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Old 05-05-06, 07:42 AM
Jack Burns
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Wonderful thread, except for some of the personal attacks.

I tip my hat to my fellow "simple livers" and offer sincere words of encouragement to each. I was once a heavy consumer, drunk on the elixir of things and a fat paycheck. But one day while sitting on my patio over looking the unnatural deep green landscape of a golf course, I suddenly came to the realization that something was terribly wrong.

Over the next ten years, I went through a process of reeducation and devoted my life to sustainable living and environmental protection. But it's not been easy.

I'm the Chief Operating Officer of a high tech company, have a good income and lots of responsibilities working with people who do not share my worldview. As far as I can tell, I'm the only corporate officer in my city that commutes by bike to work. And I don't know of any other companies that use consensus process for decision making and offer all employees ownership and decision making ability. I guess you could say it's my own little social experiment. But I digress.

I'm married and have three kids. Of course, all want cars. One in college has a car; one in college does not. My wife drives my 1988 BMW 528e, the last car I ever bought, and I'll never buy another.

We currently live in a rented house, and there are very good reasons for this choice. iBarna, you are not alone. I'm not a big fan of the whole land/home ownership thing, although you can easily make a sound fiscal case for it. I've always more closely identified with early Native American concepts of land stewardship and occupancy. However, my goal is to ultimately purchase some land and build a small cabin somewhere. I think that's the only way I'll be able to protect land from development, not worry about being kicked off, restore native flora and protect native fauna.

But the fact remains that home ownership has become a cudgel of sorts in our society. A way for people to accumulate wealth and therefore power over others, and it also drives development and the exhaustion of resources and is therefore inherently unsustainable.

I do own books, music and art, most of the latter produced by friends and my son, a student at Maryland Institute College of Art. And camping gear. I'm an avvid backpacker but not a "gear head."

We live in a community where everything is accessible by walking or by cycling, and we're fortunate to have a network of bike lanes.

I maintain a garden, and I'm working to produce as much food as possible.

Our landlord is gracious and kind and has agreed to let me convert the property to a wildlife preserve of sorts, never using chemicals and allowing some deadfall and refuse to remain for the critters. I'm also an amateur ornithologist.

I don't use credit cards and only keep a debit card for traveling needs.

In short, we attempt to "live in place," meaning, we try to live locally, buy locally and use as little fossil fuel as possible. I believe this is only path to sustainability. Sustainable means that the society does not consume more natural resources than can be replenished by natural biological and geophysical cycles, and does not produce waste faster than can be dispersed by natural biological and geophysical cycles.

I think its pretty clear that any group that does not follow these simple guidelines will not long last.

Want a sustainable society? Well, social systems derive from the actions of the people, reflecting those actions and instructing new members of society on how to be a successful human being. It seems unlikely that we can change our social system without first changing our behavior. There must first be a successful society of people living in harmony with local cycles, before it can be a model for all human societies, in their infinite variations on the theme.

So, we can start with what we have, discard what we don't need, reject the foolishness and destructiveness of the present consumptive example and begin to ease toward a lifeway offering a path to a more sustainable future.
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