Thursday, 18 February 2010

Let's get together :)

Come to the event I'm putting on with the lovely people of Limina, 12-13 June, in a farm in Kent.


                 When    12th & 13th June 2010 

                Where   The Quadrangle Farm, middle of nowhere, Kent  

                What      I would like (circle + cross out as appropriate): 

                               good work | children | a spouse | the countryside | 
                               the city | a life that contributes to climate change | a 
                               nice laptop | grow my own | milk my own | butcher 
                               my own | skype | wood fires | people around | com- 
                               post toilets | flush toilets | to be busy all the time | 
                               big debts | ommm | sweatlodge in winter + roll naked 
                               in snow | to be a hippy | no fucking hippies | live just 
                               like my parents | live like they did 500 years ago | the 
                               best of the past + the best of the future | live next to a 
                               motorway / on an island / in a hammock | wake up to 
                               birdsong and the smell of baking bread 

                               Other: ………………… 

                  How    Arrive 4-5pm. settle in, eat,  talk. Hear what people 
                              are doing, tell what you’re doing, or what you want to 
                              do. Play by the fire. Sleep. Wake gently, good breakfast.
                              Go for a walk in beautiful Kent countryside, have a 
                              pub lunch. Catch the train home, the end, for now. 

        How much    £10 deposit at We Got Tickets (advance booking essential)
                              + £15 cash upon arrival, so £25 in total for the whole event.
                              Any further donations to support Limina’s work gratefully appreciated.

                              Real beds for the first 16 to book, then camping.
                              Full location and necessary info provided upon receipt of deposit.

                              Queries to

Sunday, 14 February 2010

In search of a word

I'm looking for a word.

I just wrote to Alain de Botton to ask him. Then I thought, why ask just one person?

Do you have any ideas?

The question is this:

if we move away from a materialistic life, what is the name for the kind of life we enter into? I don't like 'de-materialised' (so what is it then?), 'simple' (it's not simple), or 'spiritual' (problematic term).   So I am missing a word. Do you have any ideas? 

There's a fleshier version of this question in the last post.

I do very occasionally get the odd comment and it is great to get comments, like nice letters in the post. If you have any thoughts you might perhaps leave one...

Simplicity is Bollocks

I'm in Brazil for work. I'm planning to visit a seaside village called Arembepe where there's a hippy village that Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin "got rolling" in the 1960s, according to Lonely Planet. It says:

"For a taste of a simpler life, the aldeia is a curious place to explore."

I went into the shower mulling on that line, and concluded that the term 'voluntary simplicity' is a pile of bollocks.

Dematerialising your sources of pleasure, meaning, identity and satisfaction is not simple. It's really really complex.

pic 1 by marilene
pic 2 by teresa

It's much simpler to use booze to kick back, clothes/music/cars/house/friends/income for a sense of identity, and tv/the pub/the odd show for a bit of fun.

OK so in reality few people are that shallow but here's the thing.

Paths to joy that don't use booze are less simple not more simple.

Paths to meaning and identity that don't use money and possessions are less simple not more simple.

Finding genuine satisfaction in life is a Fine Art.

Probably all of them take practice, and years.

To call a dematerialised lifestyle a 'simple' lifestyle is to look at it through materialist eyes.


I once collaborated on a project with a fine sustainability professional called Andrew Outhwaite.

One day he turned up in my office unannounced, came to my desk, and said, Briony, what are we doing? What are we actually doing?

We went to a meeting room with some big paper and pens, and spent a couple of hours talking and scribbling.

We ended up with a single line. A diagonal line going upwards. At the bottom end we wrote 'materialism'. At the top end we wrote 'spiritualism'.

'Spiritualism' is an icky term and I'm not sure we're talking about becoming a God-loving evangelist or a kirtan chanting hippy.

It's probably the wrong word.

But what is the word for how when we put down all our stuff, what we are left with is not nothing.

We are left with more than we ever had before. We enter a richer territory, a more subtle and nuanced world.

We still need things in this world. We still need homes, food, clothes, and ways to get around and communicate.

But then instead of all the rest of the crap, we actually need a bunch of services and practices that nurture our capabilities in the fine art of life.