Can Less Be More

August 17, 2010

Do we need all our stuff? How much stuff do we really need to live? What does one really need? Just received the link to interesting site via Josh. Kelly Sutton’s site where he has listed all of his possessions and is selling everything off except what he can fit into 2 boxes….

He says on his blog:

Inspired by a a book or two, I’ve decided to try to see if I can rid my life of most of the clutter. The goal? Condense my life into 2 bags and 2 boxes.

How will I do this? It seems simple to just say: get rid of everything. To realize how much junk I own, I have put myself through the misery of documenting every single possession of mind, no matter how insignificant. This gives me a solid metric to measure my progress against. I will be explaining the finer details of this in future posts.

The 2 bags and 2 boxes principle will hopefully allow me to live anywhere and move instantly. This is the Cult of Less.

“On the whole, it’s led me to cherish my few purchases more. Every possession also requires a certain amount of upkeep, and I find myself with more time and less possessional guilt. Every thing owned begs to be used constantly; every second not utilized comes a shred of buyer’s remorse. Everything I own I use at least once per month, save for my winter clothes.”

I say, all well and good if yu are young and it is feasible to live that way. Everyone in the US particularly accumulates lots of stuff. I feel burdened by the house and the contents that have attached themselves over the past 25 years. But as someone replied:

“This is a completely crap and meaningless “trend”. There’s no real sacrifice involved whatsoever, and the people involved seem to enjoy the illusion of asceticism without the actual hard work involved. If you’re happy only owning five pairs of underwear or whatever, more power to you… but to blog about it as some great emerging movement or philosophy is a waste.”

I could do without the potted plants, but they do give me oxygen and bring life into my home. I could without the art on the walls, but most of the art in my house was created by people I know and it enriches and inspires me to have it around me. Do I need 2 pianos? No, anyone want to buy one? It’s not easy to sell a piano. I also don’t need more than 1 cutting knife but I have 4 or 5. I don’t know that I will go minimalist, but I certainly could as Josh recently suggested: hire someone to help me, put up a tent in the backyard and bring it all out into the daylight and then make some choices……Perhaps it would be comforting to have a list of everything I own in one place?

Floods? Go Floating!

August 3, 2009

floatingcamping2

I found these interesting posts on Inhabitat.com about alternative housing in areas that have floods or where people fight the tides. For example, here a beautiful project in the Netherlands called Citadel which is a floating apartment complex. Beautiful, built in a polder, which is a flood plain separated from the sea by dikes. The Stilthouses are another idea for habitability and are workable whether or not there is flooding. A just-in-case home! And the most fun is the floating camper, the project of a group of students (also referred to as guerilla social engineers) who have been responsible for several projects like the one pictured above. Holland has a history of flooding and there is a great deal of creative thinking and building going on there. Smart and fun.

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It’s a jungle out there. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs you could put money down on an apartment, show up to move in and find yourself with 4 other people who also put money down on the same space all waiting for a phoney broker who has since left town. This did not happen to us. But this has happened for real to others.

After messing around with Craigslist, waiting outside apartments for a broker who doesn’t show up, or who gets there and shows you an apartment that doesn’t look like the photo online, or who tells you they don’t have the keys to that apartment but do have other keys, I finally walked into a realtor’s office on 13th and Fifth Ave, threw my hands up and begged someone to show me a nice apartment for my student son. My NY Realtor friends are annoyed with me for not coming to them in the first place- but I thought they wouldn’t want to bother with my low budget for Micah’s first NYC apartment. Well, my low-budget grew and grew, the more places I saw. Teeny, tiny, have to slide in side-ways to get to the toilet in miniscule bathrooms, dirty, strange and dark hallways, weird configurations of chopped up spaces. I couldn’t bear it and upped the ante. Along with upping came the broker and the commission and the one month FREE rent, nice trade. It has not been the best experience financially, but we found a great studio right near school. We’ll save on the monthly subway pass, he’ll cook for himself, I’ll send care packages. And that will have to be that.

Now for those of you who are out there shopping. Here is a good site with helpful info about the do’s and don’ts of apartment shopping in NYC.