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Living Lightly: Travels in Post-Comsumer Society Paperback – 14 Sep 1998
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From the Author
Travels in post-consumer society by 2 established writers.
We wanted to know if there was life beyond the supermarket. We spent three absorbing years travelling in Britain, Europe, USA, Australia, India and Japan, staying and working among people living lightly on the earth - people who have rejected the glamour of consumer society in order to follow their vision of a simpler life. They have grown happier. They have found a better model for living at this turn of the century - a time when a handful of multinational companies have grown more powerful than governments, the gap between the rich and the poor widens year by year, and the competitive demands of an endlessly expanding global economy have come to rule our lives. Some live lightly alone, self-reliantly on a farm in North Wales, others are in a lifestyle movement like Voluntary Simplicity which we visited in Seattle, or in co-housing - a new form of living together in your own home which we experienced in California. Some live in communities like Findhorn in Scotland, The Farm in Tennessee or Auroville in India. Some grow food using Permaculture - we stayed with them in Queensland, Australia - or community-supported agriculture, a lifestyle we experienced in New England. Others run schools or colleges that teach co-operation instead of competition, like Schumacher College in Devon, UK. . We sought and found a growing global counter-culture of people convinced that the global economy is not a blessing but a disaster - and who have found a better model for the 21st Century. In India we visited pioneers with their own vision of what development should mean. Not content with protesting against large dams which tend to benefit the rich, they were building small dams. We found scientists, engineers and social activists introducing equitable water distribution and organic farming into groups of villages. They were not trying to return to a primitive past; they want technology to serve the needs of living beings and of the planet. We evaluated failure as well as success and we ended up more hopeful for the future. We are convinced after our journeys that people would be happier in a thriving local economy, providing basic food and livelihood for all, than the global one which changes food into a commodity, destroys jobs, devalues cultures and devastates the human and natural environment. Our itinerary for LIVING LIGHTLY included: 1. More or less radical lifestyles. Voluntary Simplicity in Seattle, USA, downshifting in UK, Cohousing in the USA, sustainable use of land at Tinkers Bubble (Somerset) and Pure Genius (London); self-sufficiency in North Wales and saving the wombat in Australia. 2. Better farms, better food. The vegan and vegetarian arguments; Plants for a Future and Keveral Organic Farm (Cornwall). Community-supported agriculture in New England, Crystal Waters, the worlds first Permaculture village in Australia. 3. Some answers to globalisation. The realities of the global economy and the way it is being challenged in India with a "peoples dam" (a small one). Urban self-sufficiency and co-operative living in Tokyo, Bombay, Birmingham (UK), Utrecht (Holland) and Maleny (Australia). 4. Living in Community. We live and work at The Farm in Tennessee, Findhorn in Scotland and Auroville in India . 5. Connections. The schools we visited include Virtual High in Vancouver, and, in UK, Brockwood Park, The Small School and Schumacher College. After looking at the role of the Internet in Living Lightly culture, we draw conclusions from our travels.
Tricia Allen, Local Campaigner at friends of the Earth in London, reviewed our book in Earth Matters. She wrote: "This delightful books engaging style allows the reader to meet and listen to people testing out alternatives without feeling preached at. The authors unashamedly offer their subjective opinions, but leave space for the reader to reach his or her own conclusions". ----------------------------- Walter Schwarz is a former staff correspondent of The Guardian and author of several books. Dorothy Schwarz teaches creative writing and is author of Simple Stories About Women (Iron Press 1998) Together they wrote Breaking Through - Theory and Practice of Holistic Living (Green Books 1987)
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