Sunday, September 28, 2008


In his book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, British author,George Monbiot pointed out that political movements generally demand more from the government, not less. He cleverly puts it that "no one has ever rioted for austerity." Sharon Astyk, an American writer and farmer, was so taken by this phrase that she and a friend, Miranda, began a campaign for simple living that they called, 'Riot for Austerity'. Eventually they got more than sixty folks blogging and participating in the 'Riot'.

They made it like a game, but a serious game. The Riot Rules were that anyone could play, and the goal was to get your consumption down to 1/10th of what the average American consumed. (Monbiot or someone figured that the average American would need to reduce their consumption by 93 or 94%, but the Rioters decided, mostly for the sake of simplicity, that 90% would be close enough.) They gave themselves a year to do it, and would all blog about their progress--they began in June of 2007 and ended a few months ago. (I, of course, just found out about them recently). The Riot 4 Austerity site includes a calculator and a breakdown of the seven categories: Gasoline, Electricity, Heating and Cooking Energy, Garbage, Water, Consumer Goods, and Food.

Having looked at some of the posts from various 'Rioters', it seems like few made the full 90% reduction, but it also seems like most made some to quite a bit toward that reduction; and it seems like they all learned something.

I would love to participate in a challenge like that, and I am looking forward to the day when I live in a situation where I could do it. Meanwhile, I'm admiring and learning from them. One thing that was wonderful about the 'Riot' was how they supported each other. This is a valuable way to work toward simplicity.

Quote of the day: "You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not?" - George Bernard Shaw
Word (or phrase) of the day: Bear Community
Hero(es) of the day: Pyotr Kropotkin

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