Robbie Knight, host of Green Streets TV interviews author William Powers about his new book Twelve by Twelve - A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream.
After a decade doing aid work around the underdeveloped world, William Powers began to feel that while he’d been working to aid people in conflict and poverty, and to protect and preserve rainforests and their inhabitants, this kind of protection, preservation, and aid was needed at home, too. He wondered: Is the developed world globalizing happiness, health, and sustainability or environmental destruction, cultural conflict, and personal and collective anxiety? When is too much not enough?
At the same time, Powers met Dr. Jackie Benton, a physician living in the North Carolina woods on the “radical edge of how simply one can live in America.” In her 12’ x 12’ cabin and the surrounding acres she cultivated, she practiced permaculture — “the things your grandparents knew and your parents forgot” — and embodied a modern blend of science and spirituality, acceptance and activism.
When Powers takes her place in the 12 x 12, he experiences the way Benton’s “See. Be. Do.” way of life reaches inward and outward. His despair at the problems he sees is met by a new sense of being and a changed way of doing.
Whether we are being downsized out of homes and jobs or downgrading our cable access, growing our own or going on food stamps, we yearn for meaning and purpose. We want to act with hope, work for change we can believe in.
Resonating with the growing “slow food,” simplicity, and sustainability movements, and with Kingsolver, Dillard, and McKibben, Twelve by Twelve asks — and answers — our questions about living lightly, artfully, and joyfully in the twenty-first century.
William Powers has led development aid and environmental initiatives in Latin America, Africa, and Washington, DC. The author of the memoirs Blue Clay People and Whispering in the Giant’s Ear, his essays on global issues have appeared in media including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Slate. He has been interviewed on programs including Fresh Air and Living on Earth and is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.
Powers lives part-time in New York City. His website is williampowersbooks.com.
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