Whole Earth Catalog: A roadmap to humanity

I found this volume at a tag sale some years ago and thought it was just a curiosity at the time. I bought it for a few dollars and took it home only to forget about it until recently (moving does that to you sometimes).

After getting another chance to go over everything I’ve been missing, I have to say… This is by far one of the best resources on simple living, sustainability and even our own peculiarities (I.E. there is no censorship). The Whole Earth Catalog should be in everyone’s library. If anything it can really open some eyes that are sewn shut with self-centeredness these days.

It’s one of the more revolutionary publications that will sorely be missed today.

Subtitling this "Access to Tools" has to be one of the biggest understatements in publishing. It's oh-so-much-more

 

The catalog is a year older than me! And it really does cover the Whole Earth!

Published October 1981

 

The map has changed a bit since this edition, but the topics it covers — vast in breadth and depth — goes from “Understanding Whole Systems” which include Laws of form, Space, Eco-ethics, Evolution, Natural history, Plants as well as “Community” which includes Recycling, Rural emergency, Home nursing Women’s health, Childbirth (in graphic detail), Sex (also in “detail” of sorts), Consumer reports and everything in-between. It’s a who’s who and what’s what of basic and enhanced living.

The list of topics covered is copious as it is astoundingly fascinating.

 

While browsing through this time, I came across an article on Sri Lanka! Specifically the concept of “Shramadana” which is a contraction of Sarvodaya Shamadana Movement in Sri Lanka. The article goes into a specific example at work, however considering this was published before the civil war, I don’t know how many of these people are still around. Hopefully many. Their example will be one of the few things that will keep the country going.

"It does not require oil, gas coal or nukes; it empowers people not machines; it is shramadana. Literally meaning the giving (dana) of human energy (shrama)"

 

The concept can best be summarized as using human equity toward completing projects for the community. Anyone can grab a tool and participate provided you’re of able body and sound mind. It doesn’t matter what your social status is; a banker and farmer are equals in terms of what they can contribute in human energy.

Habitat for Humanity is probably the closest Western counterpart

 

What really got me interested are the aspects of environmental consciousness that and examples of “better” and “wiser” living that we could really use right now. It really drives home how much this was ahead of its time as only now are we starting to understand the consequences of our actions.

"The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness" - Brilliant!

 

Then there are the creative aspects of what we can actually do about this. The sustainability pointers in this are, I think, invaluable today more than ever.

Building a house using telephone poles as raw material. How creative is that?

 

The book is full of examples like these for simple, sustainable living as well as creative solutions to real world problems that are oddly still applicable by and large today.

Then there are also aspects of humanity that some of us still wouldn’t dare discuss openly or honestly. It’s amazing testament to how much popular publications censor themselves on real issues while advancing pointless topics. Talk about being hypocritical prudes.

I had to cover the naughty bits. This being a family-friendly blog and all ;)

 

Did I mention there’s no censorship in this book? Can you imagine a popular publication making mention of something like this today?

And that, boys and girls, is why I keep thinking I was born a few decades too late.

Advertisement

Living in a tiny house

Living large (in a tiny house)

Dee Williams lives in a solar and propane powered house in a friend’s back yard and pays no rent or mortgage. Now that’s what I call living! For someone who’s worked as an investigator for the Washington State Department of Ecology, she has really toned down on excess by focusing on only what she really needs. Puts a whole new perspective on living large.

The 89 Square Foot house tour

This man decided to give up living in an enormous house that was actually taking up more money to just heat and instead built his own little cabin on wheels. The trailer build gets around local building codes, as he points out, contain provisions put in place by the housing and insurance industry lobby.

Forgeahead

Is a small company by Jenine Alexander and Amy Hutto that builds tiny houses on trailers. It originally started with Jenine wanting to build a tiny house of her own, which she did on a trailer. You may notice a lot of tiny houses are on trailers for mobility and to get around those pesky redundant codes.

This is Jenine’s house:

A Forgeahead product on display. Turns out, people still react negatively to this even though they’re not harming anyone:

More on the same tiny house. What’s amazing is that each one is absolutely unique (depending on where the materials and supplies came from):

Living small

Larger houses contribute more to greenhouse emissions and polution. This is a short video shows how building small can be more energy efficient and still functional