What if everyone did what you’re doing? (Part 2!)

This is Part 2 of our three-part series in response to the question often posed, explicitly or implicitly, during the conversations we have with many people day to day. If you haven’t already, you can go back and read Part 1 of our thoughts on this.

Let’s address the extremely literal and specific meaning of this question. What if everyone traveled around the world without money, getting food for free, etc.? I’m pretty confident I know the answer to this one. Society would collapse and we’d all starve to death.

Thankfully, complex societies require specialization. If we all started doing any one single thing, except (arguably) subsistence farming, we would perish rapidly. A society populated only by doctors or only by authors would die as surely as one consisting solely of peripatetic, idea-pollinating, money-rejecting young male bloggers. But not everyone has to do what we’re doing and not everyone wants to do what we’re doing. For everyone who wants to make the world better by traveling, sharing questions, and forming new social connections, there’s someone else who would love to roam around building things and improving our physical environment, and there are a bunch of people who would like to do most of their good in a single place they can call home.

Our human endeavor has room and need for all of these people to live out their dreams and our current role as sowers of good cheer, good deeds, good questions, and (hopefully) good ideas is one we think is in great need and one we’re particularly well-suited for. We’re intelligent, we’ve done a lot of thinking, we’re kinda fun, we don’t desire a lot of material comfort, and we care, a lot. I’m too squeamish to be a doctor, too honest and too radical to run for office, and not particularly talented at house building. But I can do this and I think the doing of this is good. And I think something similar holds for Jesse, and for Mark, though he’d probably argue that there’s no such thing as good.

In Solidarity,
– Adam

Geographic P.S.: We’ve been in the Melbourne-ish area of Florida for eight days now, mainly because we’ve met some incredible people here. We’ll likely be heading south this afternoon, if Mark and Jesse ever wake up.

Just Having a Conversation

It remains our opinion that just having a conversation is among the most effective things one can do in our society. We have plenty of stuff… much more than enough of it. Our problems are of distribution and isolation. Not only is a more-than-the-weather exchange an enjoyable experience of sharing knowledge, furthering understanding, and connecting with someone in an honest way, it builds a better world.

We are repeatedly inundated with an abundance of kindness and openness from people of all backgrounds and dispositions. Indeed, when one actually makes the time to dig into a real verbal exchange with someone, one finds that even the most unlikely of folks share more ideas and desires than one might imagine. A respectful, enjoyable, and mutually beneficial interchange nearly always occurs.

So after some frisbee at the beach and before porching the night away playing music, we ate great food and drank absurd amounts of coffee while connecting time and again with a bunch of amazing people all over this town.

In the spirit of conversation, I will say little more for now, but invite you all to please send us a message with your thoughts, questions and ideas. We aim to make this experience not only amazing for ourselves, but something of benefit to those around us in our space, in our thoughts, and in our hearts. (Cheesy! Trite! True!)

I leave you with this conversation, in the form of a podcast, where we sat down with Tim and Chris while in Athens to discuss the apropos notion of the true cost of things. We hope you find it amusing and informative (or at least a catalyst for discussion about matters of importance).

Athens Occupier Radio: The Consensus Show: Episode #1

xo,
J-Ho

Oh, and here are some more awesome photos that Kim took of us chattin’ with her eager, inspiring, totally awesome students!

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So much intrigue!

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Lovin’ the wave!

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Reading = winning.

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Behold! Our future!

All We Ever Wanted

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I’m in a hurry. I want to write this post while I’m fully in the thrall of the glorious feeling currently enveloping me. This trip, and the world, are better than I thought they were/would be. That’s simple and vague, but amazing. I was wrong about how good the world is! I already thought it was mostly awesome, but now I think it’s better than that – with  a great deal of potential to be even better.

We just had a two hour presentation/conversation with a bunch of awesome 4th-graders in Ms. Kelly’s class at Odyssey Charter School in Palm Bay, FL. We started by introducing ourselves and very briefly (no kidding!) explaining our trip (around the world, no money, blah blah blah) and our four core motivations (fun, learning, contributing, and pollinating ideas/questions). Then we took questions. The kids were eager and smart and positive and full of queries (our stack, a la Occupy, was at times 20 names long).

They asked us where we stay, where we get food, why we haven’t been to Haiti, etc. We got 33 kids to boo Publix with us (for having compactors instead of dumpsters), to promise to talk to their friends about composting rather than throwing out food waste, and to reject the idea that there is ever a legitimate cause to be mean to someone. We talked about the fact that everyone there (and everyone reading this) is participating in the rapid, disorganized, and permanent destruction of Tuvalu. We probably went over their heads with our discussion of the Kitchenware Revolution in Iceland, but they liked Iceland, so that’s ok! It’s about the spirit of it all. We had two hours of sharing our utterly sincere and energetic beliefs in the possibility of modern life and the responsibility that accompanies our interconnectedness. And it made us happy and it made them happy. And I feel better than I have in my entire life, I think.

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We want to do more teach-ins. (As I’m writing this, Mark just walked up with a box full of perfectly fresh wrapped vegetables from some nearby dumpster!!!

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What a great world where free food is so available. [33 fourth graders agree with a resounding, “Yayyyy!!!”] What a terrible world where such great food is thrown away. [33 fourth graders agree with a resounding, “Booooo!!!”]  And one billion people will go to bed hungry tonight while we dine on America’s waste.) To add to the greatness, while we did our best to teach, share, learn, and take in life with those wonderful kids, Lake stayed back to do physical work- building beautiful brick benches and a fire pit- at our current base of operations.

