Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book review from a Seattle progressive

Recently I received an email from a woman named Audrey, who lives in Seattle. She sent her thoughts and impressions of The Simplicity Primer. I was very, very glad to get her review because I've always wondered how the book would impact the Simplicity community in the Pacific northwest.

The simplicity movement is big -- huge -- in the Pacific northwest. Many simplicity authors reside in Seattle or Portland or vicinity. But I have not reached out toward these communities because, almost to a person, they reside on the extreme far left end of the spectrum and I felt they wouldn't care for my perspective.

So this is my first review from the far left.

Having been in the "simplicity movement" since 1986, in Seattle, with some of the early people (Cecile Andrews, Duane Elgin and Robin & Dominguez) every time a new book catches my eye I give it a read. Having read yours I felt drawn to give some feedback.

My life isn't perfect, but whose is? But I do live in a 100+ year old house of 600 square feet, eat game, buy meat and eggs from my country friends, have a huge garden, cook from scratch, eschew TV, cable, dish, internet, books, getting my needs met at my local library. My clothes, excluding socks and underwear come from thrift stores. I drive a 30 year old car, they were simpler then, it gives me no trouble. I have been living the life for a long time.

But you really got off track with #354. "Move to where there are like-minded people."
[NOTE: The text of this tip is copied below.] Whoa, sister! That sort of attitude fosters an "us versus them", red state/blue state, bunker mentality that engenders things like the Aryan Nations. I made a choice to move here 16 years ago and I'm not leaving. I suppose people see me as an eccentric, radical, commie-pinko but I was raised by parents who had a mantra, "what other people think of you is none of your business." What we have to try to do is find the common ground, sometimes it may be only that we are of the same species. My buddy thinks Glen Beck is god and I think he's a wing-nut but we have endless discussions on techniques for organic gardening. I trade him homemade bread for rototilling. We get along, somehow.

Regarding religion... My parents raised the six of us on "the golden rule", do unto others, etc. We were encouraged to explore, read and be free-thinkers; some of us have religion and others don't. Personally, I do not deny the existence of god, I just haven't seen it proven scientifically. Maybe god is quantum mechanics or string theory. I guess I am a militant agnostic; I don't know and YOU don't either. If you don't have the resilience and strength of character to handle life's challenges and religion gives you that, go for it. Some of us, however, prefer freedom FROM religion.

The Green Movement is a sinister plot to move us to Socialism?!? Whoa! What sort of Tea Party Kool Aid you drinking?!?
[NOTE: The text of this tip is also copied below.] If we don't get this climate change thing back to 350ppm nothing will matter. You are a breeder, just what sort of world are your grandchildren going to have to cope with? I personally don't think there is time to get things fixed but we all need to do what we can. The underlying problem is that the corporate concerns who run politics in this country have a vested interest in keeping the status quo and deriving short-term profits at the expense of our children's future. Maybe green politics is one response, but personally I think armed insurrection is a better idea.

I found alot of things in your book to like and agree with. I probably sound retro but I think if people have kids under 18 there should be no divorce unless there is a documented history of abuse. Work it out. Too many kids in poverty, on welfare, not getting a fair start in life and being a burden to the taxpayer besides. This business of sexualizing young girls, WTF!! Don't tell ME this is feminism! My mother, Susan Sontag and Bella Abzug are rolling in their graves. I laughed hard at the "country living" sequence. When I moved here most people thought I was a few bricks short of a load and the others were saying "such a beautiful place, why aren't you living in the country?" My response was, "are you [expletive deleted] nuts?!? I GREW UP IN THE COUNTRY! I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE! In town; I turn on the faucet and water comes out, I flush the toilet it goes to the sewer, Donny Mueller picks up the trash every Thursday, the city plows the street when it snows. Living in the country is over-rated." Yes, it is nice...IF you are prepared to deal with it. Plus it costs money. I live alot more frugally and with alot less hassle in town. Not to mention, now that I am officially in "old bag" status, it is more prudent.

