Saturday, March 8, 2008

Radical Simplicity

Our friend Jim Merkel spent the night last week after being stranded at the airport, on his way home from two months of sailing the length of Baja, Mexico. Jim was a panel speaker at the Do It Now: Live Green show I co-curated at Otis College Of Art And Design last year. He is an incredible, gentle, warm, compassionate guy, and his book, Radical Simplicity is an absolute landmark. He lives in a cabin on 10 acres of forest in Vermont, grows his own food, and is a brilliant recovering engineer. Here's the skinny on Jim:

"Originally a military engineer and arms trader, Jim Merkel changed his life at the time of the Exxon Valdez disaster, quitting his job and devoting himself to environmental service and world peace. He downsized his life and 14 years later continues to volunteer and live on $5,000 a year.

Jim founded the Alternative Transportation Task Force in San Luis Obispo, California, and held an elected Sierra Club position while honing urban simple living skills. He lobbied in Washington for wilderness, peace, and Native American rights. In 1994 he received a fellowship to research sustainability in Kerala, India, and walked in the Himalayas. The following year he founded the Global Living Project (GLP) and initiated the GLP Summer Institute to discover what a “fair share" of Earth each individual might be entitled to. With plenty of help from friends and his partner, Rowan Sherwood, a permaculture home and demonstration site were designed and built. He instigated a Cycling for a Sustainable Future speaking tour that has logged over 12,000 miles and delivered hundreds workshops on sustainable living.

At the top of Jim’s cycling career, he earned three silver medals in the Empire State Games and raced in the Nationals. Cycling continues to be his primary transportation both around town and for adventures -- to Mexico, across Canada twice, and through Europe and India. His passions include wild edible plants, wilderness, and making homestead improvements from articles found at the dump."

His book is essential reading for anyone interested in living equitably in the world and getting the most joy for the buck. It'll make you want to sell all your stuff, in a good way.


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