portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements global

environment | health | sustainability

Living the Good Life

I would just like to share with everyone the title of a very good and inspiring book I read lately, Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing.
Helen and Scott are a couple that got sick of consumer culture and wage slavery (all the way back in 1932!) and moved out to the country. They built their own stone home, grew their own food, were vegetarian/vegan and lived without the labor of animals. The book is basically an accounting of their first 20 years, and I just found it inspiring. Even though it is slightly dated, I think everything still applies and that their story is still possible with today's people and is a great guide to sustainable living.

They have a second installment, Continuing the Good Life, which I plan to read soon. Living the Good Life in its original form is actually out of print (I found it cheap on used book site abebooks.com). However, stores still sell "The Good Life," which is both of the books in one.

Anyway, I found it good enough that I felt I needed to tell everyone here about it, as it is really right down the alley of a lot of the people reading this site.
Multnomah County Library 01.Apr.2004 14:24

Little Wing

Several of the Nearing books are available at Multnomah County Library.

Multnomah County Library catalog

oh, right 01.Apr.2004 14:56


Wow, I hadn't even thought of libraries.

I guess I've lost faith in libraries because it has been many years since they have had anything I was looking for. For years I've been buying books (though recently I've taken to reading things in the Powell's Coffee Room and then putting them back on the shelf).

But if they are at the library, great! People can read them for free!

My inability to remember libraries as a book source kind of says something about our culture, I guess....

Sad to read this 01.Apr.2004 16:48


Androgyne001 wrote:
"I guess I've lost faith in libraries because it has been many years since they have had anything I was looking for."

Libraries are one of our greatest democratic institutions. If you think libraries don't have what you're looking for, you aren't looking hard enough. If your library doesn't own it, you can still ask for it from another library system entirely. Libraries cooperate with each other. If the library doesn't own something and you think it should, you can make the suggestion the library purchase it. They do buy it! The more information you have about it, the better.

Librarians are passionate about civil rights. Librarians are passionate about your right to information. If you can't find what you're looking for, talk to the librarians. They're there to help you find it.

Yes! 01.Apr.2004 17:38


I have also been inspired by the Nearings' books. Another book along similar lines, and written in the same time frame, is "This Ugly Civilization" by Ralph Borsodi. He started an alternative community in the '30's.

The Multnomah County Library is a great source of books. I use their website to reserve items weekly. The library website has a keyword search feature which is very useful in finding books on topics of interest. You can also search by publisher: just put in the name of a cool publisher such as Soft Skull Press, Feral House, Loompanics, New Society Publishers, etc.

We also get all our videos at the library. They have most of the recent releases just like you'd get at a video store, plus lots of documentaries, foreign films, and art films. If you like movies, this will save you big bucks.

And I rent CD's and copy 'em. They've got a fair selection of punk and psychedelic sixties rock, my favorites, lots of other stuff too, classical, blues, world music, etc.

While I'm there I also pick up all my freebie papers like the Alliance, the KBOO program, Just Out, Skanner, etc. The library is a groovy place! There should be more places like the library.

Multnomah County Library system is one of the best in the country 01.Apr.2004 22:48

books, movies and more

Androgyne001 wrote:
"I guess I've lost faith in libraries because it has been many years since they have had anything I was looking for."

you really need to check this library out.

search the database online from your home computer, or at the library itself, for things you didn't see on the shelf.

M.C. Library gets all of the latest book / movie releases you could want - in the case of popular titles, they have multiple copies of them.

getting a library card was one of the first things I did after arriving here. I'm constantly amazed when I meet a Portland resident who doesn't know about or realize how great their local library is.

Gee, thanks y'all 01.Apr.2004 23:00

Local Librarian

Thanks y'all. Great reading your posts. :)

As a librarian, I bristled a bit at Enji's statement "If you think libraries don't have what you're looking for, you aren't looking hard enough." I think that if you have to be a professional to find basic information and services, then something is wrong with our system and/or the way we communicate about our services, not something wrong with the patron.

But that said, I agree with Enji's other vigorous statements. We are passionate and we are fighting for civil rights, open access, and intellectual freedom.

Please continue to use and love your libraries, and if you get stuck please do ask for help. Otherwise, we're just standing around telling people where the bathrooms and the copiers are.

That's great that they remembered to 02.Apr.2004 10:35


include not exploiting the animals in their simple life. I can't count the number of times I've seen those back to basics, simple life tomes in which people continue their oppressive ways, but feel really good about themselves and their place at the top of the universe while doing it. When they do that, they aren't really changing anything. These books sound like good recommendations.

on living the good life 13.Oct.2004 08:52

jessica jwoodbury@coa.edu

i have a growing interest and curiousity on land movements. i have much respect and admiration for the nearings, in how they carried out their lives. i want to meet and learn from people who are actually living the good life, or something similar to it; people who are or have "moved back to the land". if anyone knows of such people or activists of this sort, please contact me!  jwoodbury@coa.edu

Next Door to the Good Life 01.Aug.2005 17:31


I also want to check out the book titled "Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life" by Jean Hay, another environmentalist who literally lived next door to the Nearings and had some "insight" to add about how the Nearings accomplished such feats. It helps to reduce the feelings of inadequacy to know that nobody (besides my mother-in-law) is that perfect.