Best wishes with your publishing career and other business interests.



Here are the specific points from the book which Audrey referenced:

354. Move to a Place with Like-Minded People
If moving to a different town or even state is in your plans for a simpler life, take warning: make sure you investigate your destination area to see if you’re among like-minded people.

Beyond the usual red-state-blue-state demographics, it is wise to be aware that there are certain places where the political or social climate may not be to your liking. If you have strong political beliefs, for instance, and you move to an area where the majority of people are at the opposite end of the spectrum, you’re going to be miserable.

Be sure to research your target location thoroughly. Subscribe to the local newspapers. Visit. Rent for awhile, if you can.

There is joy in finding yourself among others who share your values. When we moved to Idaho, for instance, we found to our delight that we were among neighbors who cherish independence, family values, and thrift just as we do.

We know of a couple who purchased property recently in our area. They had wildly different viewpoints from those of their immediate neighbors. Wildly different. I met them once or twice and they seemed like nice folks, but I sensed trouble ahead because of their different attitudes and viewpoints. In our brief conversations, they immediately launched into their personal philosophies in a rather belligerent, defensive manner…almost as if they sensed they were different. I don’t know all the details, but their property was up for sale again within a year.

Relocation is much simpler if you know you’ll be welcomed in your new neighborhood.

244. Support Green Living, Not the Green Movement
We are urged to consider the sustainability and impact of our choices in order to think “green.” I find this to be a high calling, one worthy of everyone’s attention.

I support green living. I try to live by the principles of green living. It’s all so sensible—and simplifying. However, I do not support the green political movement because these activists are using “green” to advance Socialism. And Socialism, as any student of history will tell you, does not make anyone’s life simple. Socialism takes away independence. Sustainability increases independence. Which makes more sense to you?

Columnist Rebecca Hagelin writes, “If you let people control their own destinies, there's no limit to what they can achieve. But if you bind them with the straitjacket of central planning, smother their creativity with over-regulation, fence them in with high tariffs and take their hard-earned money with high taxes, you kill their dreams even as you wreck an economy.” [Emphasis added.]

But the march toward Socialism is subtle, and prettily wrapped up in 100% recycled green wrapping paper. After all, as commentator Walter Williams points out, there’s less resistance if liberty is taken away a little at a time. This year, light bulbs. Next year, temperature controls in your house. After that…who knows?

History has demonstrated the destructive results of Socialism. Become green and independent, not part of a collectivist society. Think for yourself. Only then will your life simplify, unless, of course, you prefer the simplicity of no longer having any choices at all.

Here is the reply I sent to Audrey:

Good morning, Audrey:

Thank you for taking the time to write regarding my book The Simplicity Primer. Like you, I’ve spent many years both living and reading about the simple life, including the authors you mention (Andrews, Elgin, Robin & Dominguez, etc.). I admire the way you’re conducting your life in conformity with your beliefs. Not many people have managed to do that, so you’re to be commended.

With regard to the tip to which you took exception (#354, Move to a Place With Like-Minded People), please remember that the ideas in the book are suggestions, not requirements. While I’m pleased you’re able to find common ground with your buddy who listens to Glenn Beck, you also mention how you moved to Seattle from a rural location, presumably because the social and political climate were more to your liking. In other words, you moved to a place with like-minded people. I find nothing wrong with living among people who share one’s beliefs, and believe me it has nothing to do with a “us versus them” bunker mentality, much less anything whatever to do with the Aryan Nations (yuck, pitooey).

Regarding religion: I think you’ll agree that the Simplicity Primer is a rarity among simplicity literature in that it’s written from the perspective of a conservative Christian. The premise of the entire book is that simplicity is achieved through making the right choices. I’ve chosen to embrace religion; you’ve chosen to do otherwise. If you’re satisfied with your choice, then you’ve achieved simplicity in that category.

