Category: ExcessVsAbundance


Listening Tour

For a while now it has been on my heart and mind to launch a simplicity listening tour. As I sit down to write my next book about simplicity, I am eager to get up and hear from others. What do people around my city, state, country, even around the world think about simplicity? What do you think about simplicity? Why are you attracted to simplicity? Where does simplicity fall short? What hope does simplicity evoke in you? Can simplicity help meet some of the challenges of our world?

So, would you be interested in participating? A listening tour can happen a number of ways. Here are some ways it could work. Feel free to suggest a different format.

Meet over coffee or a beer for a couple of hours and share your thoughts and experiences of simplicity. This would be a great format for small groups (2-5). We’d all benefit from a shared experience and new friendships. And these kinds of small setting sometimes percolate unforeseen outcomes.

Meet at a venue (church, office, school, library, shop) for a few hours to conduct a Simplify the Middle Workshop. This is a very interactive workshop I’ve developed that applies simplicity as a means to solve a specific challenge. This would be a great format for a bit larger group (5-20) interested in using simplicity to meet a need. The group would benefit with some actionable take aways. I’d benefit from listening while facilitating.

Meet at a venue for several hours and I will give a simplicity talk then group Q&A. This does not seem like “listening” at first glance. But what I have found is that sometimes people prefer to listen before they warm up to talk. I have a specific lecture I give at the end of every semester when I teach. It has never failed to elicit applause and lots of follow up discussion. (Trust me, neither are a given in a college classroom.) This would be a great format for a larger group (20+) where circling chairs would be difficult. Post talk, we could break into smaller groups. The benefit to the group would be a provocative talk leading to discussion. I’d benefit from listening in and from follow-up conversations.

The goal I have set is to schedule at least 10 of these listening gatherings between June and December. I have room for almost double that in my schedule, if this takes off.

Since my original simple-living project the 100 Thing Challenge gained public attention, the most satisfying experience I have had is listening to and learning from the wisdom of other people. It means so much to me to hear from others.

Let’s see where this goes. If you are interested, please reach out to me. We will discuss if one of the above formats is a fit or if you have another idea. We can discuss logistics, too. I would not want to charge for this but if it involved travel to get to your venue, we’d need to talk through those costs.

Bottom line: our overly-cluttered world hinders flourishing. I believe simplicity is one means to amplify human flourishing. It would be a privilege to hear from you.

Directly contact me:


Self-Imposed Limits

Earlier this week I went to the credit union and paid the remaining $4.02 on my 2006 Honda Civic. The teller who helped me was very kind. She also let me know I was prequalified for a new auto loan. I said I was content with the car I own and grateful to have no more debt.

I bought my used Honda a few years back after the 1990s Mazda 929 finally became too unreliable. At the time, I did not have enough cash to buy the Honda outright and so got a small loan. I still can recall how the person who helped me was surprised at how little I wanted to borrow. She told me I qualified for a lot more and could get a nicer car. I said I was content with the used Honda and preferred to keep my debt as low as possible.

Our economy does not treat everyone equally. There are people who cannot walk into a credit union and get an auto loan. But for those of us who can, the economy encourages us the same way. It encourages us to extend ourselves as much as possible. Borrow as much as a creditor will offer. Buy as much as the debt will purchase.

For many of us, the financial limits we live within are the ones we self-impose.


Excess and Abundance

Can we create a world of abundance without making it a world of excess? The boosters of a consumer economy rightly point out that poverty is not a virtue. (Of course, poverty might be a means to a virtue. This is how ascetics use poverty, not as the end but as a means.) Yet quite a few people who experience the riches of a consumer economy also feel the burdens of its wastes. Let me suggest two definitions that might help sort out the question.

Excess more than is healthy for individuals and communities.

Abundance enough for individuals and communities to flourish. Read More