Nearing Sustainability

Paul Schmelzer, freelance writer and editor at Adbusters, passed along the inspiring story of Scott and Helen Nearing to me last week — with all the hullabaloo surrounding end of the semester business, I’m just now getting to it (apologies, Paul!). Back before my time or even my parents’, Scott and Helen were attempting to extricate themselves from the market economy and experiment with sustainable living. While Paul has posted two excerpts (here and here) from the Nearings’ writings on his blog Eyeteeth, I was particularly inspired by the Nearings’ description of the freedom they found in their new lifestyle:

We felt as free, in this respect, as a caged wild bird who finds himself once more on the wing. The demands and requirements which weigh upon city consumers no longer restricted us. To the extent that we were able to meet our consumer needs in our own way and in our own good time, we had freed ourselves from dependence upon the market economy…

While the Nearings’ writing is laced with heavy doses of 30s-era socialism (as one might expect), the very little bit I’ve read provides vivid insight into the joys of rejecting conspicuous consumption for “the simple life.”

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Books by Helen Nearing at Powells.com

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