I do maintain that the Green political movement advances socialism. We live a lifestyle that is “greener” than 95% of America, but it’s our choice to do so. My quarrel with the green movement is it is dedicated to passing legislation forcing others to conform to their agenda, i.e. phasing out incandescent light bulbs or regulating home temperatures. Such legislation reduces choices and increases unconstitutional authority. We keep our home cool and we use (mostly) CFL’s, but that’s our choice and I don’t believe there is any constitutional justification forcing anyone else to live the way we think they should live.

I thoroughly, absolutely, one-hundred-percent agree with your assessment of country living. LOL – sometimes I think I spend half my time convincing people NOT to move rural since (as you well know) country living is only for those willing to put up with a lot of hassle, grief, inconvenience, and even danger. We love it here, but then we don’t have to commute through snow drifts to a job (we work at home) or school (we homeschool), so we’re willing to put up with a lot of inconvenience. Life is indeed much simpler in many regards in the city, but we don’t like the crowded conditions or noise factor. It’s quite literally a case of “to each his own” when in comes to choosing a place to live.

I find myself in complete agreement with many of the things you wrote in your email. I wish we lived closer as I suspect we could have some lively and fascinating conversations over a nice pot of chai tea.

Thank you for your kind wishes and once again, I appreciate you taking the time to express your thoughts and opinions.


  1. I would place Ms Audrey under the category of, what I learned a long time ago as, "Please don't confuse me with the facts, My mind is already made up" mentality.

  2. Two concerns; first: "...armed insurrection is a better idea."
    (sigh) So she wants to force her beliefs on others? There is a LOT of evidence that the whole "climate crisis" is a fabrication and not supported by the scientific evidence. "Armed insurrection" to force everyone to "go green"?

    Second thing: please let her know that "alot" is NOT A WORD! ;-)

  3. Patrice,
    I, like all others who have read your book, and any other book for that matter, will always find some irrelevant issue inside the pages that just is not for themself.
    Anyone who expects to find a 100 percent soul bonding experience out of someone else's words, is not being realistic. The only book (out of thousands I have read) that has done that for me is God's words in The Bible.

    I thank you for your continued ministry to reach out to others in sharing your world of thoughts and beliefs, and the valuable excerpts shared from your rural life with all of us who appreciate them and who learn how to live a life of simplicity, from the examples of you and your family.

    Keep up the great work!
    Blessings from a grateful reader.


  4. Great Response! I think I would have been a lot more defensive!

  5. Patrice your blog is becoming one of my daily reads and after this post your book has just hit the top of my Christmas list (bumping those Paula Dean bread pans I've been wanting down to #2)! When I saw "Seattle Progressive" I just had to know--so I stopped in (again)!

    I must say your response was classic Patrice--tactful and respectful but not sacrificing who you are to please anybody else.

    Though I am most assuredly not a lover of the tea party movement, I find I can't stomach the socialist movement anymore than I can wilted greens. It's nice to come here and know that my Independent booty won't be run out on a rail, but rather I can kick back and touch base with you (and your reader base) on other things that really matter to us all. I never find myself offended, but rather chuckling and thoughtful and with new tips for living the simple life. Cheers to you! Keep up the good work.

  6. When she used the word "breeder" she gave away a good bit of her ideology. That word is typically used in a condescending way by gays towards straight folks.

  7. I would have been more defensive too :)
    I don't like the word 'breeder'. Takes the magic and importance out of having children and regulates you to stock. Allthough, having a think about it, when my stock are not breeders they are only good for food mostly. Breeding stock is vastly more important. But I still don't like it.


  8. You are a breeder? With two children?

    I bet she loves those large families.

    That last time I heard that term used was when I was walking behind an obviously flaming homosexual and heard him make a rude remark to a pregnant woman walking in the other direction.

    I admire you for being able to answer with such grace. I don't think I could.


