people and society get taken so far off track that they have 14 lane highways, no bicycle or walking infrastructure and people lives revolve around the morning news reports of the traffic flow and if a break down or crash will add on another hour or more to their already 3-hour daily commute…

IMG_1264For the first time in about 13 years I have been forced to be somewhere I didn’t really want to be or choose. I’m currently in Atlanta, Georgia, USA for a couple of weeks training for a volunteer program I will be doing in Uganda for the rest of the year.

For the first time in a long time that I have had to grin and bear my surroundings. Even when I was being depressed by the environment and atmosphere of Singapore a year or so ago it was at my choice to be there. Atlanta is full of wonderful people and I am not having a dig at the fine folks of this town but it is a way of life that is so far from my preferred way of life and the life I get to see in many other countries, especially developing countries.

Beautiful sunset through the double glazed windows to keep the highways noises out and the airconditioning in!

Beautiful sunset through the double glazed windows to keep the highways noises out and the airconditioning in!

Let me set the scene. I have a buffet breakfast each morning with a choice of almost anything I can imagine, I then go to 9 hours of lectures and workshops in air conditioning that is so cold you need a jumper and jacket compared with the 30 degree celsius temperature outside, and sleeping is in a well to do hotel equally frozen with air conditioning and rooms that have windows that don’t open and contains all the ‘best things in life’ like a comfy bed, TV with heaps of channels and daily service to turn your bed. I’m sorry this is my form of near living hell – told you I was going to sounds like a dickhead or crazy guy in the woods! Even when I walk to or from the training venue, 5 miles away along roads that don’t have footpaths or any inkling of non-car infrastructure, people think I am completely crazy.

Not out in the countryside this is suburbia Atlanta style - nice trees but huge houses with huge yards that makes the suburbs sprawl endlessly and somehow no footpaths

Not out in the countryside this is suburbia Atlanta style – nice trees but huge houses with huge yards that makes the suburbs sprawl endlessly and somehow no footpaths

If I look at all of this from even a not so crazy perspective it shows that the bulk of peoples lives here comprises of commuting, working and recreating – largely by watching TV or shopping to buy things to make them happy in the few spare moments they have outside of having to work and commute so much to pay for a house that is many times bigger than they need. I hope that is not a too crazy perspective to see that is pretty weird when compared with the simplicity, self-sufficiency and sustainability we largely came from even just 50 years ago.

I usually don’t try to make too many value judgements and I see that it is different to my own perspectives and shouldn’t be considered wrong but it worries me when it is so inbuilt to a societal level that it is a little depressing. I feel like I want to evangelise simplicity and reassure this society that they would be happier with less and they are on a conveyer belt to personal, societal and environmental degradation and destruction.


Am I upside-down in this town or is this town upside-down?

Absolutely each to their own but for me in this environment I am dreaming of my Happy, simply home, the hills and beach of Paekakariki and rich conversations with friends and strangers not stuck in their cars.

On a happy note there is a good potential with all the storms to see a monkey-shaped cloud…!

Post Growth Institute – enlightening resource and How on Earth…

During my daily life I work in the movement to see an end to extreme poverty. But just as passionately I am interested in simplicity, community, nature and loving life simply, happily and humbly. I have been fortunate to learn to live, and to love living, with less and where just enough is plenty.

Some of the sources for me to be in this position have been from living and learning with some of the world’s poorest people, communities and countries. The other important side has been how to put these lessons into place in the developed world – hence the Happy, simply project and other things I do. To get me to the point of actively living happiness with less it has taken some great people, resources and sources of information and inspiration.

One of my three favourites is the Post Growth Institute (PGI). PGI and one of it’s amazing leaders and co-founders – Donnie Maclurcan is composing a book called How on Earth – flourishing in a not-for-profit economy: http://postgrowth.org/how-on-earth-flourishing-in-a-not-for-profit-economy-by-2050/

Please take a look at this link to learn more about the topics and thoughts covered. Essentially it is about how we can continue to live our lives, similarly to how we may now, just with a little more connectedness to people and nature rather than profit and business.

mondays ok jobs no goodThe book is being crowd-funded and I encourage you to join in and become a supporter and get a copy – bonus: crowd-funding and something to show for it! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/how-on-earth-a-book-for-a-new-economy

The future of the world can look so bright and it doesn’t have to be all of us living in 10m2 homes, so I hope you will add the Post Growth Institute, Donnie and this upcoming book into your file of learning with respect to talking about and acting upon seeing a happy, sustainable world for everyone, everywhere and forever!

Be sure to also check out their Free Money Day initiative – http://www.freemoneyday.org/ it’s running on Sept 15 this year. Last year I was in Toronto and my $10 of free money attracted some media attention – http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/09/14/free_money_day_two_australian_brothers_plan_to_give_away_10_in_yongedundas_square.htmlfree_money_day