Saturday, December 31, 2011

Celebrating New Year and The Nearings

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the coming New Year than with gratitude to those who helped set my Path.

If I had to pick any one thing that pointed me in the direction I try to walk, it would have to be my exposure to the work of Helen and Scott Nearing, back in the early 1970's via their books published by Rodale Press. There was no internet back then and information was difficult to find, but once I heard of them, I read everything I could by (and about) these 2 remarkable people who promoted self-sufficiency and sustainability. 

Who were Helen and Scott Nearing?GLC_pic.gif

The Nearing were two of America's most inspirational practitioners of simple, frugal and purposeful living. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Helen and Scott Nearing moved from their small apartment in New York City to a dilapidated farmhouse on 65 acres in Vermont. For over 20 years, they created fertile, organic gardens, hand-crafted stone buildings, and a practice of living simply and sustainably on the land. In 1952, they moved to the Maine coast, where they later built their last stone home.
Through their 60 years of living on the land in rural New England, their commitment to social and economic justice, their numerous books and articles, and the time they shared with thousands of visitors to their homestead, the Nearings embodied a philosophy that has come to be recognized as a centerpiece of America's "Back to the Land" and "Simple Living" movements. (Source)

Their best known books (those they wrote together) are Living the Good Life (1954) and Continuing the Good Life (1979). The first of these is often credited with being a major spur to the U.S. back-to-the-land movement that began in the late 1960s.

Before they moved back to the land in Vermont in 1932, Scott Nearing had been a Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and Helen Nearing had been trained as a classical violinist.

I was (and remain) fascinated, first by their technique for building walls with movable forms, concrete, and rocks from their property, and later by their walled garden with the sunken passive solar greenhouse that provided food all year even in the coldest winters of the NE USA. Precursors to Eliot Coleman, in my mind.

I now realize I must have absorbed some of their views on corporatism, as I continue to rail against Monsanto et al.

Here's a short clip on the Nearings. The last scene was apparently filmed after they were much older and no longer living on their farm. (Just mentioning that so you do not mistake their suburban-looking home as being the one at the farm.)

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