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Live Simple

The above photo was taken in Cades Cove, Tennessee a couple of years ago. The cabin was hand built and is almost a century old. The occupants of this house most definitely lived a simple life. And the residents of the Florida based Econ Farm are doing just that. Their farm is located near UCF, off the Econolockhatchee River, hence the name. The farm was started in 2002 by a group of like-minded people who sought to live more natural and self-sufficient. Their farm doesn't have the usual cows and sheep or even a barn. They've got gardens. Here's an excerpt from their site:

"We have constructed two large garden beds on the high and dry area near the road, where we grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Plantings include papayas, pineapples, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, sugar snap peas, turnips, basil, and peppermint, to name just a few. Due to the hot climate, the major planting season for traditional food crops in Florida is fall instead of spring. Each year we have two planting cycles, one spring planting for summer fruits and flowers, and one fall planting for vegetables and herbs. This also allows for two harvest celebrations!"

The Simple Living Institute is their non-profit organization which was recently discussed in Oprah's "O" Magazine(I very much recommend reading that article). They've put together workshops that include tips on gardening, composting, and more. Their next one will be on February 21st from 1pm to 3pm. They'll be showing how to use rain catching barrels for use at home. The Institute aims "to provide cooperative education empowering individuals and organizations to be responsible stewards of their well-being and the environment." Sounds good to me.

Their message is clear and, well, simple. They strive to teach others to live with the things you need not the things you necessarily think you need. It has been proven time and time again that possessions and monetary gain do not equal happiness. Sure, you may feel elated when you rip open that paycheck, but what after? Sure, you can buy plenty of shoes, jackets, and accessories with that money. Then what? Do those things really make us feel happy? Fulfilled? We can consume and consume but sometimes we still feel empty. A study was just released about how experiences actually make us happier than possessions. That article can be found here. Here's an excerpt:
"[...]the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred."
The researchers found that those participants who wrote about their experiences had a higher satisfaction rating than those who wrote about their recent purchases.

Living simply can also be fulfilling. Especially with our economy, consuming and spending less not only wastes less but costs less. Why not spend some of that paycheck money on making a small garden in your backyard or porch? You can grow your own vegetables and herbs. Not only will you be eating healthier but you'll be saving money. Wanda Urbanska, who has a PBS show on simple living, says that societal thinking is now leaning towards the simple life,
"People are starting to feel there is so much more to life. Everything you bring into your house becomes a responsibility. You have to care for it, clean it, and ultimately, dispose of it. I don't want to say it's empty to shop, but to me, a great conversation is worth way more than anything I could pull off a shelf."

Without taking care of the environment, how will money help us? Money can't replace air, water, and earth. It's up to us to start preserving the things we actually need to survive.

The changes you make at first don't have to be drastic. Start with small things. Start recycling if you don't do so already. Cancel the cable. I know, some can't imagine life without a television but believe me, you will survive. Without the distraction of a t.v. you can spend more time on the things that matter. Spend more time with family, kids, friends. Tend to your garden. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Plan a trip to a local park or nature trail. Take some time to appreciate the world around you. These things are priceless.

Tia and Terry Meer, the founders of the Econ Farm, decided to build their own log cabin next to a river and survive on the food they grow, and the fish they catch from that river. They don't own a television. And their electric bill is 35 bucks. In the "O" magazine, Tia explains,
"I want to live in a way that preserves the Earth for future generations. I feel very good being able to go out into my garden and pick dinner or catch a fish. I don't have to spend money or time driving to a grocery store. Once you simplify and localize, you save so much. And in these troubled times, people see the logic of that approach."

Her husband explains his view on the simple life,
"I've never liked money. I'm happier when I'm not spending it. I've never been motivated to make it. That's why we built our house ourselves. No mortgage. Our retirement is what we are doing: the location, the cabin, the fruit trees. They'll grow as we grow."
So my advice is to take it one day at a time. Pick a day to take a walk around a park or your neighborhood. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. On your day off don't go shopping unless it's absolutely necessary. Start thinking about yourself and what you can do to make a change for the better. Even if it's planting one seed in your backyard. Even the smallest step can lead you on the path to a simpler, happier life.

How the city hurts your brain

Here's an interesting article I found on Current. com. Definitely worth a read. Link-> How the city hurts your brain

Just Cool

Very cool video I found through a fellow blogger, Maaja


I want to add another one as well. This was directed by Laura Hanna. She is good.

Saving the Earth, one seed at a time

I was recently reading through one of my favorite artists blogs, Jason Mraz. He led me to a wonderful site and conservation project: The Millennium Seed Bank Project. Their goal is to collect as many seeds as possible in an effort to save them from extinction. This preservation project is very likely one of the largest conservation projects around. So far the bank has been able to collect
23,000 plant species and most of the native plants where the MSD resides, the U.K. They are a non-profit organization that relies on people like you and me to donate so they can keep doing there thing. Here's an awesome video from their website that explains what they're doing and how important it is:

Now, more than ever, is the time in which we should look to projects like this for guidance and inspiration to lend a hand in saving our planet. Now is the time when we can unite and bring awareness to everyone. The only way we can make a positive change is to work together no matter what our skin color, accent, or religion may be. Another project called Save-A-Seed Coalition is hoping to do just that. They want to get the word out about the MSD to help promote and fund the project and hopefully move more people to understand that they can make a difference. Join the revolution!