March 19, 2007

the simple life...

when i think about what is the most beneficial action i can take to reduce my impact upon the earth, it would have to be to live simply.

i have been inspired by draft-dodgers, hippies, and back-to-the-landers, ever since i was young. growing up on vancouver island, on the extreme west coast, i bore witness to many of these people as they chose to live what was then considered an "alternative lifestyle." entire families living in handbuilt surfing shacks on sombrio beach, vietnam dodgers living in their cabins or on their boats in some of the many remote coves that are dotted up and down the island. they all shared a common goal, to live simply with nature.

we are trying to do this in our own little way, here in our home smack in the middle of downtown vancouver, the second most expensive city in north america. we made a conscious decision to live with walking distance of work, and most amenities. we have space and light within our home, and finally a teeny, tiny, yard that we can start a small herb and food garden in. the yard is concrete, and because we are renters, we can't really have anything permanant, so we are building containers that will hold the garden above the ground.

as with tracy's quest to have a natural californian landscape around her house, i'll keep you posted on how our garden grows in future posts.

here are some links to my favourite books and blogs on simple living. i treasure them. i hope you will too.

the good life
radical simplicity
the path to freedom
handbuilt shelter
you grow girl


eshu said...

great post! i, too, have been considering a mini-garden. we rent a small apartment in Boston, which also HAS to be on the list of expensive North American cities. and although we don't really have a yard to use, we do have a little teeny balcony (otherwise known as the fire escape) that we could fit at least a few things on. thanks so much for the post and the links, i look forward to seeing how your garden grows :)

Parge said...

Here are some links to get you started on the Square Foot Garden approach that we're implementing:

Mel Bartholomew's site
A good guide to one person's implementation
Another good guide

Just do a search "Square Foot Garden" for loads of info. I just hope 6" on top of concrete is good enough. We'll know soon enough. :)

Tracy said...

wonderful post cindy. that conncection to nature is what draws us up the coast every year to galiano. i can't wait to see how you translate this to life in vancouverr. (a city i also love.)

Cally said...

Beautiful post, well said Cindy.

I also have lots of concrete, but luckily it is my own so I am slowy chipping (hacking!) away at it. But yes, taubs, troughs etc abound, and old baths are good as they hold a great depth of soil, they have a drainage hole (put mesh over the plug hole and then some gravel so the soild doesn't clog it).

You can build a frame from scrap timber to 'hide' the bath-ness if desired. This also can help insulate it from frost in the winter (if you pack the gap between with old paper, or bags, or anything really) but be aware it can be a hidden home for slugs etc. so check in spring to see what may be hiding in wait to munch your hard work!

I like the sound of your upbringing :0)

Cally said...

I forgot to say... That photo is beautiful!

m said...

I'm also a Vancouverite (in the heart of Mount Pleasant) who longs for a simpler, connected-with-nature life. But I think we urbanites must remind ourselves that if we live mindfully in the city, we can make a very small footprint on the planet.

Sure, I dream of a small home in the forest on the edge of a lake, growing most of my own foods. But if everyone had this, there would be no true wilderness left. I think there can be something said for building up and not out.

We rent an apartment and don't even have a balcony to have a garden. I'm on the waitlist for a nearby community garden, but in the meantime I've been growning herbs in my kitchen and even managed a few tomatos last summer. We have a worm composter, also in our kitchen. We don't own a vehicle, walk or take transit everywhere. I try to buy locally as much as possible. We are slowly getting better, but it never seems enough.

I'm so glad you gals started this site. I'm very excited about how it grows.

cindy said...

hi all,

thanks for your feedback.
m, welcome. it's nice to see another vancouverite here. i know how it is we have lived in 12 different apartments over the years, most didn't have balconies, but were close to everything.
i agree we do need to increase our urban density, and i think that's what city hall is planning on focusing on for the gvrd.

for those that want a rural lifestyle, i surely don't agree with the subdivisions that are rampant in the fraser valley. what's rural about strip mall's and starbucks? i think if you look at western canada wilderness commitees'website they have great maps showing what wilderness we actually have left. it's shockingly small. only the walbran valley on vancouver island and little bits here and there in the lower mainland. lighthouse park in west vancouver for instance. all the other land has been modified by industry in some way.

julie said...

I love this photo and your words...i feel very much the same as you and wish we had a little garden to grow in..we do have a few herbs but once summer sets in the scorching sun kills everything on the balcony..

Kerstin Svendsen said...

heya, i also rent and have a mostly concrete yard. above-ground containers is a great idea!