Two years ago, almost to the day, the Simplicity Collective was launched at Melbourne’s “Sustainable Living Festival.” It was born of the idea that consumer culture as we know it is unsustainable, both socially and ecologically, and that simpler living, in some form or another, will need to be a part of any human civilization in the future, especially in the affluent West. This idea struck a chord with many, and in the two short years of its existence, the Simplicity Collective has grown to over 500 members, with more members joining everyday. A small drop of water in the ocean, perhaps. But with a few more drops of water we’ll have a puddle, then a pond, and so on. From little things big things grow.
Guided by that vision, the Simplicity Collective is creating a social network of ‘new pioneers’ who are dissatisfied with the empty promises of consumerism and who are in the process of creatively transitioning toward ‘a simpler life’ of reduced consumption. This vision is of a socially responsible, environmentally sane, and self-respecting world, where there is more time for those things in life that truly inspire us and make us happy. It is a vision in which the entire community of life has an opportunity to flourish, not just a privileged few.
Put simply, it is about celebrating the paradox that less can be more.
The purpose of the Simplicity Collective website is to build a rich resource of information on the difficulties and delights of simpler living, as well as provide a forum through which ‘simple livers’ and ‘downshifters’ all around the world can interact and share insights, stories, and information. Many of you may agree that there is nothing particularly ‘simple,’ in the sense of ‘easy,’ about living simply in a consumer culture. But it can be done, if only we dare to exercise our most precious resource – the human imagination.
This weekend just gone I attended the Sustainable Living Festival again, for the third year running. In the absence of funding, however, this year I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend $500 securing an exhibitor’s tent. Instead, I just spent my time handing out flyers and short books on voluntary simplicity, and engaging in conversation anyone who was willing to speak with me. It was very nice to see some of you down there and, as always, it was a pleasure to chat.
Although in previous years it was a delight to be formally involved in the Sustainable Living Festival, it seemed somewhat appropriate (and a little humorous perhaps) that the Simplicity Collective was too frugal to continue purchasing a tent space. Nevertheless, while I was at the festival this year, the process of handing out printed information began to strike me as a rather old-fashioned method of campaigning. Despite being a pleasant way to spend my time, it seemed like a terribly inefficient – one might say, unimaginative – means of advancing the Voluntary Simplicity Movement.
This provoked a rethink of strategy. There must be a better way to campaign! Almost everyone I speak with about voluntary simplicity is sympathetic to the idea, would be interested in exploring it, and would like more information. The problem, however, is how best to bring attention to this most promising social movement, given resource/financial constraints. We can’t rely on mass media. We can’t rely on our politicians. The answer, I am convinced, is by exploiting the networking potential of the Internet.
And that’s where you come in: Would you be prepared to spend a few moments forwarding this email / web-link onto a few friends whom you think may be interested in joining in on the discussion of voluntary simplicity? It may seem like a small and inconsequential act, but, to put it proverbially, every great transition proceeds step by step.
So please consider being an ‘online activist’ today, and invite a few people to join our community at the Simplicity Collective (www.simplicitycollective.com). There urgently needs to be a more public discussion of alternatives to consumerism, and this very moment you can help by passing on the torch with a ‘simple’ email. By sharing the flame, we can help ignite a great transition.
Let us continue the journey toward a simpler life together and help advance the Voluntary Simplicity Movement – humbly, passionately, and in the spirit of celebration.
From the depths of my nature, thank you for your support.