--forced simplicity is a drag, no matter what anybody says. (In Thoreau's day, there was a professor at Harvard Divinity School who used to equate poverty with a special sauce or gravy, saying it enhanced the taste of finer things.) In this Monitor piece, the reporter talks about the guilt that drives people to give up stuff, for lack of a better word, so that other people can have their stuff.
Bonnie Russell, a legal publicist in Del Mar, Calif., shares that attitude. “I feel a great relief at cleaning out my closet to donate to the less fortunate and not replacing things,” she says. Part of Ms. Russell’s decision to pare down and share with others had its roots in what she calls “good, old-fashioned guilt.” As she read news stories about people having less, “I realized I’m sitting around plenty of unnecessary things,” she says. “One day I looked around and realized I didn’t want to have a life of stuff. I wanted to have a life of experiences.” One recipient of Russell’s generosity stands on a street corner near her home to look for work. “He’s there at 7 a.m., six days a week, and has helped with handyman chores for years. I give clothes and other things to him directly because I know they’re more apt to find a thankful or needed home.”
While it is better that they are driven to help other people through guilt than through no way at all, it seems as if there is also some joy in choosing something that is less and already more, because, as HTD said, Surely joy is the condition of life, these houses being a case in point:
In other words, less does not seem like less, and having more doesn't make you feel guilty. Here are some young people who helped in this project, a $20,000 house--8th graders from Denver.
The program is called the 20K house program, and it happens in rural Alabama. The history:
Initiated by Sambo Mockbee, the mission of the Rural Studio is to enable each participating student to cross the threshold of misconceived opinions to create/design/build and to allow students to put their educational values to work as citizens of a community. The Rural Studio seeks solutions to the needs of the community within the community’s own context, not from outside it. Abstract ideas based upon knowledge and study are transformed into workable solutions forged by real human contact, personal realization, and a gained appreciation for the culture.