Things Have Improved since the 1940's !

Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 02:31:58 -0600
From: R C Herman <>
Subject: Re: Simplicity and time
To: David MacClement <davd @> (change " @ " to "@"),
    Positive Futures,  Diane Fitzsimmons <>
- original: }
    David demonstrates that it is possible to sustain life with a small fraction of the consumption that we in the modern west have come to equate with "the poverty level."
    I doubt that most of us would choose to live as austere a lifestyle as David does, but using his example as a (ostensibly viable) baseline, it is a worthwhile exercise to
consider whether each convenience or comfort "upgrade" we buy into on top of such a baseline is
  1. worth our investment in life energy and

  2. ecologically compatible with the long view of sustainability.
    As Diane points out, beyond the bare necessities, there are some rudimentary back-saving (and backside saving) conveniences that we can all appreciate.
    We all, as individuals, must ascertain the level of convenience and comfort we want, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

- Bob

-----Original Message-----
From: David MacClement <davd @> (change " @ " to "@")
To: Positive Futures; Diane Fitzsimmons <>
Date: Thursday, June 04, 1998 8:05 PM
Subject: Re: Simplicity and time

>At 10:00 26/05/98 -0700, Diane wrote {at:
- original: } :-
>> ...
>>My husband and I both descend from hard-scrabble farmers, and we can
>>easily remember houses with no electricity or indoor plumbing.  We grew
>>up on tales about washdays over a boiling kettle in the yard
>> ...
>>I feel blessed that I can have a refrigerator, stove, washer and plumbing.
>> ... Diane
At 10:43 5/06/98 +1200, David wrote {at:
- original: } :-
>Diane: In Canada (eastern Ontario) in the early 1940s we had a two-hole
>long-drop into a deep crack in the Laurentian Shield, and in the winter put
>on a heavy coat & hood, & took the kerosene storm lantern, to make tracks
>through the snow to go the ~150 ft. to the toilet.
> At 10, I came to New Zealand and remember getting up early on Saturday
>morning (wash-day) to go to the wash-house to start the fire under the old
>copper (able to hold ~3 washing-machine loads), after running rainwater
>into it from the tank. (We are still living on rainwater, in Greenhithe.)
> After it had reached close to boiling-point, I'd munge it with a smooth
>stick, then lift out the steaming items to put through the wringer.
> Bera and I will be retiring soon to a farm (a tiny Intentional Community),
>and she's planning our house, which involves deciding what is the minimum
>she needs, to be satisfied living there for a few decades.
> Our choice includes the modern electrically-efficient washing machine we
>bought a few months ago (we'll be living off the electricity grid,
>generating all our own power, using solar panels), a chest freezer set to
>work as a frig,  LP gas hob and wood stove for cooking (also heating when
>necessary - seldom, I'm guessing), and an indoor composting toilet, the
>twice-a-year clearings-out to go in the main compost heap and then on the
>garden and around the fruit and nut trees.
> So, yes, things have improved since the second world war.
> So they should, with all the unsustainable exploitation of resources
>that results from the current economic system. See "overshoot" on World Footprint Network's: - and:
>      See Keith Rankin's:
>      I think this professional economist is learning from observing my life.
>"Living lightly on the Earth"
>** {old}:
>David MacClement <davd @> (change " @ " to "@")
A short statement of how our family is currently living.

A more complete account of my views and life.

Someone else (Elton Pasea, in Texas), living on little and loving it!
(New York Times, 4 Oct.'98; still available via search :- )

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