  9. She lost ANY credibility by using the hate-filled and dangerous term, "breeder." Tolerance, leftist style - the usual name-calling. I'd like to say more, but charity requires brevity. She should apologize! She wouldn't want us to call her nasty names. Jennifer in western NC

  10. Once again I'm impressed by your grace and class. While there are many things I'm sure you & I would not agree about, I could certainly learn a lot from you! (And I do, in reading your blog. For which I thank you muchly!)

  11. Good response. I think that you said it well, Patrice, when you pointed out that the book is written from the conservative Christian perspective. This woman has no clue how that kind of thinking works and so I have no clue why she read the book in the first place. It seems to me that she is trying to 'fix' or 'change' you to her standards. That is what I find so ironic about liberals. They are all about tolerance and open-mindedness but immediately start trying to mold you into their image. Anyway, the fact is, she does not understand the concept of God's control or God's creation. She doesn't get that "He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour' so that all men he has made may know His work." Job 37:6-7 She thinks that we men are gods that have that kind of control. So while she was very nice to you in her presentation of her comments, it isn't possible for her to understand your view of life. Don't worry about it. God will work with her in His way if she will allow it.

  12. Sometimes I learn as much from the comments as I do the blog. Both are excellent in this case.

  13. Sometimes I learn as much from the comments as I do your blog, in this case they are all excellent!

  14. I'm not an author, but I'm a simple-living denizen of the Pacific Northwest, living a fair distance northwest of Seattle. "Audrey's" post
    struck a familiar chord with me. I don't mean to generalize, but I do want to share some perspectives, and based on experience, it's hard not to generalize. The patterns are unmistakable.

    Poor,"Audrey." She sounds like the typically over-reactive, hysterical and confused liberal we find concentrated in Seattle and other areas nearby. They're usually very [ahem] forthcoming about openly detailing and rationalizing their self-supposed moral/intellectual superiority over those unfortunates like us who, unlike them, need to turn in our weakness to God, all in a pathetic attempt to cope with this terrifying challenge that is life. But Audrey generously tells us it's fine with her if we do. (Cough)

    Like "Audrey," many of the ones who live in modest circumstances seem to try and somehow transform their poverty into a badge of defiance and condescension...perhaps implying they'd live this way no matter how well off they were, because they're such credentialed minimalists.

    They consistently present their views in an over-modulated tone, as if to underline their sense of entitlement to express themselves in a litany of gratuitous insults. Too often, just as "Audrey" does, it includes the open advocacy of lethal force against those who they view to be the problem. In this state it is primarily the elderly and business owners who are the politically correct targets of choice.

    Charming creatures aren't they? Over confident, intrusive, smug and viperous. (IMHO, of course.)

    So there's one look at how it is to live simply and be prepared here in the beautiful PNW. (How can anyone spend more than five minutes looking at this place and not believe in their Creator?)

    Now everyone knows why I get to blog all the way over to my homegirl in Idaho in order to connect with her and others to have and share this ready access to the kind of information and thinking we share here. Too many "Audrey's" hereabouts to converse with just anyone until you know who's who in the zoo. In other words, op/sec first.

    I'm very pleased for "Audrey" if her situation is as described. It means she is safely-housed, eats well and is surrounded by like-minded thinkers. She should live happily ever after in this life. Then, boy, is she in for a surprise. But I digress...

    I'm happy to report there's a large body of water between me and Audrey. But alas, she and her kind still dominate my little community with their radically mindless and traitorous political force. They elect invidious thinkers like Patty Murray and support intractable, career-long over-spenders to 'represent' us, and who, in turn, proceed to publicly scapegoat us, press us for more taxes, and then probably report us to homeland security if we write and make ourselves known to them by objecting. They make no pretense of their disdain.

    So we'll just hunker down, keep working and give thanks we know what we know and are blessed to live where and how we live. We can match "Audrey" point for point when it comes to simple, eco-friendly living, and raise her by three decades of practice. We didn't have to 'join a movement.' Surprising as it may be to some, it's a way of life handed down and natural for some of us still, even in a state so full of "Audreys."

