What a leading question.
By ‘simpler’, I’m referring to many things, but one where:
- there’s a more sustainable use of planetary resources
- it’s less cluttered with consumerist crud (physical and mental)
- people are valued by their kindness, not their bank balance
- positivity far outweighs negativity
- communication is paramount
- you actively move to share knowledge of your skills and learn from others
- the common good and the bond of community, matter
- food is embraced for being seasonal, organic and as local as can be achieved
If that all sounds a bit airy-fairy and unachievable, you may be right… for the moment anyway.
Whilst we await the arrival of the first round of ‘social chaos’ (for which read, drastically reduced petrol/oil supplies with all of its devastating knock on effects: essential food supply, keeping warm, commuting to work/school etc) we can certainly ponder how beneficial a quick shift to a simpler life would be.
I believe the learning curve on important matters of a resilient nature, would be a far more pleasant one if we gave a positive embrace to living with less. That’s the bottom line with a simpler life, if you actively want to pull back from consumer led lifestyle, countless sustainable joys await you.
Peak oil has undoubtedly occurred, yet in spite of a remarkable drop in consumer demand for oil, coupled with:
- ever increasing yields of renewable energy,
- a radical increase in households switching to fully green tariffs,
- the increase of self-sustaining community energy projects like Wedmore,
- and a drastic drop in the price of oil,
it’s a little hard to believe!
That filthy black stuff is everywhere; aside from it’s predominant use in vehicles it’s also in our clothes, it is our computers, our carpet, trainers, magazines – you name any man-made object of modern society and I’ll bet oil has a strong presence. What a shock it’s going to be when it runs out, and run out it will…
Another Dirty Word
Until the other filthy dark stuff actually hits the fan and our communities start experiencing regular power cuts on a serious scale and see vast reductions of common staple foods in our shops, the harsh reality that most of our governmental leaders are writing cheques the planet cannot cash, will not not really hit home.
It’s going to take a monumental kick up the societal backside, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time, for the masses to drastically change their living habits.
expand your knowledge
On the upside, however, there are an increasing number of people and small communities who are shining a (rechargable) light on how to embrace resilience with open arms. Thankfully, there are also a number of new creative writers bursting onto the literary scene who have a deep green streak running through them that they want to share; Elizabeth J Walker stands proudly amongst them.
Her welcome offering to the reading world, The Resilience Handbook, was released a few months ago. It is a step-by-step guide on how to make a successful transition from a fossil fuel controlled life, to one that lives within its means; it’s a damned fine read too (click here to Look in the Book and order a copy). The Resilience Handbook sits alongside other greats like The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, by John Seymour, a man who decades ago was showing us how to hold onto many of the old skills required to maintain life and growth; I’d like to think that my own Book of Rubbish Ideas is still making a difference in this emerging sphere too…
It’s not as though eco-knowledge isn’t widely available to us – it is! In abundance too if you ask me. We have never had greater access to inspiring articles, magazines, paperbacks and tomes from respected writers around the globe on how to live simpler, happier lives, so why do I get the feeling it’s all being made to feel a bit Zeitgeist and more to the point, why isn’t everyone striving to be the next Barbara and Tom?
is a green hive mind possible?
Unfortunately, despite the fact that I think it would be far more beneficial for our collective survival, I don’t think so.
The chaos theory says that small differences in initial conditions yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. Contextually to my post, it doesn’t matter how good a set of ideas the simple, green folks have, not everybody is going to subscribe to them. There will still be some who cannot live without their Gucci fix and they’ll struggle to let go of the buzz their endorphins get from spending lots of money and being generally wasteful.
peaks and troughs
Reuters has just reported that oil peaked at a little over $50 today, its highest price in 8 months. This was partly attributed to falling Nigerian oil output as a result of several attacks on their infrastructure. According to a Tokyo broker, oil is on an upward momentum, but that doesn’t tally with the fact that US commercial crude oil inventories fell by 3.5 million barrels last week. This is the third week on the bounce that it has declined, according to a preliminary Reuters poll; for the lovely pedantic readers amongst you, definitive data from the American Petroleum Institute is due out at 20:30 GMT if you want to find out more.
Their article concluded predicting that these circumstances could revive drilling activity for shale, which would ‘stabilise’ declining oil production. From what I know from the international anti-fracking groups on social media (all widely, publicly available), that news isn’t going to go down well.
As far as the UK is concerned, I’ve never seen such public dissent against fracking. There has been absolute uproar up north in Kirby Misperton and as far as public demonstrations condemning fracking and supporting sustainable energy practices go, we ain’t seen nothing yet!
keep it simple
So, I was delighted to receive an invitation to watch A Simpler Way: crisis as opportunity, a poignant, thought provoking documentary by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander, of Happen Films. I sat with my husband and a brew and dived in to an hour and 20 minutes of downshifted community idyll. I enjoyed it enormously, I always do with this type of film. There was so much to learn about group dynamics and it was packed with tips on how other people do ‘stuff’. My only wish was for expansion of the common problems the group encountered, particularly with regard to communication and conflict resolution. Inference was made that there had been some friction in the camp and I think it would have been useful to anyone considering plunging into this type of extreme green dynamic. That aside, it was inspirational to see what can be achieved with many hands and willing minds.
Believe me, I love living the simple life, I keep it real easy almost every day and encourage it in others wherever possible. Whilst I love the idea of living an uber-simple existence, I’m not sure an eco-commune would work for me at this point in time. I guess I’m measuring it against my life today – packed full of children and necessary earning responsibilities. Of course, if we were plunged into darkness and social chaos, I would probably grab the opportunity, pack a very small bag and be happy!
Perhaps when Simon and I fledge the nest to start the next chapter of our lives and finally get to live a couple of months in an Indian ashram on the route to perfecting meditation and stillness, it might fall into the realms of possibility. Until then, I’ll keep watching the movies, building my skill set and enjoying my own energy descent.
Enjoy the documentary,
Words from the filmmaker:
Hey, my name is Jordan. I’m a documentary filmmaker and the founder of Happen Films. I’m currently working on the film A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity as well as short films about permaculture, tiny houses, voluntary simplicity, and sustainable living for my YouTube channel. I make films as a way to hopefully make change towards a better world through inspiring others.
When I look at the current state of the world I see a lot of problems, but I also see a lot of amazing people making change towards a better way of living. I want to spend my life making a positive change in the world through my love of filmmaking – Jordan