That base is Wind’s permaculture “art project,” an “experiment with the limits of a person,” an urban homestead/farm designed ingeniously and sustainably to be entirely materially self-sufficient within a couple years. And he does all this with the intent of sharing every idea he can, from aloe band-aids to growing houses (oh yeah, we’ll be writing more about that). The sharing of ideas through the internet has made such things evermore possible, and being immersed in such a setting gives us a beautiful glimpse of what a prosperous, sustainable future could look like.

All we ever wanted in life was to be happy and feel like we’re making a real contribution to the happiness and well-being of humanity. And we’re closer to that than ever before. We felt that to the maximum today in a classroom at a “green” public charter school that has all organic food served in a composting cafeteria, great teachers, great kids, no tuition, and no selective admissions. But we’re feeling it pretty much every day.

– A-Dog feat. J-Ho

Note: We’re posting this the day after it was written, whilst luxuriating like lavish lemurs in Cocoa Beach.

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Flatlanding

Hey y’all,

Given the long time between posts, I figured I’d- in rare form- post something brief!

We’re in Florida! And we’ve got a fourth, our dear friend Lake, along with us for awhile! We’re currently staying at a fancy abode with our friend Jen in Port Orange, near Daytona. We’ve had a couple of uncharacteristically chilly nights, but the 80-degree sun is on the way and we’re ready for it! We even swam in the ocean and the water was… WARM.

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As camping and general bummin’ about will be made easier by the weather, we ought to have much more time to not only bask in the rays, but also reflect and read and write about all that reflecting.

I will tell you(s) this. So far, we have been inundated with possibility, are repeatedly drenched in kindness, and remain generally bubbling over with enjoyment about a life with no jobby-jobs, no money (save for a few buskin’ bucks), and nowhere else to be except that ever-elusive, yet now seemingly more tangible, present tense.

Of course challenges are ahead of us, and the world isn’t all goodies and gumdrops. But certainly, there’s a great deal of goodness. And I, more than ever, believe that if we take the time to realize it in each other, if we live in a way as to bring it forth from each other, if we give time and space for understanding, that the world will be full of more goodness than we might dare to bet is possible. Certainly, it is at the least possible for us to, in our own realities, forge our own worlds where, whether it be in line with or in spite of societal norms, our dreams may flourish and we may live them out.

xo,
Jesse

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PS Food, in the United States, is not in short supply. We (as a society) throw out almost as much as we (in our society) actually eat. We (the four of us) have yet to experience hunger or hardship even close to resembling that of Somalians.

What if everyone did what you’re doing? (Part 1!)

Most of the people we’ve met on the first few weeks of this journey have been intrigued by what we’re doing. People like the idea of traveling around the world and seeing new things, but they’re also taken in by the idea of trying to live a life without money. In fact, we think that part of the incredible generosity we’ve encountered at every turn can be attributed to the fact that people, consciously or unconsciously, want to believe such things are possible. People are frustrated with having to structure their lives primarily around the obtaining and the exchanging of federal reserve notes and their plastic equivalents. So, people give to us partially because they want to help create a reality where life doesn’t always have to depend on money. But one question that I think is present in a lot of these interactions, on the part of the people we meet and in our own minds, is one that’s not usually explicitly asked. What would happen if everyone did what you guys are doing?

So, I’m’a try to answer this in three parts because the question can mean a few different things. Today is PART 1!

PART 1: The most general meaning of our question probably deals with the most fundamental choices we have to make in our lives. That is, should we follow the general path society lays out for us, perhaps pursuing our dreams and trying to make change on the margins, in the time and space left for us outside of work and the other conventional strictures by which we bind ourselves? Or should we commit ourselves to following our beliefs to their logical conclusions and living out our dreams and questions, even when doing so results in lifestyles so different they force us into facing difficult questions about what’s right and wrong, what’s necessary and superfluous? Here we might reframe our question as: what if everyone did what they wanted, while making a sincere effort to make the world a better place?

Our societal conventions aren’t stopping war, poverty, or global warming. They’re creating them. (Maybe they’ll also help to stop them someday; we’ve solved problems of our own creation before.) Maybe our most sincere efforts beyond or outside of those conventions can’t make the world better either. But maybe they can. Do people contribute to the systems that create mediocre or awful outcomes for themselves and other humans because, after careful consideration, they’ve decided it was the best option? Or do they do what they do and work the jobs they work because that’s just what you do?

I think people don’t question their actions mainly because societal conventions give them positive reinforcement. By our society’s implicit logic, the measure of whether or not you’re doing right is whether or not you’re earning enough to support yourself (and your family, if you have one). All other considerations are tertiary. The fact that this metric often collides with common sense is not something we deal with… ever, really. If I told my grandmother that I got a job selling toxic mortgage-backed-securities for Goldman Sachs, making enough money to afford a luxury apartment in Manhattan, she would be thrilled for me. She would not question the impact it had on the world. She would not question whether it made me happy. It would earn a lot of money, and we live in a society (I’m careful not to say “a world”) where the amount of money you make and have determines your value.

That system is shit. It makes people more polite to lawyers than to janitors. And it makes us think that somehow people don’t deserve a house or health care or decent food if they haven’t secured enough banknotes to pay for it.

So, imagine an alternative world where we assess actions based on whether or not they improve the human condition and where people strive to do what they want and think is right, without regard to how it conforms to society’s expectations. That’s what we’re doing. We might be doing it wrong and we might be making the world worse. We worry that we’re burning too much gasoline. I, at least, worry that we might not be doing enough to help people. But I don’t doubt for a second that living by our conscience and our desires is the right thing to do. And I don’t doubt that if everyone did so, we’d have a better world.

– Adam