    Boy. Did I do a rant today or what?

    A. McSp

  15. yep, this gal defined herself well with the words she chose to use in her letter...

  16. Ironically she did just what you said finding "Like-minded people" to be around. I lived in Tacoma and Olympia and even worked at Evergreen State College for several years so I do know the mind set.
    I've lived all over the country and in Germany and I do find Idaho pretty darn tolerant. I don't think it's tolereance so much as you go do your thing and I'll do mine. You need help you holler otherwise I'll leave you alone.
    I don't think I'm all that unusual in having friends that are Mormon, evangelical, catholic, agnostic, hippies, bikers, lumberjacks, farmers, ranchers, tech geeks and engineers.

    But it's Idaho and everyone knows how "they" are... At least when they are mistaking us for some flat mid-western state.

  17. Love all the comments...I have lived in many places: Upper Mid-West(Upper Mich., Wis.,Chgo area), Cali, Fl., WV, and now NC. Talk about a range of thinking here.....I am a conservative Christian, not at all liberal thinking. Believe that the words of the Bible are the road map to living life. I feel sorry for Audrey and her liberal thinking, but at least she had the guts to say it like she sees it...
    I guess wherever a person lives, one thing is for sure: live your life in a way that pleases the Lord.
    Love your blog and your commentaries at WND, Patrice...
    Love from NC

  18. Patrice,

    Your blog is one of my daily must reads. I have learned a lot from the things you post and your blog was one of the main sites that I read that convinced me to move out of a city townhouse to a more rural area and try to not only simplify my life and that of my family but also become more self sufficient. I admire all that you and your husband have accomplished.

    With that said, I can't imagine that there is another reader of your blog that disagrees with your political views more than I do. I am sure there are more liberal or progressive leaning readers of the blog, but I would be comfortable in saying they might not be as liberal or progressive as some would label me.

    Here is the thing, it doesn't matter. I still enjoy your blog, admire your hard work and respect your willingness to not only speak your mind but also to stick to your beliefs. Your blog has so much to offer. I don't have to agree with everything you say, but I shouldn't just focus on those things were we differ. It is up to me if I decide to click on the link to your WND posts. That has nothing to do with learning something about how a barn is raised or a cow is butchered or peaches are canned.

    I wince when people who are on my side of the political fence express themselves the way Audrey did. Name calling and sarcasm are not the tools of intelligent debate. I would much rather have a smart, respectful discussion with someone I disagree with than an ignorant one with someone on "my side".

    Keep up the good work, Patrice.

  19. I don't want to live next to people promoting armed insurrection against those they disagree with, nor next to people who refer to me as a breeder, (even though I've had less than the number of children necessary for replacement, statistically). Part of simplicity is avoiding unnecessary annoyances.

    I wouldn't promote shooting HER just because i disagree with her, nor would I refer to her as a feeder...

    but I'll spend extra money to live near people who share my values, and confine my interactions with the liberal types to the internet, for simplicity's sake.

    Xa Lynn

  20. Cesar, I appreciate your comment more than I can say. Your position to disagree **respectfully** is all I ever ask of someone with differing opinions. I'm so glad to have you as a reader!

    - Patrice

  21. Patrice,

    Your response show exactly the type of person you are: gracious, good humored, strong, bold and charitable. This is also why you're on my reading list, even though politically we're pretty much on the same page :)

    That said, "militant agnostic", seriously? She's not only proud of her ignorance but arrogantly assumes everyone else is equally ignorant. Thank goodness she moved to a place with like minded individuals.

  22. Oh, Xa Lynn, I enjoyed your remarks. Feeder, indeed.


  23. once you understand that progressivism is, in every definable sense, a religion, then you can relate to how they react emotionally to what they perceive as blasphemy. of course, they dont see themselves as being part of a religion... as that would require accepting that large parts of their beliefs are based on nothing but faith. to people like this, i usually suggest this article