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'Less is More' Book Review: No More Racing for a Finish Line That is Never Reached

August 03, 2009

Category: Environmental Science


By Barbara Bamberger Scott, JOURNAL BOOK REVIEWER
Source: www.journalnow.com

Less is MoreLESS IS MORE: Embracing simplicity for a healthy planet, a caring economy and lasting happiness. By Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. New Society Publishers. 267 pages. $16.95, paperback.

Here is a book with its roots in the earth that can move you to new places, stimulate ideas and encourage change.

Two simplicity activists, Wanda Urbanska — author, TV producer and longtime Mount Airy resident — and Cecile Andrews — author and founder of the Phinney EcoVillage in Seattle — have teamed up to bring us this satisfying collection of essays by people who have long been toiling in the vineyards of planetary awareness. They have much to tell us about slowing down, even stopping at times, in order to save ourselves and our environment.

What's not to like about something as apparently innocent as simplicity? Why is there so much resistance to it? Some detractors like to imply that those who espouse simplicity want everyone to turn back the clock, abandon their jobs, grow all their own food and make their own shoes. But living the simple life in a complex world is not that easy. Less Is More challenges us as active, involved people, to embrace simplicity even if we can't return to Thoreau's Walden Pond or retreat like Helen and Scott Nearing to an idyllic homestead.

"More and more it feels like our lives have turned into a grueling race toward a finish line we never reach," says Jay Walljasper, a former editor of the Utne Reader. Less Is More will show you how to divest gradually, to live more in the present moment, while still paying attention to technology, health, politics and the environment. Simplicity is not a turning away; it's a rejoining.

We all innately long to make our lives less empty, to fill them with real enjoyment instead of fleeting, clock-regulated pleasure. One step in the right direction is "Wabi-Sabi Time," as described by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the editor-in-chief of Natural Home magazine. Symbolized by the ornate ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony, wabi-sabi is a combination of calm anticipation and the gentle bloom of fruition. It's an art we can all practice, with or without the tea — but "it probably means turning off the TV."

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John Wear
Wear
John E. Wear, the founding director of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College, grew and sold produce as a child. "My early connection with the natural world helped direct me to a life devoted to educating others about the environment." Wear writes that "We must reach out to those whose worldview is different from ours. We must  ...  help them see  ...  how living lightly on the Earth is our only viable choice."
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