Re: Voluntary Simplicity

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 09:13:51 MDT

From: "altamira" <>

>I'd like to see more on this topic. I've been living this way for
>a few years now and have never been happier. It's not that I
>wouldn't like to have more money--or, more accurately, to have
>more of the things money buys--but the opportunity to savor each
>day fully is worth more to me than the money would be.

Hey Bonnie, glad to oblige, since it was your excellent post that
ignited this thread (or is it a fuse?).

>When I was in the process of making the decision to discontinue my
>urban law practice and move to the country I pondered the
>lifestyle I'd choose if I had a nearly unlimited supply of money.
>I decided I'd live in the country and divide my time fairly evenly
>between gardening, study, and writing, with enough social
>interaction thrown in to keep me from becoming a hermit (I tend to
>be a rather solitary person). I realized I didn't have to
>accumulate a large sum of money in order to do this very thing,
>and I'm now living a lifestyle that's close to my ideal. Perhaps
>if I had more money I'd live in a mansion rather than a self-built
>adobe hovel. But then again, maybe not...every square foot of my
>house was built for my own purposes; the place fits me like a
>well-worn shoe, and it's been fun building it.

Lifestyle is the goal. The heuristic for sensible home ownership is
never to assume a morgage more than twice your annual income, the
idea is to start small and build equity. Then again you seem happy
where you are, so why not put any money into good investments for
the long term. (perrenial rather than annual)

>Did any particular event prompt you to investigate a simpler
>lifestyle? My eyes began to open to wider possibilities when I
>spent a morning hanging out with a woman named Donna. She was one
>of those generally referred to as "homeless" although I don't
>think she would have characterized herself in that way. She'd
>found some pieces of lumber and sheet metal and built a shelter in
>a vacant city lot; she'd planted a little vegetable garden there
>next to her shelter. She told me that the night before she'd
>found some lobster and shrimp in a grocery store dumpster and had
>invited a bunch of homeless people to share in her bounty. "I
>have so much," she told me, "I feel as though I should share."

Despite having a good job and excellent friends I was still pretty
discontented. I use to assuage the stress and occasional loneliness
with a Friday night all nighter, then sometimes again on Sat. Many
of my associates did the same. I started to over-do it, and decided
to quit and pursue higher goals.

I made the right decision.

>It occurred to me that overall, Donna's quality of life was higher
>than mine, although she was jobless and I enjoyed a position in
>one of the more highly paid professions. Her days were her own;
>she lived by her own clock and didn't feel constantly rushed by
>this or that deadline; and she felt herself wealthy enough to
>indulge in charity. I'm forever grateful to this woman, whom I
>never saw again after that day.

She sounds like a wonderfull person, I hope you get to meet her

>Meeting Donna didn't move me to take up a life on the streets, but
>I began to give my thoughts a much wider scope in imagining
>possible futures for myself.

One too many evil hangovers convinced me I was on the wrong track,
now I'm positive I'm on the right one.

I was going to send the following to Bonnie privately, but since we
have so many green thumbs here I thought everyone might enjoy it.

Since I'm an urban cliff dweller, I don't have any gardening space
(other than windowsill herbs) but several of my homeowning friends
received spring seed gifts from me including this wonderfull

*Rainbow Inca Corn: An Example of Plant Breeding
Excerpted from our latest book, Gardening for the Future of the

Alan Kapulers very first breeding project, which produced our
Rainbow Inca Corn, occurred when he was living in a commune in
southern Oregon, growing vegetables. Plant breeder Carol Deppe
tells the story: Rainbow Inca didnt start as a breeding project; it
began as a spiritual act, a ceremony. Alan had grown a number of
different varieties of corn the previous year, and he had chosen
his twelve favorite ears of all the varieties. The ears were of
all different kinds and colors flour corns, native Indian corns,
heirloom sweet corns, and other varieties. He shelled out the
chosen twelve and planted the kernels in rows, sowing all the seed
of one type, then starting on the next, wherever he was in the row.
The corn was all in one patch, in somewhat intermingled blocks.

Because of mole activity, Alan replanted randomly and at different
dates, so that corn of various kinds was scattered throughout the
patch. This meant that all kinds of crosses could happen, even
between very early and late types. He wasnt thinking about this at
the time; its just the way it happened. One of the corns Alan
planted was an Incan flour corn with huge, flat white seeds and
plants about twelve feet high. When Alan harvested his
corn, the ears on his Incan corn were especially beautiful, and
there were one or two colored seeds on each ear that represented
pollination by a colored variety. There were yellows, reds,
purples, and blues; solid colors, stripes, blazes, and spots; clear
colors and iridescent ones. There were a hundred to a hundred and
fifty colored kernels altogether. Alan picked the colored kernels
off the ears and saved them.

He planted about a hundred of the colored kernels the next year.
When he harvested the patch, the ears showed an occasional crinkled
seed, representing sweet types. The genes associated with sweet
corn are recessive, so no crinkled kernels appeared in the original
crosses involving the flour-type Incan mother plants. There were
about forty crinkled kernels the following year. His harvest was
about five pounds of kernels, all sweet and of all colors.

He selected for large, crinkled, flat kernels and planted a couple
of ounces of seed. In subsequent years he continued selecting for
large, fat kernels of all colors. He also selected for plant height
of about eight feet instead of the ten to twelve feet typical of
the original Incan corn (eight-foot plants were enough earlier in
the season to be dependable). And he selected for ears that were
lower on the plant so I could reach them, he says. Lower ears are
also larger, so selection for lower ears automatically selects for
bigger ears and higher yield.

Rainbow Inca sweet corn preserves the cytoplasm of the original
Incan flour corn and a large amount of genetic variability derived
from many sources. The kernels are of all colors and patterns, huge
compared to any other sweet corn, and broad and flat. The plants
are about eight feet tall. Its of late and reliable maturity here
in Oregon (meaning that it would probably be considered midseason
in most areas). Its undoubtedly been automatically selected for
productivity in cool weather because of where it was bred; the
flavor is excellent.

Alan didnt realize that he had developed something special until he
offered his Rainbow Inca through the Seed Savers Exchange and heard
the reactions of those who grew it. Its excellent, unusual, unlike
anything else, they said. Rainbow Inca is currently
offered by Seeds of Change and remains one of the most unusual
corns available.


Extropy Institute,
Adler Planetarium
Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
Mars Society,
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

Current Reading "Gift From The Sea" Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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